The University of Southern California will be hosting the 7th annual California Metaphysics Conference, January 19th-21st, 2018. This year’s topic is Social Metaphysics!

Attendance is open (and free) to all who would like to come, but you must register by emailing kleinsch [at] usc [dot] edu no later than December 15, 2016.  Please include your full name and university affiliation in the email.  You will not receive a confirmation email, but your name should appear on the list of participants within 30 days.  Also, let me know if you are a graduate student from outside CA and you are interested in being an assistant organiser!


  • Tyler Andrews – Western Washington University

    Mike Ashfield – University of Southern California

    Andrew Bacon – University of Southern California

    Mark Balaguer – California State University, Los Angeles

    Elizabeth Barnes – University of Virginia

    Rima Basu – University of Southern California

    Ben Beamer – University of Arizona

    Xiaomeng Bu – University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    Hien Bui – Westmont College

    Rebecca Chan – San Jose State University

    Robin Dembroff – Yale University

    Alex Dietz – University of Southern California

    Luke Donner – Westmont College

    Brian Epstein – Tufts University

    Maegan Fairchild – University of Southern California

    Ben Fan – Biola University

    Paul Garofalo – University of Southern California

    Sandy Goldberg – Northwestern University

    Jeremy Goodman – University of Southern California

    Noah Gordon – University of Southern California

    Jasmine Gunkel – University of Southern California

    Bixin Guo – University of Southern California

    Michael Hardimon – University of California, San Diego

    Jennifer Head – University of Southern California

    Jack Himelright – University of Notre Dame

    Frank Hong – University of Southern California

    Mahmoud Jalloh – University of Southern California

    Carrie Jenkins – University of British Columbia

    Robin Jeshion – University of Southern California

    Nathan Johnston – University of Southern California

    Nicola Kemp – University of Southern California

    Savannah Kincaid – Rutgers University

    Shieva Kleinschmidt – University of Southern California

    Zachary Kofi – Rutgers University

    Matt Leonard – University of Southern California

    Lisa Martinez – University of California, Santa Cruz

    Rebecca Mason – University of San Francisco

    Elli Neufeld – University of Southern California

    Laurie Paul – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    Quyen Pham – University of Southern California

    Tim Pickavance – Biola University

    Jeff Russell – University of Southern California

    Kate Ritchie – City College of New York

    Kylie Shahar – California State University, Long Beach

    Sam Shpall – University of Sydney

    Kenneth Silver – University of Southern California

    Joshua Spencer – University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

    Alberto Tassoni – University of California, Berkeley

    Eric Tracy – University of California, Los Angeles

    Gabriel Uzquiano – University of Southern California

    Jim Van Cleve – University of Southern California

    Kadri Vihvelin – University of Southern California

    Gary Watson – University of Southern California

    Josh Wisotsky

    Evan Woods – Ohio State University

    Jacob Zellmer – University of California, San Diego


All talks will be in Mudd Hall, room 101.

  • 1:00 – 2:30pm: “Towards a Philosophy of Poverty” – Joshua Spencer

    Chair: Matt Leonard


    2:45 – 4:15pm: “Why Must the Metaphysics of Race be Pluralistic?” – Michael Hardimon

    Chair: Jack Himelright


    4:30 – 6:00pm: “Transformative Social and Technological Change” – Laurie Paul

    Chair: Rebecca Chan


    6:30pm: Dinner at Mercado La Paloma – 3665 S. Grand Ave, about a 10 minute walk from the conference

  • 9:30 – 11:00am: “Is Feeling First? Distinguishing Phenomenal and Agential Love” – Carrie Jenkins

    Chair: Mike Ashfield


    11:15 – 12:45pm: “The Metaphysics of Oppressive Categories” – Robin Dembroff

    Chair: Savannah Kincaid


    12:45 – 2:30pm: Lunch


    2:30 – 4:00pm: “Social Groups and Solving the Reification Problem for Identity Politics” – Kate Ritchie

    Chair: Jen Head


    4:15 – 5:45pm: “Beyond Parts and Relations: Implications of the Metaphysics of Social Groups” – Brian Epstein

