Javier Gonzalez de Prado Salas


How to Doubt Yourself Rationally

26 October 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Higher-order evidence can make an agent rationally doubt the reliability of her reasoning. When this happens, it seems that the agent should adopt a cautious attitude towards her original conclusion. This is so even if the higher-order evidence is misleading and the original reasoning was actually impeccable (say, it was a good piece of deductive reasoning). On the face of it, this is puzzling. Why should the agent refrain from endorsing her initial conclusion, if her original reasons to endorse it remain as strong as before? My proposal is that the (misleading) higher-order evidence undermines the agent’s possession of her original first-order reasons, constituting what I call a dispossessing defeater. After acquiring the higher-order evidence, the agent is not anymore in a position to rely competently on the relevant first-order considerations as reasons for her original conclusion. In this way, such considerations stop being available to the agent as reasons for the conclusion. So, an agent with misleading higher-order evidence can adopt a cautious attitude while properly responding to the set of reasons that she possesses – a set that is reduced due to the acquisition of higher-order dispossessing defeaters.

Fernando Broncano-Berrocal

Autonomous University of Madrid

Lottery Propositions and Unsafe Doubts

19 October 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: It is fair to say that views based on the safety principle (if an agent S knows a proposition p, not easily would S have believed that p without it being the case that p) stand among the most popular in the epistemological landscape. In spite of their many virtues, safety-based views have a pebble in their shoes: the so-called lottery problem. According to one way to understand it, the lottery problem is the problem of explaining why mere reflection on the long odds that one will lose the lottery does not yield knowledge that one will lose. By giving an adequate explanation of why we don’t know that we won’t win the lottery on the basis of statistical evidence, one can thereby explain why the premises of the knowledge version of the lottery paradox are false. Informally, the lottery paradox is generated as follows: if you know that a given lottery ticket will be a loser, then you can know this for every ticket, but since you also know that one ticket will be winner, you know inconsistent propositions, namely that all tickets will lose and that one ticket will be a winner, but knowing inconsistent propositions is not possible. This paper makes a negative and a positive point. The negative point is that no formulation of the safety principle for knowledge is able to explain why we don’t know lottery propositions and hence to solve the lottery problem. The positive point is that the fact that lottery propositions are not known can be still explained in terms of safety and, in particular, in terms of the idea that lottery players have (or should have) unsafe doubts that defeat their knowledge of lottery propositions.

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For further information, please contact CFUL at c.filosofia@letras.ulisboa.pt

We congratulate Elton Marques for finishing his PhD!

Elton’s PhD thesis, Sobre Determinismo e Eternismo: argumentos e relações possíveis entre teses [On Determinism and Eternalism: Arguments and Possible Relations between Thesis] was successfully defended at the University of Lisbon.

We are delighted to announce that one of our members, Soraya Nour Sckell, has won the award Wolfgang-Kaupen, This award is given annually to the author of a scientific article in sociology of law that is considered as the best one by the Section Sociology of Law of the German Society for Sociology  (Sektion Rechtssoziologie der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie – DGS), Her article “Kelsens Rechtstheorie, Psychoanalyse, Soziologie und Kollektivwissenschaft” was published in the Zeitschrift für Kultur- und Kollektivwissenschaft (ZKKW) in 2016.


Unconscious Pains and Unconscious Suffering
Sam Coleman
University of Hertfordshire
21 September 2018, 16:00
Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)
Abstract: I will distinguish a few different kinds of suffering, zeroing in on one that involves the ‘intrinsic’ qualitative character of a mental/bodily state, paradigmatically exemplified in the case of suffering severe pains, e.g. as when burning one’s hand on a hot stove. I am interested in the question of whether if pains can exist unconsciously, then such suffering could also occur unconsciously. I will make the case for an affirmative answer to this question. I will also briefly make the case that there are such things as unconscious pains. So overall I defend the claim that there is such a thing as unconscious suffering in the relevant sense. If I have time I’ll hope to say something about the connection of such suffering to moral regard.

New issue here

This issue of philosophy@LISBON journal transcribes the minutes of the Conference: “Colóquio Marx: as misérias da filosofia”, that took place at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon (Faculdade de Letras da
Universidade de Lisboa) on 28 and 29 November 2017. It is thus a thematic number, dedicated in this case to the thought of Karl Marx.
The next issue of the journal will not be thematic and, as such, it is requested to the readers to submit articles by September 30th, 2018. The submission rules are on the journal’s website (http://www.philosophyatlisbon.org).
We can now announce that the issue 10 of this magazine, to be published in the first half of 2019, will again be thematic and dedicated to the theme What is Music? We would like to call readers attention to some changes to the procedures of the journal. The sections “About us” and “Submissions” underwent some significant changes, following the guidelines are given to us by the services of the Library of the Faculty of Letters (University of Lisbon).
We shall also introduce a new section, which will contain the journal’s code of ethics.


