Sceptical, Complacent, Critical: How Should the Conceptual Engineer Engage with Concepts?

Delia Belleri (LanCog, Centre of Philosophy, University of Lisbon)


15 September 2023, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Conceptual engineering is a method dealing with the assessment and revision of conceptual representations. It operates on the assumption that concepts are often defective and in need of improvement. This assumption can, however, lead to a form of “representational scepticism”. Scepticism is, in turn, depicted by some theorists as if it was the only alternative to uncritical acceptance of our conceptual representations (“representational complacency”). In this talk, I argue that it is not. The conceptual engineer can hold a form of “critical conservatism” about concepts. Critical conservatism emphasizes context-sensitivity, sensitivity to a variety of epistemic and non-epistemic considerations, as well as the exercise of skills that help the thinker evaluate conceptual flaws that can and cannot be tolerated. As such, is it a more nuanced position than representational scepticism, which, however, is still compatible with the conceptual engineer’s expected special sensitivity to conceptual flaws (and ways to fix them).

LanCog Day 2023

Argument Rodizio

30 June 2023, 15:30 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


The Argument Rodizio is a session in which each participant presents a short, desirably surprising, argument in 5-10 minutes, to be discussed in the following 5-10 minutes.




  1. Robert Michels – “Why friends of the fuzzy theory of vagueness need not be worried about the objection from penumbral connections”
  2. Bruno Jacinto – “On diagonalization”
  3. Diogo Santos – “A Kripkean-like argument for evaluatives”
  4. Gabriel Malagutti – “Defending the steadfast view through group epistemology”
  5. Gabriel Lee – “An argument against the grandfather paradox”
  6. Anabela Dias – “Change does not require dynamic time”
  7. Luke Kersten – “If you wouldn’t eat Bobby, why are you eating Bobby?”

Novels and Symphonies as Concrete Artifacts

Ned Markosian (University of Massachusetts Amherst)


23 June 2023, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Most philosophers take works of art such as novels and symphonies to be abstract types that are discovered rather than created by the artists associated with them. Recently, a growing minority position has emerged, according to which these works of art are abstract artifacts – non-concrete, repeatable objects that are brought into existence by authors and composers. In this talk, I will defend a more radical proposal, according to which works of art like novels and symphonies are concrete artifacts – non-repeatable, physical objects or events that are created by writers and composers.

Identity Labels as Tools for Building Agency

Carolina Flores (University of California, Irvine)


23 June 2023, 11:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Identity labels (‘mother’, ‘non-binary’, ‘BIPOC’, ‘queer’) are pervasively used. At the same time, their use makes many people uncomfortable. Identity labels can seem reductive and limiting, constraining our agency in undesirable ways. Against these worries, we will argue that employing identity labels can be distinctively liberatory—when we employ them in flexible or playful ways. To argue for this, we offer a novel account of the cognitive role of identity labels as identity-centric frames, not mere categorization devices. Specifically, identity labels lead us to attend, explain, and evaluate in terms of social identities, shaping how we characterize groups and their members. With this cognitive role in sight, we diagnose common complaints about identity labels as being in fact complaints about the rigid use of identity labels. In contrast, switching between identity labels one applies to oneself in an open-ended way can express, enhance, and scaffold individual and collective agency in ways that are otherwise hard to achieve. As a consequence, we should not avoid identity labels. At a structural level, we would be well-served by the production and dissemination of a wide range of identity labels, and by social norms that encourage their flexible employment and make room for play. (This is joint work with Elisabeth Camp (Rutgers).)

Graduate students or early career researchers (within three years of receiving a doctoral degree) are invited to apply for the 6th PLM Masterclass, to be held at the Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon, on 23–24 November 2023. The Masterclass will be devoted to the work of Professor Elisabeth Pacherie (Institut Jean Nicod). 8–10 participants will be presenting papers on Elisabeth Pacherie’s work, to be commented by her, followed by general discussion. Papers may be submitted on any of the topics on which Professor Pacherie has been working (e.g. agency, intentionality, consciousness, perception, the psychopathology of agency, belief and self-consciousness). Each student’s talk will take up a 30-minute slot.


Prof. Pacherie will also present new research in her keynote lecture.


Participation in the Masterclass will be free of charge, but students will have to fund their own travel and living expenses in Lisbon.


To apply, please submit an anonymised abstract of no more than 1000 words (in pdf format), as an attachment to an email to be sent to


Both the abstract and the body of the email should contain the title of the presentation.


The deadline for sending applications is 15 July 2023. Applicants will be notified regarding acceptance by the beginning of September 2023.


Feel free to email requests for further information at


The Masterclass is organised by LanCog (Language, Mind and Cognition Group at the University of Lisbon), which is a member of PLM (Philosophy of Language and Mind Network), a consortium of European philosophy departments and research centers with special expertise in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. The purpose of the network is to further philosophy of language and mind broadly construed and to provide a platform for cooperation between members, primarily in research, but also in research training.

