NY Logic & Metaphysics Workshop Spring 2015 Schedule

NY Logic & Metaphysics Workshop Spring 2015 Schedule

NY Logic and Metaphysics Workshop Provisional Programme, Spring 2015

Thursdays, 4.15-6.15, Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY
Organized by Graham Priest

  • Feb 5: Fillipo Casati, St Andrews, ‘The (Dis)Analogy of Being’ (Abstract below)
  • Feb 12: NYPL
  • Feb 19: Tommy Kivatinos, Graduate Center, “What makes Grounding Distinct from Causation?” (Abstract below)
  • Feb 26: Maciej Sendlak, Szczecin, “On the Principle of Characterization” (Abstract below)
  • Mar 5: Moltmann, Paris 1, “A Truthmaker Semantics for ‘Cases'” (Abstract below)
  • Mar 12: NYPL
  • Mar 19: Adam Bjorndahl, Carnegie Melon, “Topological Subset Space Models for Public Announcements” (Abstract below)
  • Mar 26: Andy Yu, Oxford, “The Indefinite Extensibility of Propositions” (Abstract below)
  • April 9: Mid-Semester Break
  • April 16:  Dan Waxman, NYU, “The Epistemic Status of Consistency Claims” (Abstract below)
  • April 23: Irena Cronin, UCLA, ‘Fine-grounding Fine’s Theory of Truth-conditional Content’ (Abstract below)
  • April 30: Justin Bledin, Johns, Hopkins, ‘Propositions with Descriptions’ (Abstract below)
  • May 7: NYPL
  • May 14: Antonella Mallozzi, CUNY GC, ‘A Kripkean look at Chalmers’s modal epistemology’ (Abstract below)


Next Talk:
Final Meeting, Spring 2015
Thursday 14 May, 4.15-6.15
Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY

Speaker:  Antonella Mallozzi, CUNY GC

A Kripkean look at Chalmers’s modal epistemology

Abstract:  Chalmers argues that we have a priori access to metaphysical modality. His main thesis is that conceivability entails possibility. However, Kripkean a posteriori necessities are usually thought to constitute a challenge to this thesis. Although we can conceive in some sense that Hesperus is not Phosphorus, this is not metaphysically possible. Chalmers’s account proposes to meet this challenge by refining both the notions of conceivability and possibility. In this work-in-progress talk, I look at Chalmers’s proposal from a Kripkean perspective. My goal is to reveal a fundamental fracture between Chalmers and the Kripkean. Moreover, I argue that the modal knowledge we can gain a priori through Chalmers’s conceivability does not match our metaphysical interests.


Thursday 30 April, 4.15-6.15
Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY.

Speaker: Justin Bledin, Johns Hopkins

Propositions without Descriptions

Non-descriptivists about epistemic modals and indicative conditionals suggest that speakers who use these epistemic expressions do not express possible-worlds propositions. According to Yalcin [2011], for instance, these speakers do not describe reality but only express certain global features of their mental states. But non-descriptivism, I argue, does not preclude propositional content. Even if speakers engaged in modal and conditional talk fail to describe the world, they can nevertheless exclude various ways the world might be, or might have been, in conversation. If we understand propositions in terms of this ruling out effect, then these speakers still express possible-worlds propositions. The resulting account partially validates Frege’s view of necessity in his Begriffsschrift and the material analysis of the indicative conditional.

Thursday 23 April, 4.15-6.15
Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY.

Speaker: Irena Cronin, UCLA

Fine-grounding Fine’s Theory of Truth-conditional Content

In ‘A Theory of Partial Truth’,  Kit Fine provides an account of partial truth directly in terms of truthmakers; these truthmakers can be strictly and/or weakly grounded. According to Fine, to judge a proposition to be partially true, one would be concerned only with the ‘worldly’ conception of ground where factual content rules, versus the conceptual conception of ground where it would be totally acceptable to state that P grounds P^P.  Currently, Fine’s theory of ‘pure logic of ground’  provides a semi-systemized guide as to how to judge a proposition’s partial truthfulness.

