This is the second workshop in analytic philosophy of the ALEF group (Cluj-Napoca, Romania), aiming to bring together Romanian researchers in an effort to make their work known to each other. (For the first workshop, click here.) This edition's presentations cover topics in epistemology, logic, metaethics, metaphysics, philosophy of action, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and political philosophy. Below you can find the program of the workshop and the abstracts of the presentations. All times are in CET (Central European Time, UCT + 2).
The event is organized by Paula Tomi (University of Bucharest), Mihai Rusu (Babeș-Bolyai University), Iovan Drehe (Technical University of Cluj-Napoca), Adrian Ludușan (Babeș-Bolyai University), Adrian Briciu (West University of Timișoara) and Dan Zeman (Slovak Academy of Sciences). To participate, use this link: https://meet.google.com/zft-ausz-egq.
Friday, September 25
Chair: Paula Tomi
10.00-10.50: Robert Chiș-Ciure (University of Bucharest), "A Kantian Inheritance: Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness and the Transcendental Deduction" [live session]
11.00-11.50: Iulian Toader (University of Vienna) & Constantin Brîncuș (University of Bucharest), "Categoricity and Logical Revisionism" [live session]
12.00 - 12.25: Bogdan Dicher (University of Lisbon) & Francesco Paoli (University of Cagliari), "Substructurality on Metainferential Conceptions on Logic" [live Q&A]
Chair: Adrian Briciu
14.00-14.50: Andreea Popescu (University of Bucharest), "Evaluating Singular Action Sentences" [live session]
15.00-15.50: Dan Zeman (Slovak Academy of Sciences) & José R. Torices (University of Granada), "Implicaturist-Expressivist Accounts of Disagreement" [live session]
16.30-16.55: Mihaela Popa-Wyatt (ZAS Berlin), "Norm Shifting through Slurs" [live Q&A]
17.00-17.25: Andrei Moldovan (University of Salamanca), "Questions and Presuppositions" [live Q&A]
17.30-17.55: Laura Nicoară (University of Southern California), "Moral and Political Worries about Multiple Meanings Accounts of Gender Terms" [live Q&A]
Saturday, September 26
Chair: Dan Zeman
10.00-10.50: Mona Simion (University of Glasgow), "Resistance to Evidence and the Duty to Believe" [live session]
11.00-11.50: Andrei Mărășoiu (University of Bucharest), "The Truth in Understanding" [live session]
12.00-12.50: Sergiu Spătan (University of Hamburg), "Certainty-Based Invariantism and the Lottery" [live session]
Chair: Mihai Rusu
14.00-14.50: Sorin Băiașu (Keele University), "Merit and the Epistemological Argument Against Desert" [live session]
15.00-15.50: Alexandru Volacu (University of Bucharest), "Free-riding and Compulsory Voting" [live session]
16.30-17.20: Nicoletta Bartunek, "A Few Thoughts on Later Wittgenstein and Quasi-realism" [live session]
17.30-17.55: Adina Covaci (University of Warwick), "The Real Problem with Moral Deference" [live Q&A]
In addition, the following presentations are featured on our YouTube channel (Fri & Sat, 10.00-18.00):
Alexandru Dragomir (University of Bucharest), "On the Possibility of Achieving Suprapersonal Moral Status as a Result of Cognitive Enhancement - Are We Justified to Believe It?"
Camil Golub (Rutgers University/University of Leeds), "Normative Quasi-Naturalism and Its Virtues"
Nora Grigore, "Understanding Presuppositions of Moral Normativity"
Nicoletta Bartunek, "A Few Thoughts on Later Wittgenstein and Quasi-realism"
Roughly, there are three main ideas underlying Blackburn’s quasi-realism: that moral statements do not represent facts or properties (1); that such statements "project our sentiments" onto actions - they are best seen as "attitudes" - and, finally, that moral statements can be said to be true or false, and they can be embedded in conditionals (and in the logical calculus in general) (3). Concerning Wittgenstein, he stresses (1) as soon as the Tractatus and there is no reason to think he changed his mind about it. Moreover, he later links the status of ethical terms to those of avowals and gestures of approval and disapproval – as the quasi-realist does at (2). Concerning (3), Wittgenstein prefers to avoid “truth” for non-descriptive statements, but he acknowledges that relying on it is not misguided (3). This presentation will defend the proposed juxtaposition from the following two counter-arguments. Firstly, that Wittgenstein abandoned the topic of morals and ethics in his later philosophy, making (2) implausible. Secondly, against (3), that Blackburn advocates for a separate semantics for ethical and moral discourse, and this is thoroughly unwittgensteinan. My claim on the first account will be that Wittgenstein’s idea that "meaning is use" can very well cover the disputed topics. On the second, that Blackburn himself changed his mind about the workings of his project: the stated purpose now is to give a Wittgensteinian perspicuous representation of morals. And Wittgenstein’s views about truth not only confirm Blackburn’s (3) but can enrich it greatly.
