Past Conferences

Workshop on Perspectival Thought: Fall 2010

We are pleased to be a co-sponsor of the Workshop on Perspectival Thought, which will take place on Thursday November 12 and Friday November 13 at the Franke Institute for the Humanities.  The program including the list of speakers and talks is given below.  We hope to see you all there!

This conference and the visit of Francois Recanati is made possible  through the generous support of the Chicago-France Center, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, The Departments of Linguistics and Philosophy, and the Workshop on Semantics and the Philosophy of Language.

Thursday, November 12

2pm-4pm  - Peter Lasersohn (UIUC)

I will argue that the distinction between those predicates which call for a contextualist analysis (such as left and right) and those which call for a relativist analysis (such as tasty and fun) corresponds to a cognitive difference between representations whose degree of “reliability” shifts when assessed egocentrically under imagined permutations of the assessor’s position, and those whose degree of reliability shifts only with authentically allocentric assessment.  I will speculate as to the role this distinction may have played in language evolution, and will develop a logical framework in which this distinction can be explored under various notions of “position”.

Commentary from Chris Kennedy (Chicago linguistics)

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4pm-4.30pm - Break

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4.30pm-6.30pm - John MacFarlane (Berkeley), “Varieties of Disagreement”

The concept of disagreement has been at the crux of recent debates between contextualists and relativists. In this talk, I argue here that my earlier focus on understanding what constitutes “genuine disagreement” distorts the dialectical situation in a way that is unfair to both contextualists and relativists. A better approach is to distinguish a number of different concepts or varieties of disagreement, and then ask which of these are present in the disputed discourses, and which are predicted by each of the rival semantic views.

Commentary from Nat Hansen (Chicago philosophy)

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Friday, November 13

10am-12pm - Michael Glanzberg (Davis), “The Linguistic Encoding of Perspective”

This paper will explore how language encodes features of perspective, focusing on temporal and spatial location. These have often been thought to require a form of relativism, and to provide motivation for more extensive relativist theses.  Looking at the examples of space and time, the paper comes to a non-relativist conclusion. It argues that language adopts strategies for encoding perspective that avoid relativism. At the same time, language does reveal internal structure which makes relativism a coherent and viable strategy, and perhaps, one that could have been taken at some stages of language development.  The paper explores the much-discussed argument that we can find evidence for or against relativism in the behavior of certain sorts of operators.  It shows that the assumptions that go into this argument fail. Doing so helps to map the kinds of strategies languages take to encoding perspective. It reveals ways in which language could have taken more relativist routes than it appears to have taken.  Thus, we can see in the development of language what a relativist language would have been like, but our languages appear to opt for alternative non-relativist strategies for encoding perspective.

Commentary from Itamar Francez (Chicago linguistics)

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12pm-1pm  - Lunch

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1pm-3pm - Pranav Anand (Santa Cruz), “Relatively Boring Imagination”

Recent work (Swanson 2005, Yalcin 2007, Stephenson 2007) has drawn attention to obviations of Moore’s Paradox under verbs of supposition and imagination. Stephenson (2007) argues that these facts are readily explainable once we operationalize the “inside”/”outside” distinction (cf. Ninan 2007, Recanati 2007), as in a relativist framework. This talk will analyze the paradox obviations without appealing to a relativist treatment of attitude content.

Commentary from Anastasia Giannakidou (Chicago linguistics)

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3pm-3.30pm - Break

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3.30pm-5.30pm - François Recanati (Institut Nicod/CNRS), “De se Thought and Immunity to Error through Misidentification”

For many authors, de se thoughts are a species of de re thought. In this talk, I argue that de se thoughts come in two varieties: explicit and implicit. While explicit de se thoughts can be construed as a variety of de re thought, implicit de se thoughts cannot : their content is thetic, while the content of de re thoughts is categoric. The notion of an implicit de se thought will be shown to play a central role in accounting for the phenomenon of immunity to error through misidentification, though not quite the role that is ascribed to it in Perspectival Thought.

Commentary from Jason Bridges (Chicago philosophy)