In preparation for next week’s conference, I will be posting abstracts of the conference papers over the next few days. Below are the abstracts for the first concurrent session. Enjoy!
(For those who may have missed it, a draft of the schedule is available here.)
Linguistic Ersatzism and the Problem of Descriptive Power
Elle Benjamin (University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth)
Lewis maintains that linguistic ersatzism cannot adequately account for all of the possibilities that exist in two ways. First, it cannot represent indiscernible worlds and individuals, and second, it cannot represent alien individuals and universals. Since one can easily imagine an impoverished world that lacks many of the important modal distinctions that we hold here at the actual world, there is no reason to believe that we are not an impoverished world relative to some other world, in which case the richer world will have more possibilities than the linguistic ersatzist can represent in his vocabulary. Nolan and Sider offer two separate but similar accounts of how the linguistic ersatzist can respond to Lewis’ allegations, thereby defending it against genuine modal realism. I argue that, although Sider is working with the pluriverse framework, he actually implements the same method as Nolan, thus extending Nolan’s general account of alien universals to the specific problems that Lewis addresses in his critique.
The Third Datum
Jared Smith (Flagler College)
In Richard Taylor’s Metaphysics he eloquently outlines many prominent metaphysical problems. His method for analyzing and comparing the theories of Determinism and Agency in particular is to begin with our commonsense experience (data) and pursue a theory that fits the data rather than shape our data to fit some theory. In the case of Determinism and Agency, he begins with the data that (1) we feel that we deliberate and (2) it is sometimes up to us what we do. Taylor makes quick work of Determinism as a logical theory that ill-fits our everyday experiences. Agency, however, appears to be perfectly in line with these pieces of data despite conjuring up the problem of interaction. However, as I show in this paper, Taylor breaks with his method and fails to include a third piece of data: namely, causality, whose inclusion strengthens the case for Determinism rooted in common experience.
The Flash of Being: Vision, Speaking, and Place in Process Ontology as Seen Through Foucault
Natasha Noel Liebig (University of South Florida)
Foucault and Heidegger highlight the interplay of vision and language in ontology, that which gives ‘things’ their determinacy and allows us to see or speak of processes. Foucault’s analysis of practice- and discursive-relations discloses the multitudinous, multi-layered web of linear language and visual ‘forms’ of succession, series, synchrony, and continuity. These visual and linguistic conventions are at play in performing ontology as they are embodied in the way processes and ‘objects’ emerge from discourse becoming seeable and speakable. However, constituting the objectivity of processes and ‘objects’, this conceals that they are effects of highly specific, historical practice of discursive and social relations within local space. That is, vision and speaking are veiled through how we tend to focus on solely what-is, isolating processes or substances from its discourse. Rather, we cannot isolate the statement of ‘what-is’ because it is centered on and tempered by what seeing and speaking are doing.