Interpreting Groups
J. Robert G. Williams (University of Leeds)

16 April 2021, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – GMT+1) | Online, via Zoom

Abstract: Some theories of content entail that an entity cannot be a believer/desirer without being a chooser/perceiver. This includes my version of radical interpretation, on which the correct belief-desire interpretation of an agent is that interpretation which best rationalizes their choices given their evidence. But (I’ll argue) group agents can be believers and desirers, without the group as a whole making choices, and without the group as a whole having any analogue of a perceptual state. Rather than give up on my favourite theory of content or denying group attitudes, I explore a generalization. Drawing on Plantinga’s proper-functionalism theory of warrant, I’ll characterize a radical-interpretation schema in which the choice-evidence-centric version I developed in previous work is just one special case. I’ll draw out connections to related proposals for group thinking by List and Pettit, and Tollefsen.

Free Attendance, but preregistration required: https://cful.letras.ulisboa.pt/lancog/registration/

On Proper Presupposition
Julia Zakkou (Bielefeld University)

09 April 2021, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – GMT+1) | Online, via Zoom

Abstract: In this talk, I investigate the norm of presupposition, as one pervasive type of indirect speech act. I argue against the view that sees presuppositions as an indirect counterpart of the direct speech act of assertion and propose instead to consider them an indirect counterpart of the direct speech act of assumption. More concretely, I suggest that the norm that governs presuppositions is not an epistemic or doxastic attitude such as knowledge, justified belief, or mere belief; it’s a practical attitude, most plausibly the attitude of rational acceptance. This view has important ramifications well beyond debates in philosophy of language and linguistics. It affects not only our view of which speech act sequences are fine and which are off; it bears on whether presuppositions can function as testimony, whether they can be lies, and whether they are ontologically committal.

Free Attendance, but preregistration required: https://cful.letras.ulisboa.pt/lancog/registration/

Apr 7 2021 15:00 – 17:00: Celso Alves Neto (Dalhousie University)
What is it that Evolves?
Traditional formulations of natural selection assume that entities undergoing selection form lineages. This assumption motivates recent claims that multispecies microbial communities do not undergo selection. Yet, these claims are controversial in part because the role and nature of lineages are poorly understood. In this paper, I clarify these issues by revisiting David Hull’s notion of units of evolution. Lineages are units of evolution in traditional formulations of natural selection, while the entities that form lineages are units of selection. I revise this idea in two ways. First, we argue that lineages can also be units of selection. Second, I argue that units of evolution do not have to form clear parent-offspring relations. With this aim in mind, I analyze a set of borderline cases of lineage and the underlying notions of reproduction and inheritance. Our analysis offers a framework to compare traditional and more recent formulations of evolution by natural selection. It also helps to clarify how multispecies microbial communities might evolve.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://videoconf-colibri.zoom.us/j/84705629515?pwd=bWVITk5iTzZUZWVRMmYzSEJOSDlKdz09
Password: 817996

For details of past and upcoming talks, please see: https://www.kdyates.com/events/#upcoming.

Our next meeting will take place tomorrow at 15:00, and will feature a talk from Samuel Kimpton-Nye (Bristol) on pandispositionalism. All welcome!

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://videoconf-colibri.zoom.us/j/84705629515?pwd=bWVITk5iTzZUZWVRMmYzSEJOSDlKdz09
Password: 817996

For details of past and upcoming talks, please see: https://www.kdyates.com/events/#upcoming.

Abstract

Some philosophers maintain that physical properties are irreducibly modal; that properties are powers. Powers are then employed to provide philosophical explanations of other phenomena of philosophical interest such as laws of nature and modality. There is, however, a dispute among powers theorists about how far the powers ontology extends: are all manner of properties at all levels of fundamentality powers or, are powers only to be found among the fundamental properties? I argue that the answer to this question depends on the details of the metaphysics of powers. More specifically, I argue that if one understands powers as qualitative grounds of dispositions (call this qualitative dispositional essentialism), as opposed to properties whose essences are constituted by dispositions (as orthodox dispositional essentialists would have it), then all properties are powers, i.e., pandispositionalism is true. The conclusion: If qualitative dispositional essentialism is true, then pandispositionalism is true, is significant because there is increasing concern that orthodox dispositional essentialism is explanatorily deficient and perhaps even incoherent, meaning that qualitative dispositional essentialism is gaining increasing support in the literature on powers. All things considered, then, it is beginning to look more likely that pandispositionalism is true simpliciter.

Conceptual Engineering and Making Conceptual Change Happen
Delia Belleri (LanCog, University of Lisbon)

26 March 2021, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – GMT+0) | Online, via Zoom

Abstract: Conceptual engineering is a philosophical project that aims at reflecting on conceptual representations, identifying their flaws, and proposing possible revisions. The next step (at least in theory) is that of implementing such revisions. Yet, how can conceptual engineers get entire linguistic communities to adopt the conceptual changes they recommend? In this talk, I focus on an important background condition for the implementation of conceptual change, which I dub “metalinguistic awareness”. I explain which metalinguistic skills should preferably be displayed by the conceptual engineer’s interlocutor. I survey a number of strategies that could stimulate such skills, and explore some of their ethical and social aspects.

Free Attendance, but preregistration required: https://cful.letras.ulisboa.pt/lancog/registration/

Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday 24 March, and will feature a talk from Samuel Kimpton-Nye (Bristol) on pandispositionalism. All welcome!

 

For details of past and upcoming talks, please see: https://www.kdyates.com/events/#upcoming.

