TOPICS IN ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY
This is the first meeting of analytic philosophers from Serbia and Romania, in an effort to forge and sustain academic collaboration between philosophers from the two neighboring countries. We hope the collaboration will continue for many years to come!
The meeting takes place on April 6-7 and is hosted by the West University of Timișoara. There will be 9 participants, 4 on the Serbian side (Vojislav Božičković, Andrej Jandrić, Radmila Jovanović, Miljana Milojević) and 5 on the Romanian side (Sergiu Spătan, Adrian Briciu, Cristina Criste, Florin Lobonț and Dan Zeman). Below you can find the titles and the abstracts of the presentations.
The event is organized by Adrian Briciu, Miljana Milojević, Dan Zeman and Gheorghe Clitan, with the financial help of the Department of Political Sciences, Philosophy and Communication Sciences, West University of Timisoara.
You can download the poster of the event here.
Thursday, April 06
10.00 - 10.45: Vojislav Božičković, "Stalnaker, anti-individualism, and transparency"
10.50 - 11.35: Sergiu Spătan, "Worries, doubts and knowledge ascriptions"
12.00 - 12.45: Andrej Jandrić, "Content extraction, ontological mootness and nominalism"
15.00 - 15.45: Adrian Briciu, "Speech acts in improper contexts"
15.50 - 16.35: Radmila Jovanović, "Conventions vs relativised a priori: early interpretations of general relativity"
17.00 - 17.45: Cristina Criste, "Approaches of abstraction regarding set theory"
Friday, April 07
10.00 - 10.45: Dan Zeman, "Self-identificatory uses of slurs: the case of 'țigan'"
10.50 - 11.35: Miljana Milojević, "Extended persons"
12.00 - 12.45: Florin Lobonț, "The impact of early analytic philosophy on British absolute ideliasm"
Vojislav Božičković, University of Belgrade: "Stalnaker, anti-individualism, and transparency"
Abstract: Stalnaker (Our Knowledge of the Internal World, 2008) claims that an anti-individualist account of the facts that determine thought-content is compatible with the epistemic transparency of difference of perception-based demonstrative thought-contents. I first argue that the strategy that he employs to show this has problems in establishing that anti-individualism is also compatible with the epistemic transparency of sameness of such thought-contents. I then consider an alternative strategy based on Stalnaker’s two-dimensional semantics that avoids this kind of asymmetry but show that it is of no help in reconciling an anti-individualist account of the facts that determine content with transparency.
Sergiu Spătan, West University of Timișoara: "Worries, doubts and knowledge ascriptions"
Abstract: It all began with some infamous mental experiments about banks and airports. The debate on knowledge ascriptions between contextualists and invariantists still revolves, 30 years after its inception, around well-crafted, intuition-vexing, and experimentally-tested two-case scenarios of subjects having the same epistemic position in slightly different situations, but arousing contrasting epistemic judgments. I put forward, in this presentation, a skeptical invariantist response to this sort of scenarios, by defending a psychological approach towards knowledge ascriptions, and refuting, in the meantime, a skeptical pragmatic account. “Skeptical cognitive invariantism” (SCI), as I called it for the lack of a better name, is an account according to which: i) the truth conditions of various knowledge ascriptions are invariant – they do not change with the ascriber’s context – ii) these truth conditions are such that most of the knowledge ascriptions used in common discourse are literally false and most knowledge denials are literally true, and iii) some knowledge claims seem nevertheless true (in low-standard contexts), because the mechanism of knowledge ascription is based on a generally unreliable heuristic – namely, the willingness to ascribe knowledge tracks the ascriber’s doxastic attitude of certainty. In other words, although we know almost nothing about the external world, we claim knowledge whenever we are confident enough, and agree to not knowing whenever we doubt and worry. Thus, we do not need contextualism to explain contextually-shifting intuitions; we only need psychology. And a little bit of skepticism.
Andrej Jandrić, University of Belgrade: "Content extraction, ontological mootness and nominalism"
Abstract: Stephen Yablo has proposed a new ‘easy road’ nominalist strategy: instead of engaging in the hard work of paraphrasing a scientific theory which presupposes numbers (or other abstract objects) in a nominalistically acceptable way, nominalists are, according to Yablo, entitled to accept the theory as true, while denying the existence of numbers, if from the theory’s content the presupposition that there are numbers can be subtracted away, yielding thus the content remainder completely about concrete objects. Perfect extricability, i.e. extricability in every possible world, of the presupposition that there are numbers from any content apparently involving them is, in Yablo’s view, sufficient to make the existence of numbers moot. In my presentation I will argue against Yablo that perfect extricability fails as a criterion of ontological mootness.
Adrian Briciu, University of Barcelona: "Speech acts in improper contexts"
Abstract: Recording devices are generally taken to present problems for the standard Kaplanian semantics for indexicals. In this paper, I argue that the remote utterance view offers the best way for a Kaplanian semantics to handle the recalcitrant data that comes from the use of recording devices. Following Sidelle (1991) I argue that recording devices allow agents to perform utterances at a distance.
