Keynote Speakers

Barbara Vetter



Constructing Modal Knowers: From Agentive to Objective Modality


Agentive modal knowledge is knowledge of agentive modality: what agents are able to do and what their environment affords to them. It is crucial to human agency and must be easy to acquire. There is thus good reason to believe that it is a relatively basic form of human knowledge. Yet modal epistemology has almost ignored agentive modal knowledge, making it at best an afterthought or an application of a more general cognitive mechanism. In this talk, I propose a modal epistemology that takes the opposite direction: starting with agentive modal knowledge and constructing more general forms of modal knowledge (in particular, knowledge of objective modality) from it. In doing so, I draw on literature about causal cognition as well as an underappreciated tool from Grice called “creature construction”.


Manuel García-Carpintero



Realism and Irrealism on Fiction-constituting Discourse

In this paper I take issue with two contrasting views on the uses of language through which literary fictions are constituted, in particular fictional names like 'Sherlock Holmes' occurring in them. One view I call Mere Pretense, MP. It was assumed throughout most of the analytic tradition, starting with Frege, by philosophers including Austin, Kripke, Lewis and van Inwagen, and developed by MacDonald and Searle. On MP, all that there is to say about such utterances is that they are pretend performances of the representational acts they are conventionally used to make: they are pretend assertions, pretend questions, pretend commands, including pretend ancillary presuppositions and pretend references. They are not representational acts with sui generis specific points or illocutionary forces of their own. This is what the alternative Dedicated Representation (DR) view (influentially advanced by Walton, and then developed in different directions by Currie, Stock, and many others) holds. DR allows that the representational acts it posits be done through the pretenses that MP posits; but this is not essential to the utterances: they can be meant to signify what they do without any pretence of other representational acts (hence 'mere' in MP). Now, MP entails that fiction-constituting utterances lack any semantics of their own, beyond the conventional meanings of the uttered expressions. It constitutes an irrealism of sorts about fictional characters, because on this view 'Sherlock Holmes' is just uttered in pretense and doesn't need to have a semantics; this is good news to Millians who think that names have their bearers as exclusive meanings. But it raises many issues; the most worrying challenge is to explain how fiction-constituting utterances contribute to the content that the fiction in question does have, as most theorists including MP supporters agree. In a recent book Predelli offers the best answer on behalf of MP I am familiar with. Nonetheless, the proposal still has too many costs, as I'll show, for instance in its commitment to ubiquitous fictional narrators The second view that I'll discuss endorses DR; it assumes that fictions are abstract representational artifacts that have as proper parts representations of fictional characters, for instance one conveyed with 'Sherlock Holmes'. We use expressions like this explicitly to refer to such representational parts ('Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Conan Doyle'). Utterances conveying fictions do have a specific semantics, to which expressions like 'Sherlock Holmes' contribute; and what they contribute is the very representations they constitute – what we more naturally can be taken to talk about in utterances like the previous one. This realist alternative view is also welcome by Millians; Salmon has been defending it in that spirit. I'll argue that it also comes with unacceptable costs. The main one concerns the way these views deal with the obvious "wrong kind of object" problem (Klauk): while the representational part of the Holmes stories that 'Sherlock Holmes' names may have properties like being created by Doyle, it certainly is not male, or a detective. I'll make these critical points in defense of what I take to be the right view, which combines the view that fiction-constituting utterances have a semantics of the second view with the irrealism of the first. This is a view that, after an initial endorsement of the second view criticized here, Amie Thomasson has been defending over the years; I hope to make some original points of my own.


Dolf Rami



Existence As a Higher-order Property