Abduction and Modelling in Metaphysics. A Series of Events with Timothy Williamson

December 4, 2018 - December 7, 2018
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Schadowplatz 14
Düsseldorf 40212

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


  • German Research Foundation (DFG)

Main speakers:

University of Manchester
Iowa State University
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
New York University
University of Helsinki
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
University of Notre Dame
Oxford University


Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

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Event Series.

December 4, 2018: Public Evening Talk of Timothy Williamson

December 4-5, 2018: Reading Group with Timothy Williamson

December 6-7, 2018: Workshop on Abduction and Modelling in Metaphysics


Methodological questions have been in the focus of many recent philosophical debates. The role of thought experiments, the method of cases, intuitions, etc. has been studied intensively within metaphilosophy. This reflective attitude is often considered to be a characteristic feature of philosophical investigation and, hence, it is no surprise that occasionally it results in some kind of self-application. In metaphysics, recent severe criticism of traditional investigations led to quite versatile metametaphysical stances: There is the radical sceptical approach according to which metaphysical studies better dissolve in the corresponding branches of science rather than being performed in an encapsulated way; and there is the other end of the spectrum according to which metaphysics is a self-standing endeavour to be conducted in an a priori fashion. In between are more moderate stances proposing that metaphysical investigation ought to employ both, scientific findings and methods on the one hand, and conceptual analysis and methods of traditional metaphysics on the other. Inductive metaphysics, for example, aims at applying the abductive and modelling methodology of science within metaphysical investigation. Such an approach, however, raises several questions: What does the abductive methodology exactly consist in and what is its epistemic rationale? How are metaphysical models to be characterised and evaluated and what constitutes metaphysical data and evidence? What distinguishes such an inductive metaphysical approach from naturalising metaphysics? This workshop aims at exploring some of these and related questions regarding the theoretical presuppositions of metaphysical methodology.

Workshop Programme.

December 6, 2018

10:00-11:00: Stephen Biggs: Towards an Abduction-based Epistemology of Metaphysics

11:00-11:30: Coffee Break

11:30-12:30: Ilkka Niiniluoto: Abductive Arguments for Ontological Realism

12:30-14:30: Lunch Break

14:30-15:30: Gerhard Schurz: Abduction as a Method of Inductive Metaphysics

15:30-16:00: Coffee Break

16:00-17:00: Timothy Williamson: Abduction in Logic and Mathematics

18:00-: Dinner

December 7, 2018

10:00-11:00: Igor Douven: Putting Prototypes in Place: An Engineering Approach

11:00-11:30: Coffee Break

11:30-12:30: Helen Beebee: Peer Disagreement and Scepticism in Metaphysics

12:30-14:30: Lunch Break

14:30-15:30: Meghan Sullivan: Modal Logic and the Methodology of Metaphysics: A Case Study in the Relationship Between Formalism and Abduction

15:30-16:00: Coffee Break

16:00-17:00: Tim Maudlin: Metaphysics Renaturalized

Public Evening Talk by Timothy Williamson on December 4, 2018.

The workshop is preceded by a public evening talk of Timothy Williamson on “Morally Loaded Examples in Philosophy”; the evening lecture takes place on December 4, 2018, from 18:30 to 20:00, at the Haus der Universitaet (Schadowplatz 14, 40212 Duesseldorf).

Reading Group.

We also would like to draw your attention to a reading group with Timothy Williamson which takes place from December 4 to 5, 2018, at the Campus of the University of Duesseldorf.

* Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 10:00 till lunch, HHU Duesseldorf (Rektoratsraeume)

Welcome and Introduction by Siegfried Jaag and Markus Schrenk

Discussion of papers (tba)

* Wednesday, December 5, 10:00 till lunch, HHU Duesseldorf (Rektoratsraeume)

Discussions of papers (tba)

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November 30, 2018, 11:45pm CET

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