    Chair: Eleonore Neufeld


    6:30pm: Dinner at 800 Degrees Pizzaria – 800 Wilshire Blvd, downtown Los Angeles a 2 minute walk from the 7th st. metro

  • 10:00 – 11:30am: “Toward an Analogical Theory of Health” – Elizabeth Barnes

    Chair: Kenneth Silver


    11:45 – 1:15pm: “Social Kinds, Essence, and Dependence” – Rebecca Mason

    Chair: Tyler Andrews


    1:15 – 2:45pm: Lunch


    2:45pm: meet at the Expo Line across the street from the Philosophy Department for a trip to the beach, followed by dinner wherever you’d like in Santa Monica

  • Information about the talks:

    • All talks will be in Mudd Hall, room 101.  (But check this page within a week of the conference to confirm.)
    • Talks will be 90 minutes each, with the time divided between the presentation and the Q&A however the speaker prefers.
    • Three of the talks, by Carrie Jenkins, Brian Epstein, and Elizabeth Barnes, will be delivered remotely.

    Information about Food and Recreation:

    • Friday night we recommend getting dinner at Mercado La Paloma (3655 S. Grand Ave), followed by drinks at The Lab (3500 Figueroa St).
    • Saturday night there will be a conference dinner at 800 Degrees Pizzaria (800 Wilshire Blvd)
    • Sunday, for recreation following the talks, we’ll take the Expo Line to the beach and then get dinner in Santa Monica. There will not be any organized conference event for dinner, but you are welcome to organize however you’d like.

Travel and Lodging

  • The official conference hotel is The Biltmore, located in downtown Los Angeles.  (506 South Grand Avenue.  213-624-1011)  We have secured a special conference rate, but it’s still incredibly expensive.  To get a room with this rate, make your reservation online by clicking this link.  (It’s important that you use that link, rather than just their general website.  The hotel has grouped us with a wedding event in order to give us a special rate.  So when you click the link you’ll see a title for a wedding event, but that’s still the right place for you to make the reservation.)  You can also make a reservation by calling 213.612.1575 and mentioning code 1806WEDMJB to get the special rate.

    However, because the Biltmore is so expensive, you might consider alternatives:  my top suggestions are that you stay either at the the Radisson near USC, or that you check out AirBNB.

    The Radisson is within walking distance of the Philosophy Department, where the talks will be held, as well as near the Friday dinner and drinks locations.  The Biltmore is within walking distance of several restaurants and public transit links, as well as the Saturday dinner location, but it is several miles from USC’s campus.  However, Los Angeles’s new light rail (the Expo Line) is up and running, and it provides easy and fast transportation from downtown Los Angeles (at 7th and Figueroa, just a short walk from the Biltmore) to a stop right next to the Philosophy department at USC.

    There are also other hotels in the area with good public transit access, ranging from fancy boutiques like The Standard Hotel Downtown, to some cheaper places in Little Tokyo or Chinatown. If you find an incredibly cheap hotel in Downtown though, be sure to check the location – if it’s farther east than Main St, and not in Little Tokyo, then it may be in Skid Row.

    It’s of course also possible to stay in other areas of town.  In that case, you will probably want to rent a car and park on campus (or make sure you’re near a stop of the Expo line for easy travel to campus!).

  • Getting to Los Angeles

    If you’re flying to Los Angeles, you’ll probably want to arrive at either LAX or Burbank Airport.  With either airport, my first and strongest recommendation is to get a ride with Lyft (or, if you prefer, Uber).  This requires a smartphone and that you download the app, but they are now able to pick you up directly at the airport.  They arrive quickly, they are often less than half as expensive as taxis, and the ratings feature lets you verify that your driver has lots of great reviews before you commit to ordering a ride from them.

    If you insist on another form of transportation, here is more information:

    Burbank Airport is closer to Downtown and to campus, and often has cheaper flights on Southwest, but it has poor public transit links, apart from being across the street from the Amtrak station.  Depending on your schedule, you might get lucky and catch a commuter train directly from the airport into Union Station.  However, you’re probably better off taking a taxi or an airport shuttle, which will be cheaper and more convenient from BUR than from LAX, unless you’ve decided to stay on the beach.

