Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Lectures Prof. Branden Fitelson

Professor Branden Fitelson will stay with us as a Visiting Fellow this year from June 6th to June 24th. Being our welcomed guest he will also give lectures on June 10th, June 17th and June 24th from 10 to 12 a.m. 

10.06.11, 10-12, Ludwigstr. 33/I, Seminar room
17.06.11, 10-12, Ludwigstr. 33/I, Seminar room
24.06.11, 10-12, Ludwigstr. 33/I, Seminar room
16.06.11, 14-16, Ludwigstr. 31, Room 021: Discussion on formal philosophy
28.06.11, 14-18, Hochschule fuer Philosophie, Kaulbachstr. 31: Master Class

(1) The Wason Task(s) and the Paradox of Confirmation

Abstract.  I will sketch out the analogy between the Wason Task(s) and the Paradox of Confirmation. This will mainly involve going through some existing historical discussions concerning the analogy, and developing a precise framework for refining and critiquing the analogy. I will explain what I think is right about the existing literature, and also what I think is wrong with it (i.e., what I think the disanalogies are). Along the way, I will make various historical observations about confirmation theory and some of the contemporary evaluative assessments of the behavior of subjects faced with Wason Task(s).

(2) Three Worries about Joyce's Argument for Probabilism

Abstract. In this talk, I will discuss three distinct worries about Joyce's argument for probabilism -- in what I take to be increasing order of significance.  The first worry has to do with a Miller-type language dependence problem that Joyce's argument (and only Joyce's argument) seems to face.  The second worry has to do with a peculiar interaction between the central norm that underlies Joyce's argument (as well as other similar arguments) and other well-known epistemic norms for credences (e.g., the Principal Principle).  The third worry is perhaps the most fundamental (and surprising).  It seems that almost all contemporary arguments for numerical probabilism (including Joyce's, and every other well-known argument out there) have no direct analogue for the axioms of comparative probability.  I think this reveals a significant (general) lacuna in the contemporary literature on probabilism.

(3) Gibbard's "Collapse Theorem" for the Indicative Conditional

Abstract. Allan Gibbard (many years ago) gave an argument to the effect that, given certain (logical and meta-logical) principles relating the "logical" conditional and the "indicative" conditional, the indicative conditional "collapses" to the logical conditional (which, given his assumptions, meant that the indicative conditional collapses to the classical, *material* conditional).  In this talk, I will give increasingly rigorous reconstructions of Gibbard's argument, culminating with a purely formal (axiomatic) rendition of the argument.  This will (ultimately) reveal precisely what is essential to Gibbard's "collapse" theorem (i.e., its logical "core").  Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, it will turn out that even the strongest "core" versions of Gibbard's argument do *not* entail collapse to the material conditional (although, the strongest renditions of the argument do entail collapse to -- at least -- the intuitionistic conditional).  After going through the purely formal rendition of the argument, I will (a) consider various ways of resisting such arguments (by rejecting some of its assumptions/presuppositions), and (b) various ways of achieving Gibbard's classical collapse result (by adding further assumptions).  [Sidenote: the formal results of this paper were obtained using some powerful contemporary automated reasoning tools.]

(4) Evidence of Evidence is not (necessarily) Evidence

Abstract. Richard Feldman has defended a principle that -- in slogan form -- is often expressed as the "Evidence of Evidence is Evidence" principle.  I will begin by clarifying various versions of this principle that one might find (more or less) attractive.  Then, I will argue that no version of this principle (at least, no version that Feldman -- or anyone else -- has successfully articulated) is generally true.  In closing, I will explain why it is important that "evidence of evidence is not (necessarily) evidence".  Specifically, I will explain how the falsity of this principle alleviates a certain sort of worry one might have (indeed, a worry that Feldman and others have had) about cases of peer disagreement.

(5) Knowledge from non-knowledge I: deductive inferential (empirical) knowledge from falsehood.

Abstract.  First, I will review some historical examples that appear to be cases of knowledge obtained via deductive inference from premises (some of) which are false.  Then, I will discuss some recent analyses of such cases, with an emphasis on the precise role that the false beliefs play in the acquisition of inferential knowledge.  Finally, I will offer some new examples which seem to (a) bolster the role played by the false premises, and (b) call into question some of the recent analyses of such cases.  My emphasis in this talk will be on (rather simple) cases involving deductive inference.  This is just "Part I" of a larger project, which also includes inductive inferential knowledge from falsehood, and -- more generally -- inferential knowledge from true premises which are not known (and, even more generally, cases in which the knowledge in question may even be non-empirical).