Sorin Băiașu, "Merit and the Epistemological Argument Against Desert"
Egalitarian theories of distributive justice have become increasingly dominant since the 1960s. One dominant model they had to contend with was the classical model of justice as getting what we deserve. Rawls’s A Theory of Justice seemed to provide the decisive critique of desertism, although careful attention to Rawls’s argument shows that he is not rejecting desert as such, but the possibility of precisely ascertaining what we deserve. Jeffrey Moriarty called this the “epistemological” argument against desert. Hope for a response to this argument can be found in John Roemer’s work. Roemer proposes a model of equality of opportunity, which seems to allow relatively accurate responsibility measurement. On this theory, in order to measure desert, we observe differences in performance between persons who are affected by the same set of natural and social factors. A better performance is more deserving. Another response to the epistemological argument can be found in Thomas Mulligan’s more recent proposal for a desert-based theory of justice. This proposal starts from some important intuitions, such as the role of desert in distributive justice, the implausibility of an equality-first principle of distribution, the unattractive features of luck-egalitarianism or the relation between desert and personal responsibility. While acknowledging the significance of these premises, the focus of the presentation will be on the distinction between desert and merit, and the meritocratic character of the theory proposed. In particular, the question will be whether this new desert-based account takes into consideration seriously enough Rawls’s epistemological argument.
Robert Chiș-Ciure, "A Kantian Inheritance: Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness and the Transcendental Deduction"
The neuroscience of consciousness is in dire need of philosophical foundations. When it comes to phenomenal experience, the physicalism that underlies most of the scientific enterprise has proven sterile. My argument aims to connect the most prominent neuroscientific account of consciousness, Integrated Information Theory, with the Kantian transcendental theory. If successful, it shows that, insofar consciousness is concerned, scientific theorizing is less innocent when it comes to its philosophical underpinnings. By adopting a transcendental standpoint, IIT makes a substantive meta-philosophical choice, which allows it to by-pass some of the recurrent issues in the mind-body literature. My argument focuses on Kant’s Transcendental Deduction, and shows how IIT can be interpreted as employing a similar argumentative move within its epistemological foundations.
Adina Covaci, "The Real Problem with Moral Deference"
In this paper I argue that the real problem with pure moral deference is that it interferes with our capacity for practical deliberation. By pure moral deference I mean the act of adopting and sustaining a purely moral judgment, or performing a morally charged action, solely on the basis of the authority and expertise of the person who provides it. I construct my position in two stages. Firstly, I argue that if we want to assess moral deference per se, looking at individual cases won’t suffice. Instead I suggest that the focus should shift from isolated instances of moral deference to what I call recurrent moral deference, i.e. moral deference that happens repetitively. Secondly, I present a novel explanation of what makes moral deference problematic by referring to its negative interference with our capacity for practical deliberation. My argument consists of two main claims. First, the interference thesis states that recurrent moral deference interferes with the exercise and the development of our capacity for practical deliberation. Second, the value thesis says that this capacity has both instrumental and final value. I argue that the two theses, together with the idea that it’s pro tanto bad to interfere with something of value, point to the conclusion that recurrent moral deference is pro tanto bad.
