Theological Fatalism, Closure, and the Contingent a priori

Fabio Lampert (University of Vienna)


26 April 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: I will present new reasons for being suspicious of what I think is the best argument for theological fatalism. I will argue that by considering divine knowledge of contingent a priori truths, divine foreknowledge is not required for an argument from divine omniscience against free will. Moreover, I show that this argument can be generalized in such a way that ordinary human knowledge of contingent a priori truths also leads to an argument against free will. But if there is something wrong with this argument, there would seem to be something wrong, too, with the main argument for theological fatalism. Though there is a range of possible responses, I suggest that what is amiss in all cases is a closure principle, according to which having no choice about a truth is closed under entailment (or strict implication).

Mesa Redonda

50 anos do 25 de Abril

“O Papel da Filosofia (em Portugal) na Luta Pela Liberdade”

Com intervenções de Diogo Sardinha, Filipe Ferreira e Tamara Caraus


23 April 2024, 17h00 (Lisbon Summer Time — GMT+1)

Sala Mattos Romão (Room C201.J – Department of Philosophy)

School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon



Há 50 anos, neste país, o povo exigia liberdade e iniciou uma revolução. Aqueles que fizeram a revolução também indicaram o que deve ser feito para uma vida nova e livre: descolonização, democratização e desenvolvimento. Estas foram ideias poderosas que se concretizaram: Portugal está agora descolonizado, democratizado e desenvolvido. É um país livre e mais justo do que era há 50 anos. Pode-se dizer que as ideias impulsionaram a ação e mudaram a realidade. Mas qual foi o papel da filosofia em relação à luta pela liberdade? Será que de alguma forma inspirou e moldou o curso da ação, realizando-se assim, ou veio depois do evento para melhor conceptualizá-lo? A mesa redonda irá explorar estes e outros aspetos inter-relacionados da revolução, liberdade e filosofia.



The MSCA Staff Exchanges Action PLEXUS announces the PLEXUS Summer School to be held in the University of Navarra (Pamplona – Spain) from the 10th to 14th of June 2024. The School aims to gather young researchers from around the world working on Logic and related areas, with particular interest on Substructural Logics and their applications.




-Damián Szmuc (CONICET): «From substructural logics to parastructural logics» [Abstract]

-Elaine Pimentel (University College London) & Carlos Olarte (Université Sorbonne Paris Nord): «A tour on substructural logics and multi-modality» [Abstract]

– Claudia Nalon (Universidade de Brasília): TBA


Bursaries for PhD students & young scholars:


We offer bursaries for travel expenses and accommodation up to 800 EUR. If you are interested in applying, send a letter of interest (800 words) to (before the 10th of May) explaining your motivation to take part in the Summer School. Selected candidates will have the chance to explain their research in the Evening Pitch Talks.

The Theory of Relevance, Formal Fallacies of Relevance, and Relevant Logic

Nicholas Ferenz (Czech Academy of Science)


19 April 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Relevant logics are logics with a conditional connective that represents, in the object language, various sorts of entailment relations. These entailment or implications each necessitate restrictions on grounds of relevance. In Entailment vol. 1, Anderson and Belnap note certain (formal) fallacies of relevance that should not be theorems of any (propositional) relevant logic. The area of first-order relevant logics is comparatively underdeveloped both philosophically and mathematically. In this talk I develop an account of formal fallacies of relevance, drawing on the Sperber and Wilson’s Theory of Relevance in linguistics. In short, formulas that are formal fallacies of relevance require too much cognitive effort to establish relevance over every context with every instance of the formula. This account of formal fallacies of relevance have the advantages of (i) implying a core semantic property of relevance in propositional logics (namely the Variable Sharing Property), and (ii) divorcing the definition of relevance from that of (the) truth (values). I then turn to first-order logics, where I apply the framework to a selection of formulas and outline future goals.

The Hardness of the Practical Might

Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto)


12 April 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Incommensurability is often introduced with the small improvement argument. Options A and B are shown to be incommensurable when it is neither the case that A is preferred to (or better than) B nor that B is preferred to (or better than) A, but a slightly improved version of A (A+) is still not preferred to B. Since A+ is preferred to A, but not to B, we must also conclude that it is also true that A and B are not indifferent (or equally good). Such incommensurable options seem incompatible with orthodox decision theory (and various forms of value theory) but options that obey the pattern described by this argument seem ubiquitous: my choice between lemon tarts and eclairs at my favourite pastry shop might exhibit this pattern, but so could my choice between jobs or careers. In trying to accommodate incommensurable options within various frameworks, philosophers have argued that we must preserve certain central features of the phenomenon. Among them is the supposed “hardness” of at least some incommensurable options: even if perhaps one would need to be a rather anxious gourmet to describe the choice between lemon tarts and eclairs as hard, the choice among careers could potentially be agonizing. However, it is not clear in which way choices among incommensurable options are “hard,” nor how and whether such hardness poses problems for the various accounts of incommensurable choices. To complicate matters, the deontic verdicts for choices between incommensurable options seem to be relatively straightforward: one appealing view is that in such circumstances I am rationally permitted to choose any option that is not worse than (or dispreferred to) another option. This paper aims to provide a sharper formulation of the hardness problem, to argue that various theories of incommensurability might fail to account for the hardness of some incommensurable choices, and to propose that the theory of instrumental rationality I develop in Rational Powers in Action, aided by a Kantian insight, promises to provide an adequate explanation of the hardness of choice among incommensurable options.

