Thursday, October 18th
|Evening–||Participants arrive, dinner at The Vine on South Grand|
Friday, October 19th, Busch Student Center, St. Louis Room
|9:00–10:30||Christina van Dyke, "Metaphysics and Moral Character" Abstract|
|11:00–12:30||Jeffrey Brower, "Aquinas on the Problem of Universals" Abstract|
|2:30–4:00||Meg Wallace, "Composition, Mereological Essentialism, and Modal Parts" Abstract|
|4:30–6:00||Peter van Inwagen, "What is an Ontological Category?" Abstract|
|6:00–||Dinner and Reception|
Saturday, October 20th, Busch Student Center, St. Louis Room
|9:00–10:30||Timothy O'Connor and Philip Woodward, "Trans-Universe Identity: Incarnation and the Multiverse"|
|11:00–12:30||David Manley, "The Book of the World and Two Stories of Language" Abstract|
Peter van Inwagen, "What is an Ontological Category?"
In this essay, it is suggested that ontology be understood as the discipline whose goal is to answer Quine's "ontological question" (‘What is there?’) by proposing a system of ontological categories—an ontology being a particular answer to Quine's question that is of that form. An analysis of the concept "ontological category" is then offered, and it is shown with respect to several ontologies how each can be understood as the presentation of a system of ontological categories in the sense provided by that analysis.
Meg Wallace, "Composition, Mereological Essentialism, and Modal Parts"
Mereological Essentialism is the view that for any composite object, O, O is composed of (all and only) its parts O1, …, On, in every possible world in which O exists. Most philosophers maintain that mereological essentialism is false. My aim in the following paper is to show how mereological essentialism may in fact be true. I will do this by outlining a view of ordinary objects that embraces modal parts, the possible world analog of temporal parts. This view maintains that individuals are stretched out across possible worlds in the way that a temporal parts theorist maintains we are stretched out over time. Such a view of objects, I argue, renders mereological essentialism both intuitive and compelling. I will also gesture at the following conditional: if we have good reason to think that ordinary objects have temporal parts, then we have good reason to think that ordinary objects have modal parts as well. I will use only one example support this claim here: the Argument from Coincidence. I will not have the space here to develop any argument for modal parts fully, but I hope my brief discussion will serve as foreshadowing for how independent support for a modal part theory may be generated.
Jeffrey Brower, "Aquinas on the Problem of Universals"
Aquinas has much to say about the problem of universals. As it turns out, however, the version of the problem that he is addressing—call it ‘the medieval problem of universals’—is subtly different from the version more familiar from contemporary debates. In this paper, I clarify the nature of this difference and argue that it provides the key to understanding not only Aquinas’s own views, but a class of solutions that has yet to be considered in the contemporary context.
Christina van Dyke, "Metaphysics and Moral Character"
Situationists claim that contemporary social psychology shows us that we are (at best) deeply misguided in attributing explanatory behavioral power to moral character and virtues. In this paper, I argue that a neo-Aristotelian account of virtue grounded in a robust conception of human well-being and flourishing can avoid this critique. Furthermore, such an account avoids both the difficulties with current virtue theories such as Bob Adams’s, which concedes too much to the situationists, and the troubles with Rachana Kamtekar’s and Julia Annas’s, which don’t concede enough in attempting to maintain the unity of the virtues. At the same time, in drawing on Aristotelian metaphysical resources to ground a proper account of flourishing, my theory of virtue ethics appears prey to serious worries with that metaphysics—in particular, that the notion of teleology it relies on seems incompatible with evolutionary theory. I maintain, however, that we can give a philosophically meaningful account of what it means to flourish as a certain kind of thing without presupposing fixed species-natures. I end by suggesting that such an account can yield a theory of moral value that is not subject to what Sharon Street has called the ‘Darwinian Dilemma’.
David Manley, "The Book of the World and Two Stories of Language"
Linguistic semanticists provide truth-conditional theories that predict and explain natural language use. Among the desiderata for such theories are systematicity and a version of interpretive charity. Meanwhile, metaphysicians also offer truth-conditions, using the terms of their favored theories, for ordinary language claims. But it is far from clear how the two semantic projects differ in their desiderata. I will argue that we must rethink the virtues of systematicity and interpretive charity as they apply to the semantic project proper to metaphysics.