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2022 KEYNOTES

JOHN SUTTON 

PLACE AND MEMORY: NAVIGATING THE PAST TOGETHER

Place and memory are deeply entangled, and their relations studied in many disconnected fields. This talk sketches an account of embodied place memory as dynamic, social, and practical. It is not a distinct kind of memory, but might challenge standard taxonomies. I highlight three phenomena that should be more central to theories of spatial cognition: collaborative wayfinding, deep place knowledge, and the challenges of managing places with difficult pasts. In meshing themes from the cognitive and the social sciences, the talk aims to illustrate one integrative mode of applied philosophy of mind. 


GILLIAN RUSSELL

HUME'S LAW BEYOND LOGIC

The logical literature on Hume’s law contains several purported proofs of the claim that one cannot deduce an ought from an is. Some have held that these results—though correct—have no consequences for Hume’s Law outside of logic, where they maintain that there are valid, natural language arguments from descriptive premises to normative conclusions. The first part of this paper surveys the obstacles to translating the work in logic to the informal debate about Hume’s Law. The second part argues that one metalogical theorem does have consequences for the application of Hume’s Law to natural language arguments.


MONIMA CHADHA 

RESPONSIBILITY WITHOUT A SELF

The Abhidharma Buddhist no-self view is interpreted by classical and contemporary philosophers as a no-agent/no-authorship view.  However, if there are no agents, it seems that no one could be (morally) responsible for ‘their’ (morally evaluable) actions. This implication of the no-self view seems to be in tension with the Buddhist doctrine of karma, which states that all intentional actions have moral consequences. Buddhists agree that karmic merit/demerit is a (non-immediate) consequence of morally good/bad actions. This tension was highlighted in the classical debate with the Hindu opponents. In response the Abhidharma philosopher, Vasubandhu invokes the deluded subjective sense of a persisting self, ‘the idea of I’ to argue that karma can be explained without appeal to the self. In this paper, I develop and defend the claim that in the normative domain the ‘idea of I’ gives us the resources to construct a normative self-conception or practical identity (à la Korsgaard, Frankfurt, and Velleman). This normative self-conception, although it is mere construction based on the stream of impermanent psychophysical aggregates, is sufficient to sustain moral agency and responsibility. The commitment to a normative self-conception is consistent with Buddhist metaphysics and ethics: it does not entail commitment to the authorship view and is informed by Buddhist values.

BRYAN MUKANDI

PHILOSOPHY, THE MORNING AFTER

In Reading Descartes Otherwise: Blind, Mad, Dreamy, and Bad, Kyoo Lee suggests that ‘philosophy is the dream of the philosopher passingly unfolding itself’. I want to tarry with this idea, and think through its implications for our judgements regarding what constitutes a work of philosophy, philosophical methodology, and the composition of ‘our’ philosophical ‘community’. That is, in response to Lee’s suggestion, I want to grapple with what a philosophical project that is embarked on in the light of day might look like. Key to my thinking on this matter is Sylvia Wynter’s reading of Léopold Sédar Senghor’s Négritude, which I suspect offers a sound epistemic path towards the realisation of the ‘our’ and ‘community’ above.


JESSICA WHYTE

JEALOUSY OF TRADE, FROM THE SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT TO NEOLIBERALISM

In this talk, I trace the Scottish Enlightenment debates about what David Hume termed “jealousy of trade”—that is, the transformation of international commerce into a political concern of states and a cause of international conflict. I revisit these debates – in a context marked by new trade wars and military conflicts within a highly integrated global economy – in order to propose a new understanding of neoliberalism. Against the dominant understanding of neoliberalism as primarily an economic ideology, I argue that early neoliberals (notably Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises) drew from the Scottish Enlightenment to portray market competition as the necessary condition not of economic efficiency but of social and international peace. But I also show that they pioneered new forms of economic coercion to restrict the options of democratic polities and to pacify market societies.


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