Yemima Ben-Menahem

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Lawlessness and (a kind of) Freedom

24 May 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: The literature on freedom recognizes two different (and mutually exclusive) understandings of freedom—libertarian freedom and compatibilism. This paper offers a third option—lawlessness. It discusses three forms of lawlessness, all of which are compatible with determinism. The first concerns the irreducibility, within science, of higher level concepts to the level of fundamental physics. The second stems from the Kolmogorov-Chitin redefinition of randomness. The third is a variation on Davidson’s anomalous monism. As a result, the paper suggests a new kind of freedom—freedom from the law—which differs from libertarian freedom but is superior to compatibilism.

Centro de Filosofia da Universidade de Lisboa

LanCog Group (Language, Mind and Cognition Research Group)

Centro de Matemática, Aplicações Fundamentais e Investigação Operacional



Hartry Field

New York University

Generalizing Fuzzy Logic for Semantic Paradoxes (and Vagueness)

20 May 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa

Building C6, 2nd floor, room 6.2.33

Abstract: Lukasiewicz continuum-valued logic has been popular in dealing with vagueness, and prominent logicians (e.g. Thoralf Skolem and C. C. Chang) have been very interested in its application to the semantic, property-theoretic and set-theoretic paradoxes. But it isn’t ultimately workable for either. This talk will sketch how to generalize it to make it work (not for set theory, because of extensionality, but for truth and properties, and also for vagueness). The resulting theory is more powerful than Kripke’s in that it treats conditionals and restricted (as well as unrestricted) quantifiers. I’ll avoid technical details, but give enough of the idea so that those technically inclined shouldn’t have much problem filling them in. There will also be a bit of discussion of why we need two kinds of conditionals.

Free Attendance

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Hartry Field

New York University

Epistemology from a “Naturalistic” (but not Reliabilist) Perspective

17 May 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: I’ll advocate an obvious-sounding approach to epistemology, that involves developing general models of possible epistemic practices and critically evaluating which of those practices are likely to do best at achieving various truth-oriented goals. Despite its obviousness, there is an apparently serious problem with this idea, a generalization of the one in Lewis’s discussion of immodest inductive methods: each practice seems bound to evaluate itself as best, in which case the “critical evaluation” cuts no ice and one just ends up with whatever practice one starts with. A lot of the paper will be a critique of the line of thought behind the apparent problem, and of a certain picture of “epistemic rules” on which it rests. Once we’ve cleared away the problem, we can see the virtues of the approach, including the fact that it avoids unproductive issues that arise from fetishizing epistemic vocabulary such as knowledge and justification. The critical evaluation in the approach is truth-oriented, but avoids the many problems of reliabilism: both its refusal to recognize any “internalist” considerations and the fact that no notion of reliability seems adequate to encompass all the different factors we want our inductive practices to satisfy. The methodology fits best with a kind of normative anti-realism, about which I hope to say a bit at the end, and which provides another respect in which the approach is “naturalistic”.

Alan Weir

University of Glasgow

Mereological Naïve Realism

10 May 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: One virtue of sense datum theories is their phenomenological accuracy: when I see, imagine, dream or hallucinate a dodecagon, there is a twelve-sided figure in my mind. At any rate, if that is plausible then intentionalist theories of mind are at a distinct disadvantage. However a vice of the sense datum theories, from a naturalistic perspective, is the great difficulty of squaring them with a physicalist ontology. In this talk I’ll sketch a metaphysical view which aims to avoid the affront to naturalism presented by sense data by validating a form of naïve realism which, I will argue, also meets the severe problem illusions and hallucinations pose for naïve or direct realism in a more satisfactory way than the alternatives. The metaphysical framework takes the form of a heterodox variant of mereology in which mereological concepts such as proper part are explicated in terms of a more complex, multigrade, constituency relation. The latter, I’ll suggest, can play the role of a fundamental explanatory tool which can encompass experience, naïvely construed, as well as other physical entities.

Elena Dragalina-Chernaya

Higher School of Economics, Moscow

Logical Hylomorphism, Internal Relations, and Analyticity

3 May 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: The key concern of this paper is the placing of several approaches to internal relations, analyticity, and logicality in a framework of the distinction between substantial and dynamic models of logical hylomorphism. I’ll start with the historical roots of logical hylomorphism, i.e., the dichotomy of formal and material consequences in “Parisian” and “English” traditions in the fourteenth century logic, and from there I’ll move forwards to its counterparts in the modern logic. The first tradition (e.g., John Buridan, Albert of Saxony, Marsilius of Inghen) holds that a consequence is formal if it is invariant under all substitutions for its categorematic terms. According to the second tradition (e.g., Richard Billingham, Robert Fland, Ralph Strode, Richard Lavenham), a formal consequence is valid when the consequent is contained (formally understood) in the antecedent. Thus, the English tradition appeals to the psychologically loaded category of understanding rather than syntactic structures or semantic variations. However, it does not mean that the English Scholastics psychologized formal consequence since the formal understanding grounds formality not only on our power of understanding (intelligibility or imaginability) but also on internal relations. For Scholastics, internal relations are expressed by the eternal truths rooted in potential being. Following Luciano Floridi (2017), I suggest considering, in contrast, Kantian transcendental logic as a logic of design rather than a system of consequences with transcendental limitations grounded on potentiality. Then, I’ll discuss some problems with substantial (model-theoretical) approach to formal relations. Specifically, I’ll address Tarskian permutation invariance criterion for binary quantifiers and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s claim that binary colours (e.g., reddish green) possess formal structures. I’ll try to argue that the interactive dynamic of information processing provides a unified game-theoretical framework for dealing with binary formal relations. Finally, I’ll address the discussion on the analyticity of statements about colour relations. Wittgenstein’s approach to internal relations in his Remarks on Colour is argued for as an attempt of modelling a balance between logic and the empirical.

We are glad to announce that Paulo Borges was awarded the Premio Ibn Arabi – Taryumán 2019!

The award ceremony will be held in Ávila, Spain on the next 11th of May. The ceremony is part of the «International Symposium Ibn Arabi de Mias-Latina: Poesía y Percepción Interior (Shi’r wa-shu’ûr) en Ibn Arabi y la Literatura Mística» organized by Universidad de la Mística (Ávila, Spain) where Paulo Borges is giving the opening conference.


The conference is allso hosting the presentation of his newest book Presença Ausente. A Saudade na Cultura e no Pensamento Portugueses.


More information on the event here.


Constantine Sandis

University of Hertfordshire

If A Lion Could Speak…

11 April 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: How can we be confident that we have correctly understood someone – or that they, in turn, have understood us? Wittgenstein quipped that “if a lion could speak, we could not understand him”. The remark has attracted much attention, both friendly and hostile, over the past 65 years. This talk clarifies what Wittgenstein meant, rejecting a number of objections and misinterpretations along the way. I conclude that the remark is not really about animals but, rather, the conclusion of a far more interesting discussion concerning the nature and limits of understanding others.