The Third Varieties of Normativity Workshop

April 24, 2017 - April 25, 2017
Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University

Gustavianum
Akademigatan 3
Uppsala 753 10
Sweden

Sponsor(s):

  • The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)

Selected speakers:

Gunnar Björnsson
Stockholm University
Lisa Bylinina
Leiden University
David Enoch
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Kate Nolfi
University of Vermont
Olle Risberg
Uppsala University
Alex Silk
University of Birmingham
Bart Streumer
University of Groningen
Eric Swanson
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Folke Tersman
Uppsala University

Organisers:

Matti Eklund
Uppsala University
Daniel Fogal
Uppsala University

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The Department of Philosophy at Uppsala University will be hosting a conference on April 24-25, 2017, under the auspices of the Varieties of Normativity Project. It is funded by the Swedish Research Council (vr.se).  All talks will take place in the Gustavianum (Akademigatan 3, 753 10 Uppsala). There is no registration fee but please contact the organizers if you wish to attend.

PROGRAM

MONDAY, April 24

9:30-10:45 Bart Streumer "Reduction without Supervenience"

11-12:15 Alex Silk, "Evaluational Adjectives"

14-15:15 Folke Tersman and Olle Risberg "From Disagreement to Skepticism"

15:30-16:45 Lisa Bylinina, "Who is the judge?"

TUESDAY, April 25

9:30-10:45 David Enoch, "How Principles Ground"

11-12:15 Kate Nolfi, "Should We Conform With Epistemic Norms, All Things Considered? If so, Why?"

14-15:15 Eric Swanson, "Dilemmas, Conflicts, and Gaps: Three Varieties of Normative Indeterminacy"

15:30-16:45 Gunnar Björnsson, "Judgment"

ABSTRACTS

David Enoch, "How Principles Ground"

Normative (for instance, moral) facts – or at least many of them – seem to be grounded in the natural facts. But if you're a non-naturalist realist (like me) about ethics, you probably think that no moral fact is fully grounded in non-normative facts. The natural way to reconcile these two claims is to insist that whenever a moral fact is grounded in a natural one, another thing is needed for full grounding – a moral principle, perhaps. But the thought that moral principles (partly) ground specific moral facts has been recently challenged (by Selim Berker, mostly). Moral principles themselves seem to state full-grounding claims (moral wrongness is fully grounded in utility sub-optimality, say), and so it's not clear how they can also do some of the grounding work – the work that they themselves say something else fully does. In this paper I respond to this challenge, utilizing an analogy to a similar argument in the case of legal facts, and a distinction between different kinds of grounding – a distinction that (if I'm right) is needed for other purposes as well, and that proves to be theoretically productive elsewhere in metaethics as well.

Lisa Bylinina, "Who is the judge?"

The class of subjective, or judge-dependent, expressions in natural language is linguistically heterogeneous. The differences concern whether they can be embedded under subjective attitude verbs like ‘find’ in their bare and/or comparative form, whether they induce subjective or objective order on their domain, whether they allow for an overt expression of the judge argument, and possibly more. This diversity has to be addressed by any semantic theory of judge-dependence. One approach is to postulate multiple types of subjectivity in natural language to cover all types of subjective expressions — more than one linguistic mechanism for introducing the judge in the semantics (Kennedy 2013, Fleisher 2013). I argue that this is not tenable or desireable, and suggest that one kind of subjectivity is enough — the differences between different classes of subjective expressions and the way their semantics restricts the identity of the judge can be accounted for independently. In this talk, I will focus on the overt judge argument expression.

Kate Nolfi, "Should We Conform With Epistemic Norms, All Things Considered? If so, Why?"

The epistemic status of our beliefs may not be decisive in determining what we ought, all things considered, to believe.  Nevertheless, our evaluative practice suggests that the epistemic status of our beliefs is reason-guaranteeing: it seems that we always have pro tanto reason(s) to believe in ways that conform with (and to abstain from believing in ways that violate) epistemic norms. This paper supplies a vindicating explanation of why this is so, one that succeeds by adopting an approach to epistemological theorizing which involves a fundamental shift in focus away from truth and onto the idea that our capacity for belief is fundamentally a capacity which subserves action. Thus, this paper makes the case that what I call an action-oriented approach to epistemological theorizing is especially well-positioned to fund an explanation of why it is that, at least for believers like us, the epistemic status of a belief always bears on whether that belief is one that, all things considered, we have reason to hold. If my arguments are successful, then an action-oriented approach has a kind of explanatory power that proves elusive for its most prominent competitors, and so merits serious and sustained philosophical attention that it has yet to receive.

Folke Tersman and Olle Risberg, "From Disagreement to Skepticism"

Why is the existence of widespread moral disagreement supposed to present a worry to moral realism? According to one argument, it does so through committing realists to the supposedly implausible conclusion that the facts they posit could not be known, at least insofar as the disagreement is “radical” (i.e., roughly, such that it is not due to bias, lack of evidence, poor reasoning skills, and the like). One of our aims is to show that this argument is flawed in an unexpected way, as there is a tension between the assumption that there is radical moral disagreement and other premises that are essential to the argument. Another aim, however, is to elaborate and defend an alternative argument that seeks to establish the same conclusion and that avoids the tension in question. This alternative argument is more compelling, we think, partly because it relies on weaker and less controversial assumptions about the existing disagreement. Articulating this argument also sheds important light on the more general issue of when disagreement in an area has skeptical implications, and through developing it we obtain some further results. One is that the view on knowledge on which the argument is based can also be seen to underlie the worries that provide the focus of the peer disagreement debate. Another is that unlike other arguments for moral skepticism, our version does not overgeneralize in an implausibly way by entailing skepticism about too many other areas besides ethics.

Alex Silk, "Evaluational Adjectives"

Recent literatures in philosophy of language and formal semantics on predicates of personal taste (PPTs) have focused on a surprisingly limited range of expressions. This narrow focus has led to problematic conclusions about the syntax and semantics. This paper demarcates a theoretically interesting class of (what I call) evaluational adjectives. This class includes PPTs as well as adjectives expressing other kinds of normative and epistemic evaluation, such as aesthetic adjectives, moral adjectives, and epistemic adjectives, among others. Evaluational adjectives are distinguished, empirically, in giving rise to certain phenomena often associated with context-sensitivity, not only in the positive form, but also in comparatives. Such phenomena include discourse-oriented use, felicitous embedding under `find', and, surprisingly, vagueness phenomena. A unified degree-based semantics is then developed: what distinguishes evaluational adjectives, semantically, is that they denote context-dependent measure functions (evaluational perspectives) — context-dependent mappings to degrees of tastiness, beauty, probability, etc., depending on the adjective. This perspective-sensitivity cannot be assimilated to multidimensionality or sensitivity to an experiencer class argument. Contrary to assumptions in the literature, a unified context-sensitive semantics for evaluational adjectives can be neutral on philosophical issues about subjectivity, antirealism, etc. However, I show how speakers' assumptions about these issues can lead to certain differences among evaluational adjectives in patterns of use. I propose that putative diagnostics for PPTs and other allegedly "subjective" expressions be explained, not fundamentally in terms of some basic notion of subjectivity, but in terms of a general, precisely specified kind of context-oriented use of context-sensitive language.

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