Challenging Concepts Debating Conceptualism and Non-Conceptualism in Epistemology and Metaphysics

February 20, 2024 - February 22, 2024
University of Padua



Universität Potsdam (PhD)
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University of Padua

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International Conference

Challenging Concepts
Debating Conceptualism and Non-Conceptualism in Epistemology and Metaphysics

February, 20-21-22, 2024
University of Padua, Italy


Keynote Speakers:

Bill Brewer

(King’s College London, UK)

Walter Hopp

(Boston University, USA)

Denis McManus

(University of Southampton, UK)

Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl

(University of Graz, Austria)

Elisabetta Sacchi

(University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Italy)

Hao Tang

(Tsinghua University)

Bruno Leclercq

(University of Liège)

Submission Deadline: 30th of December, 2023

The nature of concepts continues to be one of the most fundamental conundrum around which philosophical reflection has converged. Understanding the role of concepts and their intersection with other dimensions of experience is directly related to investigating “human nature” and the structure of world and reality. Inquiries into the functioning of concepts rest at the heart not only of an internal bifurcation in Classical phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger) but have notably played a pivotal role in analytical debates (Russell, Moore). Especially in the last 30 years, the philosophical discussion about the role of concepts and the nature of conceptual content has been mainly subsumed within the dichotomous debate about conceptualism and non-conceptualism. Scholars have been engaged in classifying concepts (Benoist, Peacocke), determining their relation to perception (Sellars, McDowell, Brewer, Hopp), negating/limiting their cognitive role (Dreyfus) or accounting for a non-conceptual content of perception (Dretske, Travis, Bermúdez). This extremely intricate, yet rich and fruitful debate has attracted scholars from different traditions of thought who have engaged in metaphysical and epistemological analysis in the broadest sense. In order to answer the question regarding the nature of the concept, scholars have employed various strategies, either through an investigation into the history of philosophy – from Aristotle, to Hume, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, and Wittgenstein – or by attempting to approach the question from both the analytical and continental traditions: exploiting pragmatism, phenomenology, and philosophy of language.

The conference aims to gather diverse perspectives of the topic at hand and enrich critical debate. To that end, the conference will bring together scholars from diverse backgrounds in order to discuss the key problematics concerning the nature of conceptual/non-conceptual content, such as: What are concepts? How shall we understand the relationship between the conceptual and non-conceptual spheres? What is at stake in the conceptual/non-conceptualism debate?

Papers are welcome that try to answer these and related questions. Suitable topics may include, but are not limited to:
-       the nature of concepts
-       the origin of concepts
-       the relationship between concepts and perception
-       the relationship between concepts and knowledge
-       the role of concepts in human experience in general
-       the nature of concepts versus the nature of the world
-       critical analyses of the debate on conceptualism/non-conceptualism

Details of the conference

Date: February, 20-21-22, 2024
Place: University of Padua, Italy
Keynote Speakers: Bill Brewer (King’s College London, UK); Walter Hopp (Boston University, USA); Denis McManus (University of Southampton, UK); Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl (University of Graz, Austria); Elisabetta Sacchi (University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Italy); Hao Tang (Tsinghua University); Bruno Leclercq (University of Liège).

Submission guidelines

The working language of the conference will be English.

Please submit an abstract of 250-400 words (title included) in PDF format by December 30th, 2023 to the following address: [email protected]
In the subject of the email, please write: Challenging Concepts - Abstract Submission.
The submission must include the following two documents in PDF-format:
- Abstract of the presentation, prepared for blind review
- Document which states name, address, institutional affiliation and title of the presentation.

We welcome sumissions of presentations (25 minutes), which will be followed by an active discussion (20 minutes), in order to foster a concrete and productive debate amog participants. 

The conference will be held in person.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the organizer using the e-mail address: [email protected]

Organizer: Giulia Lanzirotti

Scientific Committee: Andrea Altobrando, Simone Aurora, Luca Corti, Giulia Lanzirotti, Vittorio Morato

The event is supported by the University of Padua (Italy), within the STARS@UNIPD 2021 Grant-Project “TYPRAX”.

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