Modern Influence in Contemporary Philosophy: Present Problems in a Past Light

May 16, 2013 - May 18, 2013
American University of Beirut

Auditorum A, West Hall

Keynote speakers:

Galen Strawson
University of Reading

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The Modern period in philosophy (Descartes to Kant) is often characterized as a radical break from the past: as a revolution in mathematics and the empirical sciences, in metaphysics and epistemology, as having firmly separated mind from matter, and as a period in cautious confrontation with a firmly entrenched theological order. It is also characterized as having introduced the most radical reconstructions of the grounds of morality, human rights, and political institutions. It is thus a period in which many contemporary concerns had already been vigorously theorized: the notion of substance, of modality, the nature of the mental and the physical, free will, space and time, ethical naturalism vs non-naturalism, moral psychology, the limits of language, and the concept of autonomy in moral and political philosophy. Since we maintain, however, that the present cannot radically break from its past, it appears to us high time to reassess the influence of the Modern period upon the present, and to speculate on whether any of its historical gems indicate a fruitful direction for the future. We have invited philosophers of international stature to present papers investigating the relationship between Modern and Contemporary philosophical figures and topics.


Jeff Edwards - Stony Brook University 
Keota Fields  - University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Thomas Holden - University of California, Santa Barbara 
Daniel Selcer -  Duquesne University
Daniel W. Smith - Purdue University 
Lucas Thorpe -  Boğaziçi  University
Kenneth R. Westphal - University of East Anglia/Universität Bielefeld


Thursday May 16 Auditorium A, West Hall    

Thomas Holden 1.00 – 2.30pm  'Hobbes on the Function of Evaluative Speech'

Keota Fields   3.00 – 4.30pm   ‘Berkeley’s Externalism: How Meaning, Normativity, and Anti-Reductionism Shape Idealism and Immaterialism’

Keynote: Galen Strawson 5.00 – 6.30pm ‘Locke on Personal Identity’

Friday May 17 Auditorium A, West Hall    

Lucas Thorpe 10.30 - 12.00pm Title to be announced

Jeff Edwards 12.00 - 1.30pm ‘Squire Allworthy’s Inclinations and Acting from Duty: The Problem of Moral Worth in Kant’s Criticism of Sentimentalist Ethics’

Lunch 1.30-3.30pm  

Kenneth Westphal 3.30 - 5.00pm  ‘Autonomy, Freedom and Embodiment: Hegel’s Critique of Contemporary Biologism’

Saturday  May 18 Auditorium A, West Hall    

Daniel Selcer 10.30 - 12.00pm ‘The Ontology of the Multitude in Hobbes and Spinoza’

Daniel W. Smith 12.30 - 2.00pm ‘What Does It Mean to Be Leibnizian Today?’

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