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ABD workshop Fall 2019

The ABD workshop facilitates the professional development of graduate students by providing an opportunity for students to present and receive feedback on their work. ALL faculty and graduate students are encouraged to attend.

Meetings will be in 538 Hall of Languages.

For scheduling or further information, please contact Verena Erlenbusch-Anderson


Thursday, October 17, 6.30pm
Jan Swiderski, “Explanation, Understanding, and Metaphysical Coherentism”
Commentators: Bob Van Gulick, Ben Cook
Abstract: I propose a new approach to the question of the foundations of grounding, based on the connection between explanation and understanding. This approach is the product of two near-consensus doctrines: grounds explain, and explanations produce understanding. In the first part of the paper, I argue that, unless one of these plausible and widely-endorsed doctrines is rejected, we must recognize a new constraint on theories of grounding: such theories must be sensitive to the nature of understanding. The secondary goal of this paper is to argue that one popular analysis of understanding - according to which understanding is, roughly, achieved by recognizing relations of interdependence and mutual fit - supports metaphysical coherentism. According to this view, grounding relations constitute a coherent web, network, or system, with neither absolutely fundamental entities, nor an infinite descent of grounds.

Thursday, November 7, 6.30pm
Carolyn Garland, “Plural Persons, Practical Persons”
Commentators: TBA
Abstract: TBA

Thursday, November 21, 6.30pm
Yaojun Lu, “On the Self-blindness Objection to the Causal Theory of Introspection”
Commentators: TBA
Abstract: According to the causal theory, introspection is an inner sense in the same way that perceptual modalities are outer senses. The core theses of the causal theory are that (a) introspection involves a causal mechanism and that (b) the introspective awareness and the introspected phenomenon are independent of each other. Sydney Shoemaker argues that this theory entails the possibility of self-blindness in which an intelligent, rational, conceptually capable being is introspectively blind of its own mental state. Shoemaker concludes that self-blindness in intelligent, rational, conceptually capable beings is impossible which shows that the inner sense theory is implausible. In this paper, I argue that Shoemaker’s interpretation of the causal theory is too strong and consequently his argument doesn’t threaten the causal theory. The causal theory allows the subject to deploy attention and become introspectively aware of its own mental state, whereas in self-blindness the subject cannot be introspectively awareness of its own mental state even with the deployment of attention.


The ABD Workshop is read-ahead format. The appropriate length for papers ranges from conference length (3,000 words) to publication length (5,000-8,000 words), but not more than maximum length standard for publication (10,000 words).


9 days in advance: A reliable draft is due from the speaker to the commentator. At this time, the draft need not be final. However, it should be sufficiently reliable to allow the commentator adequate time to formulate comments.
7 days in advance: The final draft is due to be distributed to the department.
3 days in advance: The comments are due from the commentator to the speaker, allowing the speaker adequate time to formulate replies.


Presentation (20-30 minutes): The speaker presents the work and its place within the larger project. Time constraints prohibit reading the paper. However, they do not prohibit an appropriate summary of the main issues and arguments. If useful, handouts are welcome.
Comments (15 minutes maximum): The commentator presents comments. Comments may be read. If useful, handouts are welcome.
Reply (5-10 minutes): The speaker replies to points and issues raised by the commentator.
Discussion: The paper is open for Q&A and discussion. Appropriate topics include both philosophical issues raised by the paper (content) and issues relevant to professional development (form).