Department of Philosophy

Philosophy Colloquium Series

Philosophy Colloquium Series 2023-2024

"Conceptions of a Foundation in Mathematics"

Speaker: Chanwoo Lee (UC Davis)

September 27, 2023, 4:00-5:30pm, ARTS 228

Set theory, category theory, etc. are foundational accounts that are expected to answer various questions under the label of ‘foundation of mathematics,' i.e., foundational questions. To fully answer foundational questions, we also need to consider how we conceive of a foundational account; the specific conception of a foundational account matters in answering foundational questions. Using set theory as an example, I illustrate two different conceptions of foundational accounts in mathematical practice: the building block conception and the scaffolding conception. Both conceptions are philosophically viable; I support their viability by an analogy with scientific reduction, which also explains how a difference in conception leads to a difference in how we answer foundational questions. This leads to a more pluralistic understanding of foundational accounts in approaching foundational/philosophical problems about mathematics.

“How to Read the Eternal Recurrence as a Thought Experiment”

Speaker: Wai-hung Wong (Chico State)

September 13, 2023, 4:00-5:30pm, ARTS 228

The Gay Science 341 is widely interpreted as a thought experiment proposed by Nietzsche concerning the affirmation of life. Central to the thought experiment is the idea of eternal recurrence. Although the eternal recurrence as discussed by Nietzsche can be understood as a cosmology, and the arguments for the eternal recurrence found in Nietzsche’s literary remains (the Nachlass) are evidence that Nietzsche himself did take seriously the eternal recurrence as a cosmology, the thought experiment does not presuppose the truth of the cosmology. We can certainly discuss the thought experiment without discussing the cosmology. What is not clear, however, is how the thought experiment should be understood. A lot of interpretations have been offered, but none of them is all the way satisfactory. This is because the thought experiment is rife with problematic aspects, and there is no interpretation that resolves all of them. In this paper I will first give a list of desiderata for a satisfactory interpretation of the eternal recurrence, and then offer an interpretation that satisfies all the desiderata, that is, resolves all the problematic aspects of the thought experiment.

Future speakers

Speaker: Natasha Haddal (UC Davis)
October 4, 2023, 4:00-5:30pm, ARTS 228

Speaker: Ramiel Tamras (UC Davis)
October 18, 2023, 4:00-5:30pm, ARTS 228 

Previous Colloquia


Speaker: Derek Lam (CSU Sacramento)
"Not Being Sure of Myself"

Speaker: Patrick Skeels (UC Davis)
"Context, Consistency, and Contradiction"

Speaker: Jordan Bell (UC Davis)
"Conceptual Engineering and Singular Thought"

Speaker: Joseph Chan (Princeton University)
"The Moral Limits of Violence in Political Resistance"

Speaker: Danielle J. Williams (UC Davis)
"Implementation, Individuation, and Triviality in Computational Theories"


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 Balaguer (Calfornia State University, Los Angeles)
"Anti-Metaphysicalism and Temporal Ontology"

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


Speaker: Cody Gilmore (UC Davis)
"Holes: What They're Not"

Speaker: Quayshawn Spencer (University of San Francisco)
"How to Be a Biological Racial Realist"

Speaker: Pamela Hieronymi (UCLA)
"Can You Believe at Will?"

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"