The Centre of Philosophy of the University of Lisbon (CFUL) welcomes expressions of interest from candidates who want to apply for a PhD grant (up to 4 years) funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) under the Individual Call for PhD Research Scholarships.

The FCT will accept applications until 28 April 2020 (17:00 Lisbon Time). Candidates will have to apply directly to FCT, but if they want to carry out their doctoral research at CFUL, they must first secure the support of one of the CFUL’s members who are also staff at the Department of Philosophy. The selected sponsor will have to act as the main supervisor for the candidate’s PhD research. The application, written in English or Portuguese, must include the following:

      • Detailed research plan;
      • Curriculum vitae (on the CIÊNCIAVITAE platform);
      • Motivation letter;
      • Two recommendation letters.

CFUL is interested in hosting high-quality doctoral students in a wide range of areas in History of Philosophy, Analytic Philosophy and Practical Philosophy.

Interested candidates are invited to contact CFUL’s vice-director, Domingos Faria (at domingosfaria@campus.ul.pt), with a brief description of their intended research and current CV no later than March 22.

 

For more information about CFUL, please visit our website: http://cful.letras.ulisboa.pt/

More information about the call, including a link to the application portal, is available here: https://www.fct.pt/apoios/bolsas/concursos/individuais2020.phtml.en

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.

Tamara Caraus

Centre of Philosophy – University of Lisbon

“Love Your Neighbour!” – A Cosmopolitan Demand?

11 February 2020, 18:00 h

Room B6 – Library Building

Faculty of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon

 

Abstract

A common critique of cosmopolitanism is that human motivational drives such as empathy or a sense of fairness cannot be extended to anonymous strangers or to large and distant groups, thus the cosmopolitan motivation can never arise or cannot arise without moral costs, while some accounts of cosmopolitanism speak of a necessity of ‘metamorphosis’, ‘self-transformation’, ‘conversion’, ‘restructuring of the world view’, etc., as a precondition of becoming cosmopolitan. The hypothesis of this presentation is that the difficulties of being cosmopolitan mirror the difficulties of the command ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, and the aim of the presentation is to dismantle the difficulties and demandingness of the command to love your neighbour in order to understand the core of cosmopolitan demandingness. The difficulties of loving the neighbour will be examined by analysing Freud’s account on the un-lovable neighbour in Civilisation and Its Discontents, and Lacan’s stance, from his Ethics of Psychoanalysis, toward Freud’s reluctance to go beyond the alleged impossibility of loving the neighbour. While Freud’s aversion to the neighbour comes from his belonging to the Aristotelian horizon of ethics, happiness and conception of the good, for Lacan the command to love the neighbour is an excess to this horizon, and the concept of the neighbour is linked to a singular structure extimacy which points to a coincidence of something most intimate, intrinsic to us, with something most external and utterly foreign. Thus, the love of the neighbour is always an excess, stretching beyond reciprocity and acknowledging the uncanny strangeness of extimacy. From this perspective, the cosmopolitan metamorphosis/conversion/self-transformation presupposes the love of the neighbour as an experience of the excess and as an event of acknowledging extimacy. Thus, as an excessive event, cosmopolitanism is not a platitudinous love of humanity, it remains a difficult stance. The love of the neighbour can be regarded as the ‘truth’ of cosmopolitanism, however this very demandingness makes room for a radical cosmopolitics.

 

 

 

Gavin Rae

Complutense University of Madrid

Strategies of Political Resistance: Agamben and Irigaray

4 February 2020, 18:00 h

Room B6 – Library Building

Faculty of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon

 

