Born Today: Joseph Priestly

1733-1804

Materialist who held to what Copleston calls an “associationist psychology” which emphasized the connection between physical psychical events. Priestly got into a debate with Richard Price over free will and the immateriality of the soul. He became a Unitarian and is most famous for his work in chemistry and physics as well as political philosophy.

Today’s quote: “Will is nothing more than a particular case of the general doctrine of association of ideas, and therefore a perfectly mechanical thing.”

The Character Project

The Character Project at Wake Forest University is very excited to launch its funding competition entitled “New Frontiers in the Philosophy of Character.” This $300,000 RFP is aimed at work in philosophy on the topic of character, and proposals can request between $40,000 and $100,000 for projects not to exceed one year in duration. We hope to make between 5-6 awards. A residential incentive of $6,000 for one semester or $12,000 for an academic year will be offered to philosophy RFP winners who are willing to move to Wake Forest University during the award period, and this stipend would not count as part of the research funding request. A willingness to move will not be taken into account when evaluating proposals.

Since work here will primarily be theoretical, the funding is aimed at semester or yearlong sabbatical research leave projects involving a book manuscript or series of substantive articles on character.

This competition is supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

For more details, please visit www.thecharacterproject.com.

The Sixth Cologne Summer School in Philosophy

“Relying on Others: New Perspectives in Social Epistemology”

The sessional will take place in Cologne, September 7-10, 2011. The special guest this year will be Sanford Goldberg (Northwestern University). The main focus is the intersection of epistemology, philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. We will discuss foundational issues (e.g., the relationship between epistemic and semantic externalism) as well as more specialized “hot” issues in social epistemology: the division of epistemic labour, testimony, group epistemology, disagreement, various ways in which others can be epistemically significant for us, and socially extended methods of belief-formation. The Summer School is mainly aimed at professional philosophers and advanced graduate students.

Attendance is free, but limited to 50 participants – on the basis of motivation and qualification. Online application is possible through April 30. Please add a short letter of application where you briefly explain your academic background and your main motivation for participating in the Summer School. Soon after the deadline we will inform you about the success of your application.

Please send your online application to the following email address:
summerschoolphilosophy@uni-koeln.de

For more information you may visit their website:
http://www.summerschoolphilosophy.uni-koeln.de/.

Interview with C. Stephen Evans: Kierkegaard, Natural Signs and Knowledge of God

PNS talks with C. Stephen Evans on his latest book in which he argues that philosophical arguments for God's existence can serve as signs to believers and non-believers alike. We also talk about what Kierkegaard has to say to modern views on religion.

I’ve been studying existentialist philosophy to try to better understand contemporary religion in the West. Works by philosopher C. Stephen Evans have been an immense help in developing my series on faith and reason. Dr. Evans work on Kierkegaard is among the best currently in print and his analysis of Kierkegaard’s thought in light of modern Christianity sheds a great deal of light on the subject. In my series, I’ve been exploring what seems to me to be a tension between a faith that is established on an existentialist leap of faith and the subsequent desire to ground that same faith on reason and evidence. Dr. Evans deals with these topics head on.

He was kind enough to take time with Philosophy News to talk about his work and how Kierkegaard can inform a contemporary understanding of faith. In his most recent book, Natural Signs and Knowledge of God, Dr. Evans explores the use of signs as pointers to God in contemporary philosophical treatments of religious knowledge and as the basis of a response to the “new atheism.” He believes that the classical philosophical arguments for God do in fact function as positive evidence for his existence even in light of atheistic and evolutionary critiques of religious belief. In the interview that follows, I asked Dr. Evans why he believes this and what he thinks Kierkegaard has to say to believers today.

Professor Evans (Ph.D. Yale) is University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Baylor University. He has authored or edited over 20 books, many on Kierkegaard and existentialism. He was the editor for many years of Søren Kierkegaard Newsletter, is on the Board of Editorial Consultants for the journal Faith and Philosophy, and is contributing editor of Journal of Psychology and Theology. A link to his full CV is below.

I’m grateful to Dr. Evans for spending time corresponding with me on this subject and for his thoughtful dialogue.


Philosophy News Service: For people not familiar with your work, can you summarize any central themes in your writing particularly as they concern existentialist thought? What do you like to spend your time thinking about?

C. Stephen Evans: My work is wide-ranging, and I have written on issues in the philosophy of the person, in philosophical theology and philosophy of religion generally, as well as Kierkegaard. Though Kierkegaard is usually regarded as the father of existentialism, in my work I try to show how misleading that can be, particularly if we read Kierkegaard through the eyes of later writers such as Sartre and Camus.