Bogdan Dicher & Francesco Paoli: “Substructurality on Metainferential Conceptions on Logic”
Recent debates on substructural solutions to the paradoxes have brought to the fore the importance of metainferences in establishing the identity of a logic. Among those that agree that logics should be identified metainferentially, there is, nonetheless, disagreement as to which metainferences matter. Some believe that the matter is settled at the first metainferential level: the identity of a logic is determined by the set of locally valid inferences between inferences. Others believe that the matter can be settled only in the transfinite: a logic is fully determined only as the transfinite union of all its metainferential levels. Upholding the first option is not without costs, as the defenders of the second option have astutely pointed out. Among these costs is the need to account in some fashion for substructurality: On this view, a logical consequence relation is always Tarskian and so it appears as though on this account there is no room for substructural logics. The idea to be fleshed out is that while indeed there are no logics that are substructural, plenty of the logics usually called substructural are, in fact, logics—i.e., are structural consequence relations. This paper takes a few steps in that direction, building on some programmatic remarks in Dicher & Paoli, The original sin of proof-theoretic semantics (Synthese, 2018). Generalising by overcoming a model suggested by, among others, Restall’s bilateralism, the argument will be that logic is concerned with sentences in contexts or, with a better choice of words, inferential networks. The familiar and less familiar structural rules of a logic stipulate principles for manipulating these networks. They are, in terms of conceptual priority, on a par with the operational rules of the calculus and also interconnected with them. This may not provide much of a positive incentive to favour finitist metainferentialism over its more radical brethren. Yet one hopes that it will subvert one reason for going transfinite: The putative loss of substructurality is a mere appearance, being no more than the redistribution of the roles usually played by these rules.
Alexandru Dragomir, "On the Possibility of Achieving Suprapersonal Moral Status as a Result of Cognitive Enhancement - Are We Justified to Believe It?"
Given recent innovations in the biotechnologies aimed at cognitive and physical enhancement, the physical possibility of achieving suprapersonal moral status (post-personhood) appears to be plausible (Agar 2014, Buchanan 2009, Douglas 2013, McMahan 2009). Beings endowed with suprapersonal moral status (post-persons) might claim a broader set of rights than mere persons, thereby reducing their immunity to permissible harm. Drawing some lessons from the epistemology of modality, I will argue that any act of conceiving post-persons is unreliable as a guide to metaphysical possibility. As such, since we do not hold justification for their metaphysical possibility, we are not justified in believing their physical possibility.
Camil Golub, "Normative Quasi-Naturalism and Its Virtues"
Here is my wishlist for the right metaethical theory: it should vindicate the existence of objective normative truths, explain the motivational force of normative judgments and the supervenience of the normative on the non-normative, be metaphysically parsimonious, do justice to the intuitions behind G.E. Moore’s Open Question Argument and similar arguments against naturalism, and have good answers to epistemological and metasemantic challenges. In this talk I will introduce a view that I call normative quasi-naturalism, which combines an expressivist account of normative discourse with a naturalist metaphysics of normativity, and will briefly explain how it can meet all these demands.
Nora Grigore, "Understanding Presuppositions of Moral Normativity"
Morality can be seen as arduous, demanding, centered on obligations and rules and usually going against the personal interest of the agent. Alternatively, it can be seen as going along with the interest of the agent, contributing to personal development, not centered upon obligations, but on aspirations, and only accidentally difficult. I propose that the difference between these alternative ways of seeing morality is due to different ways of seeing the moral normative force: as a compulsive or attractive force. I have called the first kind "morality of law" because in order to secure the moral agent's compliance it relies on rules and obligations as its core. I have contrasted this way of seeing morality with a view usually called "morality of virtue" which does not rely on rules and obligations as its main instruments, but relies rather on moral aspirations and moral ideals.
Andrei Mărășoiu, "The Truth in Understanding"
Can felicitous falsehoods ever constitute our understanding of something? Catherine Elgin (2004, 2017) argues that they often do, invoking the role that idealizations play in the theories and models we use to understand the world around us. In contrast, for Strevens (2013), we only understand what we “grasp a correct explanation” of. Explanation is factive and model-based, hence so is the understanding it provides. Strevens argues that idealizations can be eliminated from models by which we understand phenomena of interest because the role of idealizations is heuristic, identifying factors that causally make a difference to the phenomena theorized. Departing from both Elgin and Strevens, I distinguish between our conceptions – the stuff of thought – and the cultural artifacts we use as props for thinking: our models and theories. And I argue that we have no way of telling whether idealizations (be they in-principle eliminable or not) are in fact cognitively represented by scientists conceiving of the phenomena thus idealized. I conclude that we in-principle have no basis to settle the issue of whether understanding is factive or not, for understanding is ineliminably cognitive.
