Graduate Student Research Colloquia - Spring 2020

Spring 2020

May 1, 2020

Presenter: Talhah Mustafa

Title: "Language in Culture"


What do the following words mean: "boot," "flat," and "football"? Well, it depends on the country we’re in and the culture in that country. Culture is a constituent of language. If culture changes, the language associated with that culture changes. There are three factors that define language and how it's used: political, societal, and religious. This paper explores a possible fourth option, colonialism. Without this fourth option, these three options don't seem to work when we’re looking at the language in Pakistan and India. The language that's used in these countries are similar, and it seems as if only my fourth option explains the similarities. Political, societal, and religious explanations all fail, and I’m going to explore that.

Presenter: John Del Rosario


Professor Louis Pojman maintains that belief is not necessary for faith. More specifically, he argues that belief that God exists is not a necessary condition for an embrace of some theistic lifestyle. This is anchored on his contention that (Bi) belief in God does not entail (Bt) belief that God exists; put simply, belief-in does not entail belief that (Hope, instead, for Pojman, is sufficient for faith. Hope does not rely on the warrant of evidence which belief seems to require and that it needs only to latch on to the possibility that God exists for it to be sufficient). My argument in this paper is an attempt to address the alleged non-entailment between belief-in and belief-that. (1) On a more pragmatic tenor, it is rational for S to have an attitudinal (Bi) which accepts the propositional (Bt) (Cohen, Alston). The attitude may not be as spontaneous; still, it is truth oriented and revelatory of some cognitive commitment to a certain God-exists policy (Schellenberg). (2) It is harder, but not impossible, to show the logical relation between (Bi) and (Bt). A route to take is to argue that (Bi), as a religious belief, is both factive and evaluative (Price). If the conjunct obtains, then it might be possible to say that the “trust-in” pro-attitude exemplified in (Bi) must, at the very least, entertain the plausibility of the propositional (Bt). For what it is worth, this entertaining some propositions about God goes deep into the heart of poignant narratives on the beginnings of what can be called faith in God. The entailment could be spelled, thus, as (Bi) presupposes, at the very least, entertaining (Bt).

April 17, 2020

Presenter: Trevor Adams

Title: "The Compatibility of Hope and Knowledge"


In Epistemological Aspects of Hope, Benton argues that hope is incompatible with knowledge (1). Put more precisely, if someone were to hope that p then they wouldn’t have knowledge that p. This is because, "when one has such propositional hope, one hopes that the world is (or will turn out) a certain way" (1). Since we hope for current or future outcomes, our hopes are fulfilled when we come to know that the outcome has happened, and our hopes are dashed when we find out that the outcome does not occur (1). Thus, we do not hope for propositions we take ourselves to know (1).

While our conceptual and linguistic judgments suggest that knowledge and hope are inconsistent, I think things are more complicated than they appear. First, it may be possible that an agent would ascribe knowledge of p in one context to themselves, while in another context hope that p. Thus, they may be compatible across contexts but not at the same time in the same context. Second, if one accepts both the "chances license hope" principle and infallibilism, then perhaps hope and knowledge are in fact compatible. Lastly, when one tries to articulate what about hope is inconsistent with knowledge, I think we come to the realization that the inconsistency actually lies in an agents believing themselves to know p while hoping ​p, not their actually knowing p and hoping p.

March 13, 2020

Presenter: Bjorn Flanagan

Title: "Tragedy as the Highest Art: Does Representing Tragic Action Involve Intellectual Virtue?"



The Poetics offers the definition of tragedy as being the representation of a certain kind of action; however, there remains a question of how one should interpret "action" in this context. Elizabeth Belfiore presents an interpretation of action as an event that is not subject to moral considerations; if true, it calls into question those interpretations that assert tragedy as ethically educative. However, I contend that this misses a crucial qualification that Aristotle asserts upon tragedy. If Aristotle presents tragedy as an expression of the highest art, then it requires a qualification for how it is which would, by extension, require a moral qualification of the action. I agree with Belfiore’s assessment of tragedy where "action" does not involve moral considerations but only those of the practical virtues; I will present a case that the purpose of representing a tragic action is contemplative and concerns intellectual virtue which qualifies it as the highest art form.