All that being said, I think you can say that the following are issues that have been central to much of my work: How does a human being become a genuine or authentic self? and How is moral and religious truth known? I see these two questions as connected in the following way: Many writers think the problem of knowing religious truth is primarily an evidential problem. For them the question is whether we have enough good evidence. For Kierkegaard (and I agree with him here) the main problem lies not in the evidence but in the knower. How do we become the kinds of people who are capable of understanding and grasping the truth?

More...

Conference: Future of Creation Order

Christian Philosophy International Conference, 16 - 19 August 2011, VU University Amsterdam

People of all times have experienced the world of nature as expressing an overwhelming beauty, coherence and order. In the great monotheistic traditions this beauty, coherence and order have been related to the will or nature of a Creator. This idea has come under considerable pressure from different directions: evolutionary theory with its emphasis on the deep contingency of the living world, social science and in particular historicist and postmodernist strands in it, and philosophical critiques inspired by Marxism, Nietzschean perspectivism, existentialism, critical theory, social constructivism, and postmodernism have all served to subvert traditional conceptions of order.

The challenge for this ecumenical, interdisciplinary, and international conference is to explore whether there is room, still, for a distinction between something like an ontological affirmation of pre-given norms and ordering principles in various domains, while also acknowledging the particularity and 'locatedness' of our access to those norms and principles. Key ideas in this dialogue will be order, law, structure, principle, system, necessity, chance, change and emergence. The goal of the conference is to delve deeper into the current condition of the philosophical concept of (creation) order, and to assess its future trajectories and prospects.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Nicholas Wolterstorff (Yale)
  • Eleonore Stump (St. Louis)
  • C. Stephen Evans (Baylor)
  • Gordon Graham (Princeton Theological Seminary)
  • Denis Alexander (Cambridge)
  • William Desmond (Leuven)
  • Roy Clouser (College of New Jersey)
  • Lambert Zuidervaart (ICS Toronto)
  • Jonathan Chaplin (Cambridge)
  • René van Woudenberg (VU)
  • Gerrit Glas (VU)
  • Henk Geertsema (VU)

Call for papers

In addition to the plenary sessions, there will be further parallel workshop sessions for contributed papers. We cordially invite thinkers from all different philosophical and scientific traditions to submit a 500 word abstract on any topic relevant to the conference theme. Please prepare your abstract for anonymous review. Abstracts may be submitted by e-mail (as plain text, MS Word, Pages, or pdf files) to info@cpc2011.org or by regular mail (consult http://www.cpc2011.org for the address).

Abstracts should be submitted to the conference organizers by March 31st, 2011. Notification of acceptance / rejection: April 15th, 2011.

Practical details

Session length for contributed papers will be 30 minutes including question time. We encourage authors to prepare papers that take no longer than 20 minutes to present so as to leave suitable time for questions and discussion afterwards.

Further information and registration

For all further details, online registration, and payment, please visit http://www.cpc2011.org. Feel free to contact us with questions about the conference at info@cpc2011.org.

New Book by Alvin Plantinga on Science and Religion

Plantinga takes on the New Atheism in his upcoming book, Where the Conflict Really Lies. Stay tuned for more information.

A friend recently made me aware of this book in which one of the worlds foremost Christian philosophers will seek to address many of the arguments being proffered by New Atheists like Dennett and Dawkins. According to the Oxford University Press website, the book,

illuminates one of our biggest debates--the conflict between science and religion. Plantinga examines where this conflict is said to exist--looking at areas such as evolution, divine action in the world, and the scientific study of religion--and considers claims by Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Philip Kitcher that evolution and theistic belief cannot co-exist. He makes a case that their arguments are not only inconclusive, but that the supposed conflicts themselves are superficial, due to the methodological naturalism used by science.

I’ll post more information here as I get it and will write a review of the book as soon as I’m able. Stay tuned.

See the OUP listing here.

Article on The New Atheism on the Huffington Post

I just published my second article on The Huffington Post. In this article, I take a brief look at whether the New Atheist movement really deserves the adjective “new.” I argue that it does but not for the reasons you might think.

The general consensus on the part of professional philosophers on all sides of the question is that the popular arguments being made by new atheists like Dawkins and Dennett are not all that new. Some argue that neither are they particularly strong versions of their classic cousins. At the very least, many find that the new atheist polemic is not being delivered in a way that is particularly winsome or compelling -- a problem that seems to have plagued atheists for as long as there has been atheism.