Andrei Moldovan, "Questions and Presuppositions"
In this talk I discuss some issues related to the use of questions that are interesting from an argumentative point of view. In the first part of the talk I look at the so-called “fallacy of complex question” (FCQ). FCQ consists in asking a question that carries a controversial presupposition in order to obtain the respondent’s expressed commitment to the proposition presupposed. In the first part of the talk I distinguish this use of questions from similar phenomena, such as questions that carry implicatures, rhetorical questions etc. In the second part of the talk I offer an analysis of FCQ as a combination of two different mechanisms by which the speaker aims to obtain the audience’s commitment to the presupposition the question carries. One of them is essentially related to the nature of the interrogative speech act. The other is not specifically associated with questions, but with what has been called “the persuasive use of presuppositions” (Sbisà 1999). While the former kind of mechanism has been extensively studied, the latter has been much less discussed in the literature. In the last part of the talk I offer a tentative explanation for why certain presuppositions have a special persuasive force.
Laura Nicoară, "Moral and Political Worries about Multiple Meanings Accounts of Gender Terms"
Multiple meanings accounts of gender terms (MMGT) hold that terms such as “woman” shift meaning according to the standards operative at the context of utterance. This seems to be supported by the empirical observation that speakers across cultures and at different times have associated different norms with what it means to be a woman, and have assigned them to individuals on the basis of different properties. However, MMGT are notoriously vulnerable to what I will call the exclusion objection - namely, that MMGT entail the truth of exclusionary statements, which are morally problematic and intuitively false. The assumption behind the exclusion objection is that a view of gender terms on which exclusionary statements come out true is false. I start by showing that existing solutions to the exclusion objection have, implicitly or explicitly, presupposed this assumption. I then argue that the assumption should be rejected on ontological grounds: the existence of oppressive social kinds is explanatorily useful and consistent with the goals of social justice. As a result, it is actually an advantage of MMGT that they entail the truth of exclusionary utterances.
Mihaela Popa-Wyatt, "Norm Shifting through Slurs"
This paper explains how social norms are changed by oppressive speech. McGowan has argued that norm shifting is an effect of any move within a norm governed activity. Thus, moves in a conversational game change the norms of that game. McGowan (2019) also argues that individual acts can be parallel moves in multiple games at once. This paper identifies and explains a phenomenon called "carry-over effect". I argue that parallel moves are insufficient to account for carry-over effects. The solution is a hierarchy of games. Specifically, a conversational game is embedded in a larger social game. Each game has a separate but related set of roles for participants and targets. I show how this provides a solution to the problem of carry-over effects. In particular, I argue that the idea of invited inference explains the incorrect reasoning that audience members employ in order to export conversational roles to social roles.
Andreea Popescu, "Evaluating Singular Action Sentences"
In his recent book, Ludwig (2016) provides a reductive account of plural action sentences, which argues that plural action sentences are reducible to individual action sentences. His account is based on the sole agency requirement. If an agent performs an action which has a certain result, and unknown to her, that result is also a consequence of someone else’s action, Ludwig says that neither of the two agents succeed in their intention, if they intended to perform the action individually. One of the reactions to this book belongs to Bloomberg (2019). He criticizes Ludwig’s sole agency requirement for actions intended to be performed individually. Bloomberg (2019) argues that both agents are still successful in their individual intention even though another agent is involved. In this debate, I will side with Bloomberg and explore a possible answer if we regard this problem from an epistemological point of view. The key aspects here are that neither of the two agents know there is another one involved, and the result of the action would still be the same, even if only one of the agents performs the action. The problem seems similar to its epistemological counterpart expressed by Sosa (2018). His idea is that we perform different daily actions and predict certain results of those actions. Let’s say that when I perform action A and make the prediction R there is also a maniac who flips the coin in order to decide whether to destroy the Earth. Let’s say that the coin flips in our favour. The question is whether, in this context, I am wrong when making the prediction that my action A will have the consequence R.