 

Abstract

Some philosophers maintain that physical properties are irreducibly modal; that properties are powers. Powers are then employed to provide philosophical explanations of other phenomena of philosophical interest such as laws of nature and modality. There is, however, a dispute among powers theorists about how far the powers ontology extends: are all manner of properties at all levels of fundamentality powers or, are powers only to be found among the fundamental properties? I argue that the answer to this question depends on the details of the metaphysics of powers. More specifically, I argue that if one understands powers as qualitative grounds of dispositions (call this qualitative dispositional essentialism), as opposed to properties whose essences are constituted by dispositions (as orthodox dispositional essentialists would have it), then all properties are powers, i.e., pandispositionalism is true. The conclusion: If qualitative dispositional essentialism is true, then pandispositionalism is true, is significant because there is increasing concern that orthodox dispositional essentialism is explanatorily deficient and perhaps even incoherent, meaning that qualitative dispositional essentialism is gaining increasing support in the literature on powers. All things considered, then, it is beginning to look more likely that pandispositionalism is true simpliciter.

Content Determination for Conceptual Engineers
Timothy Sundell (University of Kentucky)

19 March 2021, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – GMT+0) | Online, via Zoom

Abstract: What do we engineer when we engage in conceptual engineering? Concepts, presumably. Or meanings, perhaps. But of course nobody agrees on what concepts—or meanings—are. The closest thing to a consensus (and it is not a consensus) is that that there are various conceptions of content deserving of these titles in different theoretical contexts. Despite the variety of available metasemantic options, one striking feature of the conceptual engineering literature is that some of its most frequently cited authors are committed content-externalists. This is striking because of a certain awkwardness between, on the one hand, the project of evaluating and modifying our representational devices, and, on the other, the idea that the content of those representations is out of our control and perhaps even unknowable to us. In this talk, I briefly canvas some examples where this tension displays itself. I try to render that tension a bit more precise, expressing it in the form of a handful of actual arguments. I suggest, in turn, that those arguments fail—that in fact externalism itself presents no particular obstacle to the project of conceptual engineering. And I attempt to motivate, instead, a different perspective on the whole dialectic: that while externalism may not be a problem for conceptual engineering, conceptual engineering might well be a problem for externalism.

Free Attendance, but preregistration required: https://cful.letras.ulisboa.pt/lancog/registration/

We invite those interested in take part in the Reading Group on Multipropositionalism, jointly organized by Claudia Picazo (University of Granada) and Laura Delgado (LanCog – University of Lisbon). Our first meeting would be on April 15th at 12pm CET, and thereafter we will meet on alternate Thursdays for about 6 sessions in total – see tentative schedule and readings below. The group will be held online.

If you are interested in joining us, or have any other question, or suggestion, please send us an email (claudia.picazo@gmail.com, or laqueveque@edu.ulisboa.pt).

Tentative Schedule

15.04.21 Ciecierski, Tadeusz (2009). ‘The Multiple-Proposition Approach Reconsidered’. Logique Et Analyse 52 (208):423-440.

29.04.21 Buchanan, Ray (2010). ‘A puzzle about meaning and communication’. Noûs 44 (2):340-371.

13.05.21 Bowker, Mark (2019). ‘Saying a bundle: meaning, intention, and underdetermination’. Synthese 196 (10):4229-4252.

27.05.21 TBA

10.06.21 TBA

24.06.21 TBA

 

Possible Readings

. Clapp, Lenny & Lavalle Terrón, Armando (2019). ‘Multipropositionalism and Necessary a Posteriori identity Statements’. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (4):902-934.

. Corazza, Eros (2012). ‘Same‐Saying, Pluri‐Propositionalism, and Implicatures’. Mind and Language 27 (5):546-569.

. Dorr, Cian & Hawthorne, John (2014). ‘Semantic Plasticity and Speech Reports’. Philosophical Review 123 (3):281-338.

. Grzankowski, Alex & Buchanan, Ray (forthcoming). ‘Content Pluralism’. Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

. Hodgson, Thomas (2018). ‘Meaning underdetermines what is said, therefore utterances express many propositions’. Dialectica 72 (2):165-189.

. Murday, Brendan (2014). ‘Definite Descriptions and Semantic Pluralism’. Philosophical Papers 43 (2):255-284.

. Sullivan, Arthur (2013). ‘Multiple propositions, contextual variability, and the semantics/pragmatics interface’. Synthese 190 (14):2773-2800.

. Viebahn, Emanuel (2019). Semantic Pluralism (chapter 4). Frankfurt, Germany: Klostermann.

RG Conceptual Engineering – Calendar

1) – Thursday, April 8 (10:00-12:00 GMT) – Cappelen, H. (2020). Conceptual Engineering: The Master Argument. In Burgess, A., Cappelen, H., and Plunkett, D. (Eds.) Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics: Oxford University Press. (https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/oso/9780198801856.001.0001/oso-9780198801856-chapter-7.)

2) – Thursday, April 22 (10:00-12:00 GMT) – Koch, S. (2018). “The Externalist Challenge to Conceptual Engineering.” Synthese Online.
First: 1–22. doi:10.1007/s11229-018-02007-6.

3) – Thursday, May 6 (10:00-12:00 GMT) – Schroeter, L. & Schroeter, F. (2020). Inscrutability and Its Discontents. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (5):566-579.

4) – Thursday, May 20 (10:00-12:00 GMT) – Deutsch, M. (2020). Speaker’s reference, stipulation, and a dilemma for conceptual engineers. Philos Stud 177, 3935–3957. https://doi-org.uaccess.univie.ac.at/10.1007/s11098-020-01416-z.

5) – Thursday, June 17 (10:00-12:00 GMT) – Andow, J. (2020). Conceptual engineering is extremely unlikely to work. So what?, Inquiry, DOI: 10.1080/0020174X.2020.1850343.

If you are interested in joining us, or have any other question, or suggestion, please send us an email (deliabelleri@gmail.com).