(Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)
Fearing Fearless Girl
On March 7th, 2017 New Yorkers woke to a new girl in town: brave, little Fearless Girl stood, squarely facing off against the famous Charging Bull statue. Created Visbal and commissioned by State Street Global Advisors (SSgA), her arrival prompted a lawsuit by Charging Bull’s creator Arturo Di Modica, arguing Fearless Girl had transformed Charging Bull’s meaning by emasculating him. We argue that Di Modica is wrong: Fearless Girl hasn’t changed Charging Bull’s meaning – it’s much worse than that. Visbal has appropriated Charging Bull and in doing so, vandalized it! To defend our position, we will clarify the boundaries between artworks, appropriation and vandalism.
(Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)
On What There Is and On How Things Are: The Quinean Argument against Modal Realism
I offer an expansive reading of Quine’s, On What There Is, that yields a necessary condition for the justification of modal realism: a condition which, of course, Quine takes to be unsatisfied. My version of the Quinean method has two salient features:
(i) Metaphysical claims about being are taken as claims about being qua being: as such they are not to be explicated and settled by treating them as claims about being tout court.
(ii) In evaluating the justification of modal realism, the primary consideration is not the clarity of modal language: it is the (strictly limited) utility of modal language.
(Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic)
Where are impossible individuals?
Parmenides once said that we can talk only about something that exists. Yet, we talk about ‘impossible objects’ in many areas, ranging from empirical and non- empirical theories to the realms of fiction, myth and folklore; we talk about Pegasus, the set of all sets that are not members of themselves, a prefect speaker. Hence, impossible objects exist. But how can there be impossible objects? Where are they? In this talk, I will propose an answer to this question. I will first outline the difference between empirical impossibility, analytical impossibility and ‘absolute’ impossibility.
To this end, I am going to apply Transparent Intensional Logic (}TIL) in particular its hyperintensional dimension, whith is the case of ‘procedures’. Procedures either produce some objects, or, in well-defined cases, do not produce anything. If the latter, then this non-produced product is an impossible object. Well, but what about if another procedure does produce an object, though it is presumably the same procedure? How come? An obvious answer is that the other procedure either used different input objects, or it is really another, distinct procedure. This problem has much in common with the individuation of procedures. Or, is there any procedure(s) that can produce from absolutely nothing?
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
Then this would be an absolute ‘nothing’, absolutely impossible object. Since this seems to be absurd, I will assume that there is always ‘something’ and this something is a concept, i.e., procedure. We, the Christians call such an absolutely impossible procedure ‘God’, the others ‘consciousness’ or global, cosmological ‘will’. That would be too difficult even to think of, it would be ‘Thy to whom nothing greater is conceivable’; and this is God, as St. Anselm convincingly proved. The proof is logically correct. If we doubt the result, we can only doubt some of his assumptions, as there is no absolute proof from nothing.
To avoid this mysterious realm, I will instead concentrate on the remaining two kinds of impossible objects, to wit, empirically impossible and mathematically impossible. I will show that in the case of empirically impossible objects, these might still be possible in another possible world, in which, for instance, other physical laws are valid. If the later, then we must rely on mathematics, where only analytically impossible objects can be. These are those procedures that could not produce a product due to mathematical/logical laws.
In both cases the method of proving that these objects are impossible, we will look for a logical inconsistency in the respective procedure. As soon as we succeed, we will not go any further, applying ‘ex falso quodlibet’, and make a conclusion that the procedure in question could not possibly be matched by an extension (an individual). Hence, this is an analytically impossible object. To make the situation still easier, I will concentrate only on those procedures that are typed to produce individuals, hence, ‘impossible individual’. 2 Still, there is a plausible result, that using this approach, we can distinguish between different impossible individuals that dwell in the world of mathematics and logic.
(The City University of New York, The United States)
Saul Kripke’s work on the semantics of non-normal modal logics introduced the idea of non-normal worlds, worlds where certain connectives behave differently from the way in which they behave in the worlds of normal modal logics. Such worlds may be thought of as impossible worlds, though Kripke did not, himself, talk of them in this way. Since Kripke’s invention, the notion of an impossible world has undergone much fruitful development and application. Impossible worlds may be of different kinds—or maybe different degrees of impossibility; and these worlds have found application in many areas where hyperintensionality appears to play a significant role: intentional mental states, counterfactuals, meaning, property theory, to name but a few areas. But what, exactly, is an impossible world? How is it best to characterise the notion? To date, the notion is used more by example than by definition. In this paper I will investigate the question, and propose a general characterisation, suitable for all standard purposes and tastes.
(Cornell University, The United States)
Games People Play: Blame Without Desert
Backwards-looking interpersonal blame, because it allegedly causes pain or suffering, is thought to require a moral justification. For most theorists, this justification is found in either justice or fairness, moral values whose promotion or respect require desert, where the sort of desert necessary is metaphysically robust, a matter of (really) free will. Blame, as many put it, is unjust unless deserved. This motto is false, however. I aim to expurgate metaphysics from blame by surveying all possible morally problematic forms of blame: mere attitudes, mockery, emotional expressions, punishment, and (most generally) sanctions. While some of these responses require moral justification of a sort, none require desert, or anything like the desert capacities and conditions people in the free will debate have taken them to require. I reach this conclusion in part by interpreting the results of various behavioral economic games in a new light.