TOPICS IN ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY 4
This is the fourth meeting of analytic philosophers from Serbia and Romania, in an effort to forge and sustain academic collaboration between philosophers from the two neighboring countries. (Details about the first meeting here, about the second one here and about the third here.) We hope the collaboration will continue for many years to come!
The meeting takes place on February 16-17, 2021 and is hosted (online) by the University of Niš. There will be 19 participants, 9 on the Serbian side (Stefan Mićić, Voin Milevski, Sanja Srećković, Nikola Stamenković, Miljan Vasić - speakers; Nenad Filipović, Milan Jovanović, Igor Stojanović, , Vanja Subotić - commentators) and 9 on the Romanian side (Adina Covaci, Andrei Mărășoiu, Andrei Moldovan, Alexandru Rădulescu, Dan Zeman - speakers; Adrian Briciu, Andreea Popescu, Bianca Savu, Cristina Voinea - commentators); Professor Isidora Stojanovic will be this edition's invited speaker. Below you can find the program of the event and the abstracts of the presentations.
The workshop is organized by Milan Jovanović, Miljana Milojević, Adrian Briciu and Dan Zeman. Please send an email to danczeman[at]gmail.com or miljana.milojevic[at]gmail.com if you want to participate. You can download the poster of the event here.
The prerecorded talks (for sessions marked with "Q&A session") can be seen on our YouTube channel.
(All times are CET)
10.00-11.15: Sanja Srećković, Nenad Filipović & Andrea Berber (University of Belgrade), "What is New in the Black Box Decision-Making Problem?"
Comments: Cristina Voinea (Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies)
11.30-12.45: Nikola Stamenković (University of Belgrade), "Some Problems for Non-Instantaneous Temporal Parts"
Comments: Bianca Savu (University of Bucharest)
14.00-15.00: Andrei Moldovan (University of Salamanca), "Are There Entailed Conversational Implicatures?"
15.15-16.15: Dan Zeman (University of Warsaw), "Relativism and Retraction: A (Continuing) Love Story"
16.30-17.15: Alexandru Rădulescu (University of Missouri), "On Detonating" [Q&A session]
Comments: Vanja Subotić (University of Belgrade)
17.30-18.30: [Keynote speaker] Isidora Stojanovic (CNRS/Institut Jean Nicod), "Pejoratives Revisited" [Q&A session]
10.00-11.15: Andrei Mărășoiu (University of Bucharest), "Understanding: Conscious Experience and Epistemic Norms"
Comments: Nenad Filipović (University of Belgrade)
11.30-12.15: Voin Milevski (University of Belgrade), "An Argument in Favour of the Desire-as-Belief Thesis" [Q&A session]
Comments: Milan Jovanović (University of Niš)
14.00-14.45: Adina Covaci (University of Warwick), "The Asymmetry of Deference" [Q&A session]
Comments: Igor Stojanović (University of Belgrade)
15.00-15.45: Stefan Mićić (University of Belgrade), "Confabulation and Lucidity: The Metaethical Analysis of Reasons for Action" [Q&A session]
Comments: Andreea Popescu (University of Bucharest)
16.00-17.15: Miljan Vasić (University of Belgrade), "The Assumption of Correctness and 'No Election' Option"
Comments: Adrian Briciu (West University of Timișoara)
Adina Covaci (University of Warwick), "The Asymmetry of Deference"
In this talk I aim to expand the debate on the non-epistemic status of deference. I take deference to be the act of forming and sustaining beliefs, or acting, on the basis of the testimony of another person who is seen as an expert. Here I will focus on what the literature has called the asymmetry thesis, according to which some types of deference are problematic (e.g. moral deference), while others are not (e.g. deference about theories in physics). Philosophers have so far suggested that we can distinguish between problematic and unproblematic deference by looking at what domains of discourse the matters we defer about belong to. I reject this way of conceptualizing the asymmetry and propose a new criterion for drawing it, which better accounts for our intuitions. I argue instead that deference can be problematic insofar as, and because, it interferes with the exercise and development of a valuable capacity, namely our capacity for practical deliberation.
Andrei Mărășoiu (University of Bucharest), "Understanding: Conscious Experience and Epistemic Norms"
We only understand, say, the position on a chessboard, if that position is intelligible, or makes sense to us. And, often enough, there is something it is like to grasp the patterns on the board. The question I tackle is how the epistemic and phenomenal aspects of understanding are related to each other. In order to address this question, we need preliminary accounts in the epistemology and phenomenology of understanding. However, lest conscious experiences met the epistemic norms of understanding merely by coincidence, we would seem to also need to answer the question of why epistemic and phenomenal aspects of understanding are related the way they are. In this text, I argue that we seem to lack the evidence needed to adequately support the claim that there is a metaphysically necessary relation between what it is like to experience understanding, on the one hand, and meeting the epistemic norms of understanding, on the other hand.
