homeeventspeople

Expressivism, Pragmatism and Representationalism

Sydney, 29–31 August 2007

Timetable : Abstracts : Venue : Registration : Accommodation : Transport : Enquiries


Speakers at this meeting will include Simon Blackburn (Cambridge), Bob Brandom (Pittsburgh), Alexis Burgess (Stanford), Jamie Dreier (Brown), Allan Gibbard (Michigan), David Macarthur (Sydney), Philip Pettit (Princeton), Huw Price (Sydney), Geoff Sayre-McCord (UNC, Chapel Hill) and Amie Thomasson (Miami).

Themes

Issues to be discussed will include:

  • The relation between pragmatism and expressivism as manifest in the work of Brandom (e.g., in his 2006 Locke Lectures), on the one hand, and writers such as Blackburn and Gibbard, on the other.

  • The role, if any, of representationalism in both programs. In what sense does Brandom's program make sense of representationalism, or intentionality (see, e.g., Lecture 6 of his Locke lectures)? In Blackburn's program, is there a well-motivated "bifurcation" between genuine and quasi representations? If so, how is it to be drawn, and what do the two have in common? (Is what is in common captured by Brandom's inferentialist account of assertion? If so, is this a problem for the idea that that program could yield genuine intentionality?)

  • The issue of "creeping minimalism" — does semantic minimalism undermine the "bifurcation thesis"? If not, why not? If so, is that an acceptable outcome, or an argument against minimalism?

  • The relation of all of these issues to other philosophical issues and programs: e.g., to naturalism, analytic metaphysics, Wright's brand of pluralism ...


Copies of some of the papers and related background reading will be available here before the event.


This workshop will be immediately followed by a conference on Moral Cognition and Meta-Ethics, organised by  Philip Gerrans (Adelaide) & Jeanette Kennett (CAPPE ANU). Further details are here


Provisional timetable

(Click on titles for abstracts and/or draft papers

Wednesday 29 August

Thursday 30 August

Friday 31 August

9.30 — 11.00

Huw Price
Expressivism, Pluralism & Representationalism a New Bifurcation Thesis

9.30 — 11.00

Bob Brandom
Towards an Analytic Pragmatism

9.00 — 10.30

Geoff Sayre-McCord
Rational Agency and Normative Concepts

Morning Tea

Morning Tea

Morning Tea

11.30 — 1.00

Simon Blackburn
Pragmatism: All or Some

11.30 — 1.00

Philip Pettit
Perspective in Representation

11.00 — 12.30

Allan Gibbard
Meaning and Epistemic Oughts

Lunch

Lunch

Lunch — end of EPR Workshop

2.30 — 4.00

Jamie Dreier
Creeping Minimalism

2.30 — 4.00

Alexis Burgess
Negative Existentials and Deflationary Reference 


Moral Cognition and Meta-Ethics

Conference

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea


4.30 — 6.00

David Macarthur
Wittgenstein and the Expressivist Tradition

4.30 — 6.00

Amie Thomasson
Modal Expressivism and Metaphysical Pragmatism

 


 


 


 6.30 — 8.00


Drinks and refreshments (both conferences)


Back to top

Abstracts

Simon Blackburn (Cambridge)
Pragmatism: All or Some

Draft paper here.

Back to timetable

Bob Brandom (Pittsburgh)
Towards an Analytic Pragmatism

Abstract (actually first page of handout) here, draft paper here.

[This talk is based on the first of Bob Brandom's 2006 Locke Lectures. Follow the link for the complete set.]

Back to timetable

Jamie Dreier (Brown)
Creeping Minimalism

Background reading here.

Back to timetable

Allan Gibbard  (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
Meaning and Epistemic Oughts

Can we understand the concepts of meaning and mental content as normative concepts, as matters of “ought” in some sense?  Certain oughts attach invariably to meaning, for instance:

If one ought to accept that snow is white, then one ought to accept that something is white. (1)

This normative pattern is closely tied to the nature of the concept “something”.  The oughts in question are of a primitive, emotionally flavorless kind that, applied to beliefs, are epistemic oughts of a kind that isn’t crudely pragmatic.

Characterizing the concept of meaning in terms of these oughts would address two problems with treating the concept of meaning as a naturalistic concept.  First, the idealization problem: what distinguishes the ideal dispositions that fit in neatly with meaning from our messy actual dispositions?  The ideal dispositions, we can say, are dispositions to believe as one ought.  Second, the automaticity problem: why do certain oughts go with meaning so automatically?

Characterizing meaning in terms of epistemic oughts, however, encounters problems of its own.  Many epistemic oughts are substantive and not matters of meaning alone—the oughts of induction that govern predicting experiences, for instance.  What distinguishes oughts of meaning like (1) from substantive oughts?  The talk examines what can be done in this regard.

Back to timetable


Philip Pettit (Princeton)
Perspective in Representation

This essay is an attempt to set out a view of our assertoric forms of discourse that is broadly representationalist and realist in character but that makes room for the role of perspective in the representation we achieve. There are two sorts of opposition to the viewpoint defended. One is a neutralist realism that would reject the perspectivism of the view; the other is a form of perspectivism that would reject the realism. I try to situate my perspectivist realism midway between these extremes.

Draft paper here.