Radmila Jovanović, University of Belgrade: "Conventions vs relativised a priori: early interpretations of general relativity"
Abstract: After the appearance of non-Euclidian geometries, Kant’s apriorism regarding geometry was seriously put in question. Poencaré challenged both apriorism and empricism, claiming that the question of “true geometry” of our phisical world has no meaning. His position became known as conventionalism. Logical positivists recognised the importance of understanding the nature of conventional elements in our scientific knowledge, especially after the appearence of the general relativity theory, but their positions differe concerning their role. While Schlick accepted the term “conventions” when speaking of basic elements of physics, young Rajhenbah called those elements “relativistic a priori”, arguing that Kant’s doctrine can be accomodated even to the new relativistic physics. After an important correspondence between two philosophers, they astonishingly agreed that their dispute is purely terminological. I want to analyse their postions and to argue that this diagnosis was in fact mistaken.
Cristina Criste, Babeș-Bolyai University: "Approaches of abstraction regarding set theory"
Abstract: In the last years of the 19th century Frege strove, but failed, to use abstraction principles within a logicist framework with regard the concept of number or the foundations of arithmetic. After more than three-quarters of a century, there is an attempt among certain analytic philosophers, an approach known as abstractionism, to revive Frege’s attempt and to reconfigure and explain the analyticity of the concept of number or set theory with appropriate abstraction principles. Before engaging in such a debate, I believe it is necessary, nonetheless, to revisit some aspects of Cantor’s theory of abstraction and the way it differs from the abstractionist elements of Frege’s or Russell’s definitions of number. What is more, Cantor’s view on abstraction in obtaining the transfinite numbers is tightly connected with his attitude towards and dismissal of the paradoxes.
Dan Zeman, University of the Basque Country: "Self-identificatory uses of slurs: the case of 'țigan'"
Abstract: Recent literature on slurs has primarily focused on a number of English slurs targeting race, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disability, political views etc. While studies of slurs from other languages exist, they are rather sparse. On the other hand, current discussions of slurs focus on several well-established uses: derogative, internalized or appropriated. While it is no doubt crucial for a theory of slurs to account for such uses, there are other uses of slurs that have not been considered.
My aim in this presentation is twofold. First, I want to bring to light a certain, hitherto unexplored use of slurs, which I dub “self-identificatory”. I illustrate this type of use by bringing evidence from Romanian and other languages from Eastern Europe – in particular, the word “țigan” (roughly translated in English as “gypsy”). Second, I want to put forward a semantic framework that accounts both for such uses and the uses mentioned before, without either postulating ambiguity or retorting to the idea that a slur’s meaning solely depends on the intentions, beliefs or attitudes of speakers.
Miljana Milojević, University of Belgrade: "Extended persons"
Abstract: In this presentation I will argue that Extended Cognition hypothesis (EC) has important legal and ethical implications. Namely, starting from the parity considerations regarding mental states and cognitive processes, which ground the EC, and neo-Lockean functionalist account of personhood, based on the notion of psychological continuity, I will claim that there are extended persons. Furthermore, I argue that such persons should be recognized by law, and that it is possible to provide a framework for systemic incorporation of such persons into the legal concept of a person. The importance of such an incorporation is in the application of such an account in legal cases which are treated as cases of property damage, and which could be reconceptualized as violations of personal rights and/or personal assaults. While legal practitioners sometimes do reconceptualize such cases in the process of adjudication there is still no sustainable framework and standardized argumentation which could be used to categorize them in a single category based on accepted general principles which would greatly help in future adjudication. I analyze three different accounts which attempt to offer criteria for extended personhood, emphasize their flaws and limitations, and, finally, offer a broader account which should remedy their shortcomings.
Florin Lobonț, West University of Timișoara: "The impact of early analytic philosophy on British absolute ideliasm"
Abstract: After Ayer demonstrated quite powerfully the impossibility of metaphysics by indicating that metaphysical propositions are neither empirically verifiable nor analytic, a number of so-called "absolute idealists", most notably R.G Collingwood, reacted by giving a arguing in favour of a transcendental-epistemological justification of metaphysics. By preserving Ayer's own definition of truth, the reformend "metaphysics without ontology", they argued, is only possible as a description of absolute presuppositions that change historically. Within the new confinements, in order to retrieve the reality, the new "metaphysics" had to be revised via its reflection in human ‘historical’ thinking about it. In relation to the question of truth, the ‘reformed’ (that is, ‘historical’) metaphysician knows that the truth is not to be found on the empirical, verifiable level, nor on that of analysis of concepts. Only through description of historically changing absolute presuppositions the mystery of reality (in Whitehead's words) can be spoken of; in this, rationality shows both its possibilities, and its boundaries; for the "pure being" cannot be studied independently of thinking. That was Collingwood’s (and many of his philosophical friends, most notably M Foster's and A.N. Whitehead's) conceptual idealist objection against the commonsense realism. In full consonance with the British idealists, Nicholas Rescher wil stress (over three decades later) the essential role of thinking for the image of reality: against commonsense realism, he argues (in favour of conceptual dealism) that "nature, as we standardly conceive it, is conceived by us in terms of reference to the characteristically mental processes like imagining, supposing, and the like. On this view, what the mind ’makes’ is not nature itself, but the mode-and-manner-determining categories in terms of which we conceive it. The constitutive role of the mind, therefore, is to be thought of in neither ontological nor causal terms, but in conceptual ones (N. Rescher).