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::: center home >> events >> lunchtime >> 2012-13 >> abstracts>>Nov-Dec

November 2012 Lunchtime Abstracts & Details

::: Simplicity as a Surrogate
John D. Norton
Director, Center for Philosophy of Science
University of Pittsburgh HPS

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: Among competing hypotheses, we generally assume the simpler to be more likely true. I will argue that there is no viable epistemic principle of simplicity or parsimony. Apparent instances of its use are successful in so far as they make tacit appeals to background facts peculiar to the cases at hand. They are the factual epistemic surrogates of simplicity.


::: Quantum Meaning
Richard Healey
Dept. of Philosophy
University of Arizona

Friday, November 30, 2012
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  One reason the view I outline in “Quantum theory: a pragmatist view”* is pragmatist is that it applies an inferentialist account of content like that of Brandom to magnitude claims in quantum theory. By appeal to quantum decoherence, this application enables one to purify quantum theory of talk of “measurement”, resolve puzzlement over the ontology of a quantum field theory, and answer Einstein’s question “Do you really believe that the moon exists only when you look at it?”
* BJPS (2012) doi: 10.1093/bjps/axr054


December 2012 Lunchtime Abstracts & Details


::: Applying the Causal Theory of Reference to Intentional Concepts
John Michael
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
GNOSIS Research Centre, Aarhus University

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: I argue that philosophical discussions of everyday intentional concepts in recent decades, from theorizing about ‘folk psychology’ in the 1980s to the ‘mindreading’ debate more recently, have implicitly been predicated upon descriptive theories of reference. This is anachronous, given that casual theories of reference have become increasingly widespread in philosophy of language and philosophy of science over the past 30 years. I attempt to demonstrate how a causal theory can be applied to intentional concepts, and how this makes it possible to channel philosophical and psychological discussions about intentional concepts in a fruitful new direction. Specifically, I will argue that some phenomena in early social development (e.g. mimicry, gaze following, and emotional contagion) can serve as reference-fixers that enable children to track the underlying intentional states of others, and thus, to refer to those states. This allows intentional concepts to be anchored to their referents even if folk psychological descriptions turn out to be false.


Revised 12/4/12 - Copyright 2012