Colloquium Series: 2022-2023

Talks will be in the Danielsen Room, Rabb 338, unless otherwise noted. Events are updated throughout the semester. Please check back often.

Fall 2022

September 8, 2022

Berislav Marušić, is a Senior Lecturer of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh

His talk is titled,

"Interpersonal Reasoning"

He writes, "Anscombe famously said, 'It is an insult and it may be an injury not to be believed.' But what is it to believe someone? My aim is to show that understanding what it is to believe someone requires a conception of a distinctive kind of interpersonal reasoning. To do so, I develop an analogy between interpersonal reasoning and an Anscombean conception of practical reasoning. Drawing on the work of Richard Moran, I suggest that the distinctive ‘form’ of interpersonal reasoning is recognition. I furthermore argue that this is to be understood as a primarily logical, rather than epistemological point. In concluding, I explain why a notion of interpersonal reasoning makes available an ethics of thought and, specifically, an account of testimonial injustice."

Please note: this talk will be held from 11 AM to 1 PM in Rabb Graduate Center Room 338.

A Talk by Branden Fitelson, Northeastern University

October 21, 2022

Branden Fitelson is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Northeastern University.

His talk is titled,

"Assigning Probabilities to Conditionals --- Some Puzzles & Paradoxes"

He writes, "In this talk I will discuss some problems that arise when we try to assign probabilities (or degrees of confidence) to (indicative) conditional statements. Some puzzles & paradoxes (old and new) will be discussed. The advantages & disadvantages of various proposed solutions to these problems will be discussed."

Please note: this talk will be held from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM in Rabb Graduate Center Room 338.

A Talk by Darien Pollock, Boston University

November 11, 2022

Darien Pollock is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Boston University. His talk is titled,

"Street Knowledge and the Status Quo"

He writes, "Feminist scholars have longed stressed the importance of spaces of discourse where members of marginalized communities come together to deliberate issues relevant to their lived experience (Fraser, 1990). “Counter-publics,” according to these scholars, serve as a kind of “dialectical refuge” for members of oppressed groups that enable them to carve out meaningful identifies separate from the dominant norms of a wider public (Higginbotham, 1993). 

 While I agree that the counter-public framework captures a crucial feature of how members of oppressed groups relate to the mainstream norms and values of a social arrangement, in this talk, I want to offer an alternative account, what I call the “street knowledge view,” to help explain why the formation of a marginalized group depends on its members challenging the norms of particular social arrangements rather than being grounded in traditional race, gender, and class affiliations. What I hope to show is that “being at the margins” does not solely depend on an agent identifying as a member of a historically oppressed group. On my view, marginal life is motivated by persons collectively developing certain ethical resources, or principles of action, that challenge the dominant set of norms in whatever social arrangement they find themselves."

Please note: this talk will be held from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM in Rabb Graduate Center Room 338

Spring 2023

A Talk by Kate Nolfi, University of Vermont

February 3, 2023

Kate Nolfi is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Vermont. Her talk is titled,

Epistemic Norms: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

She writes, "At a first approximation, conforming with epistemic norms involves properly or appropriately forming and revising one’s doxastic attitudes on the basis of and in response to one’s particular epistemic position.  But, of course, this intuitively attractive construal is little more than a starting point for theorizing. A fully developed account of epistemic norms will need to spell out which sort(s) of doxastic response to a given epistemic position are appropriate or proper and which are not. My goal here is to sketch one such account: the action-oriented account. According to the action-oriented account, epistemic norms are just norms of doxastic attitude regulation conformity which effectively equips subjects like us with doxastic attitudes that are well-suited to play particular sort of action-oriented role in the sort of mental economy that we have. I briefly contrast the resulting action-oriented epistemology with some of its most prominent contemporary competitors. And, finally, I argue that an action-oriented epistemology is especially well-positioned to fund a satisfying explanation of why it matters whether we manage to conform with epistemic norms."

Please note: this talk will be held from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM in Rabb Graduate Center Room 338.

March 10, 2023

Tamar moved to MIT after teaching at Stanford from 2000-2015. She is interested in ethical theory, the history of ethics (especially Kant and the British Moralists), practical reasoning and human agency. Her recent book, Feeling Like It: a Theory of Inclination and Will (Oxford, 2021), develops a Kantian theory of inclination and its role in motivation.



April 28, 2023

Ned Hall is the Norman E. Vuilleumier Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. He writes, "I work on a range of topics in metaphysics and epistemology that overlap with philosophy of science. (Which is to say: the best topics in metaphysics and epistemology.) Are there “fundamental” laws of nature? What are they – as distinct, say, from accidentally true generalizations, or the causal generalizations that seem to figure in the special sciences? Suppose it’s a truism that one of the central aims of scientific inquiry is to uncover the causal structure of our world (at many different time- and length-scales); what does “causal structure” need to mean, for this truism to be not merely true but illuminating? What are the varieties of probability, and can any of them be said to be properly “objective”? What would it take for one science to “reduce” to another? Must fundamental physics have an intelligible ontology – and if so, what does this constraint amount to? Is there any need for a conception of ‘metaphysical possibility’ that outstrips physical possibility? Can there be any basis for skepticism about unobservable structure that is not also, and equally, a basis for skepticism about unobserved structure? (And so on.) I firmly believe that philosophical discourse always goes better if the parties involved resolutely avoid any “burden-shifting” maneuvers, and that teaching always goes better if you bring cookies."