A Multimodal Interpretation of Descartes’ Creation Doctrine (Andrew Tedder)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on November 19th from 4:15-6:15 in room 6494 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Andrew Tedder (UConn).

Title: A Multimodal Interpretation of Descartes’ Creation Doctrine

Abstract: Descartes’ doctrine of the creation of eternal truths seems to claim that there is a class of necessary truths which are, nevertheless, possibly false. In short, these are truths concerning the essences of created things, and so are necessary: yet God, having full voluntary control over the creation of said essences as part of his voluntary control over creation in general, could have failed to create some essences or created them otherwise than he did. This leads to a famous difficulty in interpreting Descartes modal metaphysics. In this talk, I develop an interpretation according to which Descartes countenances two modalities, one constrained by the actual essences God creates (inner modalities), and the other not so constrained (outer modalities). I present some textual evidence to support this reading and develop a model theory capturing the logical behaviour of the modalities.

Openness and Indeterminacy (Amy Seymour)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on November 12th from 4:15-6:15 in room 6494 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Amy Seymour (Fordham).

Title: Openness and Indeterminacy

AbstractThere are competing accounts of the openness of the future, which are structurally similar to competing analyses of ‘can’ and ‘able to do otherwise’. I argue metaphysical openness regarding the future requires the rejection of the commonly assumed tense logic axiom of Kt, (HF): p → HFp. (That is: If p, then it has always been the case that it will be that p). This account of openness both captures the core intuitions in the open future debates and is isomorphic to the libertarian’s account of the ability to do otherwise. Rejecting this axiom does not require a rejection of bivalence. However, a common assumption is that metaphysical future openness requires at least some kind of ontic vagueness. Otherwise, there would be no way to properly account for claims about what the future might hold. I argue this assumption is false: While indeterminism is a necessary feature of the account, indeterminism does not require indeterminacy.

Agential Free Choice (Melissa Fusco)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on November 5th from 4:15-6:15 in room 6494 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Melissa Fusco (Columbia).

Title: Agential Free Choice

Abstract: The Free Choice effect—whereby ♢(p or q) seems to entail both ♢p and ♢q—has long been described as a phenomenon affecting the deontic modal “may”. This paper presents an extension of the semantic account of deontic free choice defended in Fusco (2015) to the agentive modal “can”, the “can” which, intuitively, describes an agent’s powers. I begin by sketching a model of inexact ability, which grounds a modal approach to agency (Belnap & Perloff, 1998; Belnap et al., 2001) in a Williamson (1992, 2014)-style margin of error. A classical propositional semantics combined with this framework can reflect the intuitions highlighted by Kenny (1976)’s much-discussed dartboard cases, as well as the counterexamples to simple conditional views recently discussed by Mandelkern et al. (2017). In §3, I substitute for classical disjunction an independently motivated generalization of Boolean join—one which makes the two diagonally, but not generally, equivalent—and show how it extends free choice inferences into a simple object language.

Ground and Paradox (Boris Kment)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on October 29th from 4:15-6:15 in room 6494 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Boris Kment (Princeton).

Title: Ground and Paradox

Abstract: This paper discusses a cluster of interrelated paradoxes, including the semantic and property-theoretic paradoxes (such as the paradox of heterologicality), as well as the set-theoretic paradoxes and the Russell-Myhill paradox. I argue that an independently motivated theory of metaphysical grounding provides philosophically satisfying treatments of these paradoxes. It yields as corollaries a version of the iterative conception of set and an analogous solution to Russell-Myhill. Moreover, it generates a paracomplete solution to the property-theoretic paradoxes. This solution also applies to the semantic paradoxes, which can be subsumed under the property-theoretic ones. The treatment of the property-theoretic paradoxes has structural similarities to Kripke’s approach to the Liar, and it promises to resolve the main outstanding difficulties for this position, such as revenge cases and the problem of adding a conditional with a sufficiently strong logic.

Tableaux for Lewis’s V-family (Yale Weiss)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on October 15th from 4:15-6:15 in room 6494 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Yale Weiss (GC).

Title: Tableaux for Lewis’s V-family

Abstract: In his seminal work Counterfactuals, David Lewis presents a family of systems of conditional logic—his V-family—which includes both his preferred logic of counterfactuals (VC/C1) and Stalnaker’s conditional logic (VCS/C2). Graham Priest posed the problem of finding systems of (labeled) tableaux for logics from Lewis’s V-family in his Introduction to Non-Classical Logic (2008, p. 93). In this talk, I present a solution to this problem: sound and complete (labeled) tableaux for Lewis’s V-logics. Errors and shortcomings in recent work on this problem are identified and corrected (especially close attention is given to a recent paper by Negri and Sbardolini, whose approach anticipates my own). While most of the systems I present are analytic, the tableaux I give for Stalnaker’s VCS and its extensions make use of a version of the Cut rule and, consequently, are non-analytic. I conjecture that Cut is eliminable from these tableaux and discuss problems encountered in trying to prove this.

Ontological Reductions of First Order Models (Alfredo Freire)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on October 22nd from 4:15-6:15 in room 6494 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Alfredo Freire (Campinas).

