Ground I: Yablo on Aboutness

August 3, 2015 - August 4, 2015
Philosopisches Seminar, Universität Hamburg

ESA Westwing, Room 121
Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1
Hamburg 20146


  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Main speakers:

Katharina Felka
Universität Hamburg
Kit Fine
Ken Gemes
Birkbeck College, University of London
Mark Jago
University of Nottingham
Daniel Rothschild
Stephen Yablo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Benjamin Schnieder
Universität Hamburg
Robert Schwartzkopff
Universität Hamburg

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Professor Kit Fine will use his Anneliese Maier Research Prize of the German Humboldt Foundation to finance a series of workshops on truthmaker semantics and related topics. The workshops will be organized by the Phlox research group under the auspices of Professor Benjamin Schnieder. The first instalment of the series will take place at the university of Hamburg on August 3rd and 4th 2015. The talks of the workshop are loosely centred around the themes of Professor Stephen Yablo's latest book 'Aboutness’.

Attendance will be free but participants are asked to register with the organizers (please write an email to:


We are happy to announce five stipends, each in the amount of 400 Euro, available for graduate students to help finance their visit of the workshop.

In order to apply, please send a CV as well as cover page including your name, affiliation, contact information, and a brief statement of no more than 250 words, briefly explaining how your research would benefit from attending the workshop, to

The application deadline is April 1st 2015. We aim to arrive at decisions no later than May 1st 2015.

Successful applicants are strongly encouraged to also attend the 4th Hamburg summer school conducted by Professor Stephen Yablo from July 27th to 31th 2015  (for information see:

UPDATE (7:45pm 02/08/2015)


Monday, August 3rd

11:00-12:30  Mark Jago: "Truthmaking, Content and Aboutness"

12:30-14:00  Lunch Break 

14:00-15:30 Kit Fine: "Subject Matter"

15:30-16:00  Coffee Break

16:00-17:30  Katharina Felka: "On Non-Catastrophic Presupposition Failure"

Tuesday, August 4th

11:00-12:30  Daniel Rothschild: "Truthmakers in Natural Language Semantics"

12:30-14:00  Lunch Break

14:00-15:30  Ken Gemes: "Truth Tracking, Closure, and Content"

15:30-16:00  Coffee Break

16:00-17:30  Stephen Yablo: "A Truthmaker Semantics for (Some) Indicative Conditionals"


Katharina Felka: "On Non-Catastrophic Presupposition Failure"

In this talk I will discuss Yablo's theory of non-catastrophic presupposition failure.

Kit Fine: "Subject Matter"

I will compare the possible worlds conception of subject-matter with the fact-based truthmaker conception

Ken Gemes: "Truth Tracking, Closure, and Content"

There has been much discussion of how Nozick’s truth tracking account of knowledge account handles sceptical hypotheses, for instance, that one is a  brain in a vat (hereafter BIV).  Because his account allows, for instance, that one can know that one has hands, while not knowing that one is not a BIV, certain closure principles are violated.  Some regard this violation of closure as probative against Nozick’s account, whereas Nozick himself is content to bite this bullet. Part I of this paper presents a case, not involving any especially sceptical scenarios, that shows that Nozick‘s account is, as it stands, open to the type of Gettier cases that plagued the traditional account of knowledge and motivated his original account. Even more damaging, a case, involving no reference to sceptical scenarios, is given which demonstrates that Nozick‘s account cannot handle certain cases of unjustified true belief that the traditional account handles successfully.  It turns out that these cases also involve a certain failure of closure. In part II a supplement to Nozick’s’ account is proposed that allows for a limited form of closure which rules out the Gettier and other cases considered in part I.  This limited form of closure allows that one can know that one has hands without knowing that one is not a BIV. The supplement involves reference to a finer grained account of logical content than that which simplify identifies the logical content of a claim with the class of its logical consequences.

Mark Jago: "Truthmaking, Content and Aboutness"

Aboutness considerations suggest that propositions are more fine-grained than sets of possible worlds. I consider two routes to fine-graining such sets: by adding impossible (as well as possible) worlds; and by focusing on possible states of affairs, rather than possible worlds. The latter approach considers propositions in terms of truthmaker conditions, as opposed to truth conditions. I offer an argument that this latter approach does a better job than the former of capturing the essential nature of a proposition. I then offer an analysis of the link between propositions, so understood, and the notion of speakers saying the same thing as one another.

Daniel Rothschild: "Truthmakers in Natural Language Semantics"

Yablo and Fine’s recent work on aboutness and truthmakers provides us with a powerful set of new and reworked tools in philosophical logic.  These tools have many potential applications within linguistics semantics and pragmatics, some of which Fine and Yablo explore.  I will try to assess whether these techniques and ideas really are useful for those interested more in natural language than in philosophical logic.  I will focus on two topics: content agreement and presupposition.  In the first case, the work on aboutness and truthmakers promises to bring new data to the fore, in the second case, the work may provide cleaner explanations of familiar data.

Stephen Yablo: "A Truthmaker Semantics for (Some) Indicative Conditionals"  

Indicative conditionals range from the highly subjective/parochial/epistemic to the highly factual/asperspectival/objective.  How to get them all onto the same theoretical page?  The usual strategy, suggested by Stalnaker,  starts with subjective conditionals and tries  gradually to tidy them up. I want to start rather with quasi-logical "absolute" conditionals and then gradually relax the requirements. The result if it worked would be a focal meaning analysis along the lines of Aristotle's analysis of "healthy". Indicatives are to be understood by their place in a spider web with absolute conditionals at the center

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July 27, 2015, 11:00am CET

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