New Work on Speech Acts
Columbia University
September 27-29 2013

Details about times and venue can be found at the conference website, where a full schedule will be posted in the coming months:

Important recent work in philosophical sub-fields as wide-ranging as epistemology, metaethics, metaphysics, and political philosophy has involved nontrivial commitments regarding the nature of speech acts. The aim of this conference is to bring these discussions, along with more traditional discussions within the philosophy of language, into a single conversation about the nature, foundations, and potential applications of speech act theory.

This summer Crispin Wright (NIP Director and Professor at NYU) will walk The Pennine Way, 268 miles across the Pennine mountain tops.

The Aim: To raise money to support graduate students from elsewhere to visit the Northern Institute of Philosophy and to support Northern Institute of Philosophy graduate students to visit other institutions. This is in line with a general mission of the Institute to support early career philosophers to develop their interests and skills through collaboration and philosophical interactions. The costs of such visits and exchanges are seldom adequately provided for in the budgets of grant giving authorities, and philosophy departments, even when in principle willing to support research-related travel by graduate students, are less and less able to do so. The hope is to build a Trust Fund at NIP to enable NIP to provide such support as a part of the regular working routine of the Institute.

Realism and Semantics
By Guy Kahane

J. L. Mackie did a great service to metaethics by distinguishing, as previous philosophers hadn’t, between semantics and metaphysics.* He pointed out that it’s one thing to show that our normative concepts refer to objective properties, quite another to show that anything out there actually corresponds to these concepts. Defending normative realism therefore turns out to be harder than previously thought: winning the argument about the semantics only takes you halfway.

The concept of human nature is an interesting one. This is partly because, although it’s a familiar concept, and one of which most people have at least a prima facie grasp; there are problems with arriving at a satisfactory, robust definition of it that will support normative philosophical claims. (For an account of some problems associated with defining human nature, see David Hull (1986) ‘On Human Nature‘, PSA 2: 3-13). In trying to understand it and work out how to tackle such problems, it’s interesting to look at similar concepts. One that I keep coming back to is the concept ‘physical’.

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