Relations, Unity, and Regress

March 26, 2018 - March 27, 2018
Department of Philosophy, University of Birmingham

ERI Building, Pritchatts Road
Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom


  • Arts and Humanities Research Council


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Relations, Unity, and Regress workshop in Birmingham

Date & time: Monday 26 March 2018 (12.30-5.30pm) – Tuesday 27 March 2018 (9.30am-1pm)

Location: ERI Building room G51 (building G3 on this map), University of Birmingham, UK.

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Workshop description

The AHRC-funded Higher-Order Metaphysics project at the University of Birmingham will host an informal workshop on relations, unity problems (e.g. for facts and propositions), and the regress arguments they arguably generate.


Monday 26 March

  • 12.30 - 2pm – Thomas Hodgson, “A defence of structured propositions”
  • 2.15 - 3.45pm – Bryan Pickel, “Life at a lower order”
  • 4 - 5.30pm – Fraser MacBride, “Relations: predicates expressing them, names denoting them, and quantifiers replacing them” 

Tuesday 27 March

  • 9.45 – 11.15am – Nicholas K Jones, “Kinds of unity”
  • 11.30am – 1pm – David Liebesman, “The Ascription View and the Type Hierarchy”

Abstract for Hodgson’s talk:

I argue that, granted some assumptions, it is better to posit Structure, that propositions are structured, than Simplicity, that propositions are simple. Structure, but not Simplicity, can give a better account of about- ness. This suggests that we should explore theories of propositions that include Structure.

 Abstract for MacBride’s talk:

Predicates in general and many place predicates in particular are, I argue, impurely referring expressions, i.e. do not only refer to relations but perform a further co-ordinating function in virtue of which a sentence is more than a list. Conceiving of predicates as impurely referring expressions provides a solution to Frege's Paradox of the Concept Horse and allows us to address van Inwagen’s Puzzle about Relation Names. Because it enables us to solve these puzzles, this gives us reason to favour my view that predicates are impurely referring expressions. I explore, from this point of view, the consequences for our understanding of second order logic.

Abstract for Liebesman’s talk:

Predicates and non-predicates are semantically distinguished not by what they designate, but how. Non-predicates refer, while predicates ascribe. Crucially, some entities can be ascribed in certain linguistic contexts, and not in others. I'll briefly review my arguments for this view, and explain the nature of the view. A natural question then arises, what becomes of type-theoretic categorization on such a view. I'll (i) show that there's still a substantial role for semantic types, (ii), articulate my underlying view of types, and (iii) show how we can use these views to distinguish uninterpretable sentences from mere category mistakes.

The workshop is free and open to all.

Registration is not required, but please let the organiser know if you’re planning on attending so that we can arrange appropriate catering.

If you have any questions, please contact the organiser, Nick Jones at ([email protected]).

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