Dr. David Liebesman (University of Calgary)
Abstract: My furnace is part of my house, but it not a partial house. A half-built house is a partial house, but it is not a part of a house. Parthood—being a part of something—is a familiar topic of philosophical inquiry. Partialhood—being a partial something—is not. The neglect of partialhood is a shame because the relation underlies both natural language counting and the semantics of the progressive aspect. I develop a view on which partialhood is a determinable dyadic relation that has no modal or telic reduction. I then employ this relation in a semantics for the progressive.
Dr. Gila Sher (University of California, San Diego)
Title: Epistemic Friction: Logic & Language
Abstract: My starting point is the “basic human cognitive situation” – a situation of beings like us, cognitively limited in some ways, resourceful in others, and seeking to know their world in its full complexity. This situation introduces the need to ground all knowledge – including logical knowledge – in the world (“epistemic friction”) while affirming our freedom to use whatever cognitive and linguistic resources are available to us in pursuing this task (“epistemic freedom”). But the grounding of logic in the world introduces many challenges: the challenge of circularity, the challenge of formality and necessity, the challenge of normativity, the challenge of correspondence truth (veridicality), the challenge of abstract features of reality, the challenge of language-ontology disparity, and more. In this talk I will analyze these challenges and propose new ways of meeting them.
Graduate Student Speakers
Eamon Darnell (PhD Student, University of Toronto)
Title: Is Hume’s Principle Analytic in Frege’s Sense?
Abstract: Determining whether or not Hume’s Principle (HP) is analytic is of particular importance to the neo-Fregean project of authors like Crispin Wright. The discussion surrounding the analyticity of HP has centred mainly around a classical account of analyticity rather than on the account of analyticity that Frege provides. In this paper I assess whether HP is analytic according to Frege’s account. I begin with a brief elucidation of HP and then sketch Frege’s account of analyticity and one of its implications. Next, I show that HP is analytic, only if there is no “sphere of some special science” within which there is some F, such that the Number of Fs is not equal to the extension of the concept equinumerous with F. Lastly, I argue that there is at least one F (either, N0 or N1) such that, within the sphere of non-standard analysis, the Number of Fs is the numerosity of F and the numerosity of F is not equal to the extension of the concept equinumerous with F . I conclude that HP is not analytic (according to Frege’s account).
Yousuf Hasan (PhD Student, University of Western Ontario)
Title: Quine’s Flight from Analyticity: Reassessing his Attacks on Carnap’s Analytic/Synthetic Distinction
Abstract: I will explore two arguments by Quine against Carnap’s analytic/synthetic distinction. Quine’s first argument makes ‘analyticity’ practically unintelligible. I argue that Quine actually weakens his 1951 position by surprisingly proposing sufficiently clear conceptions of analyticity by 1960 and 1973. While his proposed notions are either superfluous or overly restrictive, the viability for a useful epistemic dichotomy still seems favourable. Quine’s second argument stems from his holistic epistemology. The acceptance of holism implies the dismissal of the dichotomy, according to Quine. Against this argument, I suggest a weakness of his criticism based on a lack of appreciation of Carnap’s relativized and revisable distinction. I hope I successfully clear misunderstandings in the Quine/Carnap debate and contribute to a more balanced scholarship against the Quine-favoured received view.
Jared Henderson (PhD Student, University of Connecticut, Storrs)
Title: Generic Inferences
Abstract: David Liebesman has recently argued that the logical form of generic bare plurals (e.g. “Ravens are black” and “Lions have manes”) is not quantificational but rather predicative. That is, sentences theorists have previously assumed to be quantificational generics share a logical form with kind- predications like “Flamingos are extinct.” I argue that the motivations for this position are lacking. In particular, the sorts of inferences Liebesman gives in favor of the position do not require that generics and kind-predications have the same logical form. I conclude with a brief discussion of generics and default inferences, pointing to some reasons why Liebesman’s theory will be unable to explain the relationship between generics and default inferences.
Matthias Jenny (PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Title: What Denial Isn’t
Abstract: Bilateralists such as Timothy Smiley (1996) and Ian Rumfitt (2000) claim that the logical connectives are governed by rules of denial in addition to rules of assertion. Bilateralism promises to offer a solution to Carnap’s (1943) Problem and a response to intuitionistic criticisms of realism and classical logic due to Tennant (1987) and Dummett (1991). For these purposes, bilateralists need denial to be a primitive speech act that’s not to be explained in terms of truth- functional negation. And in fact, Smiley notes that he treats “assertion and [denial] as distinct activities on all fours with one another” (Smiley 1996, 1). However, the notion of denial at the heart of the bilateralist program remains undertheorized. In this paper, I discuss the thesis put forth by some authors that ‘not’ is ambiguous between a truth-function and a force indicator. Call an utterance that uses ‘not’ as a force indicator not-denial. I argue that not-denial fails to meet certain features that are central to assertion. Therefore, a bilateralist solution to Carnap’s Problem and a bilateralist response to Tennant and Dummett either needs to look beyond not-denial in its appeal to a primitive speech act that’s on all fours as assertion.
