Theoretical and Empirical Challenges to Retraction

June 23, 2021 - June 24, 2021

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  • Polish National Science Center


University of Warsaw

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Retraction (the act of "taking back" a previous assertion due to, e.g., a change in perspective) has been appealed to in the debate between contextualism and relativism about "perspectival expressions" (predicates of taste, epistemic modals, aesthetic adjectives, moral terms, epistemic vocabulary etc.). This phenomenon has been taken to favor relativism (at least in one of its forms) over its rivals. Recently, various challenges to using retraction data to support relativism have surfaced in the literature, of both a theoretical and an empirical nature. This workshop focuses on assessing these challenges, presenting new ones, and ascertaining whether relativism can answer them, as well as on surveying extant experimental studies and showcasing novel ones.

Among the main questions tackled by the presentations at the workshop are the following:
- What are the best theoretical arguments in favor of and against using retraction to support relativism?
- Is retraction mandatory? Under which conditions?
- Is relativism committed to taking retraction as being mandatory?
- What are the linguistics markers of retraction?
- How robust is the phenomenon of retraction?
- What exactly do the experimental studies on retraction show vis-à-vis the contextualism/relativism debate?
- What can approaches within frameworks like speech act theory tell us about retraction? Etc.


(All times are in CEST)

9.45: Welcome
10.00-11.15: Teresa Marques (University of Barcelona), "How Expressives Enact Norms in Conversation, and How to Retract Them"
11.30-12.45: Andrei Mărășoiu (University of Bucharest), "'I never said that!' – What Is Plausible Deniability?"
14.00-15.15: Laura Caponetto (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University), "'Actually, Scratch That': A Tour into the Illocutionary Fabric of Retraction"
15.30-16.45: Leïla Bussière-Caraes (University of Amsterdam), "Retraction and Common Ground"
17.00-18.15: Filippo Ferrari (University of Padua), "Mental Retraction?"

10.00-11.15: Jeremy Wyatt & Joseph Ulatowski (University of Waikato), "Testing Taste Talk: Retraction and Beyond"
11.30-12.45: Markus Kneer (University of Zurich), "Norms of Retraction: Myth and Reality"
14.00-15.15: James Beebe (University at Buffalo), "The Realism of Contextualism versus the Antirealism of Relativism"
15.30-16.45: Joshua Knobe (Yale University), "Proposition or Update? Two Accounts of Retraction"
17.00-18.15: Niels Skovgaard-Olsen (Georg-August University Göttingen), "Norm Conflicts and Epistemic Modals"


The workshop is part of the project Semantic Relativism about Perspectival Expressions: A Reassessment and Defense (OPUS 17 project no. 2019/33/B/HS1/01269) and is organized by Dan Zeman, with the support of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Warsaw. Please write to [email protected] if you want to participate.

For more information, including the abstracts of the talks, see

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June 23, 2021, 9:30am CET

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4 people are attending:

Yale University
University of Bucharest
and 2 more.

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