Contact: harvey [DOT] lederman [AT] princeton [DOT] edu                                          Photo Credit: Princeton University, Office of Communications,  Denise Applewhite (2013).                                                      

ABSTRACTS /

Wes Holliday, "Possibility Semantics"

Abstract: I will report on the ongoing development of possibility semantics, a generalization of possible world semantics originating in Lloyd Humberstone’s paper “From Worlds to Possibilities.” Back to Schedule

Peter Fritz, "Ground and Grain"

Abstract: There is a tension in recent theorizing about grounding: On the one hand, grounding is usually formulated using a sentential connective, which means that quantificational talk about grounding is most naturally understood as involving quantification into sentence position. On the other hand, grounding theorists usually hold that grounding draws very fine distinctions, requiring its relata to be very finely individuated. These two commitments turn out to be in tension, since we can prove using highly plausible inferences of a purely logical character -- uncritically presupposed in much of the writing on grounding -- that what quantifiers binding variables in sentence position range over cannot be as fine-grained as required by grounding theorists. This paper presents this tension, and develops a possible response. According to the proposed response, there is not a single sentential grounding connective, but an array of grounding connectives which relate complexes of a certain kind in a hierarchy of types, the theory of which is developed here as well. It is shown that this proposal also provides new and attractive solutions to a range of other puzzles of ground. Back to Schedule

Ofra Magidor, "How Both You and the Brain-in-a-Vat Can Know Whether or Not You Are Envatted"

Abstract: Epistemic Externalism offers one of the most prominent responses to the sceptical challenge. Externalism has commonly been interpreted (not least by externalists themselves) as postulating a crucial asymmetry between the actual world agent and their brain-in-a-vat (BIV) counterpart: while the actual agent is in a position to know she is not envatted, her BIV counterpart is not in a position to know that she is envatted, or in other words only the former is in a position to know whether or not she is envatted.In this paper, I argue that there is in fact no such asymmetry: assuming epistemic externalism, both the actual world agent and their BIV counterpart are in a position to know whether or not they are envatted. After presenting the main argument, I examine to what extent the argument survives when one accepts additional externalist-friendly commitments (such as semantic externalism), and I conclude by discussing some of the implications of my conclusion to a variety of debates in epistemology. Back to Schedule

Andrew Bacon, "Inductive Knowledge"

Abstract: This talk outlines a skeptical paradox for inductive knowledge. Two responses in particular are explored: According to the first sort of theory, one is able to know in advance that certain observations will not be made unless a law exists. According to the other, this sort of knowledge is not available until after the observations have been made. Certain natural assumptions, such as the idea that the observations are just as informative as each other, the idea that they are independent, and that they increase your knowledge monotonically (among others) are given precise formulations. Some surprising consequences of these assumptions are drawn, and their ramifications for the two theories examined. Finally, a positive account of inductive knowledge is offered, and independently derived from other principles concerning the interaction of knowledge and counterfactuals. Back to Schedule

Kenny Easwaran, "Diachronic and Interpersonal Coherence"

(joint work with Reuben Stern, Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy)

Abstract: Much recent work in formal epistemology aims to justify requirements of diachronic coherence, stating that a person's current beliefs and future beliefs rationally ought to be closely related to each other, with differences attributed to gains in evidence over time. David Christensen challenges these arguments by showing that formally similar arguments would lead to an argument that people that share a bank account rationally ought to have exactly the same beliefs as each other. However, following Donald Gillies, we embrace this analogy and suggest that both interpersonal and diachronic coherence requirements exist, but only to the degree that interests are shared, and behavior can be coordinated.From this idea we develop a picture of social epistemology in which each person is a member of multiple overlapping groups, so that competing coherence requirements can't all be satisfied. Furthermore, we consider various arguments suggesting a positive value for diversity of opinion in groups. Finally, we draw the parallel to successive states of the same person, and suggest that the standard coherence arguments have less force than thought. Successive states don't share all their interests, can't always coordinate their behaviors, and are often parts of incompatible social groups. Moreover, even when interests are aligned, there are purely internal reasons for some stages to disagree with others in order to achieve the benefits of cognitive diversity. Back to Schedule

Sarah Moss, "Full Belief and Loose Speech"

Abstract: This talk defends an account of the attitude of full belief, including an account of its relationship to credence. Along the way, I address several familiar and difficult questions about belief. Does fully believing a proposition require having maximal confidence in it? Are rational beliefs closed under entailment, or does the preface paradox show that rational agents can believe inconsistent propositions? Does whether you believe a proposition depend partly on your practical interests? My account of belief resolves the tension between conflicting answers to these questions that have been defended in the literature. In addition, my account complements fruitful probabilistic theories of assertion and knowledge. Back to Schedule

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