September 02, 2015, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Carl Posy (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Kantian Discipline and the Paradoxes of Knowledge

I will propose a reading of Kant’s “empirical realism” and “transcendental idealism” which aligns Kant’s thought with some contemporary epistemological and semantic notions, and I will use that reading to interpret his arguments in two passages from the “Dialectic” of the Critique of Pure Reason (the “Fourth Paralogism” and the “First Antinomy”). Then I will use these in order to propose a solution to the hangman paradox and to elucidate its relation to Moore’s Paradox. At the end I will say some things about how this “Kantian” approach to these paradoxes can be generalized, and, if there is time, I will compare it to some other treatments of the paradoxes.

September 23, 2015, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Niels Skovgaard Olsen (University of Konstanz, Philosophy; University of Freiburg, Psychology)

Relevance, Reason Relations, and Conditionals

The purpose of this talk is to examine a philosophical framework for thinking about relevance, conditionals, and reason relations, which originates in the work of Wolfgang Spohn. Through two recent experiments, core claims of this framework were subjected to empirical testing utilizing new stimulus materials, which were developed especially for this task. Throughout history, the idea that there should somehow be a relationship between relevance and the meaning of conditionals has continued to capture the imagination of philosophers, but previous studies have failed to find supporting empirical evidence. Here the take-home message of the present talk will be that the reason might very well be that we have been looking in the wrong places.

October 21, 2015, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Jeff Sanford Russell (USC)

Possible Patterns

According to David Lewis (among others) “There are no gaps in logical space” (1986) and thus “Possibility is governed by a combinatorial principle” (2009). But what principle could this be? Taking an argument from Peter Forrest and David Armstrong (1984) and a reply from Daniel Nolan (1996) as our jumping-off point, we us e resources from model theory to show the consistency of certain packages of combinatorial principles and the inconsistency of others. (This work is a collaboration with John Hawthorne.)

May 04, 2016, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Alexei Grinbaum (LARSIM, Gif-sur-Yvette)

How device-independent approaches change the meaning of physics

Dirac sought an interpretation of mathematical formalism in terms of physical entities and Einstein insisted that physics should describe “the real states of the real systems”. While Bell inequalities put into question the reality of states, modern device-independent approaches do away with the idea of entities: physics is not built of physical systems. Focusing on the correlations between operationally defined inputs and outputs, device-independent methods promote a view more distant from conventional theory than Einstein’s ‘principle theories’ were from ‘constructive theories’. On the examples of indefinite causal orders and almost quantum correlations, we ask a puzzling question: if physical theory is not about systems, then what is it about? The answer given by the device-independent models is that physics is about languages. In moving away from the information-theoretic reconstructions of quantum theory, this answer marks a new conceptual development in the foundations of physics.