Back to timetable


Huw Price (Sydney)
Expressivism, Pluralism & Representationalism a New Bifurcation Thesis

Blackburn's quasi-realist program faces the following dilemma. The more successful it is in explaining why non-descriptive declaratives (e.g., moral claims) behave like "genuinely descriptive" claims, the less need it has for the assumption that there is any such thing as a genuinely descriptive claim; the more prospect there is for simply dispensing with the so-called Bifurcation Thesis — the view that there is a theoretically significant distinction between descriptive and non-descriptive uses of declarative language.

In my view, this is a feature not a fault. In this talk, I want to argue that quasi-realism thus finds a natural ally in Brandom's inferentialist account of assertion, and that the true implications of both are best understood in terms of a new Bifurcation Thesis: a distinction between an "internal" inferentially-grounded notion of representation, and an "external" environment-tracking notion of representation. I propose that the right way to formulate the traditional insights of expressivism is in terms of this new Bifurcation Thesis, rather than the old Thesis; and that the basic confusion, fostered rather than eliminated by the old Thesis, is to run these two notions of representation together.

Draft paper here. [The previous work cited in this paper is all available here, as are the recent papers  mentioned in Simon Blackburn's paper above.]

Back to timetable


Geoff Sayre-McCord (UNC, Chapel Hill)
Rational Agency and Normative Concepts

Draft paper here.

Back to timetable


Amie Thomasson (Miami)
Modal Expressivism and Metaphysical Pragmatism

Modal conventionalism was among the oldest forms of modal expressivism. But it faced a barrage of criticism that led to decades of neglect of expressivist approaches to modality, and contributed to the dominance of hyper-realist views of modality as reactions against the apparent failings of conventionalism. Here I develop an expressivist line on modality inspired by earlier conventionalist views, showing how it can be defended against the major lines of criticism to which conventionalism has been-and still is-subjected. I show how this view is able to account for modal truth without positing modal properties as truthmakers and to provide a route for understanding knowledge of modal facts without relying on perceptual analogies, thus mitigating the ontological and epistemological worries of hyperrealism. Given the centrality of modality to a range of other metaphysical debates, this approach also has the potential to deflate a great many other debates in metaphysics and suggest that they are best approached in a pragmatic Carnapian spirit.

Draft paper here.

Back to timetable


Venue

The conference will be held in the RAIA Auditorium at the historic Tusculum mansion, 3 Manning St, Potts Point. Tusculum is marked in the centre of this map.

For a walking tour including Tusculum, and an introduction to the colourful history of this part of Sydney — where "Everybody is wicked", or once was — see this publication from the City of Sydney.

Back to top


Registration

The conference is open to all. Full-fee registration costs $60, with an additional late registration fee of $20 for all registrations received after Friday 17 August 2007. Student/unwaged registration is $20, or $40 for late registrations. Registration includes morning and afternoon refreshments.

To register, simply download this form, complete your payment details, and return the form by mail or fax to the address indicated.

(Speakers are not required to register. Speakers at the Moral Cognition and Meta-ethics Conference will also be registered gratis by default, but are requested to email John Cusbert to confirm their participation, for catering purposes.)

Back to top


Accommodation

There is plenty of other accommodation in Potts Point and Kings Cross, within walking distance of the conference. Listed below are some options, with approximate (2006) prices. For those on a very tight budget, there are also numerous backpackers' hostels on Victoria Street.


Accommodation options (moderately priced)

Challis Lodge
21 Challis Avenue
Potts Point

$55 per night for a single room (shared bathroom)
$65 per night for a double/twin (shared bathroom)
$70 per night for a single room (ensuite)
$75 per night for a double/twin (ensuite)

Stay seven nights for the price of five! 

Phone: 

+61 2 9358 5422

Fax:

+61 2 8356 9047

Email:

challis@budgethotelssydney.com

Web:

www.budgethotelssydney.com


Holiday Lodge Hotel
55 Macleay St
Potts Point  

$55-$100 per night for a single room
$60-$120 per night for a double room
$120-$140 per night for a family room

 

Phone: 

+61 2 935 63955

Fax:

+61 2 9356 3485

Web:

www.holidaylodgehotel.com.au


Victoria Court Hotel
122 Victoria St
Potts Point

Rates on enquiry

 

Phone: 

+61 2 9357 3200

Fax:

+61 2 9357 7606

Web:

http://www.victoriacourt.com.au



Back to top

Transport

The best way to get around downtown Sydney is on foot or via public transport. The conference venue and the accommodation listed on this site are all within a 5-10 minute walk from Kings Cross railway station.

From the Airport

You can catch a train from the Airport to Kings Cross station, though you will need to change trains at Central station. The train fare from the Airport is $10. A taxi from the Airport to Potts Point costs about $28. There are also regular shuttle buses from the airport to accomodation in Potts Point. "Kingsford Smith Airport Bus Service" runs one such service, which costs around $8 per person and departs from outside the arrival hall every half hour. There is no need to make a booking.

Parking

Streetside parking is very limited in this area. Listed below are some commercial parking lots within 5-10 minutes walk from the conference venue. Parking charges are around $13 per day.

 
Kings Cross Car Park Pty Ltd
Ward Ave Kings Cross NSW 2011
ph: (02) 9358 5000
 
Bayswater Parking Station
33 Bayswater Rd Kings Cross NSW 2011
ph: (02) 9357 7343
 
Enacon Parking
Cathedral St Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
ph: (02) 9380 8850
 

Back to top

 

Enquiries

Please direct all enquiries to John Cusbert at the following email address:
john.cusbert@gmail.com


Back to top

 



 

Web page maintained by John Cusbert. Last update 26.8.2007