Department of Philosophy

Philosophy Colloquium Series

Philosophy Colloquium Series 2022-2023

Panel Discussion: "Philosophy-What Is It Good for?"

April 26, 2023, 4:00-5:00pm, ARTS 112

A panel discussion about the skills and lessons learned when studying philosophy as an undergraduate and the different pathways one may take after graduation.

Speakers: Faith Chalk (Philosophy Alumna), Phil Clements (Philosophy Alumnus & CSU, Chico Faculty), Greg Shafer (Philosophy Alumnus), and Curtis Peldo (Alumnus & CSU, Chico Faculty)

"Not Being Sure of Myself"

Speaker: Derek Lam (CSU Sacramento)

April 19, 2023, 4:00-5:30pm, ARTS 228

It’s intuitive to think that an intentional action requires that the agent knows that she’s doing so. In light of some apparent counterexamples, Setiya suggests that this intuitive insight is better captured in terms of credence: performing an intentional action requires the agent to have a higher credence that she’s doing so than she would have otherwise. I argue that there is no such thing as an agent’s credence for what she’s doing. After distinguishing this thesis from an idea some defend under the slogan “deliberation crowds out prediction”, I explore the thesis’s broader epistemological implications for the belief-credence relation.

"Context, Consistency, and Contradiction"

Speaker: Patrick Skeels (UC Davis)

March 1, 2023, 4:00-5:30pm, ARTS 228

Dynamic semantics violates numerous classical laws, including Non-Contradiction. Proponents of dynamic semantics have offered no explanation for this behavior, and some critics consider this result to be strong evidence against the tenability of the dynamic program. We defend and explain failures of Non-Contradiction by comparing dynamic semantics and classical, truth-conditional semantics in terms of their idealizing assumptions. We demonstrate that dynamic semantics rejects context fixity, an idealizing assumption which truth-conditional semantics adopts. We then argue that any semantics which rejects context fixity should, by the classical semanticists own lights, violate non-contradiction under certain circumstances. We then demonstrate that dynamic semantics violates Non-Contradiction in all and only those circumstances. We then consider further indirect evidence in support of this result. We close by suggesting that discussion of idealizing assumptions, common in the sciences, is similarly crucial to fruitful discussion in natural language semantics.

"Conceptual Engineering and Singular Thought"

Speaker: Jordan Bell (UC Davis)

February 8, 2023, 4:00-5:30pm, ARTS 228

Conceptual engineering has swiftly become the championed philosophical methodology in the metaphilosophical discourse. In this work, we provide reason to adopt conceptual engineering with respect to theorizing about singular thought and explore the consequences of so doing. After arguing for adopting conceptual engineering as a methodological framework, we then evaluate a variety of conditions that one may take to be constitutive of singular thought within this framework and map illuminating conceptual connections among them.

"The Moral Limits of Violence in Political Resistance"

Speaker: Joseph Chan (Princeton University)

November 17, 2022, 4:00-5:30pm, ARTS 107

In this talk, I examine whether violence in political resistance against state injustice is morally permissible. Contemporary analytic political and legal philosophy seldom discusses this question, and the literature of nonviolent disobedience does not offer much help. The most relevant literature seems to be the ethics of war and the ethics of individual self-defense, in which four principles are commonly employed to assess the moral limits of force – just cause, reasonable prospect of success, necessity, and proportionality. This talk examines the extent to which these principles can provide practical moral guidance for participants in resistance movements that are highly dynamic and open-ended.

"Implementation, Individuation, and Triviality in Computational Theories"

Speaker: Danielle J. Williams (UC Davis)

November 2, 2022, 4:00-5:30pm, ARTS 228

What distinguishes a physical computing system from a non-computing system? How do we individuate computations that a physical system performs or may perform? The first question asks which conditions must obtain such that a physical system counts as a computer. The second question asks how we interpret the computations that a system performs. In this paper, I argue that these questions should be asked and answered independently. Some authors deny that these questions require independent answers by proposing a view that attempts to address both questions simultaneously. While a view of one type may provide insight into the other, I will argue that even so and contrary to Sprevak (2019), these questions still require independent theories. There are two upshots to holding questions of implementation and individuation distinct. This first is that it helps us better address triviality concerns about physical computing systems and the second is that it provides a clear path forward for reconciling the debate between non-semantic and semantic theories of computation.

Previous Colloquia


Speaker: Bruce Fink
"Lacan on Love: A Commentary on Lacan's Reading of Plato's Symposium"

Speaker: David Robinson Simon

Speaker: James Bahoh (Duquesne University)
"On the Nature of Philosophical Problems in Heidegger, Lautman, and Deleuze"


Speakers: Prof. John Donohue (Stanford Law School) & Attorney Donald E.J. Kilmer, Jr.
"Guns in America: A Debate"


Speaker: Michael Epperson (Calfornia State University, Sacramento)
"The Mutual Implication of Objects and Relations in Quantum Mechanics: How Potentiality and Contextuality Are Ontologically Significant in Modern Physics"

Speaker: Mark Balauger (Calfornia State University, Los Angeles)
"Anti-Metaphysicalism and Temporal Ontology"

Speaker: Speaker: Peter Fosl (Transylvania University)
"Hume's Progressive Appeal to Custom"


Speaker: Alexis Burgess (Stanford University)
"Standing in the way of a Science of Meaning: Mainstream Semantics + Deflationary Truth"

Speaker: Mohammed Abed (California State University, Los Angeles)
"Genocide as a Process of Social Group Destruction"


Speaker: Davit Pitt (California State University, Los Angeles)
"How to Distinguish a Statue from a Lump"

Speaker: Ted Sider (New York University)
"Is Metaphysics about the Real World"

Speaker: Janet D. Stemwedel (San Jose State University)
"Sifting Sound Science from Snake-oil: In search of demarcation criteria for science as actually practiced"