Natalia Karczewska (PhD Student, University of Warsaw. Visiting researcher at New York University 2015/16).
Title: Faultless Disagreement as Disagreement about Borderline Cases – A Critical Response
Abstract: Contextualism has been accused by some philosophers [Lasersohn, Kölbel] of being unable to appropriately account for faultless disagreements about taste.
In my paper I present a metalinguistic solution to this problem proposed Chris Barker  that is compatible with contextualism. According to Barker’s account of dynamic semantics, disagreements about taste are usually rather disagreements about “tasty”, i.e. applicability of the predicate of taste is a given context. He argues that since “tasty” is a vague predicate, speakers may faultlessly disagree about its borderline cases (he borrows this notion of faultless disagreement from Wright 1994). I believe that the notion of faultlessness employed in the discussion of vagueness is a different notion than the one employed in the discussion about taste discourse [Kölbel, 2003]. I provide a few counterexamples to Barker’s view and argue that metalinguistic communication requires a particular communicative intention that his view cannot secure. I conclude that even though Barker’s account provides an illuminating picture of communication in general, it does not secure the notion of faultless disagreement for contextualism.
Fabio Lampert (PhD Student, University of California, Davis)
Title: Semantic Tableaux for Two-Dimensional Modal Logic
Abstract: In this paper we present tableau methods for a two-dimensional modal logic, 2DML. Since this logic involves sentences evaluated with respect to a pair of worlds, the formulas in our “2D-tableaux” are doubly-indexed, where the indices informally denote actual and counterfactual worlds, or first and second dimensions, respectively. This procedure is interesting for it can be generalized to cover a variety of two-dimensional logics by adapting the informal interpretation of the indices. Although models for such logics are well-known, proof systems remain rather unexplored as most of its developments have been purely axiomatic. Furthermore, while the majority of axiomatizations cover the propositional level, here we present sound and complete systems for both the propositional and first-order cases with identity, considering constant and variable domains as well. Finally, besides the familiar actuality operator, we motivate the introduction of a new operator called ‘distinguishably’.
Elizabeth Rard (PhD Student, University of California, Davis)
Title: A Fitch in Time
Abstract: The Knowability Paradox is a result that follows from the assumption that all true sentences are knowable. Many philosophical positions would like to at least maintain a distinction between sentences that are necessarily unknowable and sentences that are unknown as a matter of contingent fact. Using quantified logic with epistemic and alethic modal operators it is possible to prove that if all true sentences are knowable then all true sentences are already known. The proposition that we are collectively omniscient is one that most positions will quickly reject. If we are to escape the paradox then we need a revised version of the Knowability Principle (KP), the principle that claims that all true sentences are knowable. There have been many attempts to diagnose and treat the problem. As yet, a satisfactory solution has not been agreed upon. In this paper we shall argue for a specific analogue to the original problem, namely a temporal analogue. This analogue, combined with certain philosophical assumptions, provides a way out of the paradox. In order to facilitate a discussion of the solution we will adopt a semantics equipped to handle truth conditions given the philosophical assumptions adopted.
Daniel Skibra (PhD Student, Northwestern University)
Title: Some Constraints on Contextualism About Modals
Abstract: There is a common assumption in the semantics of modal terms in natural language; in utterances of MUST φ, context determines the particular flavor of modality expressed by the modal. In fact, the Standard Account of the semantics of modals, due to Kratzer, lacks the metasemantic resources for allowing the internal complexity of φ to influence the modal flavor. This is a problem, because in certain constructions the aspectual features of φ can affect the flavor of MUST regardless of context. I argue that this motivates treating the contextual parameters introduced by modals differently than the Standard Account does, and I propose an explanation of the data based on this. A surprising result of this is that the common assumption turns out to be too strong. The role of context in the interpretation of modals is not quite as unconstrained as we thought.
Yuna Won (PhD Candidate, Cornell University)
Title: Chisholm’s Paradox Revisited: Contrary-To-Duty Obligations and Ordering Semantics
Abstract: Chisholm’s Paradox is one of the most famous deontic puzzles. It is commonly believed that the Chisholm’s Paradox arises only in Standard Deontic Logic (SDL), but not in ordering semantics, which is now the orthodox semantics for conditionals and modals. In this paper, I argue that the real challenge raised by Chisholm’s example is about contrary-to-duty (CTD) obligations – a type of obligations that takes effect when a corresponding primary obligation is violated. A new puzzle, the CTD trilemma, extending the familiar example from Chisholm’s Paradox, will show that the orthodox semantics cannot provide an adequate formal representation of CTD obligations. The source of their limitation will be identified, and possible resistance to the CTD trilemma will be carefully examined. I will close the paper with a short discussion of the two different uses of ‘ought’ – statements, which will help us to understand the nature of CTD obligations and norm violation.