Spring Session 2015

Roberto Ciuni (University of Amsterdam)

December 15 MON — 12.00-14.00

Sala "Enzo Paci" — Direzione del Dipartimento (Via Festa del Perdono 7, Milano)

Default Classicality, Kleene Logics and Normality Operators.
(joint work with Massimiliano Carrara)

Abstract: Many-valued logics usually come with a background picture of default classicality: deviation from classical rules of inference and valid formulas is motivated by some particular phenomena (logical paradoxes, partial information, vagueness), but as far as these phenomena are not at stake, classical logic works just fine and we can assume it. Once this picture is accepted, a question naturally arises: `How can we recapture classical logic within a many-valued logic?' That is, how can we sort out the conditions at which a classical inference/law can be legitimately drawn/asserted in a many-valued setting?

Two established approaches to this question are classical collapse by Jc Beall (2013) and minimal inconsistency by Priest (1991). The former recaptures classical inferences by strengthening the premises (if the logic is paracomplete) or weakening the conclusion (if the logic is paraconsistent), the second defines a non-monotonic relation of consequence that selects those models of the premises that are  'minimally inconsistent' (if the premises contain no contradiction, these models will be classical models). Both approaches are defined for three-valued Kleene Logics, and they do not change the expressive power of such logics. 
In this paper, I propose a different solution to the problem, which in turn endows the object language of the Kleene logic of choice with the ability to express that a given sentence is not paradoxical. This solution is based on the extension of the language of Kleene logics with a normality operator ·, which is a truth-functional connective that forms true sentences out of sentences that have one of the two classical truth-values 1 or 0, and forms false sentences from sentences that have the non-classical truth value (whence the name of the operator).
The paper is divided into two parts. In the first part, I prove the two main results of the paper, showing how classical consequence can be recaptured in Kleene Logics endowed with the normality operator. This results are based on the ability to state, within the object language, that no paradox or non-classical sentence is involved.
In the second part, I explore the connections between the present approach with classical collapse and minimal inconsistency, and I discuss some conceptual virtues of the former over the latter.
Beall, Jc (2013) LP+, K3+, FDE+ and their Classical Collapse, Review of Symbolic Logic, 6/4: 742--754
Priest, G. (1991) Minimally Inconsistent LP, Studia Logica, 50/2: 321--331


Luca Barlassina (University of Sheffield)

June 15 MON — 11.00-13.00

Aula Direzione del Dipartimento — Via Festa del Perdono 7, Milano

Imperativism and affective phenomenology

Standard intentionalism has it that the phenomenal character of an experience is identical to the experience’s intentional content, where the latter is taken to be identical to what the experience represents. Many authors have argued that standard intentionalism cannot account for the affective phenomenology of pains, pleasures, emotions, and moods—i.e., it cannot account for the fact that these experiences feel good or bad. Klein (2007), Hall (2008), and Martínez (2010) have responded to this challenge by developing a non-standard version of intentionalism: imperativism. According to this view, the phenomenal character of an experience is identical to the experience’s intentional content, but representational content is not the only type of intentional content. Some experiences rather have imperative content—a content that commands rather than describes. Affective experiences are experiences of this kind. In particular, their affective phenomenology is nothing over and above the issuing of certain commands. In this paper, I will show that extant versions of imperativism face serious difficulties. However, not all is lost. I will develop an alternative version of imperativism that eschews such problems. 

Giuliano Torrengo (University of Milan)

June 8 MON — 11.00-13.00

Aula Direzione del Dipartimento — Via Festa del Perdono 7, Milano

The Hyper-Russellian Skeptic

The hyper-Russellian skeptic is someone who thinks that only one of all your experiences was, is, and will ever be conscious. Which one? This very one you are having now. Before you always have been a zombie, and you will always be a zombie after. In the present literature on the metaphysics of passage of time, there is disagreement on whether our feeling that time passes – the “dynamic flavor” of our ordinary experience – provides support to the A-theory, i.e. the thesis that the passage of time is an objective feature of reality. Lately, several philosophers have argued against that idea. In this paper I want to push this line of reasoning further, by exploiting the hyper-Russellian scenario against the A-theory of time. 


Bryan Pickel (University of Edinburg)

May 19 TUE — 11.00-13.00

Aula Direzione del Dipartimento (Via Festa del Perdono 7, Milano)

Truth and Structured Propositions

Abstract. Sincere speakers use declarative sentences to say what they think. A sentence is true or false just in case what it is used to say is true or false. So, the investigation of language and thought requires a metaphysics of the objects of thought, known as propositions. Recently, renewed worries about the unity of the proposition have been taken as a crucial stumbling block for any traditional conception of propositions. These worries are often framed in terms of how entities independent of mind and langauge can be representational or how they can have truth conditions. For example, King (2014, 47) argues, "no one has ever been able to explain how anything could have truth conditions by its very nature and independently of minds and languages."  I argue that the best understanding of these worries shows that they should be solved by our theory of truth and not our theory of propositions. I propose a variant of the redundancy theory which can solve the worries. In particular, I endorse Ramsey's claim that 'it is true that Desdemona loves Cassio' expresses the same proposition as 'Desdemona loves Cassio'.  I argue that this variant---which is modelled on Ramsey's remarks---avoids the typical pitfalls of other versions.


Hanoch Ben-Yami (Central European University, Budapest)

May 11 MON — 11.00-13.00

Aula Direzione del Dipartimento (Via Festa del Perdono 7, Milano)

Libet's Confusion


I try to demonstrate a possible contribution of philosophy to the sciences by exposing conceptual confusions in Libet’s empirical work on free will. The elimination of these confusions shows that his research failed to establish what he claimed it does.

Libet measured patterns of electric potential in subjects’ brain while asking them to report when they became conscious of an urge or decision to perform a certain action. Relying on the results he concluded that the urge or decision does not affect the action, and hence that we have no free will. However, his research relies on a false picture of what free action involves. Libet thought that a free action should be caused by a mental event – an urge or decision – his model being something like the way one wheel in a mechanism moves another. However, this mechanical picture of the mental is not entailed by our criteria for classifying an action as voluntary, free or intentional. An action is voluntary if the agent would have done something else in the same circumstances had he been given a good reason for that, if he knew what he was doing, if he didn’t act under duress, and so on. Accordingly, Libet’s experiment was irrelevant to the question, whether the subjects acted voluntarily.