Mona Simion, "Resistance to Evidence and the Duty to Believe"
Normative work in epistemology is, for the most part, negative, in that it concerns itself with restricting what we are permitted to e.g. believe, assert or use as a premise in reasoning. Investigations into epistemic obligations are thin on the ground. This paper is concerned with positive epistemology: it argues that we have an epistemic duty to believe that p just in case we have sufficient available and undefeated evidence for p. In turn, one’s resistance to easily available evidence constitutes a breach of one’s duty to believe. The notion of resistance to evidence is acutely under-theorised in the literature. I develop and defend a view according to which resistance to evidence is an instance of epistemic malfunctioning, and unpack the notion of evidence at work as consisting of knowledge indicators: a fact is a piece of evidence for p just in case it increases the probability of knowledge conditional on proper basing.
Sergiu Spătan, "Certainty-Based Invariantism and the Lottery"
In my PhD thesis, I defend a view I call ‘Certainty-Based Invariantism’ (CBI), according to which knowledge ascriptions are intimately associated with the ascriber’s subjective feeling of certainty. If the ascriber A, after considering S’s epistemic position concerning p, feels uncertain that p is the case, then she is not willing to ascribe knowledge that p to S. In this talk, I apply CBI to the lottery paradox and claim that our knowledge denials of lottery propositions (of the form ‘x is a losing ticket at a fair lottery’) is explained by the fact that, by the very nature of fair lotteries as described in the paradox, the ascriber cannot feel certain that x is a losing ticket. So, she cannot ascribe knowledge of that proposition either.
Iulian Toader & Constantin Brîncuș, "Categoricity and Logical Revisionism"
To counter the anti-revisionist argument that quantum logic cannot replace classical logic because it changes the subject matter, Putnam once contended that we lack a theory of meaning refined enough to show that quantum connectives have different meanings than the classical ones. In response, some authors attempted to strengthen the anti-revisionist argument by providing a theory of meaning refined enough to show that these connectives do have different meanings. Some others further denied that quantum logical revisionism could be defended without assuming classical logic. In this paper, I argue that such attempts are still unable to defeat revisionism, despite the availability of a quite refined inferentialist theory of meaning.
Alexandru Volacu, "Free-riding and Compulsory Voting"
One of two arguments offered by Arend Lijphart (1997) in his influential defence of compulsory voting is that such a practice would mitigate the free-riding behavior of non-voters. While this argument has been thoroughly criticized since its original account, it has recently been reconstructed in a more rigorous form - which is able to escape the standard objections - by Lachlan Umbers (2018). In my talk I aim to critically respond to Umbers' version of the Free-riding Argument. I argue, first, that when consistently deployed it implies that we should adopt other coercive practices that are clearly unjustifiable, such as compulsory protests. Second, it requires abandoning the widely accepted practice of secret voting. Third, it can - at best - only ground selective compulsory voting, and can do this only with severe moral costs in terms of relational equality. Fourth, it lacks a proper ethical foundation, as the moral duty which it purportedly relies on is in fact unenforceable through compulsory voting.
Dan Zeman & José R. Torices, "Implicaturist-Expressivist Accounts of Disagreement"
In this presentation, we explore a family of expressivist views that capture the evaluative component of evaluative expressions (moral terms like "good", "bad", "ought to"; aesthetic adjectives like "beautiful", "balanced"; predicates of taste like "tasty", "disgusting"; epistemic vocabulary like "know", "justified"; etc.) by means of implicatures. In particular, we are interested in how such views fare vis-à-vis the challenge from disagreement: that of accounting for the intuition of disagreement in ordinary exchanges involving evaluative terms ("Abortion is wrong./No, it is not."; "Avocado is tasty./No, it is not."; etc.). After giving some background about recent debates surrounding disagreement and laying down some desiderata such theories should fulfil, we investigate several implicaturist-expressivist views that differ both in the type of implicature they appeal to (conventional, generalized conversational, particularized conversational) and in the content they claim those implicatures have (expressive, prescriptive, metalinguistic). While we brush over important details, we take our discussion to support the general conclusion that implicaturist-expressivist views of evaluative terms don't offer a satisfactory account of disagreement.