The Burman Lectures in Philosophy 2017 by Jenann Ismael
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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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