Department of Philosophy

Inaugural Workshop - The Lightness of Being

The inaugural workshop of the project The Lightness of Being will take place at Uppsala University on November 16-17, 2015. The topic of the workshop is Meta-Ontology.

Programme

The duration of the individual sessions is 75 minutes (~45 min talk, 30 min Q&A)

Monday Nov 16

LUNCH

Tuesday Nov 17

LUNCH

About the Workshop

Where?

The meeting will take place in Auditorium Minus, Museum Gustavianum (in Uppsala). Here it is on Google Maps.

Lunches/dinners, etc.

Lunches and a conference dinner are organized free of charge for our invited speakers. Anyone who wants to join us for dinner is welcome to do so (provided there is still room), but then at his or her own expense. To sign up, contact Matti Eklund as soon as possible. First come, first served!

Organizer

The workshop is organized by Matti Eklund (Uppsala University) and Tobias Wilsch (Uppsala University).

Contact

If you have any questions, you are very welcome to contact us at: matti.eklund@filosofi.uu.se and tobias.wilsch@gmail.com.

Speakers

Abstracts

  • Tobias Rosefeldt (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

    “Trivial Ontology and Pleonastic Kinds”
    The aim of my talk is to show that the most straightforward and promising solution to the meta-metaphysical dilemma between trivial and substantial ontology is provided by a distinction between pleonastic and non-pleonastic kinds. The proposed notion of a pleonastic kind builds on Stephen Schiffer’s notions of pleonastic concepts and pleonastic objects but avoids a number of problems with the latter. My overall idea will then be this: Trivial arguments for the existence of properties, numbers or composite objects involve a pleonastic concept of these kinds of entities and they are sound if understood as proving that something belongs to the respective pleonastic kind. They are unsound, however, if they are understood as arguing for the existence of instances of some non-pleonastic species of the kind propertynumber or composite object. It is then shown that given my characterization of pleonastic kinds, the assumption that there are instances of such a kind cannot fulfill the explanatory purposes for which properties, numbers or composites are introduced in first-order metaphysics. Hence, traditional metaphysical questions should be understood as questions about the existence of non-pleonastic properties, numbers, and composite objects and therefore can be held to be substantial even if the trivial inferences are sound.

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  • Dan Lopez de Sa (ICREA & Universitat de Barcelona)

    “Grounding Beyond the Fundamental”
    In a recent paper, Barnes (2014) suggests that there may be a tension in recent insistence that the object of metaphysics is the fundamental and feminist concerns, which involve views about (derivative, non-fundamental) gender. Barnes is arguably right about some philosophers such as Cameron (2008), but I claim that this is not representative of "mainstream" analytic metaphysics. Rather, increasing interest in the more general notion of grounding (Schaffer 2009, Fine 2009) is not "fundamentalist" in this sense, and proves actually a quite illustrative way in which traditional analytic research is illuminating for social criticism. I explore precisely the kind of cases Barnes discusses of debates about gender and argue that the relevant contrasts do indeed involve characteristic grounding contentions. More ambitiously and tentatively, I suggest that the more general notions relevant for discussions in the metaphysics of gender, notably that of a social construction, are similarly characteristic grounding contentions.

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  • Alex Skiles (Université de Neuchâtel)

    "Existence, Intrinsicality, and Fundamentality"
    According to​ one contemporary orthodox​y​​​, to exist is​ ​​simply to be something—to be at least one of the things there are—where ​the ​​quantificational phrases “something” and “there are” (like “∃” as standardly​ ​interpreted in classical first-order logic) are read as semantically unrestricted​ ​with regard to the individuals over which they range.​ ​According to another contemporary orthodoxy, the notions of intrinsicality and fundamentality cannot be analyzed in purely modal terms,​ ​and play an​ indispensable role in framing countless philosophical ​concepts, principles, and disputes. ​In this talk, I ​present a new puzzle that appears to show that highly plausible claims about intrinsicality and fundamentality draw a non-modal distinction between existing and being something, and critically evaluate some attempted solutions.

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  • Tatjana von Solodkoff (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

    “The Lightness of Fictional Characters”
    Fictional Realism is the view that fictional characters are part of reality. I argue that there are problems with the arguments for Fictional Realism and instead propose an Anti-Realist solution which metaphysically reduces and eliminates fictional characters from our ontology without denying their existence.

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  • Katharina Felka (Universität Zürich)

    “On Non-catastrophic Presupposition Failure”
    In this talk I am concerned with Yablo’s account of non-catastrophic presupposition failure. Yablo’s account is based on an intuitive contrast that arises when we consider sentences containing empty definite descriptions: while the sentence ‘The king of France is bald’ appears neither true nor false, the sentence ‘My friend was visited by the king of France’ appears false. According to Yablo, this is due to the fact that the presupposition of the latter sentence fails non-catastrophically, i.e. we still make an evaluable claim in uttering the sentence even though its presupposition is false. Yablo’s account has important consequences for the ontological commitments of number sentences. According to Yablo, the presupposition of number sentences like ‘The number of planets is even’ fails merely non-catastrophically if there are no numbers, i.e. the presupposition failure would not prevent us from using the sentence to make an evaluable claim whether or not numbers exist. In my talk I argue, firstly, that Yablo’s account cannot establish these consequences, since it is unsatisfactory as a general account of presupposition failure. Secondly, I develop a different explanation of the intuitive contrast mentioned above.

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  • Oystein Linnebo (Universitetet i Oslo)

    “Reference and Criteria of Identity”
    My talk aims to provide an accessible overview of a monograph I am currently completing. The book defends a Frege-inspired approach to reference and ontology. One central idea is that an object is anything to which we can refer; another is that the provision of a suitable criterion of identity suffices for successful reference. Together, these ideas ensure that the existence of many kinds of object is (in a sense I aspire to make precise) not a "big deal".

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  • Tobias Wilsch (Uppsala universitet)

    “Essence and Ontological Deflation”
    According to Derivative Maximalism, every entity that can be coherently thought of as constructed from the fundamental entities exist. I will outline this position and explain the extent to which it makes for a Deflationary Ontology. I will then develop an argument for Derivative Maximalism on the basis of an Essentialist account of metaphysical explanation. I will explore the wider significance of this argument for metaphysics.

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  • Mark Jago (University of Nottingham)

    “From Nature to Grounding”
    Grounding is a powerful metaphysical concept; yet there is widespread skepticism about the intelligibility of the notion. In this paper, I propose an account of an entity’s nature or essence, which I then use to provide grounding conditions for that entity. I claim that an understanding of an entity’s nature, together with an account of how logically complex entities are grounded, provides all we need to understand how that entity is grounded. This approach not only allows us to say what grounds what, it also sheds light on the formal features of the grounding relation. It provides a principled argument for the orthodox view that grounding is irreflexive, asymmetrical, and transitive; but it allows that it may not be well-founded. The resulting approach gives us a powerful framework for understanding nature, grounding, and the relationship between them.

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