Title: Ontological Reductions of First Order Models

Abstract: Since the discovery of the Loweinheim-Skolem theorem, it has been largely held that there is no purely formal way of fixing a model for any first order theory. Because of this, many have focused on having a relative account of models, establishing the expressive power of one model in its ability to internalize models for other theories. One can, for instance, define a plurality of models for PA from a given model for ZF, and this may be understood as evidence for the ontology of arithmetics being reducible to the ontology of set theory. In this presentation, I argue that a close attention to what it means to reduce an ontology shows that methods of reduction are generally not neutral and make it possible for weaker models to reduce stronger ones. For this, I analyze the known model-theoretical reduction of NBG into ZF proved by Novak, showing that a more demanding method makes it impossible for ZF to internalize NBG. We finish this presentation by showing how this view, together with some technical results, provide a positive account in defense of the multiversalist perspective on set theory.

Inconsistency and the Sorites Paradox (Otávio Bueno)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on October 1st from 4:15-6:15 in room 6494 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Otávio Bueno (Miami).

Title: Inconsistency and the Sorites Paradox

Abstract: The Sorites paradox offers an unsettling situation in which, in light of its premises and the apparent validity of the argument, one may be inclined to take the argument to be sound. But this entails that vague concepts, ubiquitous and indispensable to express salient features of the world, are ultimately inconsistent, or at least the application conditions of these concepts seem to lead one directly into contradiction. In what follows, I argue that this inconsistent understanding of vagueness is difficult to resist, but it is also hard to accept. First, I point out that a number of approaches to vagueness that try to resist this conclusion ultimately fail. But it is also difficult to accept the inconsistency approach. After all, vague concepts do not seem to be inconsistent. Second, even if the inconsistency view turned out to be true, the phenomenology of vague concepts (and such concepts, after all, do not seem to be inconsistent at all) can be accommodated. Contextual factors force one to apply inconsistent concepts consistently by arbitrarily resisting to apply the concepts once a locally determined threshold is met. This yields the impression that vague concepts are consistent. As a result, in light of the apparent non-inconsistent nature of vagueness, on the one hand, and the Sorites argument that supports the opposite view, on the other, it is unclear how to establish whether vague concepts ultimately are inconsistent or not. This explains why the Sorites paradox, despite centuries of reflection, does not go away, and why it is unclear how to settle, in one way or another, a significant aspect of the nature of vagueness.

The Quantified Argument Calculus, with Application to the Barcan Formulas and Necessary Existence (Hanoch Ben-Yami)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on September 24th from 4:15-6:15 in room 6494 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Hanoch Ben-Yami (CEU).

Title: The Quantified Argument Calculus, with Application to the Barcan Formulas and Necessary Existence

Abstract: I present a logic system I recently developed (RSL 2014), the Quantified Argument Calculus or Quarc. Quarc is closer in syntax and logical properties to Natural Language than is the Predicate Calculus, on any of its versions, and it is no less powerful than the first-order Predicate Calculus. This makes analysing the Barcan formulas and necessary existence by its means particularly interesting. As we shall see, the analogues in Quarc of the Barcan formulas and their converses are straightforwardly invalid. And, since quantification and existence in Quarc come apart, existence isn’t logically necessary. The issues with both the Barcan formulas and necessary existence were an artefact of a specific formal language, the Predicate Calculus, and they are eliminated once it is replaced by a formal language with a claim of providing an improved representation of the logic of Natural Language.

Applying Causal Modeling to Philosophical Issues (Sander Beckers)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on September 17th from 4:15-6:15 in room 4419 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Sander Beckers (Utrecht).

Title: Applying Causal Modeling to Philosophical Issues

Abstract: Causal modeling was developed within Artificial Intelligence over the last few decades in order to formally capture causal information, which is notably absent from statistics. Aside from the undeniable impact this has had on Artificial Intelligence, where talk of causal networks has become commonplace, the resulting formalisms were also eagerly picked up by philosophers working on causation. In particular, causal modeling has been used rather successfully in constructing formal definitions of actual causation, aka token causation. Given that actual causation occupies a crucial role in many issues in philosophy, causal modeling is a helpful tool to anyone studying those issues, that much is obvious. However, I argue that even in the absence of any definition of causation, causal modeling can still be put to significant use in order to resolve these issues. Concretely, my talk will consist of three parts. First I introduce my own definition of causation using causal models. Second I illustrate how causal models can be used to clarify and possibly settle the debate about Frankfurt-style cases and the Principle of Alternative Possibilities. Third I use causal models to sketch the position of non-reductive physicalism, and show how this allows it to tackle the famous Exclusion Argument.

Fall 2018 Schedule

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will be meeting on Mondays from 4:15 to 6:15 in room 6494 of the Graduate Center, CUNY (365 5th Avenue). The (provisional) schedule is as follows:

Sep 3. GC CLOSED. NO MEETING

Sep 10. GC CLOSED. NO MEETING

Sep 17. Sander Beckers, Utrecht

Sep 24. Hanoch Ben-Yami, CEU

Oct 1. Otavio Bueno, Miami

Oct 8. GC CLOSED. NO MEETING

Oct 15. Yale Weiss, GC*

Oct 22. Alfredo Freire, Campinas*

Oct 29. Boris Kment, Princeton

Nov 5. Melissa Fusco, Columbia

Nov 12. Amy Seymour, Fordham

Nov 19. Andrew Tedder, UConn

Nov 26. Justin Bledin, Johns Hopkins

Dec 3. Suki Finn, Southampton

Dec 10. Byong Yi, Toronto

(* indicates change to original schedule)