Last Year's Conferences and Talks

Dubrovnik Conference: “Beyond Contractarianism?”

Inter-University Center, Dubrovnik
June 13-17, 2016

Every year, the Ohio State Department of Philosophy hosts a joint conference with the University of Rijeka (Croatia) and the University of Maribor (Slovenia). Piers Turner and Eric MacGilvray (a professor in Ohio State’s political science department with courtesy appointment in philosophy) organized this year’s conference on the topic “Beyond Contractarianism?”

In the words of the organizers, the conference aimed to assess the dominant tradition in liberal political philosophy, sometimes called “public reason liberalism.” This tradition — associated with John Rawls, David Gauthier, Charles Larmore, Gerald Gaus and others — has been the subject of significant criticism recently. Nevertheless, it remains dominant within liberal theory due to the widespread recognition that legitimacy in a modern state must be sensitive to the circumstances of reasonable moral disagreement among those living within a society. It is often thereby argued that the coercive power of the state must be justified in terms that all reasonable citizens can accept; otherwise, it is not legitimate at all.

“Beyond Contractarianism?” explored the limits of, and considered possible alternatives to, this contractarian way of thinking. In particular, the conference addressed the following questions: (1) What qualifies a political position as “liberal”? (2) Do the ideals of reasonable consent and public justifiability provide a coherent and attractive basis for a liberal politics? (3) Is consequentialism – the view that the good is prior to, or subsumes, the right – compatible with liberalism?

Participants included, Richard Arneson (University of California-San Diego), Elvio Baccarini (University of Rijeka), Boran Berčić  (University of Rijeka), Thomas Christiano (University of Arizona), Ann Cudd (Boston University), David Estlund (Brown University), Amanda Greene (University College London), Eric MacGilvray (Ohio State University), Nenad Miščević (University of Maribor/Central European University), Fabienne Peter (University of Warwick), Enzo Rossi (University of Amsterdam), George Sher (Rice University), Nicholas Southwood (Australian National University), Rosa Terlazzo (Kansas State University) and Piers Turner (Ohio State University).

As in previous years, Boran Berčić and Nenad Miščević served as the local hosts.
Piers says, “As always, it was a truly beautiful setting for a conference and a wonderful opportunity to engage with a distinguished group of thinkers over an extended period of time.”


Sixth Annual Philosophy/Linguistics Workshop on Modality 

March 23-24, 2016
The Ohio State University

In each year since 2012, the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Linguistics have co-hosted a workshop on a specific topic relevant to both fields. In 2016, the workshop focused on the theme “Modality and Natural Language Metaphysics.”
Speakers from Ohio State included Professors Craige Roberts (linguistics) and Stewart Shapiro, who co-presented “Logical omniscience and the sense of epistemic modals,” and philosophy graduate student Giorgio Sbardolini, who delivered a talk entitled “An Aristotelian theory of modality.” Stewart also co-presented with Øystein Linnebo (University of Oslo) (“Potential Infinity: a modal account”), with philosophy graduate student Ethan Brauer providing comments. Two philosophy PhD candidates (now PhDs), Teresa Kouri and Eric Snyder, also participated as discussants.
External speakers included philosophers Andy Egan (Rutgers University) and Thony Gillies (Rutgers University) and linguists Angelika Kratzer (University of Massachusetts), Kai von Fintel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Stefan Kaufmann (University of Connecticut). 

Teresa Kouri reflects, “[T]he workshop was very productive. We had a great mix of linguists and philosophers, seven stimulating talks, and tons of interesting conversations about the talks.”

Social Metaphysics Workshop

Saturday, February 20, 2016
The Ohio State University

Miscellaneous Metaphysics, a working group organized and led by graduate students, coordinated its first workshop, on the theme of social metaphysics, held on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Presenters and presentations included: Katharine Jenkins, "Ontic Injustice;" Jenn Asselin, “Why Being a Dysfunction is Not Necessary for Being a Mental Disorder;” Aaron Griffith, “The Rights of Future Persons and the Metaphysics of Time;” Kate Ritchie, “Social Creationism and Social Groups.”

In 2017, Miscellaneous Metaphysics will host its second workshop, on the theme of metaphysics of art and music. The event will take place on Saturday, February 11.
In addition to its now-annual workshops, Miscellaneous Metaphysics has organized talks for the Department of Philosophy (see list of talks below).

Risk and Security Conference

April 8-9, 2016
The Ohio State University (Mershon Center)