Norms and Analysis

From Personal Identity to the Rationality of Desire


Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney

26-28 June 2007

Themes :: Venue :: Registration :: Timetable :: Abstracts :: Accommodation :: Enquiries

:: Limericks

Themes

There is a picture of the world which is disenchanted — a world that contains only the ingredients of the natural sciences, with no mention of norms; no reasons to govern desires or obligations. But some of the objects in this world — one case is persons — seem to have among their persistence conditions norms and reasons. Is there a way to reconcile these pictures? Can we reconstruct reasons in an austere world? This conference explores these themes.

Back to top


Venue

The conference will be held at the Professorial Board Room, which is located in the Main Quadrangle (A14) of the University of Sydney.

Back to top


Registration

Advanced registration is required for catering purposes and is free until 12/6/2007 .

To register, simply send an email to john.cusbert@gmail.com with the subject line "Please register me for Norms and Analysis" (two-click registration here).

Back to top


Timetable

Tuesday 26 June
Wednesday 27 June
Thursday 28 June

Coffee
Coffee

9:30 - 11:00

Kristie Miller
Persons as sui generis
ontological kinds:
advice to exceptionists

9:30 - 11:00

Frank Jackson
Norms and Logical Space

Morning Tea

Morning Tea

11:30 - 1:00

Denis Robinson
Neurath's raft meets the
ship of Theseus" - reflections
on personal identity
and conceptual analysis

11:30 - 1:00

David Braddon-Mitchell
and Caroline West
Prudence, or near enough

Coffee and welcome

Lunch

Lunch

2:30 - 4:00

Julia Driver
Sentimentalism and
psychological  necessity

2:30 - 4:00

Daniel Nolan
Gaps in Gibbard

2:30 - 4:00

Roy Sorensen
The Practical Dogmatist

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

4:30 - 6:00

Michael Smith
Norms, Kinds, and Functions

4:30 - 6:00

David Chalmers
Moral Relativism and
Conceptual Analysis

4:30 - 6:00

Peter Railton
Desires as reasons &
rationality in desire

Back to top


Abstracts

Sentimentalism and psychological necessity
Julia Driver (Dartmouth College)

Hume offered a response to skepticism that drew on the concept of 'the psychological necessity' of certain beliefs.  That is, there are some beliefs we are so constituted by nature to have that shedding them in practical deliberation is not possible for us.  In this paper I explore the strategy of carrying over this concept of psychological necessity into a Humean sentimentalist moral theory.  I discuss imaginative resistance, and how this phenomenon points to the different ways in which our moral committments are psychologically necessary.

[back to timetable]

Norms, Kinds, and Functions
Michael Smith (Princeton University)

In the early 1950s it looked like we faced a very stark choice in giving an account of value.  We could be a cognitivist about evaluative judgement and a realist about value, but at the cost of
being a non-naturalist, a la Moore, or we could remain faithful to naturalism by being a non-cognitivist about evaluative judgement and an irrealist about value like Hare.  However by the mid-1950s things already started to look very different.  In Good and Evil Peter Geach argued against both of these alternatives on the basis of a simple argument: 'good' is attributive, not predicative, so when we say that something is good we implicitly make reference to some kind to which that thing belongs, where the kind supplies a standard-perhaps a function that things of that kind serve-and where saying that the thing is good is to say that the thing stands in a certain relation
to that standard.  What was remarkable about Geach's proposal was that it promised to an alternative to the stark choice we had been offered.  It promised to reconcile naturalism with both cognitivism
about evaluative judgement and realism about value.  The aim of this paper is to describe and evaluate two ways of developing Geach's proposal.

[back to timetable]

Persons as sui generis ontological kinds: advice to exceptionists
Kristie Miller (University of Sydney)

Many metaphysicians tell us that our world is one in which persisting objects are four-dimensionally extended in time, and persist by being partially present at each moment at which they exist. Many normative theorists tell us that at least some of our core normative practices are justified only if the relation that holds between a person at one time, and that person at another time, is the relation of strict identity. If these metaphysicians are right about the nature of our world, and these normative theorists are right about what justifies our normative practices, then we should be error theorists about the justification of at least some of our core normative practices and in turn we should eliminate those practices for which justification is lacking. This paper offers a way of resolving the tension between these two views that does not lead into the grips of error theory. It is a way that is amenable to “exceptionists” about persons: those who think there is something special about persons and the first-person perspective; that personhood cannot be explained naturalistically, and the first-person perspective is naturalistically irreducible. The conclusion is thus a conditional: given that one is an exceptionist, an attractive way to resolve this tension is to embrace the view that persons are sui generis ontological kinds.

[back to timetable]

Neurath's raft meets the ship of Theseus"
- reflections on personal identity and conceptual analysis

Denis Robinson (University of Auckland)

Prima facie, the central question in the philosophy of personal identity - what are the constitutive criteria for personal continuity and persistence over time? - might be thought a straightforwardly factual question to which one might expect, give or take a little vagueness, a reasonably straight answer. But some strands of thought in the recent philosophy of personal identity run counter to such expectations, seeing the criteria for personal persistence as relative to the practices, feelings, and moral and prudential values of communities or individuals, perhaps even to those of the very individuals whose persistence-criteria are in question.

My remarks will be intended to shed some light on the question "How could this happen?", and will take the form of general ruminations on what the problem of personal identity, and the practice of conceptual analysis, can tell us about each other.

[back to timetable]

Gaps in Gibbard
Daniel Nolan (University of Nottingham)

One traditional way of reconciling naturalism with normativity is to go non-factualist about the normative.  A popular family of approaches to doing this is the expressivist family:  the role of normative claims is not to state facts or express paradigm beliefs, but ultimately to do something else, connected to our non-cognitive attitudes about the world.  Expressivists rarely offer systematic accounts of normative language, instead being content with characterising a few simple constructions.  But without such systematic accounts, we do not have expressivist options for normative language so much as expressivist pipe-dreams.

