The Burman Lectures in Philosophy 2017 by Jenann Ismael

October 25, 2017 - October 27, 2017
Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Umeå University, Sweden

Umeå University
Umeå
Sweden

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Determinism, Time, and Totality

Prof. Jenann Ismael, University of Arizona

Lecture I:  Determinism and the Causal Order

Wednesday October 25, 13.15-15, hörsal F, Humanities Building

Abstract: Could a LaPlacean intelligence, given full information about the laws and the initial conditions of a deterministic universe, predict the decision of every other system in that universe?  The common wisdom is: yes, and indeed, that is just what determinism means.  But the possibility of counterpredictive devices - i.e., devices designed to act counter to any prediction of their behavior that is made known to them - seems to place limits on this predictive ability.  I look at what those limits are, and what it teaches us about determinism.

Lecture II:  Time and Transcendence

Thursday October 26, 13.15-15, hörsal F, Humanities Building

Abstract: The paradox of predictability forces us to drive a wedge between the on-the-ground causal order and a transcendent view of the world (a view from outside of space and time).  The second lecture in the series explores the significance of the fact that determinism is not a feature of the on-the-ground causal order, but rather something that emerges from a transcendent view.  This reveals a deep connection between the problem of fatalism and the problem of determinism, and suggests that they are both aspects of the problem of how to reconcile the transcendent vision of the universe with the view from within. 

Lecture III: Totality

Friday October 27, 13.15-15, hörsal F, Humanitiets Building

Abstract: The notion of totality emerges in the first two lectures as a pivot point that turns an immanent view of the world into a transcendent view.  In the last lecture, I will explore what we might call ‘the logic and the metaphysics’ of totality. I show how it is connected to a set of interesting philosophical problems (set theoretical paradoxes, grounding and truth-maker principles, disputes in cosmology). I raise questions that I hope will prompt some new interest in the topic. Finally, I bring the discussion back to the notion of human freedom and say something about how we should understand our little part of totality.

All interested are welcome to these lectures!

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