Monte Cairns, University of Melbourne
Winner of Best Paper
Abstract. This paper addresses the contingency/inevitability debate, which asks essentially whether scientific theories are epistemically guaranteed given successful inquiry, or partially determined by unguaranteed social and psychological factors. In other words, participants in the debate ask whether changes to historical conditions might feasibly have resulted in the development of scientific theories alternative to our own. Here, I address the issue in regard to the extant alternative non-relativistic quantum theories of the standard and de Broglie-Bohmian quantum models. The existence of these long-term viable, alternative theories regarding the same phenomena has made quantum mechanics a seminal case study for the debate. Taking James Cushing and Lena Soler as representative of contingentists, and Ian Hacking and Steven Weinberg as representative of inevitabilists, I argue that contrary to appearances contingentists and inevitabilists are not in substantive disagreement regarding quantum mechanics. Contingentists hold that quantum ontologies are contingent, whereas inevitabilists hold that empirical results and the nomological structure provided by Schrödinger’s equation are inevitable. These views are mutually sustainable. Thus, the philosophical tension of the debate evaporates, leaving us with a surprisingly large degree of contingency that is nonetheless consistent with inevitabilist claims.
Monte Cairns has recently completed his BA (hons) in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne and is presently completing an MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine at the University of Cambridge. He is interested in integrated approaches to HPS, with an aim towards resolving philosophical issues through historical and historiographic work.
Christian Carbonell, University of Barcelona
Winner of Best Paper (Member of an Underrepresented Group in Philosophy)
Abstract. In this paper I offer a systematic account of actions of trust and inquire into their cognitive motivation. I first develop the distinction and relationship between attitudes and actions of trust, and then assess Paul Faulkner’s thesis that the Humean model cannot explain the cognitive motivation of some actions of trust under circumstances of uncertainty. While I will accept his diagnosis, I will contend that a weaker version of the Humean model could provide this explanation. My proposal will be an attempt to show why some doxastic characteristics of trust would allow for this analysis. In particular, I will show how the nature of the reliance relation, which constitutes actions of trust, requires that trustors believe in the possibility of accomplishing their intentions by means of the trusted party’s collaboration. I will argue that this means-end belief can cognitively motivate trust even in situations where the trustor is uncertain as to whether the trusted party will prove trustworthy.
Christian Carbonell is pursuing a Master’s degree in analytic philosophy at the University of Barcelona,
Spain. He is interested in human behaviour at large, with a special interest in its ethical and epistemic
dimensions, and is currently studying the effects that different kinds of ignorance have on intentional and
Tiago Carneiro Da Silva, Federal University of Rio De Janeiro
Abstract. In this essay, my ultimate aim is to show that the method of wide reflective equilibrium (MWRE) can be improved in a way that allows us to detect self-evident propositions in a reasonably effective way. In order to do this, I first argue that appealing to self-evidence does not have to be considered a dogmatic approach in the search for moral justification. I do this while describing characteristics of self-evidence that are worth considering in devising a moral methodology. This allows us to see how the search for self-evident propositions may be compatible with the MWRE. I then defend that the method is not as radically opposed to the appeal to self-evidence as it has commonly assumed. When doing this, I argue that the MWRE is more effective in leading us to find self-evident beliefs than one might initially expect. Finally, based on some features self-evident beliefs have, I propose that, in addition to following the steps that the MWRE requires us to follow, we should meet two further requirements in order to detect self-evident propositions in a more effective way. Furthermore, the resulting methodological proposal, I argue, can be desirable even if there happens to be no self-evident propositions.
Tiago Carneiro has recently completed his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the Federal University of Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil. He is currently looking to pursue a master’s degree and carry out research on moral
Yunlong Cao, Johns Hopkins University
Abstract. Readers of Stoic ethics may find ‘benefit’ (ōpheleia) an essential but enigmatic concept. It directly connects to some critical terms of Stoic ethics, such as ‘good’ and ‘virtue,’ but there is no extant discussion of a definition. Beyond the superficial connections, what makes ‘benefit’ beneficial? Why is benefit a good thing? I argue that these essential questions remain unanswerable for a good reason: Stobaeus committed to a specious claim about benefit in his Anthology, which has misguided later commentaries. Either the Stoics themselves made a stronger contrast between sages and inferior people at the cost of coherence, or Stobaeus simply mischaracterized the Stoics’ ideas in his descriptions. This paper aims to clarify Stobaeus’s inaccurate description and reconstruct a coherent and comprehensible interpretation of benefit in the Stoic spirit, with the help of Stoic cosmology. To benefit is to further nature’s agreement. Given the available evidence, I argue that Stoics seem to, or should, be committed to my interpretation. This paper is structured as follows. Section 1 offers a quick background of Stoic ethics. Section 2 discusses two important characteristics of benefit. Section 3 discusses Stobaeus’s description of benefit and inferior people. Section 4 attempts an interpretation of benefit. Finally, Section 5 discusses Inwood and Gerson’s interpretation and argues that it is inadequate.
Yunlong Cao is pursuing a combined graduate degree in philosophy at Johns Hopkins University. His main
philosophical interests are epistemology, metaphysics, and the history of philosophy.
Martin Walter Niederl, University of Vienna
Abstract. In his latest paper on animal agency, Glock (2019) presents a series of arguments to the extent that non-linguistic animals are capable of acting rationally and for reasons. This notwithstanding, he still denies them the ability to conceptualise reasons as reasons. I will argue that, in using Glock’s account, one can in fact claim that non- linguistic animals are capable of conceptualising reasons as reasons. For this, I will apply Glock’s own criteria for concept-possession to the concepts of a reason and of intention. My argument will thus be twofold. First, I will directly argue for the idea that animals can conceptualise reasons as reasons. Second, I will refer to empirical research suggesting that animals attribute intentions to others. If the ability to conceptualise intentions really is necessary for conceptualising reasons, then this research should provide further plausibility to the claim that animals can conceptualise reasons as reasons. I thus submit that my arguments will further improve upon Glock’s account by (1) showing that animals can conceptualise reasons as reason, (2) lending further support to the idea that non-human animals can act rationally, and (3) providing some initial foundation for the claim that they can reason.
Martin W. Niederl is a philosophy undergraduate at the University of Vienna, Austria. His research interests
converge on the nature and normativity of practical reasons, as well as their connection to agency and moral