Christine Habbard

University of Lille

The Power of Representation, or The Representation of Power

16 April 2024, 17h00 (Lisbon Summer Time — GMT+1)

Sala Mattos Romão (Room C201.J – Department of Philosophy)

School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon



The term “Representation” is ambiguous: it refers both to an image (the iconic meaning) and to the act of speaking or acting on behalf of someone (the political or legal meaning). These two meanings are usually not envisaged together, especially in political philosophy. My lecture will on the contrary focus on how, in early Modernity, the two meanings were intertwined, and the birth of the Nation-State (the epitome of political representation), was made possible by its graphic construction on the map. The visual representation of the State on the map enabled its conceptualisation as a unified, sovereign power over a bounded territory, which in turn allowed it to act in the stead of, or on behalf of its people. The State had to be seen, visualised and represented (in maps, but also through paintings, sculptures…) in order to be a legitimate representative of its emerging nation. In other words, representation is what gave power to this representative power. This will in turn allow me to look at how cartography (and State cartography in particular) enabled the enduring switch from one meaning of representation (the likeness of an image) to the other (semiotic – the sign, the proxy).



Sami Khatib

Oriental Institute Beirut

It speaks: Marx and commodity language

2 April 2024, 17h00 (Lisbon Summer Time — GMT+1)

Sala Mattos Romão (Room C201.J – Department of Philosophy)

School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon



In Capital, vol. 1, Marx wrote: “If commodities could, speak, they would say this: our use-value may interest men, but it does not belong to us as objects. What does belong to us as objects, however, is our value. Our own intercourse as commodities proves it.” If Marx’s compelling prosopopoeia is not merely a rhetorical figure, external to what is signified by it, we are to ask what is the nature of this language in contradistinction to ‘natural’ languages like German, French, or English, or certain jargons employed by economics. Commodity language expresses the differential relation of value, a “purely social” relation. It functions as a quasi-transcendental structure that conditions economic-linguistic speech acts before and ahead of culturally situated semantic content and ‘communicated’ use-values. If every commodity actually speaks [spricht] and mis-speaks/promises [verspricht] another commodity, what is the secret of this language, which lends them their ‘universal’, that is, seemingly trans-national, trans-cultural and trans-historical communicability and commensurability? Relying on K. Karatani, W. Hamacher, F. de Saussure and W. Benjamin, my talk explores the aesthetic and political consequences of commodity language and its repressed negativity (non-identity, inversion, mismatch, asymmetry, closure, un-disclosedness et al.).



There Is No Such Thing as Conventionalism about Personal Identity

Eric Olson (University of Sheffield)


5 April 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: It’s often said that personal identity is ‘conventional’ in that it depends on our attitudes and practices: it’s not a fact to be discovered, but a matter for decision. There are a number of different claims about ‘personal identity’ that are said to be conventional in this way. Some are intelligible but not actually conventionalism as advertised. Some are indeed conventionalist but unintelligible. Some are intelligible and conventionalist but not very interesting. But there appears to be no genuine conventionalism about personal identity that is both intelligible and interesting.

What Context-Relative Belief Could Be Like

Roger Clarke (Queen’s University Belfast)


22 March 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Several philosophers have recently defended metaphysically context-relative views of belief. But for many of us, it’s not clear what context-relativity could be if it isn’t semantic (or more broadly, linguistic) context-relativity. In this paper, I explore the idea of context-relative metaphysics through several examples, mostly taken from high-school science.

Marie Goupy

Catholic University of Paris

The government of permanent emergency and its specters

19 March 2024, 17h00 (Lisbon Time — GMT+0)

Sala Mattos Romão (Room C201.J – Department of Philosophy)

School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon



The reflection I’d like to propose is based on works on emergency powers and emergency law, which have become increasingly more common in liberal states, giving rise to the polemic term “permanent state of exception”. This notion, first introduced by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, has given rise to a great deal of debates. Jurists have almost observed that, while the term is supposed to describe a situation of suspension of law, or a legal vacuum, the exact opposite is true: in liberal states, the management of emergency situations has given rise to a kind of normative proliferation, an acceleration in the production of legal norms, which tends to embrace the emergency. An emergency that itself tends to have no end in sight. In this presentation, I would like to use those works on the law of emergency as the basis for a reflection on a dominant conception of time, which is perfectly legible in some important theories of exception. To do this, I will draw specifically on the work of two American jurists, almost unknown in France, but famous in the United States, E. Posner and A. Vermeule. I will show that their conception of emergency law, which is very developed, if not dominant in administrations in liberal states, can be described as a technicist and continuous management of emergency – and in this sense, it reflects a presentist conception of time (in François Hartog’s sense). But on the other hand, the authors fail to rid themselves of the very concept of “crisis”, as a dangerous and radical break with the existing order, and above all as a specter – the specter of a shift towards an illiberal regime, or perhaps even more radically, the specter of general crisis.