Friday, January 17th - Mudd Hall of Philosophy, Room 101

2:45 - 4:15pm: Trenton Merricks

"Logical Validity and Modal Validity"

An argument is logically valid just in case it preserves the truth of its premises in virtue of its form. An argument is modally valid just in case, necessarily, if its premises are true, then its conclusion is true. I defend some claims about the relation between logical validity and modal validity. I then show that those claims have interesting implications, including both a new solution to Kripke's puzzle of belief and also the thesis that modal knowledge is prior to knowledge of logical validity.

Chair: Li Kang


4:30 - 6:00pm: Alexander Pruss

"Quantifiers, quasi-quantifiers and ordinary language"

Chair: Asya Passinsky


7:00pm:  Dinner at Pitfire Pizza (108 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles)


Saturday, January 18th - The Tutor Campus Center, Room 232

10:00 - 11:30am:  Amie Thomasson

"Ordinary Objects and Easy Ontology"

As Bob Hale and Crispin Wright have argued for the case of numbers, and Stephen Schiffer has argued for properties, propositions, and other entities, we can often make easy arguments for the existence of contested entities by making by trivial inferences from uncontroversial premises. So, for example, one can argue from ‘the shirt is red’ to ‘the shirt has the property of redness’ to ‘there is a property’. I have argued elsewhere that this procedure can be extended: that we can also use easy arguments to settle debates about the existence of ordinary objects such as tables and chairs. In this paper I discuss what difference expanding the program in this way makes to understanding easy ontology and its consequences. I will argue that it makes a big difference, for it shows that the resulting entities cannot be understood as ‘ontologically deflated’ or having any sort of reduced causal or epistemic status. What is deflated by easy arguments is not the entities we are committed to, but rather ontological debates about such entities.

Chair:  Anthony Shiver


11:45 - 1:15pm:  Dan Korman

"Debunking Perceptual Beliefs About Ordinary Objects"

Debunking arguments are arguments that purport to undermine a range of beliefs by showing that there is no appropriate explanatory connection between those beliefs and their subject matter. Arguments of this sort rear their heads in a wide variety of domains, threatening beliefs about morality, mathematics, logic, color, and the existence of God. Perceptual beliefs about ordinary objects, however, are widely thought to be invulnerable to such arguments. I will show that this is a mistake. I articulate a debunking argument that purports to undermine our most basic perceptual beliefs (developing some remarks in Heller, Sider, Merricks, Hawthorne, and others). I challenge a number of natural responses to the argument, including the “permissivist” response that there are a plenitude of objects before us, virtually guaranteeing the accuracy of our object beliefs.

Chair:  Matt Leonard


1:15 - 2:45pm:  Lunch


2:45 - 4:15pm:  Irem Kurtsal Steen

"Ordinary Objects for Plenitude Lovers"

If we adopt two constraints on our ontology, 1) that our ontology should be consistent with the existence of ordinary objects, and 2) that existence and identity cannot obtain indeterminately, we are drawn to the metaphysic of plenitude—that every filled region of spacetime contains an object that persists exactly through (the temporal axis of) that region. This metaphysic is meant to satisfy both constraints: all ordinary objects are included; in fact many, many, more objects are included. But while the many precise cat-candidates provide the excellent backdrop for linguistic theories of vagueness, for lovers of ordinary objects they make for too many poor substitutes. Three complaints are common. Some worry about the “cheapness” of objects. The cat, the carpet, and their sum are on a par, which deflates the significance of the cat or the carpet. Another worry is that the ontology yields too many cats. A third reaction against the plenitude is that it actually has not met the ordinary object constraint, because cats and carpets are supposed to be fuzzy, not precise. In this paper I offer a view whose primary goal is to respect this last intuition, i.e. to affirm ordinary objects as in some sense fuzzy. Once the framework for doing this is in place, I say more about how we may go about restricting ordinary objecthood so that both the count of cats in the house matches common sense and a status difference between ordinary objects and gerrymandered kinds emerges.

Chair:  Kenny Pearce


4:30 - 6:00pm: Jessica Wilson

"The Emergence of Ordinary Objects"

Chair: Nathan Howard


Sunday, January 19th Mudd Hall of Philosophy, Room 101

10:00am - 12:00pm: Special Session - Peter van Inwagen and Trenton Merricks

"Inside and Outside the Ontology Room" - Peter van Inwagen

Response - Trenton Merricks

Chair: Kenneth Silver