CFP: Investigating Conscious Acquaintance

Submission deadline: March 1, 2016

Conference date(s):
June 20, 2016 - June 21, 2016

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Conference Venue:

Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London
London, United Kingdom

Topic areas


We invite contributed papers for a 2-day conference: Investigating Conscious Acquaintance.

Invited Speakers:

·       Katalin Balog (Rutgers)

·       Bill Brewer (KCL)

·       Imogen Dickie (Toronto)

·       Alex Grzankowski (Texas Tech/Cambridge)

·       Joseph Levine (Amherst)

·       M.G.F. Martin (UCL/Berkeley)

Bertrand Russell famously distinguished between “Knowledge by Acquaintance” and “Knowledge by Description” and claimed that Acquaintance plays a fundamental role in our cognitive lives. For much of the latter half of the 20th century the notion of ‘Acquaintance’ fell into disrepute. But in recent years the idea of an Acquaintance relation has undergone a very marked revival of fortunes, with many different theorists invoking some version of the notion in a range of different philosophical projects and with a potentially bewildering array of different senses – though of course there are still many philosophers who remain sceptical of any such idea.

This conference aims to shed some light on Acquaintance, investigating what exactly the relation is supposed to be and what philosophical work it is supposed to do.

We welcome submissions on any topic related to Acquaintance. Possible questions/topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

•       Should acquaintance be treated as a non-representational relation or is it distinctive kind of representation?

•       What kinds of items can be objects of acquaintance? Are they Mind-dependent/independent? ?Outer/inner? Properties/objects/events/facts?

•       Can there be different modes or manners of acquaintance with a specific object of ?acquaintance? If so, how would this differ from the Fregean notion of a ‘mode of ?presentation’?)

•       Must the relation be treated as ‘brute’ or ‘primitive’?

•       Can the acquaintance relation be naturalized?

•       What are the explanatory or theoretical benefits of appealing to an acquaintance relation?

•       Is there some kind of acquaintance constraint on singular thought/reference?

•       Is there an important epistemic role for acquaintance? E.g. does it help to provide an account of non-inferential justification? Is it important for understanding self-knowledge?

•       Is acquaintance important for understanding or helping to solve the ‘Explanatory Gap’ concerning the phenomenal nature of experience? In particular, is appealing to acquaintance necessary for a correct account of Phenomenal Concepts?

•       What are the strongest arguments against the existence of a distinctive acquaintance relation? E.g. is the notion bound to be an instance of the ‘Myth of the Given’? Is the notion somehow unscientific?

We invite submission of EXTENDED ABSTRACTS of NO LONGER than 1000 words, for paper presentations of 40 minutes, plus 20 minutes for questions.

Selected speakers will have their accommodation (3 nights) and conference lunches & dinner provided. Travel expenses can be reimbursed up to a MAXIMUM of £400.

Please send abstracts (prepared for blind review) to:



(We aim to announce our decisions by mid-late March, 2016.)

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