Conference 2011

First Annual Alumni Conference, Simon Fraser University.
Saturday, March 5th at 10:00 am, Halpern Centre, Burnaby Campus | download the Program


Patrick Rysiew (University of Victoria), "The Role and Semantics of Knowledge Ascriptions"

Edward Craig (1990) has urged that instead of analyzing ‘knows’ and its cognates, we should ask “what knowledge does for us, what its role in our life might be, and then ask what a concept having that role would be like”. Among contemporary epistemologists, the issue of ‘the role of “know(s)”’ has tended either to be ignored, or to provide evidence for some non-traditional (e.g., contextualist, or sensitive invariantist) theory of knowledge. Here, I begin by presenting an alternative – which I call the certification view -- to the Craigian account of the role of ‘know(s)’ (/KNOWS). I then argue that, contrary to appearances, a traditional (insensitive invariantist) semantics best explains knowledge ascriptions’ playing the ‘certifying’ role.

Neil Williams (University of Buffalo), "VIRTUS DORMITIVA REDUX: Killing the Golden Goose"

In light of recent developments in the metaphysics of science—specifically ‘dispositional essentialist’ views that treat dispositional properties as ubiquitous—I re-open the debate over dispositions and explanation. The original complaint was that dispositions cannot be explanatory as they are mere virtus dormitiva. That challenge was met by appealing to the fundamentality of dispositional properties: if the properties of the basic physical particles are dispositional, then it behoves us to find some version of dispositional explanation acceptable. This fundamentalist strategy is most forceful when combined with a sparse ontology, but what reply can the dispositional essentialist give if she embraces a more permissive ontology than just that of the most basic physical sciences? In what follows I consider the responses available to the non-reductivist ‘abundant’ dispositional essentialist whose ontology admits dispositional properties stemming from the special sciences.

Greg Scherkoske (Dalhousie), "Integrity and Impartial Morality. Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love My Minimally Helpful Career"

We owe to Bernard Williams the thought that moral theories such as consequentialism and Kantian ethics are faulty in light of these theories’ hostility to integrity. I argue that when understood as a variant on the (over)demandingness objection, the integrity objection is unpersuasive. I then consider a different variant on the integrity objection: now understood as the complaint that impartial moral theory disregards an important category of reasons or values – call them reasons of integrity – that arise from a normatively special and significant relationship of a person to her projects and commitments. This variant on the integrity objection is also unpersuasive: it looks to fail either by collapsing into the demandingness objection or by assuming the very category of reasons and values the objection seeks to establish. Rather than claim that integrity is irrelevant to the authority of impartial moral demands, I end with the tentative suggestion that the relevance of integrity to impartial moral demands is at once more subtle and less antagonistic than the literature has suggested.