The Fundamentality of Fundamental Powers
Joaquim Giannotti (University of Birmingham)

13 November 2020, 16:00 | The talk will be given in a mixed presence regime

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia) & live-streamed

Abstract: Dispositional essentialism is the view that all or many fundamental properties are essentially dispositional, or powers. The literature on the dispositional essence of powers is abundant. In contrast, the question of how to understand the fundamentality of fundamental powers has received scarce interest. Therefore, the fundamentality of powers stands in need of clarification. There are three main conceptions of the fundamental, namely as that which is: (i) metaphysically independent; or (ii) belonging to a minimally complete basis; or (iii) perfectly natural. Here I present and discuss each of these approaches from the viewpoint of dispositional essentialism. I show that (i) is incompatible with the metaphysics of powers and (ii) – (iii) have more drawbacks than merits. Therefore, the dispositional essentialist should favour a different approach. To this end, I defend a primitivist conception of the absolute fundamentality of powers, which has the virtues of (i) – (iii) but none of the vices.

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

Grounding the Future (and the Future of Grounding)
Roberto Loss (University of Hamburg)

6 November 2020, 16:00 | The talk will be given in a mixed presence regime

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia) & live-streamed

Abstract: According to what may be labelled ‘serious Ockhamism’, (i) the future is open, (ii) the openness of the future consists in the fact that what exists is insufficient to determine the truth-value of (at least some) future-directed statements, and yet (iii) future-directed statements all possess a determinate truth-value. Serious Ockhamism appears to be in tension with the idea that truth is grounded in reality. Some serious Ockhamists bite the bullet and accept some truths to be indeed ungrounded. Others prefer, instead, a more sophisticated approach and claim that even if future-contingent statements are not grounded in the way reality is, they are nevertheless not ungrounded, as they are ‘cross-temporally’ grounded in the way reality will be. In this talk I will construe the grounding challenge faced by serious Ockhamists as involving the notion of metaphysical grounding and I will argue that, although the kind of ‘cross-temporal grounding’ serious Ockhamists appeal to is in tension with a set of rather ‘orthodox’ grounding principles, serious Ockhamists appear to have independent reasons to embrace at least a certain kind of grounding ‘heresy’.

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

Against the Pretense View of Fiction
Manuel García-Carpintero (University of Barcelona / LOGOS / LanCog)

30 October 2020, 16:00 | Online, via Zoom

Abstract: In his classic paper “The Logical Status of Fictional Discourse” (1974/5), John Searle argued that fictions don’t result from dedicated, sui generis acts (or, in to me equivalent terms, are not dedicated, sui generis artefacts) in the way assertions, questions or directives are; they are just pretenses of acts like those – the view had been defended earlier by Margaret MacDonald (1954) and Richard Gale (1971). Searle’s arguments were seriously challenged by Currie and Walton, proponents of different versions of the dedicated artefact view in their respective very influential 1990 books. In recent work, Peter Alward and Stefano Predelli have argued for a more sophisticated version of a Searlian view. In this paper I’ll confront their arguments, in defense of (my own version of) the dedicated artefact view. I’ll elaborate in my own terms on two decisive objections, not adequately acknowledged by either Currie or Walton: first, that the Searlian view is implausibly committed to there being fictional narrators in all fictions; second, that the view has implausible commitments on how referential expressions work in fictional discourse, implying that (as van Inwagen and Kripke put it in work in the 1970s) fictional utterances including them “don’t express propositions”.

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

Musical Contagion and the Metaphorical Mind: What Music Teaches Us About Emotion
Federico Lauria (LanCog, University of Lisbon)

23 October 2020, 16:00 | The talk will be given in a mixed presence regime

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia) & live-streamed

Abstract: Music can infect us. For instance, listeners may feel sad because they perceive an Irish lament as sad. Contagion is central to musical experience and emotion regulation. What is it? What does it teach us about emotion? Many argue that contagion teaches us that the main theory of emotions as cognitive evaluations (cognitivism) is flawed. When feeling sad in response to sad music, we do not evaluate the music as unfortunate; nothing bad happened. According to the dominant picture, music contaminates us through mimicry independently of value appraisal (non-cognitivism). Against this trend, this paper proposes to rescue cognitivism from the musical challenge by offering a new account in terms of metaphor cognition: the value metaphor view. The main claim is that contagion is experiencing the music as a metaphor for emotions and for values, such as unfortunate things. Music “sounds like” emotions and values. This view can rebut the musical challenge to cognitivism. I motivate this account by arguing that non-cognitivism is poorly motivated and by making extensive use of empirical findings. As philosophers have neglected the ample empirical literature on this topic, this project fills an important gap.

