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Paper Abstracts


Deduction and the Loss of Belief Ted Shear, University of California, Davis
It seems intuitively obvious that if an agent with all true beliefs reasons according to classically valid inferences and contracts only when she discover that her beliefs are inconsistent, then she ought never (i) contract, or (ii) derive a falsehood. We show that supposing very little about how such agents reason and update so long as they are working with a language rich enough to express beliefs about their current and future doxastic states both (i) and (ii) can be violated. e argument will hinge on the consideration of a pair of cases modeled using a novel language which represents the doxastic states of agents whose only actions are inferences about the consequences of their beliefs. e rst case will be a slight variant on the classic instance of the Prediction Paradox called the Surprise Exam Paradox, while the second will be a new twist on the Surprise Exam Paradox, which we will call the Students Revenge Paradox.

Moral Heroism Nilanjan Das, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

For Markovits (), the truth or falsity of an ascription of moral heroism must depend on what most of the members of the speakers community would have done if they had found themselves in the predicament of the hero. What, then, counts as the predicament of the hero? Two constraints seem plausible: e rst says that we should leave out those moral qualities of the hero which are relevant to the performance of the actions that he actually performs, while the second advises us to retain all those features of the actual predicament of the hero which are not among the above moral qualities (including features of the heros predicament that are external to him and some aspects of his physical and mental constitution). In Section , I raise some worries for this analysis of moral heroism. In section , I give an account of morally unusual actions. In section , I use the account proposed in Section to develop a conception of moral heroism and solve the problems raised in Section . In sections and , I address some additional worries for the account of moral heroism developed in the previous sections.

Reference, Logical Consequence, and Mathematical Fictionalism James Davies, University of Toronto
Mathematical ctionalists often motivate their position by claiming that if abstract mathematical objects are causally isolated from us, then we cannot refer to them. Hence our mathematical theories, read at face value, suer from massive reference failure; thus they cannot be true. However, varieties of ctionalism that explain the usefulness of mathematics in the sciences in terms of mathematical theories being conservative extensions of physical theories, and also nominalize logical consequence in modal terms, are committed to our mathematical theories being possibly true. I argue that this entails that the ctionalist must accept that we actually have the ability to refer to abstract mathematical objects. e only thing that could prevent us from so referring is if those objects dont exist. us these varieties of ctionalism cannot motivate the denial that our mathematical theories are true by appealing to scepticism about our ability to refer to abstract objects.

Freedom and eoretical Reason Margaret Schmitt, University of Notre Dame

In a recent series of papers, Matthias Steup has defended doxastic voluntarism against longstanding objections. Many of his arguments defend the following conditional: if we accept a compatibilist notion of voluntary control, then, in most instances, belief-formation is voluntary and thus doxastic voluntarism the correct view. In this paper I argue that (i) doxastic voluntarism doesnt follow from a compatibilist notion of voluntary control in the way Steup suggests, and (ii) even from a compatibilist standpoint, doxastic voluntarism is precluded by the nature of theoretical reason.

e Non-Fundamentality of Reasons Daniel Fogal, New York University

Many philosophers (e.g. Scanlon, Part) take the notion of a normative reason to be primitive, and take reasons to be the fundamental units or determinants of normativity. I think this is a mistake. Although we can clean up and systematize our thought and talk about reason(s), we shouldnt take the notion of a normative reason to be primitive, and we shouldnt think of normative reality as fundamentally consisting of reasons. To see why, I investigate the relationship between the count noun reason (s)in its normative senseand the non-count noun reason, and argue that we should take the latter to be conceptually and explanatorily prior to the former. I then present new data concerning the contextual variability of reasons-talk that would be unexpected if reasons were fundamental. After sketching a positive view that accommodates the data, I conclude by exploring some implications of the non-fundamentality of reasons for particular debates in metaethics, including the viability of Humean theories of reasons and the main argument for moral particularism.

e Ethics of Existence Kieran Setiya, University of Pittsburg/MIT

Following Derek Part and others, I argue that inadvisable procreative acts should sometimes be armed in retrospect. is shift is not explained by attachment or love but by the moral impact of existence and singular thought.