Public Events

Saturday, April 22nd

Meaning and Other Things: A Conference Celebrating the Work of Stephen Schiffer
9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Auditorium 101, 5 Washington Place


Una Stojnić (NYU/Columbia)
Karen Lewis (Barnard)
Ray Buchanan (University of Texas at Austin)
Hartry Field (NYU)
Crispin Wright (NYU)
Ian Rumfitt (Oxford University)

Sponsored by the New York Institute of Philosophy

For information, contact:


Friday, February 10th

Rage Against the Machine: Anger as a political emotion

The talk asks how we should respond to large scale social injustices like the pattern of police shootings to which the Black Lives Matter movement has called attention. The focus is on our moral and emotional responses: How should we feel when we take in this sort of sprawling and uncoordinated pattern of injustice? Whom should we blame? How should we judge? The natural response to injustice recognized as such is anger (moral outrage). But anger is a form of blame. For deep reasons, it is hard to stay angry at someone when one is genuinely uncertain about whether he is morally responsible for what he did. Confronted with large scale social injustice, this is our predicament: it is often quite hard to say, given our uncertainty about the underlying facts, who if anyone is to blame, both for concrete episodes of injustice and for the pattern as a whole. Our emotional response thus tends to oscillate between blame focused on individuals — which ebbs as we lose confidence in their blameworthiness — and an abstract frustration that is qualitatively quite different from anger. The aim of this talk is to ask whether there is a stable form of political anger that does not depend on judgments of blameworthiness in this way.  

Monday, September 26th

Inference to the Best Explanation and the Receipt of Testimony: Testimonial Reductionism Vindicated 
I develop a local reductionist account of what is required for testimonial beliefs to be justified, and argue that human recipients of testimony typically form their beliefs in accordance with these requirements. Recipients estimate the trustworthiness of a speaker’s assertion by constructing a mini-psychological theory of her, arriving at this by inference to the best explanation, and accept what they are told only if this theory has it that the speaker is expressing her knowledge. The existence of a social norm governing assertion, the knowledge norm, is a key factor making such an explanation accessible to recipients. This local reductionsm supports explanationism as a general account of the justification of empirical beliefs.

Speakers: Elizabeth Fricker (Magdalen College, Oxford)

Location: 5 Washington Place, Room 202

Monday, February 1st

Louise Hanson (Cambridge) "The Real Problem with Evolutionary Debunking Arguments" 
Monday February 1st, 1pm 
Location: 5 Washington Place, Room 202 

Speakers: Louise Hanson

Friday, February 26th - 

Friday, March 4th

Peter Railton "Intuition and Intuitions" 
Friday, February 26, 5pm, Lipton Hall (108 West Third St) 
Tuesday March 1st, 5pm, Jurow Hall (100 Washington Square East) 
Friday March 4th, 5pm, Jurow Hall (100 Washington Square East) 
A reception will follow each talk. 

Speakers: Peter Railton


The ideas of intuition and intuitions have played an important role in philosophy at least since the time of Aristotle, and are firmly established in everyday life, where we often speak of acting intuitively, or of relying upon intuitions when making up our minds about what to think or feel. While we often cannot explain why, intuition and intuitions seem to possess a kind of authority we are reluctant to ignore.


Despite the ubiquity of appeals to intuition and intuitions, these notions have never been entirely free of an air of mystery and concomitant doubt. And recent years have witnessed an intensification of this doubt, partly due to work in cognitive psychology and “experimental philosophy”.


In these talks I will be undertaking a qualified defense of intuition and intuitions, by developing a theory of what mental structures and processes might lie behind some of the most important appeals to intuition and intuitions in philosophy and everyday life. This defense takes empirical psychology seriously, and connects intuition and intuitions with a rethinking now underway of the fundamental architecture of the mind in intelligent animals such as ourselves—detailed study indicates the centrality of statistical learning and evaluative, model-based action guidance. It seems that a posteriori evidence and a priori normative considerations are converging, and that we now can see what intuition and intuitions might actually be, how they can be well-grounded, and also what particular limitations they can be expected to have.


Lecture 1 will introduce the notions of intuition and intuitions I will be using and connect them with some key uses in traditional and contemporary philosophy. I then will begin to present the substantive account of intuition and intuitions I am developing, using the case of ethical intuitions as the key focus. I will also present some evidence that this account affords a plausible explanation of how intuitions seem to work in some well-known “problem cases” in ethics, e.g., trolley problems, and what this might tell us about their authority.