March 6, 2020

Presenter: Christopher Stratman

Title: "Agentive Phenomenology as the Experiential Basis of Cognitive Phenomenology"


Recently, many philosophers (e.g., Horgan and Tienson (2002), Loar (2003), Kriegel (2013), Mendelovici (2018)) have endorsed "Phenomenal Intentionality" (PIT). This view asserts that there is a kind of intentionality that is, in some important sense, constitutively determined by phenomenology alone. Additionally, PIT claims that this sort of "original intentionality" is distinct from and prior to all other forms of intentionality. A central thesis involved in PIT claims that there is a kind of cognitive phenomenology. As Horgan and Tienson have suggested: "mental states of the sort commonly cited as paradigmatically intentional (e.g., cognitive states such as beliefs, and conative states such as desires), when conscious, have phenomenal character that is inseparable from their intentional content" (p. 520). However, there has emerged a stalemate between those who accept the cognitive phenomenology thesis and those who deny it. In this paper, I attempt to diagnose the stalemate and offer some ways in which it can be avoided by appealing to agentive phenomenology as the experiential basis of cognitive phenomenology.

February 28, 2020

Presenter: Alfred Tu

Title: "What Is Gourmet: A Social Epistemological Perspective "


Issues of expert and expertise have become important topics in recent social epistemology. Goldman (1991, 2001, 2011) proposed his characterization of "expert;" According to him, a cognitive expert is someone who (1) possessed substantial body of true beliefs in a certain epistemological domain, (2) have capacity to deliver true answers to new questions posed in the domain, and (3) with extensive body of knowledge on both primary and secondary questions in the domain. Nevertheless, Goldman’s veritistic account of expert seems to be tricky if we applied it to various expertise that based on sensations. For instance, gastronomic experts, such as food critics and sommeliers, their expertise —tasting— seems to be based on taste sensation. But in some people’s mind, taste is constituted by objective and subjective factors, if it is not pure subjective. On one hand, modern physiology told us there are five basic tastes which can be considers as objective factors of taste. On the other hand, tasting results usually seem to have various subjective aspects, such as feeling and opinion. And these subjective aspects seem to be the interesting, if not the most important, part of judgment on food. Therefore, it seems that proponents of veritistic account of expertise needs to either maintain a story to cover expertise include various subjective aspects or deny such expertise exists, which is against our practice. In this paper, I am going to argue that Goldman’s veritistic account of expertise cannot be compatible with the understanding of taste sensation, and suggesting we need a non-veritistic account of expertise to cover more types of expertise.

February 21, 2020

Presenter: Brant Barnes

Title: "Skeptical Problems with the Dual Aspect Theory"


In recent years, the discussion of property individuation — providing identity conditions for properties — has overtaken the discussion of a property’s nature. Questions such as "is a property a cluster of causal powers" have been overtaken by questions such as "can a property be individuated by its causal role." Of course, how one answers the former sort of question will have a bearing on how one answers the latter. In this paper, I will discuss a specific theory on the nature of properties, namely, the dual aspect theory. I will argue that the dual aspect theory of properties does not provide a viable answer to the related question of property individuation.

February 14, 2020

Presenter: Zack Garrett

Title: "Plurivaluationism"


A sentence is supertrue if and only if it is true on all complete precisifications. A complete precisification sets a precise cutoff for the application of every word. Some recent theories of vagueness have forgone the move from precisifications to supertruth, opting instead to relativize truth to precisifications. These theories are sometimes called plurivaluationist. Some plurivaluationist theories include Diana Raffman's multi-range theory, John MacFarlane's expressivism about vagueness, and Nicholas J.J. Smith's plurivaluationist degree theory.

I will argue that a complete precisification is not always possible, and so there may be sentences that, relative to an incomplete precisification, receive non-classical values. I will also provide a variety of arguments that are targeted at the idiosyncrasies of the different kinds of plurivaluationism.