Popper Seminar

  • Tuesday, 25 January 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Alan Musgrave
  • Otago
Alan Musgrave

Platonic entities do not exist in space or time, and do not do anything. Why should anyone believe in such entities? One way is to take seriously long-winded ('pleonastic') ways of speaking. That yields what has been called 'ontological minimalism'. I call it 'ontological maximalism' and criticise it.

Pure Epistemic Proceduralism in Deliberative Democracy

  • Tuesday, 8 February 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Fabienne Peter
  • Warwick

Fabienne Peter

Legitimacy plays a crucial role in theories of deliberative democracy. Given the rapid growth of the literature on deliberative democracy, it is not surprising that many different conceptions of legitimacy have been put forward - either explicitly or implicitly. In my talk, I shall first provide a taxonomy of conceptions of political legitimacy that can be identified in different theories of democracy. The taxonomy covers aggregative and deliberative democracy. I shall then argue for a conception of political legitimacy that takes the epistemic dimension in deliberative democracy seriously, but that avoids procedure-independent standards. I call this conception of political legitimacy in deliberative democracy "epistemic pure proceduralism".

Content and Confirmation

  • Tuesday, 22 February 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Ken Gemes
  • UCL

Ken Gemes

It is argued that both standard versions of hypothetico-deductivism and Bayesian confirmation theory are too permissive, in that they allow for the confirmation of irrelevant conjunctions, and too restrictive, in that they do not guarantee that confirmation is transmitted over all the content of a confirmed hypothesis. A new theory of logical content is utilized to construct versions of both hypothetico-deductivism and Bayesian confirmation that do not have these failings. It is argued that while the new version of hypothetico-deductivism does in fact capture much of the practice of working scientists it is inadequate as a complete theory of confirmation because of its too stringent demand for a deductive relation between theory and evidence. The revised version of Bayesian confirmation theory offers better prospects on this score.

The Problems of Micro-chance Reductionism

  • Tuesday, 7 June 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Carl Hoefer
  • Barcelona

Carl Hoefer

Our best descriptions of the micro-physical are found in quantum theories, and these theories give us probabilities for types of events at the micro-level. Whether or not these objective probabilities are rock-bottom (i.e., whether quantum theories admit some deterministic Bohmian underpinnings or not), they are objective and apparently reliable features of the microphysical. This has led some philosophers to advocate a strong reductionism about objective chances: the only "real" objective chances are those that "bubble up" from the micro-level probabilities. So, the chance of heads on my next coin flip, the chance of a Tory victory in the next elections, the chance of contracting lung cancer if you smoke two packs of Marlboros a day for ten year -- all these are claimed to supervene on the micro-level chances provided by quantum mechanics (or its correct successor.). If there are both macro-level chances (i.e., chances derived from a macro-level theory, or supervening purely on macro-level events) and micro-derived chances, then the latter are the ones we would ike to know, ideally I will argue that this chance reductionism is badly wrongheaded, both epistemically and ontologically. We cannot, save in exceptional cases, know the micro-derived chances for macro-level events; and even if we could know them, there is no good argument to show that they, rather than the macro-level chances, deserve to guide our expectations. The chances we can know, and that deserve to guide our expectations about macro-level events, are the macro-level chances.

The talk will cover some of the material presented in a rather long manuscript. To download it, click here|.

The Efficacy of Colour, Shape and Size

  • Tuesday, 21 June 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Tim Crane
  • UCL

Tim Crane

This paper presents an antinomy about the role of properties in metaphysical accounts of causation. If we think of causation in terms of counterfactual dependence, then there is a persuasive case (made, for example, by Stephen Yablo) for thinking that determinable properties (like redness) can be causes. But on the other hand, if we think of properties as the 'truth-makers' for predications, then it is arguable that only determinate properties (maximally specific shades of colour) are causes. But these claims cannot both be true; which should we deny?