    LAX is the best option if you’d rather not take taxi or rental car, and also has by far the most flights on most airlines other than Southwest.  From LAX, you can take the FlyAway bus to Union Station, where you can connect to the Metro rail lines.  When you arrive, you pay $7 at the kiosk.  (Note, though, that this option is slow and involves several transfers.)  Taxis may take slightly longer and be slightly more expensive than from the Burbank Airport.

    The Long Beach airport is quite isolated, and probably isn’t worth it unless you’re getting an extremely good deal on your flight on jetBlue.  Definitely don’t use the Ontario or Orange County (John Wayne) airport unless you really know what you’re getting yourself into.

    Getting to Campus

    All CMC sessions will take place in on USC’s campus.  Check the schedule for updates on the rooms the sessions will be held in.  Click here for a campus map.

    Here are some general notes about using public transportation between downtown Los Angeles and USC:

    We suggest you use the Expo Line light rail.  If you are staying downtown, you’ll want to travel between the 7th street/Metro Center stop and the Expo Park/USC stop.  Here is a map, and here is a schedule.  There’s a train roughly every 15 minutes every day (weekends and holidays included), from just before 5:00am until after midnight.  Further, the trip is just over 10 minutes long, which is faster than driving.  And the Expo Park/USC stop is just across the street from the USC Philosophy department.

    Some tips:  when entering the station downtown, enter it at 7th and Figueroa or at 7th and Flower.  (The entrance at 7th and Hope takes you to the wrong tracks.)  Look for trains saying “Expo Line” with “Culver City” as the destination.  Metro TAP cards can be bought at any rail station for $1, and then loaded with cash to pay fares.  The fare is $1.50 per ride, and can also be used on buses (though buses will also take cash).

    For any of you who are stubbornly opposed to using the light rail, here are some alternatives:

    Real-time arrival information for most buses can be found here (if accessed from a GPS-enabled smartphone it will find the closest bus stops to you and arrival times for each bus). The most relevant buses will probably be the 81 and 910 (aka the Silver Line). From other parts of town, you’ll probably have to drive (see parking info below), but ask a local (or try the transit search on Google Maps).

    On Fridays, the best bus transit between Downtown and USC is the F Dash. It’s $0.35 a ride, comes once every 10 minutes, and it has a stop immediately at the philosophy department (Exposition and Trousdale). The closest stop to the Millenium Biltmore is at 5th and Flower, across the street from the public library. Unfortunately, it only runs from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, Monday to Friday, and 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekends.

    Alternatively, you can use the 81 bus, which costs $1.50 and runs every 15 minutes on Saturdays and every 20 on Sundays. The USC stop is at the southeast corner of campus, at Figueroa and Exposition, which is about a 7 minute walk across campus from the philosophy department.

    The southbound stop closest to the Millenium Biltmore is at 5th and Hill. You can also catch the 81 along Hill St. north of 8th (even as far north as Chinatown), or at 8th and Flower, 11th and Flower, or Figueroa south of 11th. Northbound, it may drop you off a block or two away, because of one–way streets.

    If you drive to campus, the best place to park is Parking Structure A – enter campus at Vermont and 36th, buy a parking permit at the kiosk for $8, and follow the directions to parking. It’s also possible to park all day for free in the neighborhoods west of Vermont, though it can be a bit of a hike. The neighborhood is not the nicest, but it’s generally safe. Before driving, check Google Maps for traffic information – it can easily take two or three times as long to do the same drive at different times of day, especially if your trip involves the 110 by Downtown.

  • Click here for a useful guide to LA restaurants and bars (it includes a small map).

  • Note than in Los Angeles, unlike most other major American cities, it is impossible to just hail a taxi on the street. If you want to take a taxi somewhere, you’ll have to call for one in advance (though you can often find them immediately outside bars at closing time).

    At Exposition Park, across the street from USC:

    A free rose gardenThe Natural History Museum of LA County – it doesn’t compare to the ones in New York or Washington, but has some very interesting collections (especially from the California gold rush, and a rare Megamouth shark). The California Science Center– this is fairly disappointing for a science museum, but has a good IMAX theater. I haven’t checked out the Aerospace Museum, the California African American Museum, or the Los Angeles Coliseum (where the USC football team plays, and site of the 1984 Olympics, and the former home of NFL football in LA).

