Graduate Student Research Colloquia

  • Each Friday at 4:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
  • 308 Louise Pound Hall (the philosophy seminar room)
  • Undergraduates are welcome!
  • For more information, contact Trevor Adams:

Past Colloquia

Fall 2021 (see below) Spring 2021 Fall/Summer 2020 Spring 2020 Fall 2019 Spring 2019
Fall 2018 Spring 2018 Fall 2017 Spring 2017 Fall 2016 Spring 2016

Fall 2021

October 22, 2021

Presenter: Zachariah Wrublewski

Title: Praise, Criticism, and Objectivist Accounts of Subjective Reasons



In contemporary discussions on reasons, many theorists accept an intuitive distinction between objective reasons and subjective reasons. One way that many folks understand this distinction is by noting the difference in the roles they play— with objective reasons bearing on what an agent objectively ought to do, and subjective reasons bearing on what an agent subjectively ought to do. Related to these roles, it seems that objective and subjective reasons also have roles from one another when considering the second-person standpoint, such that the objective reasons bear on what a fully informed interlocutor should advise an agent to do, and the subjective reasons bear on whether (or not) a fully informed interlocutor should criticize an agent. Not only does the distinction between objective and subject reasons seem intuitive, but it further seems that these types of reasons are related in some way— though just what that relation is is far less intuitively clear and the subject of contention in the literature. In attempting to offer an account of how the two types of reasons relate to one another, some theorists take what, following Wodak, I’ll refer to as an “objectivist” approach: They argue that subjective reasons are, in some sense, reducible to objective reasons. In this presentation, I’ll argue that views of this sort— that is, objectivist views of subjective reasons— face a substantial problem stemming from a plausible constraint on theories of normative subjective reasons that I will call the “personal-criticism constraint on subjective reasons,” or the “personal-criticism constraint” for short. Specifically, I will argue that objectivist theories of subjective reasons cannot account for the personal-criticism constraint without relying on an implausible, inflexible theory of objective reasons. As such, I will conclude that objectivist views of subjective reasons should be rejected.

October 15, 2021

Presenter: John Del Rosario

Title: Faith in Process – a Conciliatory View



I am currently working on a paper on Judeo-Christian faith. The chief contention is that faith is a process or is in a process. As an enduring relational attitude towards the transcendent, faith is totalizing and ideal-seeking (Cf. Dewey, Tillich). If it were so, then some inchoate or non-ideal expressions of faith can be framed as being “part of the process”. I want to use this model of faith to shed light on the current debate in Epistemology of Religion about whether faith, as traditionally conceived (Aquinas, Calvin, Newman, and recently defended by Eklund, Mugg, Malcolm/Scott) is doxastic or non-doxastic (as contended by Pojman, Alston, Audi, Howard-Snyder, McKaughan, Buchak, etc). The latter is a claim that faith is not nor does not entail belief. A motivation for saying so lies in the phenomenon of doubt – i.e., even if S has some doubts, she may be considered a person of faith. Faith obtains in situations where S holds non-maximal confidence that p. So the “sympathetic” view that I want to propose is this: faith, if it were indeed enduring and processual, must admit of non-maximal stances toward p. This then allows us to have room for doubt – even the serious ones. But faith is also aimed an ideal exemplification. It is in virtue of this ideal that faith ultimately requires holding belief. Fortunately, the Judeo-Christian tradition supports the resolution of this dialectic. Far too often, faith is portrayed as an attitude that grows or matures over time.

October 8, 2021

Presenter: Il-Hwan Yu

Title: Reactive Attitudes and Sourcehood: the Remaining Threat from Determinism in P.F. Strawson’s Account



According to the incompatibilist, especially a hard determinist, if determinism is true, then free will is impossible, rendering moral responsibility moot. In “Freedom and Resentment” (1962), P.F. Strawson attempts to constitute moral responsibility based on reactive attitudes as natural facts of human society, so as to safeguard moral responsibility from the threat of determinism. However, I argue in the viewpoint of hard determinism that Strawson’s theory of moral responsibility fails to address the threat to moral responsibility. My argument relies on the following premise: reactive attitudes can serve as a basis of moral responsibility only if an agent is the source of his action, which requires that the agent be free. I argue that if determinism is true, then sourcehood is impossible; therefore reactive attitudes cannot appropriately serve as the basis of moral responsibility. I conclude that Strawson’s theory of moral responsibility is still vulnerable against a hard determinist’s claim.

October 1, 2021

Presenter: Trevor Adams

Title: “Epistemic Aspects of Hope”



In much of the current hope literature, there is little to no consideration of how, and which, beliefs enable hope. There is also very little consideration of hopes' relationship to knowledge and belief in general. In this paper I will first briefly sketch out my own view on the nature of hope. Next, I will present my own view of the relationship between hope and belief. I will sketch a view that hope is enabled by certain beliefs depending on the content and the context. I will then argue, in light of my view, that hope is consistent with knowledge.

September 17, 2021

Presenter: Eunhong Lee

Title: “Two Problems of Mackie’s Causation model and Normative Field”



J. L. Mackie tried to analyze our causal arguments through the concepts of necessary and sufficient conditions and clarify what a cause is through his INUS analysis. Mackie’s causation model is not plausible due to (1) problems of his applying formation of propositional logic into the causal model regarding INUS conditions and (2) his undefined/subjective Causal Field. So, I suggest that ‘Normative Field’ should be considered in Mackie’s causation model. This ‘Normative Field’ is crucial to most of the counterfactual causation model.

September 10, 2021

Presenter: Janelle Gormley

Title: “Are Motivating Reasons Generalizable?”



Since Stocker’s (1978) virtue theoretic challenge against ethical theories that divorce motivating reasons (which tend to track partiality but not always) from normative reasons (which tend to track impartiality), Ethicists have responded to the challenge by offering accounts that either rationally justify or normatively justify agents acting partially. In order to justify partial actions, philosophers such as Setiya (2014) and White (2020) argue that if we can isolate a ‘reason’ for acting partially, then in the former, we can offer a practical principle that shows an agent remains practically ration in so far as strangers are concerned, and in the latter, if we take the arguments from Setiya further, we can get that it’s possible to love or be partial to all, but in a qualified way. But to do this, each author isolates a reason that is offered from an agent’s answer to the why question and generalizes that reason to provide a practical principle of action in the normative domain. In this paper, I argue that using the reason a partial agent offers (a motivating reason) to support a normative conclusion is not sufficient justification.

September 3, 2021

Presenter: Christopher Stratman

Title: “Toward A Mereological Account of Phenomenal Intentionality”



The Phenomenal Intentionality Theory (PIT) is a phenomenology-first approach to intentionality. Instead of attempting to explain what phenomenal consciousness is by appealing to intentional or representational states, the order of explanation is reversed—that is, intentionality is explained in terms of phenomenal consciousness. The central thesis of PIT says: All genuine intentionality is phenomenally constituted. Standard versions of PIT hold that the phenomenal and the intentional are related either by being identical or by the latter being partly grounded in the former. I will offer an alternative approach, which claims that phenomenality and intentionality are related by being Proper Parts of an agent’s, first-personal, subjective mental event. Indeed, the conditions of satisfaction for phenomenal intentionality just are the conditions of satisfaction for a phenomenal mental event or episode that an agent might undergo. My goal is to develop and partly defend this mereological account of phenomenal intentionality by showing how it does a better job of explaining what is arguably the most difficult problem case for PIT—that is, the problem of unconscious thought like your belief that “grass is green”.