York’s first annual philosophy graduate conference starts tomorrow

York’s first annual philosophy graduate conference, titled "Philosophy in the 21st Century", starts tomorrow with philosophy Professor Mark Kingwell of the University of Toronto as keynote speaker, talking about the rapid changes in the lives of people in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The conference takes place on Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3 in 0014 TEL Building, Keele campus.

Kingwell will give an address titled "Philosophy as/and/of Art", at 4:30pm on Friday, looking at how the changes have impacted all aspects of people’s lives. "From technological advances and globalization, to the push toward interdisciplinarity and the knowledge-based economy, philosophy finds itself with a variety of new topics for speculation and analysis," says Kingwell. "At the same time, philosophy finds itself in the unique situation of having to defend its relevance in the contemporary world."

A Spitz Prize winner for political theory in 1997, Kingwell is interested in social and political theory; philosophy of art, architecture and design and 20th-century continental philosophy.

Right: Mark Kingwell

The conference kicks off at 9:30am with Nicolas McGinnis of the University of Western Ontario discussing his paper titled "Papineau without Kripke in Thinking about Consciousness". David Papineau’s book, Thinking About Consciousness (Oxford University Press, 2002), relies crucially on Kripke’s modal argument to establish that phenomenal concepts "refer directly". Recent experimental work, however, suggests that the appeals to intuition upon which the modal argument rest lack explicit theoretical justification.

"I will argue that without the modal argument Papineau’s claims concerning the properties of phenomenal concepts are far more difficult to defend and conclude with some remarks on a possible disquotational model," says McGinnis.

At 10:30am, York graduate student Olaf Ellefson presents "A Defence of Moral Intuitions". Ellefson will argue that the variability seen in philosophical intuitions is not as pernicious as is claimed, that philosophers’ reliance on intuitions is defensible and that experimental philosophy can help provide this defence.

Jeremy MacBean of the University of Western Ontario will tackle Wilfrid Sellars’ often overlooked philosophy of science in his talk, "Reconsidering Sellars’ Theory of Scientific Explanation" at 11:30am. At 1:30pm Michelle Ciurria of the University of Ottawa will present her paper, "A Defence of Options", which addresses the four plausible conditions of moral requirement as outlined by Shelly Kagan, but will argue that each of them provides a point of departure for defending moral options.

York’s Adam Rawlings will discuss "Explanatory Relevance and Moral Realism: Why Gilbert Harman Can’t be a Moral Relativist" at 2:30pm, followed by Kingwell’s keynote address.

On Saturday, graduate students will tackle everything from the relevance of ownership to moral responsibility and global reciprocity to partial citizenship and the metropolitan alternative.

For more information, e-mail pgsa@yorku.ca. For more details about speakers and topics, visit the Philosophy Graduate Students Associate Web site.