    In Downtown:

    The Staples Center – home of the Lakers and Clippers (NBA), and Kings (NHL).Disney Concert Hall – home of the LA Philharmonic. LA Public Library – the front entrance of this building is a great public work of art, covered in examples of historical writing and ideas, ranging from aboriginal art of Australia and Cassini’s observation of the rings of Saturn to texts in Esperanto and Morse code.

    Along the Red Line subway:

    • Union Station –the connection to the FlyAway bus to the airport, as well as Amtrak, and theGold Line to Chinatown, Pasadena, and East LA. Note that cell phone reception in the waiting area is quite poor. There are also shuttles to Dodger Stadium before and after baseball games.
    • Civic Center – the stop for Walt Disney Concert Hall, and also the opera, city hall, and courthouse
    • Pershing Square, 7th Street/Metro Center – these two stops serve central Downtown. 7th street is the transfer point to the Blue Line, which you can take all the way to the Watts Towers or Long Beach.
    • Westlake/Macarthur – not much of tourist significance
    • Vermont/Wilshire – Koreatown (or take the Purple Line rather than the Red Line, and it continues a little farther into Koreatown along Wilshire)
    • Vermont/Beverly, Vermont/Santa Monica – not much of tourist significance.
    • Vermont/Sunset – on weekends there is a shuttle from this station to the Griffith Observatoryin the hills, which has great views of LA, is a good base for hikes, and also has interesting exhibits, including live views of the surface of the sun; there is also a major Scientology building near this stop
    • Hollywood/Western – Thai Town. A particularly good (and very spicy!) restaurant is Jitlada, at the corner of Harvard and Sunset, three blocks east and one block south of the Hollywood and Western station.  And three blocks north of the station, there are trailheads for hikes up to the Griffith Observatory.
    • Hollywood/Vine, Hollywood/Highland – the Hollywood Walk of Fame stretches between these two stops. Famous Hollywood landmarks like Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Kodak Theater (home of the Oscars), Capitol Records, and the Hollywood Bowl, are near Hollywood and Highland, as well as more generic tourist traps like Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, and Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Various museums, offices, and other sites of Scientology are located throughout Hollywood. (Psychiatry: An Industry of Death, the Museum may be an entertaining or scary visit) Also, Runyon Canyon is a good hike site, and the entrance is about six blocks west and two blocks north of Hollywood/Highland
    • Universal City – this is where Universal Studios is located, if you feel like going to an amusement park without needing a designated driver
    • North Hollywood – there is a little bit of a theater district around this station

    Other locations

    The La Brea Tar Pits are the world’s largest collection of Ice Age fossils. They are also a former petroleum extraction site, and the tar is still bubbling.

    The LA County Museum of Art is immediately next door. They are about 45 minutes away on the 720 bus (catch it along 5th street in Downtown, and take it west to Fairfax Blvd). The trip is somewhat faster by car, going straight down Wilshire.

    West Hollywood is the center of LA’s nightlife, both gay (along Santa Monica Blvd) and straight (the Sunset Strip, along Sunset Blvd). Unfortunately, it’s basically impossible to get there on public transit. There are also many bars, restaurants, and clubs in Downtown, though they are not quite as densely packed.

    Disneyland – most likely you’ll need to drive (anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic), but you can apparently take Amtrak to Anaheim and catch a shuttle (or catch an Anaheim Angels baseball game).


    The beaches are lovely and have many different attractions, from the Santa Monica Pier to the more ’60s–era feel of Venice Beach, to Muscle Beach, and the extremely fancy houses on the Venice Canals. Driving is the most reliable way to get there, but from Downtown one can take the Big Blue Bus, which takes about an hour to get to Santa Monica Beach (longer during rush hour). Just north of Santa Monica is Malibu – it’s very difficult to get on and off the road though.

    There are other beaches south of the airport, but it takes longer to get there and I don’t know of any particular attractions that make them better than Santa Monica or Venice.

    (Note:  Much of the content of this page was contributed by Kenny Easwaran.)