Abstract

This talk focuses on the thought of Giorgio Agamben and Luce Irigaray to engage with the question of political resistance. Little work has been done to bring these two thinkers together, but my guiding contention is that there are important overlaps between them, especially on this issue. To develop this, I first outline Agamben’s analysis of homo sacer and related claim that Western juridical-political systems are structured around a binary exclusion/inclusion opposition that is used to regulate life (zoe) itself. Although there is significant contention in the literature regarding whether Agamben offers the possibility of moving beyond this logic, I argue that he does and focus on his analysis of the Aristotelian conception of ‘potentiality,’ from which he derives the notions of ‘impotentiality,’ ‘inoperativity,’ and ‘destituent-power’ to develop a political strategy that argues for the initial deactivation of the biopolitical machine to permit a space to subsequent re-conceive what he calls the coming politics. On first glance, Irigaray’s critique of the West’s phallogocentrism appears to have little to do with Agamben’s biopolitical project, but I will argue that it actually shares a number of its logical presuppositions, insofar as she claims that Western thinking on sexual difference has been structured around a binary opposition wherein ‘woman’ is devalued and excluded from (masculine-defined) law, with this permitting the phallogocentric regime to better regulate her life. I subsequently show that, in her early work, Irigaray points to the political importance of mimicry and laughter to ‘jam the theoretical machine’ sustaining phallogocentrism to subsequently permit a rethinking of sexual difference in non-phallogocentric terms. I conclude that with this Agamben and Irigaray share a common political project that aims to move us from a politics of conflict and contestation to one based around a logic of disarmament and deactivation, before raising some critical questions regarding this endeavour.

 

 

 

Simone Gozzano

University of L’Aquila

Phenomenal Roles

20 December 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: I argue that phenomenal properties are dispositional in nature. To this end, I argue that these properties are individuated by their phenomenal roles, which I distinguish in internal – individuating pain per se – and external – determining further non painful phenomenal states. Then I argue that such individuation overcomes difficulties raised by Lowe, because these phenomenal roles can be organized in a necessarily asymmetrical net, thus favoring their individuation. Thus organized, the individuation conditions of phenomenal roles fare better with respect to the solutions proposed by Bird and Yates, because they allow for multiple realizability. I also provide reasons to argue that these roles satisfy modal fixity, as posited by Bird, and can be considered as substantial properties entrenched in laws of nature.

Johanna Wolff

King’s College London

Adventures in the Metaphysics of Quantities:
A Third Way Between Comparativism and Absolutism?

13 December 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: One of the key issues in the metaphysics of quantities is the dispute between comparativists and absolutists. What is the debate about and who has the upper hand? I argue that neither absolutism nor comparativism as they have been presented in the debate are attractive positions in the metaphysics of quantities and offer a form of sophisticated substantivalism as an alternative.

Sam Baron

University of Western Australia

Grounding vs. Causation

6 December 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: What is the difference between grounding and causation? A number of philosophers have advocated the temporal criterion: causation occurs across time, grounding does not. The temporal criterion has been challenged on two fronts. First, directly, by offering examples of grounding that occur across time and, second, indirectly, through the development of metaphysical models that make use of transtemporal grounding. In light of these challenges, a new temporal criterion is proposed. The difference between grounding and causation involves the use that they make of time: causation requires time to connect spatially distant relata, grounding does not. This difference speaks to an important aspect of the job description of grounding: namely, that it can construct the world over space. (This work is based on ‘Grounding at a Distance’, with Kristie Miller and Jonathan Tallant.)

Sam Baron

University of Western Australia

Unification and Mathematical Explanation

4 December 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Room B? (close to the Faculty’s Library)

Abstract: Mathematics clearly plays an important role in scientific explanation. Debate continues, however, over the kind of role that mathematics plays. Mathematics may be playing a ‘thick’ explanatory role, in this sense: there are some physical phenomena that occur for mathematical reasons. Alternatively, it may be that mathematics is playing a ‘thin’ explanatory role by merely representing the physical reasons why certain phenomena occur. It has been argued that the explanatory indispensability of mathematics under-determines the kind of role that mathematics plays, and so doesn’t provide a reason to believe that mathematics is playing a thick role. I argue that if mathematical and physical explanations are indispensably unified within science, then we have good reason to believe that mathematics is playing a thick role. The argument provides guidance on the types of explanation we should be looking for to establish that mathematics is genuinely explanatory.