One of the most appealing options for expressivists is to explain how they can adapt the rich and powerful structure of truth-conditional semantics to explain the meanings of their target expressions.  The most promising way to do this, I think, is sketched in Alan Gibbard's 1990 Wise Choices, Apt Feelings.  But I also think the project sketched there is so far radically incomplete, and more recent developments of projects in the same spirit have not yet filled all the important gaps.  This paper describes the basics of the approach I think is the expressivist's best shot, and gives a sense of how much work there is left to do before non-factualists of this form have so much as a detailed rival to orthodox cognitivism.

[back to timetable]

Moral Relativism and Conceptual Analysis
David Chalmers (Australian National University)

Abstract TBA.

[back to timetable]

Norms and Logical Space
Frank Jackson (Australian National University)

One important division among theorists of normativity is over whether or not normative sentences and terms represent that things things are thus and so in the sense of making divisions in logical space. This talk explores the implications of supposing that they do.

Prudence, or near enough
David Braddon-Mitchell and Caroline West (University of Sydney)

Abstract TBA.

[back to timetable]

The Practical Dogmatist
Roy Sorensen (Dartmouth College)

You receive an envelope containing what you justifiably believe to be misleading evidence. You know that if you read the contents, then you will justifiably change your mind and regard your previous reservations as founded on misleading evidence. Should you open the letter or burn it?

On the one hand, the principle of total evidence instructs you not to ignore evidence. On the other hand, you think a maximally informed well-wisher would hope you will burn the letter.

Admittedly, your hypothetical, more widely informed, future self would disagree about what advice would be given by the maximally informed well-wisher. Does this potential disagreement cancel the force of the well-wisher argument?

The dilemma is not based on the premise that you are anticipating a period of irrationality (as with Ulysses and the Sirens) or that you anticipate that your desires will change in an undesirable way (as when the young idealist donates his fortune now, before his older self acquires narrower interests). You foresee uninterrupted rationality -- just a disagreement between your temporal parts as to who has the misleading evidence.

Epistemic altruists believe we should give equal weight to the opinions of others. When the altruist learns others disagree, he averages opinions. Skeptics drive the altruist toward agnosticism by drawing attention to actual disagreements and hypothetical disagreements.

Epistemic egoists believe we should give no weight to the opinion of others. Their opinions can be meta-evidence. But once the egoist possesses the same evidence, he loses epistemic interest in others.

An interesting bridge case between "egoism of the moment" and altruism is the temporally impartial egoist. He gives weight to his other stages. If he foresees that he will believe in global warming, then this future opinion counts as a reason to believe it now.

At first blush, the "egoist of the moment" recommends burning the letter while prudential egoist and the altruist recommend reading the letter. I consider whether this appearance holds up. I conclude with my own recommendation.

[back to timetable]

Desires as reasons & rationality in desire
Peter Railton (University of Michigan)

Abstract TBA.

[back to timetable]

Back to top


Accommodation

There is plenty of accommodation within walking distance of the University of Sydney. Some options are listed below.


Jay's Bed and Brerakfast
217 Wilson St
Newtown

Phone: 

+61 2 9550 5947

Email:

jaynovak@internode.on.net

Web:

http://www.jaysbnb.com/sydney/location/newtown.html


Verona Guest House
224 Glebe Point Road
Glebe


Phone: 

+61 2 9660-8975

Email:
info@verona-guesthouse.com

Web:

http://www.verona-guesthouse.com

Rydges
9 Missenden Road
Camperdown


Phone: 

+61 2 9261 4929

Web:

here

Broadway University Motor Inn
 25 Arundel Street
Glebe


Phone: 

+61 2 9660 5777


Back to top

 

Enquiries

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

Back to top


Limericks

A collection of Limericks summarising the conference (thanks to Rachael Briggs!):



Julia Driver

Between sentiment and conviction
There really is no contradiction.
To make you agree with me,
I'll call on the deity
And other examples from fiction.



Michael Smith

The things consequentialists teach
Can really be drawn out of Geach.
About my conclusion
There's little confusion.*
(The premise, I grant, is a reach.)
* Not none.



Kristie Miller

Identity matters a lot, so
All persons endure.  Objects?  Not so.
That's naturalistic
And relativistic,
No kidding!  (You might not have thought so.)



Denis Robinson

I wonder, can any mere mortal
Survive through a teletransportal?
I'm sure that this fact
And my norms interact,
But is 'person' sincerely a sortal?



Daniel Nolan

Al Gibbard's position on norms
Is something to which Daniel warms,
But his worry's intense
When he tries to make sense
Of particular argument forms.



Dave Chalmers

Our standpoints may clash, but the two
Are equal from God's point of view.
My claim that no one
Should kill kittens for fun
Is lower-case true, but not True.



Frank Jackson

There's only one logical space.
It isn't coherent to base
All one's intuitions
On bogus partitions
With no real distinctions to trace.



David Bradon-Mitchell and Caroline West

At t, I will be a nonentity
With plans and desires that *went* to t.
Though I won't survive,
It's fine if I strive
For future goods.  Who needs identity?



Roy Sorensen

Some evidence works when you learn it,
But still is misleading--so spurn it.
You needn't be drunk
To be swayed by such junk.
Don't open that envelope!  Burn it!



Peter Railton

You might have thought all things affective
Were brute (or at least were elective),
But Railton inquires
And finds that desires
Are subject to reason's directive.

 

 


 

Web page maintained by John Cusbert. Last update 16/7/2007