Drew Johnson: “Disjunctive Luminosity”

Read graduate student Drew Johnson's recent article in Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, "Disjunctive Luminosity."

*Abstract*

Williamson's influential anti‐luminosity argument aims to show that our own mental states are not “luminous,” and that we are thus “cognitively homeless.” Among other things, this argument represents a significant challenge to the idea that we enjoy basic self‐knowledge of our own occurrent mental states. In this paper, I summarize Williamson's anti‐luminosity argument, and discuss the role that the notion of “epistemic basis” plays in it. I argue that the anti‐luminosity argument relies upon a particular version of the basis‐relative safety condition on knowledge. This commitment is significant because basic self‐knowledge seemingly lacks any kind of distinct epistemic basis, such as inference, observation, testimony, etc., despite representing a genuine kind of knowledge of contingent matters of fact. I consider a disjunctivist account (due to Bar‐On and Johnson), according to which true basic self‐beliefs indeed lack an epistemic basis in any kind of epistemic method (such as inference), yet are still epistemically grounded in the mental states they concern. I argue that this account of self‐knowledge is compatible with standard understandings of the basis relative safety condition on knowledge, but rejects the particular version required by the anti‐luminosity argument.

 

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Tracy Llanera: The Women Doing Philosophy Group in the Philippines

At the height of the pandemic crisis in 2020, Filipino women philosophers everywhere gathered virtually to form the group Women Doing Philosophy. Read two feature essays about the organization in the APA-Black Issues in Philosophy Blog:

  • “To Slay a Specter: on the Founding of the Women Doing Philosophy Group in the Phillippines” by Cass Teodosio, University of the Philippines
  • “In/Visible Brown Babes: Synthesis of the Brown Babe’s Burden 2020” by Tracy Llanera, University of Connecticut

Ruth Garrett Millikan Graduate Fellowship Matching Challenge

A “match challenge” has been made in support of the Ruth Garrett Millikan Fellowship Fund. Anonymous donors have pledged $1000, which will be contributed to this fund by December 31 if others have collectively contributed that same amount by that date.

 

The Millikan Fellowship fund is used to support ABD grad students for a summer of dissertation writing or related professional development, by providing them with a sum that they’d otherwise earn by teaching a summer course. They also receive research funds to purchase books, pay for conference registration, and, where appropriate, travel. Thus far there have been four holders of the Fellowship: Andrew Tedder (2018), Drew Johnson (2019), Jordan Ochs (2019), and Ryo Tanaka (2020). This spring the Department of Philosophy will select another holder of the Fellowship for the summer of 2021. As the balance of the fund grows, we will get closer to being able to use the income it generates to support a grad student for a semester of dissertation writing, and then, eventually, for an entire dissertation year fellowship.

 

Please consider giving what you can.

Sandy Grande: New Faculty in Social Justice Bring Diverse Voices to UConn

Sandy Grande

Excerpted from UConn Today

The department is pleased to welcome Sandy Grande who will be a professor in the political science department with an affiliate appointment in the philosophy department. She identifies as a Quechua national and comes to UConn as part of the Native American and Indigenous studies cluster hire. Previously, Grande was a professor of education and director of the Center for the Critical Study of Race and Ethnicity at Connecticut College. Her research works across the fields of Native American and Indigenous studies, contemporary political theory, education, and comparative ethnic studies.

Grande was recently awarded the Ford Foundation Senior Fellowship to complete a new book tentatively titled, Indigenous Elders and the Decolonial Elsewhere of Aging, which presupposes that there is something to be learned, politically and pedagogically, about the colonial present through the study of Elders and older adults. She is also a founding member of New York Stands for Standing Rock, a group of scholars and activists that works to forward the aims of Native American and Indigenous sovereignty and resurgence.

Stewart Shapiro in 2019 Philosopher’s Annual

Stewart Shapiro

Stewart Shapiro’s article, ‘Actual and Potential Infinity,’ co-authored with Oystein Linnebo, and published in Nous, vol. 53 (pp. 160-191), has been selected by The Philosopher’s Annual for inclusion as one of the ten best philosophy articles published in 2019.

Abstract

The notion of potential infinity dominated in mathematical thinking about infinity from Aristotle until Cantor. The coherence and philosophical importance of the notion are defended. Particular attention is paid to the question of whether potential infinity is compatible with classical logic or requires a weaker logic, perhaps intuitionistic.

In Memoriam: John Troyer

John Gordon Troyer (1943-2020)

With great sorrow we report the death of Associate Professor Emeritus John G. Troyer, who died on August 11, 2020 surrounded by family. He was a beloved colleague, generous with his time, who took great interest in the work of the rest of the department members. He was always willing to read and give helpful comments on one’s latest essay.

John received his B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1965, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1967 and 1971. He was brought to the University of Connecticut in 1970 by then Department Head Jerome Shaffer as part of an initiative to build up the research profile of the Philosophy Department, spending his entire teaching career here. He spent the 1969-70 academic year at Oxford on a Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship from Harvard. He received a National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Humanist Fellowship in 1974 and became an inaugural Member of Common Room at Wolfson College, Oxford in 1977.

Most notable among his publications were a special issue of Sythese in 1974, Intentionality, Language, and Translation jointly edited with Samuel C. Wheeler, III, that included papers from a widely acclaimed international conference they hosted at UConn; an essay “Locke on the Names of Substances,” first published in 1975 and reprinted in 1992 in a volume on Locke edited by Vere Chappell; and a 1997 collection entitled In Defense of Radical Empiricism: Essays and Lectures by Roderick Firth, on whose work John was a world expert.

Troyer was a superb chess player. Once after winning the New Mexico state championship he was accosted by the great George Koltanowski as well as the then champion of California and told not to go into chess because there was no future in it. He was an indefatigable squash player who beat almost everyone he played, clearly manifesting genes from his father who broke the University of Michigan 50-yard dash record in a gym class and who became a golden gloves boxer in the Navy. Among other quirks, John was a beekeeper who produced a peerless dark honey and an expert on the Shroud of Turin.