Colloquia, Fall 20-Spring 21

Colloquia at: Harvard * BU * Tufts * Brandeis * Brown

Colloquium talks in the fall will occur over Zoom and will not always occur at the same time. All dates and times are listed below, in Eastern Time. Colloquium talks for Spring 2021 are tentatively planned to occur in person, pandemic conditions permitting.

For further information, please contact Sophia, Jessica or Joshua.  For information about talks co-sponsored with Women’s Studies, contact womens-studies@mit.edu.

  • 25
    Sep
    Colloquium: Barbara Vetter, Freie Universität Berli
    2:00 pm-4:00 pm

    "Essence, Potentiality, and Modality"

    Abstract: ​According to essentialism, metaphysical modality is founded in the essences of things, where the essence of a thing is roughly akin to its real definition. According to potentialism (also known as dispositionalism), metaphysical modality is founded in the potentialities of things, where a potentiality is roughly the generalized notion of a disposition. Essentialism and potentialism have much in common, but little has been written about their relation to each other. The aim of my talk is to better understand the relations between essence and potentiality, on the one hand, and between essentialism and potentialism, on the other. It is argued, first, that essence and potentiality are not duals but interestingly linked by a weaker relation dubbed ‘semi-duality’; second, that given this weaker relation, essentialism and potentialism are not natural allies but rather natural competitors; and third, that the semi-duality of essence and potentiality allows the potentialist to respond to an important explanatory challenge by using essentialist resources without thereby committing to essentialism.

  • 23
    Oct
    Colloquium: Jake Nebel, USC
    3:30 pm-4:30 pm

    "The Case for Comparability" (with Cian Dorr and Jake Zuehl)

    Abstract: We argue that all comparative expressions in natural language obey a principle that we call Comparability: if x and y are both F to some degree, then either x is at least as F as y or y is at least as F as x. This principle has been widely rejected among philosophers, especially by ethicists, and its falsity has been claimed to have important normative implications. We argue that Comparability is needed to explain the goodness of several patterns of inference that seem manifestly valid. We reply to some influential arguments against Comparability, and raise and reject some new arguments.

  • 30
    Oct
    Colloquium: Paul Taylor, Vanderbilt
    3:30 pm-4:30 pm

    "Which me will survive all these liberations?" Toward a 3rd wave race theory

    Abstract: Race theory seems finally to have arrived in philosophy. But what has it had to become to get here? And might it be something else? Inspired by Audre Lorde, Mary Mothersill, Ludwig Wittgenstein, James Baldwin, and others, this talk looks for a way to take race seriously in philosophy without losing sight of what makes race matter. 

September 11, 2020
  • Colloquium: Anna Mahtani, LSE
    2:00 pm-4:00 pm

    "The Designators that Matter"

September 25, 2020
  • Colloquium: Barbara Vetter, Freie Universität Berli
    2:00 pm-4:00 pm

    "Essence, Potentiality, and Modality"

    Abstract: ​According to essentialism, metaphysical modality is founded in the essences of things, where the essence of a thing is roughly akin to its real definition. According to potentialism (also known as dispositionalism), metaphysical modality is founded in the potentialities of things, where a potentiality is roughly the generalized notion of a disposition. Essentialism and potentialism have much in common, but little has been written about their relation to each other. The aim of my talk is to better understand the relations between essence and potentiality, on the one hand, and between essentialism and potentialism, on the other. It is argued, first, that essence and potentiality are not duals but interestingly linked by a weaker relation dubbed ‘semi-duality’; second, that given this weaker relation, essentialism and potentialism are not natural allies but rather natural competitors; and third, that the semi-duality of essence and potentiality allows the potentialist to respond to an important explanatory challenge by using essentialist resources without thereby committing to essentialism.

October 23, 2020
  • Colloquium: Jake Nebel, USC
    3:30 pm-4:30 pm
    Virtual

    "The Case for Comparability" (with Cian Dorr and Jake Zuehl)

    Abstract: We argue that all comparative expressions in natural language obey a principle that we call Comparability: if x and y are both F to some degree, then either x is at least as F as y or y is at least as F as x. This principle has been widely rejected among philosophers, especially by ethicists, and its falsity has been claimed to have important normative implications. We argue that Comparability is needed to explain the goodness of several patterns of inference that seem manifestly valid. We reply to some influential arguments against Comparability, and raise and reject some new arguments.

October 30, 2020
  • Colloquium: Paul Taylor, Vanderbilt
    3:30 pm-4:30 pm

    "Which me will survive all these liberations?" Toward a 3rd wave race theory

    Abstract: Race theory seems finally to have arrived in philosophy. But what has it had to become to get here? And might it be something else? Inspired by Audre Lorde, Mary Mothersill, Ludwig Wittgenstein, James Baldwin, and others, this talk looks for a way to take race seriously in philosophy without losing sight of what makes race matter. 

November 20, 2020
  • Colloquium: Alan Hájek, ANU
    5:00 pm-6:00 pm

    "Would’ Work"

April 9, 2021
  • Colloquium: Robert Gooding-Williams, Columbia
    3:30 pm-4:30 pm

    title to be announced

April 16, 2021
  • Colloquium: Russ Shafer-Landau, UW-Madison
    3:30 pm-4:30 pm

    title to be announced

April 23, 2021
  • Colloquium: Eric Schwitzgebel, UC Riverside
    3:30 pm-4:30 pm

    title to be announced

April 30, 2021
  • Colloquium: Cailin O’Connor, UC Irvine
    3:30 pm-4:30 pm

    title to be announced

May 7, 2021
  • Colloquium: Robert Pasnau, CU Boulder
    3:30 pm-4:30 pm

    title to be announced