Tommaso Piazza

University of Pavia & LanCog

The Many Ways of The Basing Relation

22 June 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: S’s belief that P is said to be doxastically justified if and only if S believes that P and this belief is based on a reason that provides S with propositional justification for P. Depending on the (doxastic or non-doxastic) nature of the reason that provides S with justification for P, the process whereby S bases her belief that P can take a different form. If it is a non-doxastic reason, like an experience that P, S forms the belief as a spontaneous non-inferential response to her having the experience. If it is a belief, to base a second belief on the first is to infer the content of the second from the content of the first. The distinction between these two basic ways in which a belief of S may be based on a reason is implicit in much epistemological literature but, I contend in this paper, non-exhaustive. In fact there are cases, somewhat surprisingly disregaded by the extant epistemological literature, where a subject has a doxastically justified belief which has not been formed on the basis of the subject’s reasons in any of the ways described above. To accommodate these cases I define and deploy the novel notion of a non-doxastic inference, and defend the claim that one can base a belief on a non-doxastic state also by inferring a belief from it in this sense.

Rachael Wiseman

University of Liverpool

Self-Knowledge Without Self-Ascription

15 June 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Thoughts that are candidates for self-knowledge are typically expressed using sentences with ‘I’ as the grammatical subject followed by a predicate-expression that contains a psychological verb and its object. ‘I see a lion’, ‘I intend to leave’, ‘I feel hot’, ‘I want a biscuit’. It is typical to suppose that when I say of myself ‘I ψ a’—where ‘ψ’ is a psychological verb—I self-ascribe the attribute given by the predicate-expression ‘ψ a’. It is this supposition that I would like to challenge. I think it gets the grammar of first-person thought wrong and that it does so in ways that matter not only because it gets that grammar wrong but also because it leaves us with a picture of ourselves and our place in the world that is ethically bad for us.

Occipital and left temporal instantaneous amplitude and frequency oscillations correlated with access and phenomenal consciousness

8 June 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Given the hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers, 1995) there are no brain electrophysiological correlates of the subjective experience (the felt quality of redness or the redness of red, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field, the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothball, bodily sensations, etc.). However, there are brain occipital and left temporal electrophysiological correlates of the subjective experience (Pereira, 2015). Notwithstanding, as evoked signal, the change in event-related brain potentials phase (frequency is the change in phase over time) is instantaneous, that is, the frequency will transiently be infinite: a transient peak in frequency (positive or negative), if any, is instantaneous in electroencephalogram averaging or filtering that the event-related brain potentials required and the underlying structure of the event-related brain potentials in the frequency domain cannot be accounted, for example, by the Wavelet Transform or the Fast Fourier Transform analysis, because they require that frequency is derived by convolution rather than by differentiation. However, as I show in the current original research report, one suitable method for analyzing the instantaneous change in event-related brain potentials phase and accounted for a transient peak in frequency (positive or negative), if any, in the underlying structure of the event-related brain potentials is the Empirical Mode Decomposition with post processing (Xie et al., 2014) Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition.

Eylem Özaltun

Koç University

Action Awareness as the Source of Flexibility in Skillful Copings

1 June 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: As observed by Descartes, human action is distinctive for the wide range and specificity of skills we display. Many of these skills are highly flexible, and can be employed in varied circumstances and for varied goals. Now, how is our being self-conscious, self-aware and rational related to the distinctive way in which we act? Almost everyone agrees that we must be self-conscious and rational to acquire these skills, but the role of self-awareness and reasoning in exercising these skills is in dispute. Recently, a number of authors have argued that action awareness is in fact indispensable for successful performance. I think these recent studies make our ability to cope skillfully even more puzzling: how does the agent manage to synthesize this vast information about the context, current state of affairs, the goal, the current state of herself and her abilities; provided by diverse monitoring forms, available at different levels of reflection, in multiple sensory modalities; with respect to diverse factors that bear on the novel case at hand in such a way that she can give the highly specific bodily response that the situation requires here and now? This is what I call the problem of orchestration. I aim to show that this is a cognitive problem with motor solution, i.e., that the flexible motor control cannot proceed without the guidance of cognitive control. The main idea is that we do not solve the problem of orchestration blindly: there must be a type of awareness distinct from all the different forms of awareness that are specified by recent studies which go into the execution of action as input. I aim to specify this type of awareness that enables the agent to exert cognitive control all the way down to the motor output.