See the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-pardi/whats-so-new-about-the-ne_b_824918.html

CFP: Formal Epistemology Meets Experimental Philosophy

First Pittsburgh -Tilburg workshop on  Formal Epistemology Meets Experimental Philosophy

Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science

29-30 September 2011

http://www.uvt.nl/tilps/FEMEP2011/

*********************************************************************

Over the years, the methodological toolbox of philosophers of science has widened considerably. Today, formal and experimental methods importantly complement more traditional methods such as conceptual analysis and case studies. So far, however, there has not been much interaction between the corresponding communities. Formal work is all too often conducted in an a priori fashion, drawing on intuitions to substantiate various assumptions and to test their consequences. Experimental work, on the other hand, is often limited to testing various assumptions and intuitions, and often does not identify or create new phenomena that can subsequently be integrated into a formal framework. The working assumption of this workshop is that philosophy of science can gain a lot from combining formal and experimental studies. By doing so, philosophy of science will become increasingly scientific as a crucial aspect of the scientific endeavor lies in the combination of formal theories and experimental insights.

This workshop aims to explore the relation between formal and experimental approaches to the philosophy of science. We invite meta-theoretical papers, but especially papers that fruitfully combine both methods to problems from the philosophy of science. This first Pittsburgh-Tilburg workshop will pay special attention to the philosophy of the social sciences, but a focus on other subfields of philosophy of science is also welcome.

We invite submissions of both a short abstract (max. 100 words) and an extended abstract (1000-1500 words) by 1 May 2011. Decisions will be made by 15 May 2011. Submission details here.

Keynote Speakers

Christina Bicchieri, Philadelphia

Mark Colyvan, Sydney

Ralph Hertwig, Basel

Publication

Selected papers will be published in a special issue of Synthese (subject to the usual refereeing process). The submission deadline is 31 December 2011. The maximal paper length is 7000 words.

More information

Cognition, Conduct & Communication

Cognition, Conduct & Communication CCC2011
06.10.11-08.10.11
University of Lódz, Poland

The Chair of Pragmatics at the University of Lódz, Poland is starting a new conference series: Cognition, Conduct & Communication. CCC2011 is the first international conference devoted to a complex yet integrated and consistent study of cognitive approaches to pragmatics and discourse analysis, language learning and use, and language disorders.

Conference focus

  • interdisciplinary yet synergical research in diversified cognitive and pragmatic phenomena and processes pertaining to communication in native and second/foreign language in normally developing as well as disordered individuals
  • cognitive, pragmatic and discourse analytic concepts at work across the contexts of first, second, foreign language acquisition, learning, processing, comprehension and production
  • pragmatic competence and pragmatic awareness development in naturalistic and educational settings, including the effectiveness of educational interventions undertaken to enhance pragmatic skills
  • individual learner/language user differences and pragmatic disorders

Conference discussions will proceed at the intersection of the following areas: cognitive pragmatics, societal pragmatics, clinical pragmatics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, educational psychology, cognitive linguistics, cognitive psychology, applied linguistics, discourse analysis
Research scope/Conceptual instruments/Submission keywords:

  • deixis
  • semantic/pragmatic presupposition
  • speech acts, activity types, genres
  • implicature/impliciture/implicit meaning
  • context
  • relevance
  • (im)politeness
  • intentionality
  • pragmatics of interaction
  • conceptual metaphor
  • rhetorical figures, in particular: irony, metaphor and metonymy
  • persuasion and manipulation
  • humour
  • gendered language
  • non-verbal communication
  • language and emotions
  • interlanguage pragmatics
  • pragmatic development and pragmatic awareness in first/second/foreign language context
  • pragmatics and language teaching; developing communicative competence
  • developing teaching materials for function-focused/pragmatics-driven L2 instruction
  • disorders of language learning and cognition
  • clinical pragmatics; pragmatic disorders

The list is NOT exhaustive

institution: University of Lódz
Chair of Pragmatics (http://ia.uni.lodz.pl/pragmatics)
participants: Piotr Cap (http://ia.uni.lodz.pl/pragmatics/faculty/pcap)
Joanna Nijakowska (http://ia.uni.lodz.pl/pragmatics/faculty/jnijakowska)
Marta Dynel (http://ia.uni.lodz.pl/pragmatics/faculty/mdynel)
contact person: Joanna Nijakowska
email: ccc2011conference@gmail.com

Click link for more information…
http://ia.uni.lodz.pl/CCC2011/

2011 Thomistic Seminar at Princeton

The 2011 Thomistic Seminar:
Themes in the Philosophy of Peter Geach and Thomas Aquinas
John Haldane, Director
August 7-13, 2011

The 2011 Thomistic Seminar is the Witherspoon Institute's sixth annual, week-long, intensive program for graduate students in philosophy and related disciplines. The seminar is devoted to exploring the intersection between analytic philosophy and the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition.

Faculty:
John Haldane, University of St. Andrews
E. J. Lowe, Durham University
Anthony O'Hear, University of Buckingham
Candace Vogler, University of Chicago

Click here for details