Lecture 2 will continue to develop the substantive account, extending it to epistemology and the theory of action. We will consider arguments and evidence concerning the structure of intuitive knowledge, how it yields spontaneous learning, and how it coordinates the key elements of thought and action to make possible self-consciously rational thought and behavior. We will consider as well the vulnerabilities of intuitive knowledge, and what distinctive contribution self-conscious thought can make to overcoming them.


Lecture 3 will move into “meta” issues. Why might intuition and intuitions have a special role to play in philosophical analysis, and what might this tell us about how concepts operate in natural language? How might the present account of intuition and intuitions help resolve some of the challenges faced by naturalism in ethics and epistemology? I believe it is now possible to defend what I call the “strong program” in meta-normative naturalism, according to which the naturalist must discharge the burden of showing, not only that a naturalistic basis could in principle be given of key normative phenomena, but that such a grounding plausibly exists.

Friday, April 1st

Örsan Öymen "Scepticism in Sextus, Hume and Nietzsche" 
Friday, April 1, 12:30 p.m. 
5 Washington Place, Room 202 

Speakers: Örsan Öymen

Tuesday, May 10th

Sean Carroll (Caltech ) "Quantum Field Theory and the Limits of Knowledge" 
May 10th, 2pm 
5 Washington Place, Room 101 

Speakers: Sean Carroll

Friday, September 25th

Julia Wise "Effective Altruism" (Lunch Talk) 
Location: 6th floor lounge, 5 Washington Pl
Time: 1-2:30pm

Speakers: Julia Wise

Friday, October 16th

Tamar Gendler (Yale) Self-Regulation: A Recipe Book for Foragers 
Location: Jurow Hall, 100 Washington Square East
Time: 7–9 pm

What does it feel like to act virtuously? The western philosophical tradition offers two competing answers to this question. The first, commonly associated with Aristotle, tells us that virtuous actions should feel automatic and effortless; they are the result of long-term cultivation of character and habit. The second, commonly (and perhaps mistakenly) associated with Kant, tells us that virtuous actions involve effortfully overcoming inclinations to the contrary; they are the result of explicitly willing the correct action in the particular circumstance. Which of these pictures more accurately depicts real-life virtuous agents? Drawing on recent work in developmental, cognitive and social psychology, as well as historical and contemporary work in western philosophy, this talk offers reasons for thinking that the original dichotomy is mistaken, and that both pictures offer important insights on the nature and value of self-regulation.

Speakers: Tamar Gendler

Saturday, May 1st -

Monday, May 3rd

The Metaphysics of Quantity 
Schedule link 

Speakers: David Baker, Sam Cowling, Marco Dees, Cian Dorr, Maya Eddon, Niels Martens, Brent Mundy, Zee Perry, Brad Skow, Jessica Wilson

Location: NYU Philosophy Department, 5 Washington Place, Rooms 201 (Friday) and 101 (Saturday/Sunday)

Saturday, February 21st

Workshop on Clausal Complements, Truthmaking, and Attitudes 

Speakers: Jane Grimshaw, Wataru Uegaki, Kit Fine, Friederike Moltmann, Mark Richard

Thursday, March 5th -

Saturday, March 7th

Philosophy of Street Art: Art in & of the Street 

Speakers: Christiane Merritt, Shelby Moser, Roy T. Cook, Tony Chackal, Alison Young, Christopher Nagel, Alison Lanier, Angela Sun, Erich Hatala Matthes, Mary Beth Willard, Sondra Bacharach

Monday, April 27th

What is Music? 
Francis Wolff, Professor of Philosophy at the Ecole Normal Supérieure, Paris, will present a paper on "What is Music?" 
The discussion will be moderated by Paul Boghossian, Director of the New York Institute of Philosophy at NYU. 
A reception will follow. 

Speakers: Francis Wolff

Moderator: Paul Boghossian

Monday, September 15th

New York Philosophical Logic Group Meeting 
"Strict Truthmaking Logic"

Speakers: Mark Jago (University of Nottingham)

Monday, October 6th

New York Philosophical Logic Group Meeting 
"‘Plural logic and Sensitivity to Order"

Speakers: David Nicolas (Instutut Jean Nicod)

Saturday, October 18th - 

Sunday, October 19th

Workshop on Naturalistic Approaches to Ethics and Meta-ethics 

Speakers: Anthony Appiah, Max Barkhausen, Nic Bommarito, Justin D'Arms, Daniel Jacobson, Ryan Muldoon, Regina Rini, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Brian Skyrms, Jada Twedt Strabbing, Sharon Street

Location: New York University Philosophy Department, 5 Washington Place, Room 101

Monday, November 10th

New York Philosophical Logic Group Meeting 
Title TBD

Speakers: Joel Hamkins (CUNY)

Monday, December 8th

New York Philosophical Logic Group Meeting 
Title TBD

Speakers: Achille Varzi (Columbia University)