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

What is Moving Right Now?
Elton Marques (LanCog, University of Lisbon)

16 October 2020, 16:00 | The talk will be given in a mixed presence regime

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia) & live-streamed

Abstract: In this talk, I put forth an answer to a scarcely discussed question concerning a particular view in the metaphysics of time, namely the Moving Spotlight Theory (MST). The main advantage of this theory lies in the fact that it introduces a clear view of the kind of nature that might correspond to the ‘moving spotlight’ responsible for the passage of time. More specifically, the account I shall defend in this talk clearly indicates what the spotlight model refers to. The main goal of the talk is not the defense of the moving spotlight theory in itself, but rather an approach for understanding the metaphor at the core of this theory. To achieve this purpose, I will promote the union of two components: a) the idea that the present is the awareness of our mental states, and b) the idea that the flow of such an awareness of our mental states should correspond to the passage of time and to the spotlight itself. I purport to show what is required to satisfy the concept of the ‘spotlight’ in an illuminating way and address anticipated difficulties.

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

Knowledge-first account of group knowledge
Domingos Faria (LanCog, University of Lisbon)

9 October 2020, 16:00 | The talk will be given in a mixed presence regime

Abstract: In this talk, we want to relate two trending topics in contemporary epistemology: the discussion of group knowledge and the discussion of knowledge-first approach. In social epistemology of group knowledge no one has yet seriously applied and developed Williamson (2000)’s theory of knowledge-first approach. For example, explanations for group knowledge, as presented by Tuomela (2004), Corlett (2007), Gilbert (2014), and Lackey (2020), assume that knowledge is analyzed in terms of more basic concepts, such as group belief, group justification, and so on. However, if Williamson (2000)’s theory is correct, these are not good explanations for understanding group knowledge. Thus, we want to analyze what consequences Williamson (2000)’s theory has for social epistemology, namely for an understanding of group knowledge. We argue that a consequence of knowledge-first approach for understanding group knowledge is to account for factive mental states at collective level (in ways that are not reducible at individual level). So it is necessary to provide and develop a plausible understanding of collective minds and collective mental states in a non-reductionist way.

Why Sensory Consciousness Can’t be Essentially Representational
David Papineau (KCL/CUNY)

25 September 2020, 16:00 | The talk will be given via the virtual platform Zoom

Abstract: Representationalism about sensory experience might be intuitive, but it faces the metaphysical challenge of explaining why conscious character (what-it’s-likeness) and representational content (correctness conditions) should be metaphysically intertwined. I shall argue that representationalism lacks the resources to do this. Attempts to defend representationalism by appealing to “transparency” only deepen the difficulties. In truth, representational content is metaphysically incommensurate with conscious character.

Jennifer Lackey

Northwestern University

The Epistemology of Groups

21 February 2020, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Groups are often said to believe, know, and do things. For instance, we talk about the Catholic Church believing that the Pope is infallible, the U.S. government knowing that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver of climate change, and Iran firing two missiles at a Ukranian passenger plane that crashed in Tehran. But how should we understand a group’s believing, knowing, or doing something? Two answers are generally given to this question. According to summativism, a group’s states or actions are understood simply in terms of the states or actions of individual members. In contrast, non-summativism holds that a group’s states or actions are over and above, or otherwise distinct from, those of its members. While I argue that neither view is, strictly speaking, correct, I also show that epistemic states and actions come apart in how much they depend on group members. In particular, there is a far tighter connection between what a group believes or knows and what its individual members believe or know than there is between what a group does and what its members do. This has important implications for our attributions of moral and legal responsibility to groups, such as corporations and institutions.

Paulo Faria

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

Content, Context, and Logical Form

19 February 2020, 11:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Judgments about the validity of at least some elementary inferential patterns (say modus ponens) are a priori if anything is. Yet a number of empirical conditions must in each case be satisfied in order for a particular inference to instantiate this or that inferential pattern. We may on occasion be entitled to presuppose that such conditions are satisfied (and the entitlement may even be a priori), yet only experience could tell us whether this was indeed the case. Hence a peculiar vulnerability of our capacity to recognize logical form: whenever content is (no matter to what extent) context-dependent, logical form is apt to evade recognition. That fact has rightly been perceived as a source of incompatibility between anti-individualism (or content externalism) and first person authority. I argue that, no matter whether anti-individualism is true, empirical assumptions will often underlie judgments about the logical form of inferences, thus making it the case that such judgments are defeasible in the face of contrary empirical evidence. I argue further that such assumptions should not be construed as tacit premises in enthymematic reasoning. I round off the discussion offering a characterization, which draws on Wittgenstein’s treatment of so-called ‘hinge propositions’, of the peculiar status of such empirical assumptions.