Stefan Mićić (University of Belgrade), "Confabulation and Lucidity: The Metaethical Analysis of Reasons for Action"
The reasons for action are constitutive elements of the moral decisions that individuals make. They are considered to be normative when an agent endorses them, but they could be regarded as (only?) descriptive when they are analyzed from a third-person perspective. The third-person perspective is a perspective of those who do not hold these facts as reasons for action at a given time but could endorse them as such. In this talk, I will examine the nature of reasons and the differentiation between moral and non-moral reasons and obligations, whether the difference between motivational and normative reasons is justifiable, and what are some of the epistemological challenges that we face when we think about reasons for action. Furthermore, I will try to outline the arguments in favor of the position that reasons for action are created rather than discovered.
Voin Milevski (University of Belgrade), "An Argument in Favour of the Desire-as-Belief Thesis"
According to one recent version of the desire-as-belief thesis (DAB), the desire to P is identical to the belief that one has a normative reason to P. A powerful objection to DAB holds that it is inconsistent with the distinction between the direction of fit of belief and desire. This paper argues that DAB can successfully avoid the 'direction of fit' objection, by demonstrating that it is perfectly consistent with the normative analysis of the direction of fit of belief and desire, which states that a desire to P is a mental state that gives one a subjective reason to make
P the case, while a belief that P is a mental state that gives one an objective reason to abandon this mental state if it is the case that not-P.
Andrei Moldovan (University of Salamanca), "Are There Entailed Conversational Implicatures?"
Is it possible for the same proposition to be both entailed and conversationally implicated by an utterance of a sentence? A review of the relevant literature on pragmatics reveals that the question in the title has received different answers. While those who answer the question affirmatively rely on examples of entailments that look very much like typical cases of conversational implicatures, those who answer it negatively adduce two kinds of considerations pertaining to the conceptual difference that needs to be drawn between the two categories of implications. I distinguish two arguments of this kind offered in the literature and I argue that they fail to establish the negative answer. In turn, I maintain that the affirmative answer has more theoretical advantages.
Alexandru Rădulescu (University of Missouri), "On Detonating"
A simple and attractive token-referential view about "now" is that, when used in a speech act, its tokens pick out the time of that speech act. However, there is a large class of speech acts, often called "answering machine cases", where our intuitions about the temporal locations of speech acts do not match our intuitions about the referents of tokens of "now". Consider this speech act: at t1, A writes a note to B, saying "It's raining now". At t2, B reads the note. A thus said that it was raining at t1. Now ask yourself: when (and where) did the speech act happen? When did A say that it was raining at t1? I lack clear intuitions here. But that use of "now" clearly refers to t1. Nor is this a feature of speech acts that we can disregard: other actions have it too. Consider killings. C shoots D at t1 and p1, while D is standing at p0. D dies from the wound at t2 and p2. Now ask yourself: when (and where) did C kill D? This is a long-standing debate in the metaphysics of killings; we do not need to settle it here. What matters for our purposes is that none of the answers from that debate delivers what the simple token-referential theory needs: temporal locations of speech acts that would match our intuitions about the referents of tokens of "now". The rest of the paper is devoted to evaluating other views about answering machine cases, and to developing the following view: a token of the word "now", when used in a locutionary act by a user who intends for it to have certain detonation conditions, refers to time t iff the detonation conditions of that token thus used are met at t.
Sanja Srećković, Nenad Filipović & Andrea Berber (University of Belgrade), "What is New in the Black Box Decision-Making Problem?"
Decision-making systems based on machine learning (ML) models are being increasingly used in many critical areas such as health care, criminal justice, job application assessment, etc. Machine learning models are unfortunately not ideal, and for various reasons they often contain errors or systematic biases, which may lead to harmful consequences for the subjects of the decisions. In cases where the exact way of functioning of the ML model is epistemically inaccessible - where the model is considered to be a 'black box' (BB) - this leads to a lack of trust in ML decision-making processes in general, and gives rise to the issue of assigning responsibility for erroneous or unfair decisions. These interconnected issues are usually merged together when they are addressed in the literature, and we call this compound 'the black box decision-making problem'. Responses to this problem focus mostly on explanations of BB decision-making processes, either by legislative requests for explanations, or, within the ML community, by developing the tools which make the BB models and their decision-making processes explainable ('The Explainable AI Project'). We argue that these popular responses address only the non-novel aspects of BB decision-making, and miss the core of the problem. We show that most of the aspects of BBs which are considered problematic have already been encountered in other fields which involve decision-making, and are thus not specifically created by the use of BB models. We demonstrate this by separating the problem into its most important aspects, and then by comparing these aspects to similar issues in other fields. In particular, we establish an analogy with medical practice, which has encountered almost all of the aspects of the BB decision-making problem before any AI methods existed. Nevertheless, the use of BB models does pose novel problems which have to do with assigning responsibility for its harmful consequences. We present the difficulties in addressing the problem of assigning and allocating responsibility which arise from the inherent characteristics of BB models and from the socio-technical context of their use.
