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Explanation and Modality: On Why The Swampman Is Still Worrisome to Teleosemanticists (Dongwoo Kim)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on October 7th from 4:15-6:15 in room 7314 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Dongwoo Kim (CUNY).

Title: Explanation and Modality: On Why The Swampman Is Still Worrisome to Teleosemanticists

Abstract: Many have thought that Davidson’s Swampman scenario offers a serious problem to teleosemantics. For it appears to be possible from the scenario that there are completely ahistorical creatures with beliefs, and this apparent possibility contradicts the theory. In a series of papers (2001, 2006, 2016), Papineau argues that the Swampman scenario is not even the start of an objection to teleosemantics as a scientific reduction of belief. It is against this claim that I want to argue here. I shall argue that the explanatory power of teleosemantics rests on two conceptual pillars, namely success semantics and the etiological conception of biological function, and that the Swampman scenario questions the adequacy of the foundational conceptual commitments. Along the way, some general connection between explanation and modality will be developed that sheds a new light on Kripke’s analysis of necessary a posteriori propositions. The conclusion will be that teleosemanticists should tackle the Swampman objection head on.

 

Existence, Verbal Disputes and Equivocation (Alessandro Rossi)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on September 23rd from 4:15-6:15 in room 7314 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Alessandro Rossi (St Andrews).

Title: Existence, Verbal Disputes and Equivocation

Abstract: Noneism is the theory according to which some things do not exist. Following an established convention, I will call allism the negation of noneism (every thing exists). Lewis [1990] and, more recently, Woodward [2013] argued that the allism/noneism dispute turns on an equivocation about the meaning of ‘exists’ and would thereby be merely verbal. These arguments have been attacked by Priest [2005, 2011, 2013], who took the dispute to be genuine. In this paper, I will present two new arguments for the genuineness of the allism/noneism dispute. The first appeals to a recent version of logical pluralism defended by Kouri Kissel [Forth]: the two parties could be seen as engaging in a metalinguistic negotiation, that is, a normative disagreement about which meaning of ‘exists’ is best suited for a certain domain of discourse. Secondly, Williamson [1987] indicated a proof-theoretic criterion the two sides should meet in order for their dispute to count as genuine: they must share enough rules of inference governing ‘exist’ to characterise it up to logical equivalence. This challenge, I argue, can be met.