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SWIP-Analytic: Amie Thomasson (Dartmouth), “What Can Philosophy Do?”

October 18 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Amie Thomasson (Dartmouth) will be giving a talk entitled “What Can Philosophy Do?”  on Thursday October 18, 2018 from 4-6pm at the NYU Silver Center (31 Washington Place, Room 403). There will be a reception following the talk. All are welcome!

What Can Philosophy Do?

Abstract: What can philosophy still do that is useful and relevant? Thinking of philosophy as making deep discoveries about the world leads to the impression that philosophy is a rival to science in the search for knowledge. Given the epistemological mysteries of how we could gain metaphysical knowledge, and the complete failures of convergence in philosophical views, it also leaves us threatened with a despairing skepticism. Some instead have suggested that philosophy should focus on analyzing our language or concepts. Yet many philosophers reject this, thinking that it makes the work of philosophy superficial and uninteresting.

I will argue that we should think of philosophy not as a method of discovering reality, but as a tool for evaluating and transforming the ways we think and talk—for engaging in conceptual ethics. On such a view, the work of philosophy is certainly not uninteresting or superficial—it has real worldly importance. For how we speak and think about the world really matters to what we do and to how we live. However, some have thought that addressing questions about what concepts we should use itself requires deep metaphysical knowledge, and so doesn’t avoid the problems of the discovery view of philosophy. I will argue, however, that we can develop and make use of a pragmatic method for addressing questions in conceptual ethics that does not re-introduce the original epistemological mysteries.



October 18
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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NYU Silver Center, Room 403 (31 Washington Place)



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