Nikola Stamenković (University of Belgrade), "Some Problems for Non-Instantaneous Temporal Parts"
Temporal parts of material objects nowadays are primarily conceived as instantaneous, while temporally extended ones are only tacitly assumed. Here I will argue for an unpopular version of the doctrine, according to which there are no instantaneous temporal parts, but only those that have non-zero temporal extension. I will claim that, nonetheless, with only non-instantaneous temporal parts at our disposal, we can deal with some of the problems this view has encountered or might encounter. Those problems include: 1) the charge that by accepting only non-instantaneous temporal parts we are giving up on the project of providing a reductive analysis of persistence; 2) the claim that extended temporal parts violate Lewis’s thesis of Humean Supervenience; 3) the argument that some instances of intrinsic change seem to require instantaneous temporal parts; 4) the problem of massively colocated temporal parts; and 5) reconciliating non-instantaneous temporal parts with the stage theory.
Isidora Stojanovic (CNRS, Institut Jean Nicod), "Pejoratives Revisited"
Existing accounts of pejoratives converge on the idea that a use of a pejorative such as 'jerk' or 'asshole' is felicitous as long as the speaker has a negative attitude toward the person for whom they are using the pejorative, and does not place any special constraints on the conversational context. This talk presents experimental data that challenge this idea, based on joint work with Bianca Cepollaro and Filippo Domaneschi ("When is it OK to call someone a jerk? An experimental investigation of expressives", Synthese 2020, doi 10.1007/s11229-020-02633-z). Our main study shows that pejoratives are sensitive to contextual information to a much higher degree than the non-pejorative control items (such as ‘Piedmontese’), both in their referential and (albeit less) their predicative use. I shall discuss the broader implications of these results, as well as several follow-up studies.
Miljan Vasić (University of Belgrade), "The Assumption of Correctness and 'No Election' Option"
One of the central assumptions of the epistemic theory of democracy is that there are some procedure-independent facts according to which some option is the correct one. From this view, decision-making should be conceived as a truth-tracking process that should, more often than not, lead us to the right outcomes (List & Goodin, 2001). This assumption, however, faces two difficulties that, although anticipated earlier by Condorcet ( 1976), are most explicitly put forward by Goodin and Spiekermann (2018). The first one could be labeled as a demarcation problem. If the options, among which the choice is made, are conceived as the possible solutions to the given problem, a particular option can be placed somewhere on the specter of correctness. This, in turn, causes the term "correct" to act as a gradable adjective and, as such, display distinguishing characteristics of such terms (cf. Kennedy, 2007): a) it features the existence of borderline cases (the questions of "which is the most correct incorrect option?" and "which is the most incorrect correct option?"); b) it gives rise to the Sorites Paradox (if every incorrect option is slightly more correct than some other incorrect option, it is unclear ); c) the usage of this term is context-dependent (since the correctness of a single option depends on which other options are available). Even if it is possible to "cut" the spectrum at a certain point, the question remains should all correct options (i.e. those that made above the "correctness line") be considered as equally correct. This last question opens a second difficulty – the agenda problem: what can guarantee that any of the correct options will be available to choose from? Moreover, what happens in the cases where there are multiple correct options on the agenda since they can outnumber the incorrect ones? This may cause those decision-makers who are better at judging the better outcomes to split their opinions among multiple correct options. In this paper, I will propose a possible solution to both given problems. This solution is based on the suggestion brought about by C. L. Dodgson ( 1998), who proposed that, in addition to the available candidates, each ballot may contain "no election" as a separate option that should be treated like any other candidate. This option is a modification of the agenda which allows the decision-makers, by placing this option somewhere on their individual rankings, to separate other available options into sets of acceptable and unacceptable. Since this option is always implicitly present, as decision-makers know whether the status quo should be given an advantage over some undesirable outcome, making it explicit introduces the "correctness line", thus solving the demarcation problem. Moreover, in the post-analysis of the decision-making process, the very fact that decision was made points to the presence of the correct option on the agenda, and separation of the spectrum shows whether the choice was made among multiple correct options, thereby answering both questions of the agenda problem.
Dan Zeman (University of Warsaw), "Relativism and Retraction: A (Continuing) Love Story"
The argument from retraction (the speech act of “taking back” a previous speech act) has been one of the favorite arguments used by relativists about a variety of natural language expressions (predicates of taste, epistemic modals, moral and aesthetic claims etc.) in support of their view. The main consideration offered is that relativism can, while rival views cannot, account for this phenomenon. For some of the relativists leading the charge (e.g., John MacFarlane), retraction is, in fact, mandatory: a norm of retraction makes it obligatory for an agent to retract a previously unretracted assertion whenever what has been asserted is shown to be currently false. This norm, it is contended, is part and parcel of our behavior as rational agents and distinguishes relativism from other views on the market. Recently, several challenges have been raised to retraction providing support for relativism, of both a conceptual and an empirical nature. Focusing on the former, in this paper I defend relativism from the main objections found in the literature. I thus show that, even if retraction is not considered mandatory, there is still a phenomenon to be explained and that relativism is better situated in doing so than rival views. I also assess whether, robbed of the retraction norm, relativism still counts as a distinctive and interesting view. Finally, I show how relativism can account for certain cases deemed problematic for the view (“ignorant assessors” cases etc.).