Sònia Roca Royes
(University of Stirling)
The Limits of Concept-Based Epistemologies of Essence
The talk will be an exploration of the prospects of rationalist, concept-based epistemologies of modality as far as essentialist and de re modal claims are concerned. I grant certain explanatory power to such epistemologies but, primarily, I identify their limitations. I first explore them in view of the (possible) existence both of general and of singular modally loaded concepts and find their explanatory scope rather limited. The paper then explores a surrogate that, if successful, could still allow us to vindicate, even if in a hybrid manner, concept-based rationalism. The problem is, again, that the scope of its potential success is rather limited. The discussion at this point invites the exploration of a different view whose scope would be wider. Here, the problem is that, even if it were to meet the explanatory demands, the view can no longer be said to be a concept-based account. These results generalize: concepts have at most a limited role to play in the epistemology of essence (and de re modality).
(University of Oxford)
Why is There Something Rather than Nothing? A Probabilistic Answer Examined.
Peter van Inwagen has given an answer to the question ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’. His answer is: Because there being nothing is as improbable as anything can be: it has probability 0. Here I shall examine his argument for this answer and I shall argue that it does not work because no good reasons have been given for two of the argument’s premises and that the conclusion of the argument does not constitute an answer to the question van Inwagen wanted to answer.