Friday, April 11th -

Sunday, April 13th


Research Workshop: Logical and Modal Space 

Speakers: Karen Bennett, Cian Dorr, Kit Fine, Peter Fritz, Jeremy Goodman, Agustín Rayo, Robert Stalnaker, Meghan Sullivan, Timothy Williamson






Friday, April 18th -

Friday, April 25th


Lecture: New York Institute of Philosophy Lectures 
Inaugural Lecturer: Stephen Yablo, MIT

April 18th (40 Washington Square South, Greenberg Lounge)
April 22nd (40 Washington Square South, Greenberg Lounge)
April 25th (5 Washington Place, Room 101)

Lecture from 5-7pm each evening, with a reception to follow

Topics and Topicology

Sentences “express” propositions and are “about” topics, or subject matters. These two types of semantic correlate have traditionally been treated separately. But it is possible to combine them into a single object, a so-called directed proposition. A theory of directed propositions is developed and applied to issues such as asserted content, conditionals, desire, and obligation.






Saturday, May 10th


Workshop on Imperatives 
Organizer: Friederike Moltmann
10.00 - 11.30: Kit Fine (NYU): Compliance and Command
11.30 - 11.45: Coffee Break
11.45 - 13.15: Daniel Harris (CUNY): Imperatives in Speech-Act-Theoretic Semantics
13.15 - 14.45: lunch break
14.45 - 16.15: Nate Charlow (Toronto): The Meaning of Imperatives
16.15 - 16.30: Coffee Break
16.30 - 18.00: Magdalena Kaufmann (UConn): Embedded Imperatives

Speakers: Kit Fine, Daniel Harris, Nate Charlow, Magdalena Kaufmann

Location: New York University Philosophy Department, 5 Washington Place, 2nd floor






Friday, May 16th -

Saturday, May 17th


Value and Virtue in Ethics and Epistemology 

Speakers: Thomas Hurka, Julia Driver, Barry Maguire, Bradford Cokelet, Sukaina Hirji, Paulina Sliwa, Daniel Star, Kurt Sylvan






Friday, January 25th -

Sunday, January 27th


Conference on the Philosophy of Kit Fine 

Speakers: Joseph Almog, Mircea Dumitru, Kit Fine, Rob Goldblatt, Paul Horwich, Paul Hovda, Kathrin Koslicki, Gary Ostertag, Philip Percival, James Pryor, Gideon Rosen, Jessica Wilson

Location: New York University Philosophy Department, 5 Washington Place, Room 101


NYU will host a conference on the philosophy of Kit Fine on January 25-27, 2013, jointly sponsored by the New York Institute of Philosophy, the NYU Philosophy Department, the University of Bucharest and Oxford University Press. The conference will be held in the NYU philosophy department auditorium at 5 Washington Place and will feature many of the contributors to a new volume of essays on Fine's work, edited by Mircea Dumitru and forthcoming with Oxford University Press.


Friday, January 25
2.15 - 2.30: Opening remarks by Paul Boghossian, Director of NYIP
2.30 - 4: Gideon Rosen, "What is normative necessity?"
4.30 - 6: Jessica Wilson, "Essence and dependence: methodology and application in Fine's schema-based metaphysics"
6 - 7.30: Reception, sponsored by Oxford University Press

Saturday, January 26
9.30 - 11 Paul Hovda: "Finean mereology"
11.30 - 1 Philip Percival: "Metaphysics of the first order"
2.30 - 4 Kathrin Koslicki: "Essence and individuation"
4.30 - 6 Shamik Dasgupta: "The possibility of physicalism"

Sunday, January 27
9.30 - 11 Mircea Dumitru: "Fine's semantic relationist view on meaning"
11.30 - 1 Gary Ostertag: "Fine on Kripke's puzzle"
2.30 - 4 Jim Pryor: "The essence and the inevitability of hyper-evaluative semantics"
4.30 - 6 Kit Fine: "Truthmaking"






Thursday, March 21st - 

Saturday, March 23rd


Vagueness in Law: Philosophical and Legal Approaches 
co-sponsored by Humbolt University and NYIP

Speakers: Brian Bix, Delia Graff Fara, Geert Keil, Andrei Marmor, Ralf Poscher, Diana Raffman, Stephen Schiffer, Lawrence M. Solan, Lawrence B. Solum, Jeremy Waldron

Location: New York University Philosophy Department, 5 Washington Place, Room 202


One of the fundamental pillars of the rule of law is legal certainty. It puts people in a position to use law as a guide by requiring judges to decide like cases alike. Vagueness, irrespective of what its sources are, poses a threat to this ideal. Since vague expressions are almost ubiquitous in our language, their use in legal texts is virtually inevitable. As a result, the problem of deciding whether a general law applies to a particular case often lacks a clear answer. On the one hand, this may give judges space for discretion, which they can use to pay respect to the peculiarities of the case; but on the other hand, it seems to decrease the rule of law and to increase the rule of men. How much discretion is too much? What is the value of vagueness for law, and when does vagueness turn into a deficit?

