Hilary 2017

Preliminary schedule for Hilary term 2017.


Title: Revelation in the Philosophy of Mind

Speaker: Michelle Liu (Somerville College)

Time & Venue: 3-5pm, Room 4

Commentator: Bill Child


In analytic philosophy, the term “revelation” was first used by Mark Johnston (1992) to refer to the view that the nature of colour is given in colour experience. This paper is not concerned with the thesis of revelation in the colour debate, but with the thesis that also goes by the name “revelation” in the mind-body debate. This is the claim that the nature or the essenceof a particular type of experience is given in experiences of that type. Although the thesis of revelation in the case of experience is not unfamiliar in the mind-body debate, it is still a topic that has not been adequately addressed by philosophers of mind. A main goal of this paper is to draw on the work of David Lewis (1995) to clarify what the thesis of revelation is in the philosophy of mind. In addition to giving a more precise formulation of the thesis of revelation, this paper also discusses the role of revelation in the physicalist-dualist debate, in particular, how the thesis of revelation is incompatible with standard physicalism.


No DPhil Seminar this week.

WEEK 6 (TUESDAY, 21 FEBRUARY)Speaker Series

Title: How Can Ends be Rationally Criticized under Instrumental Rationality?

Speaker: Jay Jian (Balliol College)

Time & Venue: 4-6pm, Colin Matthew Room

Commentator: John Broome

Chair: Alexander Heape


It is widely held that we can only make rational criticisms about our desires concerning the means, but not about the ends that we have under a purely instrumentalist picture of rationality. This uncriticizability thesis provides one of the cornerstones for Humeanism and is often accepted as a truism entailed by the very idea of instrumental rationality (IR). But in this presentation I will challenge this thesis and argue that some of our ends can in fact be rationally criticized under a conception of IR that is most favorable to the Humeans.

Drawing from the debate between wide- and narrow-scope rational requirements, I first distinguish between two conceptions of IR (i.e. IR as means-end coherence and as a rational executive ability) and explain how the uncriticizability thesis is rested upon the executive sense of IR. I then explain how the conception of IR as a rational executive ability already presupposes a rational hierarchy within our desires, and I argue that some of our desired ends can in fact be rendered rationally criticizable under such a hierarchy.

WEEK 7 (THURSDAY, 2 MARCH)Speaker Series

Title: Normative Implications of a Social Model of Self-Control

Speaker: Polaris Koi (University of Turku)

Time & Venue: 2.30-4.30pm, Ryle Room

Commentator: Neil Levy

Chair: Jay Jian


Normative beliefs have long been associated with self-control: it is often associated with both prudentiality and morality. Many competing accounts of the constitution of self-control have been proposed, from neuroreductionism to externalism and situationalism. Within the field of disability studies, the social model of disability is a prevalent way of accounting for the social construction of both ability and disability. In this paper, I examine self-control by utilizing the framework of the social model of disability, contrasting this with a neuroreductionist explanatory model for self-control. I ask, how do these models differ in terms of the normative implications they yield?


WEEK 8 (THURSDAY, 9 MARCH)Publishing Workshop

Title: The Logic of Essence and Ground

Speaker: Ben Brast-McKie (Lady Margaret Hall)

Time & Venue: 3-5pm, Colin Matthew room

Commentator: Ofra Magidor

Chair: Alexander Roberts


This paper presents a unified logic for essence and ground (LEG), where essence and ground are intended to regiment informal talk of necessary and sufficient conditions, respectively. After deriving the core principles of Cian Dorr (forthcoming) logic of generalised identity, I will move to compare LEG to Kit Fine (2012) impure logic for ground, arguing that Fine draws distinctions in the world where none are to be found. I conclude by considering just how Boolean the resulting theory of propositions is, proving a number of results in the Appendix which will be useful in the latter portions of the paper.