In order to vindicate Fine’s pure logic of ground (PLG) against Louis deRosset’s charge that his logic of strict ground (LSG) is ultimately more foundational than Fine’s PLG, with PLG reducing to LSG (thus doing away with PLG),  it would be very helpful to investigate more finely how Fine’s PLG works in the case of partial truth and weak ground, and then to build upon those areas where more clarity and detail are needed. Since deRosset’s main concern is what he considers to be Fine’s fuzziness of what weak ground is (and he uses this to posit LSG’s superiority), Fine’s PLG can be defended by clarifying and systematizing the notion of weak ground to a further degree. This is what I aim to do in my paper.


Thursday 16 April, 4.15-6.15
Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY
Speaker: Dan Waxman, NYU

The Epistemic Status of Consistency Claims

Many of us take ourselves to be justified in believing that our best mathematical theories (e.g. arithmetic, analysis, and set theory) are consistent. In this talk, I will argue that the source of this justification is more puzzling than it may at first appear. I will critically consider derivations of consistency claims from the truth of theories, as well as abductive arguments from the lack of discovered inconsistencies and the applicability of mathematics. I will go on to explore the prospects for a conceivability-based epistemology of consistency.


Thursday 26th of March, 4.15-6.15
Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY
Speaker: Andy Yu, Oxford

The Indefinite Extensibility of Propositions

Abstract: In this work-in-progress talk, I motivate a modal account of the indefinite extensibility of propositions on the basis of an iterative conception of proposition. As an application, I suggest that the account provides a satisfying solution to the Russell-Myhill paradox. The account is in the spirit of recently-developed modal accounts of the indefinite extensibility of sets motivated on the basis of the iterative conception of set.


Thursday 19th of March, 4.15-6.15
Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY.
Adam Bjorndahl, Carnegie Mellon

Topological Subset Space Models for Public Announcements

In recent work, Yì Wáng and Thomas Ågotnes provide an interpretation of public announcements using subset space semantics. Roughly speaking, public announcements have the effect of “updating” a model by “throwing away” certain states (namely, those states incompatible with the announcement); subset spaces offer an appealing alternative semantics in this context because they come equipped with a model-internal mechanism for implementing such updates. In this talk, we’ll first develop the basic definitions and motivations, and then argue that a topological take on the standard subset space semantics is essential to properly interpreting public announcements. More precisely, we will interpret the precondition for a public announcement of phi to be the “local truth” of phi, semantically rendered via an interior operator. We’ll show that these revised semantics improve on the original, offer several motivating examples to this effect, and exhibit a simple sound and complete axiomatization of the resulting logic.



Thurs March 12, 5-7 pm.
Room 302, 5 Washington Place.  (Department of Philosophy, NYU.)
Harvey Lederman, NYU (with Peter Fritz, Oxford)

Standard State Space Models of Unawareness

The impossibility theorem of Dekel, Lipman and Rustichini (1998) has been thought to demonstrate that standard state-space models cannot be used for modeling unawareness. We show that Dekel, Lipman and Rustichini do not establish this claim. Distinguishing three notions of awareness, we argue that although one of them cannot be adequately modeled using standard state spaces, there is no reason to think that standard state spaces cannot provide models of the other two notions. Moreover, standard space models of these notions are attractively simple. As we show, they allow us to prove completeness and decidability results with ease, to carry over standard techniques from decision theory, and to add propositional quantifiers straightforwardly.


Thursday 5th of March, 4.15-6.15
Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY.
Speaker: Friederike Moltmann, CNRS Paris 1

A Truthmaker Semantics for ‘Cases’

I will argue that constructions with the noun ‘case’ in English (or comparable constructions in other languages) are an overt reflection of the truthmaking relation in basically the sense of Kit Fine’s truthmaker semantics:

(1) a. the case in which a student fails the exam
b. It is sometimes the case that a student fails the exam.
c. John will win or Mary. In either case, we will celebrate.
d. If John wins, Mary will lose. In that case, we will celebrate.