Vagueness also gives rise to the assumption is either true or false. Given this, we have to question judicial bivalence, according to which, for example, actions are either legal or illegal and defendants guilty or innocent. Given the ubiquity of vagueness, is there any rational justification for juridical bivalence apart from taking it as a mere technical device? How much does the significance of juridical bivalence depend on which theoretical approach to vagueness is correct?

Bivalence is but one example of how different philosophical and linguistic theories of vagueness may influence the ways we deal with cases involving vague expressions and problematic demarcations. As almost every socially relevant question of drawing a border eventually becomes the object of legal adjudication, it is of particular importance to discuss the practical implications of theories of vagueness for legal contexts and to develop and implement procedures of dealing reasonably with vague legal language. At the same time, and for the same reason, there is no better field to test the solutions and strategies those theories provide than the domain of law.

Conference Program:

Thursday, March 21

14.15 GEERT KEIL / RALF POSCHER Introduction
14.30 ANDREI MARMOR Varieties of Vagueness in the Law
15.10 ADAM KOLBER Commentary on Andrei Marmor's Talk
16.00 STEPHEN SCHIFFER Philosophical and Jurisprudential Issues of Vagueness
16.40 ANDREE WEBER Commentary on Stephen Schiffer's Talk
17.45 FREDERICK SCHAUER Vagueness, Open Texture, and Defeasibility in the Rule of Recognition and the Sources of Law

Friday, March 22

9.30 DELIA GRAFF FARA The Vagueness of Racial Categories
11.00 DIANA RAFFMAN Vagueness, Divergence, and Disagreement in Philosophy and the Law
11.40 MATTHIAS KIESSELBACH Commentary on Diana Raffman's Talk
14.00 RALF POSCHER Interpretation, Construction and Vagueness in Law
15.30 LAWRENCE SOLUM Originalism and Constitutional Construction
17.00 BRIAN BIX Vagueness and Political Choice in Law

Saturday, March 23

9.30 LAWRENCE SOLAN In Search of Vagueness: Pernicious Ambiguity in American Contract Law
11.00 JEREMY WALDRON Clarity, Thoughtfulness and the Rule of Law






Friday, October 22nd -

Sunday, October 24th


Conference on the Nature of Taste 

Speakers: Dominique Valentin, Carolyn Korsmeyer, Morten Kringlebach, Barry Smith, Roger Scruton

Location: University of London






Saturday, November 20th


Workshop on the Phenomenology of Synesthesia 
Carol Steen, "Do you see what I see?" Lawrence Marks, "Three (scientific) questions about synesthesia". Berit Brogaard, "Does color synesthesia differ phenomenally from visual imagery?"

Speakers: Berit Brogaard, Patricia Lynn Duffy, Lawrence Marks, Maureen Seaberg, Carol Steen






Friday, October 30th -Saturday, October 31st, 9:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m.

Lecture: Denis Dutton Lecture in Philosophy 
Denis Dutton, author of, The Art Instinct, (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)

Speakers: Denis Dutton

Location: New York University Philosophy Department, 5 Washington Place Room 101


Friday, January 23rd,

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Workshop on Perception, Action, and the Self 
Jointly sponsored by Transitions, the CNRS/NYU Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the New York Institute of Philosophy.

Speakers: Mel Goodale, Amanda Woodward, Patrick Haggard and Hakwan Lau.

Location: New York University Philosophy Department, 5 Washington Place, 2nd floor seminar room.

Saturday, December 8th

Panel discussion on Church and State and Public Science Education 
Hosted by the Project on Science and Religion.

Speakers: Ronald Dworkin, Kent Greenawalt, Noah Feldman, and Jeremy Waldron

Tuesday, November 13th

Launch of the NYIP 
Lecture by Professor Ronald Dworkin titled "Can We Disagree About Law or Morals?" Comments by Professor Gideon Rosen.


Watch the video here.

Wednesday, May 9th

Public Discussion of Explanation, Epistemology, and Intelligent Design 
Hosted by the Science and Religion Project. 

Speakers: Alvin Plantinga, Philip Kitcher, H. Allen Orr, and Michael Behe

Location: New York University Philosophy Department, 5 Washington Place, 2nd floor seminar room.