Emotions Embodied: Old Debates and New Frontiers

Jesse Prinz (CUNY Graduate Center)


9 June 2023, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Historically, the central debates about emotions concerned the role of cognition: are emotions thoughts of some kind or can they arise without thinking? In the 20th century, this evolved into a debate between appraisal theories and embodied theories. In the 20th century, we’ve seen new ways to reconcile these old divides. The resulting theories and mounting evidence have given proponents of embodiment renewed hope. Recently, however, attempts to reconcile cognitive and embodied theories have been challenged. On the one hand, there are critics who think bodily responses are not adequate to explain emotions, and, on the other hand, there are some who think that earlier embodied theories do not fully appreciate the role of the body in emotions. This presentation recommends an embodied theory that builds on the lessons of these old and new debates.

Are Emotions Epistemically Redundant?

Laura Silva (Université Laval)


2 June 2023, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Debate regarding the epistemic role of emotions focusses on whether emotions can provide justification for evaluative beliefs. A prevalent objection to the view that emotions can do so stems from the observation that, as emotions are reason-responsive attitudes themselves, it seems that those very reasons that stand in justificatory relations to emotions, stand also in justificatory relations to evaluative beliefs. The Redundancy Objection claims that emotions are epistemically redundant in the justification of evaluative beliefs, for the very reasons that stand in support of an emotion can justify the relevant evaluative belief directly. Existing responses to this objection fail to secure emotions a non-redundant epistemic role. I develop a novel response to the Redundancy Objection that should be preferred. I argue that emotions enjoy a distinctive relation to their reasons such that it is rarely the case that reasons for emotion are also able to justify relevant evaluative beliefs directly.

How to Understand Nonsense? A Riddle

Krystian Bogucki (Polish Academy of Sciences)


19 May 2023, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Typically, if I understand a sentence, then it expresses a proposition that I entertain. Nonsensical sentences don’t express propositions, but there are contexts in which we talk about understanding nonsensical sentences. For example, we accept various kinds of semantically defective sentences in fiction, philosophy, and everyday life. Furthermore, it is a standard assumption that if a sentence is nonsensical, then it makes no sense to say that it implies anything or is implied by other sentences. Semantically uninterpreted sentences don’t have logical characteristics. Hence, the riddle of understanding nonsense arises. We seem to use nonsensical sentences in reasoning, thinking, judging, and drawing conclusions, but they convey no propositions, which are the vehicles of their semantic properties. In this talk, I propose a pretence theory of understanding nonsense to explain the riddle of understanding nonsense, and discuss alternative frameworks that are insufficient to solve it.

Interest and Curiosity as the Affective Springs of Inquiry:  The ‘Chiaroscuro’ Epistemic Emotions

Federico Lauria (LanCog, Centre of Philosophy, University of Lisbon)


12 May 2023, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Interest and curiosity motivate exploration and inquiry. How are we to understand this epistemic role? This talk offers an affective approach to the Springs of Inquiry Puzzle. We argue that interest and curiosity are experiences of potential cognitive improvement or, if one prefers, of anticipated epistemic value. We develop this account with the help of three appraisals: epistemic goodness, epistemic gap, and high cognitive coping. This view offers an elegant typology of epistemic emotions. On the one hand, interest and curiosity differ from epistemic emotions of ‘darkness’, such as confusion, as the latter are experiences of epistemic obstacles or of absence of cognitive improvement. They also differ from epistemic emotions of ‘light’, like eureka moments, as the latter are experiences of actual epistemic value or of actual cognitive improvement. Between darkness and light, interest and curiosity are the ‘chiaroscuro’ epistemic emotions. We delineate our account in both metacognitive and first-order terms, which helps to dispel recent worries concerning the metacognitive content of epistemic emotions. It appears that interest and curiosity play a vital role in our epistemic pursuits.

We are happy to announce that issue 63 of Disputatio is out and freely available at


It is a special issue dedicated to a discussion of the book by Fabrice Correia and Sven Rosenkranz, Nothing to Come: A Defence of the Growing Block Theory of Time (Springer, 2018). The guest editors are Cristian Mariani and Giuliano Torrengo.


The issue includes the following papers:


Mariani, Cristian and Torrengo, Giuliano. “The Shape of Things to Come: Introduction to Special Issue on Nothing to Come by Correia & Rosenkranz” Disputatio, vol.13, no.63, 2021, pp.355-362.


Deng, Natalja. “Plenty to Come: Making Sense of Correia & Rosenkranz’s Growing Block” Disputatio, vol.13, no.63, 2021, pp.363-372.


Dyke, Heather. “Taking Tense Seriously Cannot Help the Growing Block” Disputatio, vol.13, no.63, 2021, pp.373-384.


Miller, Kristie. “Times, Locations and the Epistemic Objection” Disputatio, vol.13, no.63, 2021, pp.385-398.


Markosian, Ned. “The Growing Block, the Epistemic Objection and Zombie Parrots” Disputatio, vol.13, no.63, 2021, pp.399-410.


Wawer, Jacek. “Tensed Metaphysics and Non-Local Grounding of Truth” Disputatio, vol.13, no.63, 2021, pp.411-422.


Torre, Stephan. “The Growing Block, the Open Future and Future Truths” Disputatio, vol.13, no.63, 2021, pp.423-432.


Dorato, Mauro and Hoefer, Carl. “Nothing to Come in a Relativistic Setting” Disputatio, vol.13, no.63, 2021, pp.433-444.


Correia, Fabrice and Rosenkranz, Sven. “Replies to Critics” Disputatio, vol.13, no.63, 2021, pp.445-494.


Pleasant readings!


The chief-editors,

Ricardo Santos and Elia Zardini