The semantic behavior of ‘case’-constructions also motivate an extension of truthmaker semantics, though, requiring a distinction among different types of truthmakers (such as situations and  actions)and  requiring the truthmaking relation to hold not only between entities and sentences, but also between entities and modal or cognitive products, entities of the sort of obligations, offers, claims, decisions, and hopes. ‘Case’-anaphora, in particular, provide a new diagnostics regarding the semantics of modals and attitude verbs, distinguishing sharply between epistemic and deontic modals as well as among different types of attitudes and complement-clauses, as indicated below:

(2) a. John might be at home. In that case Mary will be at home too.
b. John may take an apple. ??? In that case, Mary will take one too.
(3) a. John wants to write Mary a letter. ??? In that case, Mary will be happy.
b. John hopes that Mary has won. In that case, Mary will be happy.

Such differences, which can hardly be accounted for on standard semantic analyses, support a novel truthmaker semantics of modal and attitude sentences based on the notion of a cognitive product.


Thursday 26th of February, 4.15-6.15
Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY.

Maciej Sendlak, Szczecin
On the Principle of Characterization

Every so-called Meinongian theory has to face a well-known argument which was presented by Bertrand Russell in “On Denoting”. The aim of this critique was to point out that Meinong’s Theory of Objects is inconsistent, false, and worthless from a theoretical point of view. This is so – Russell argued – because one of the fundamental assumptions of this theory (the principle of characterization) leads to a consequence that is ridiculous from an ontological perspective, i.e. the principle forces us to postulate existing round square or existing golden mountain. Although nowadays over hundred years have passed since Russell published his classic paper, and thereafter many philosophers have tried to reply to it, Russell’s criticism is still regarded as a serious challenge. In my talk I will take a closer look at ways of defending the principle, and sketch out a universal strategy, which should work well with various contemporary interpretations of Meinong’s Theory of Objects.


Thursday 19th of February, 4.15-6.15
Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY

Tommy Kivatinos, GC
What makes Grounding Distinct from Causation?

Grounding is often understood as the dependence relation by which some entities or facts depend upon that which is fundamental to them. It’s commonly assumed that this sort of dependence is distinct from causal dependence. But, should we make this assumption? Can we discern a specific feature of grounding or causation that distinguishes these relations? I’ll discuss a few features that may appear to distinguish them but argue that these features fail to do so. Thus I’ll demonstrate that although the distinction between grounding and causation may appear to be obvious, it’s quite difficult to justify.


The first meeting of the Workshop for the Spring Semester 2015 will be on Thursday 5th of February, Room 7395, Graduate Center, CUNY. Details:

Filippo Casati, University of St Andrews

The (Dis)analogy of Being.

A spectre is haunting analytic metaphysics – the spectre of Martin Heidegger. After a quick review of the contemporary philosophers that are responsible for this Heideggerian renaissance, we will focus on the interpretation presented by Kris McDaniel in Ways of being and A return to the analogy of being. According to him, Heidegger is an ontological pluralist for two main reasons: (A) he holds that there are different modes (or degrees) of being; (B) he thinks that being and existence are interchangeable. First, I reject McDaniel’s interpretation showing that, according to Heidegger himself, (B) is false. Second, I propose a new interpretation drawing a comparison between Heidegger’s ontology and Meinong’s ontology: I show that Heidegger is only ontically (but not ontologically) pluralistic. Third, I claim that there are not only degrees of ontological commitments but also degrees of metaphysical commitments. I explain what I mean with latter one and I argue that the Heideggerian ontology, read as an extension of the Meinongian one, has the most liberal metaphysical commitment possible.