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2019 Eastern Division Abstracts of Invited Papers
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Minimal Fregeanism

Aidan Gray, University of Illinois, Chicago

Among the virtues of recent work on Frege’s puzzle is that it puts us in a position to outline structural features of the puzzle that were often only implicit in earlier work. These recent approaches—‘Relationist’ approaches—explicitly raise questions about the relation between the explanatory roles of sense and sameness-of-sense. That Relationists have raised these questions does not mean that they have answered them. In this paper I focus on propositional attitudes and, building on Relationist discussions, distinguish a number of positions about the relation between sense and sameness-of-sense that have not been clearly distinguished. This will put us in position to see what is at stake in the debate between Fregeans and Relationists. I will then offer (schematic) arguments against some of the positions thus distinguished. The upshot is that we have reason to adopt a picture of cognitive significance that incorporates elements of both Relationist and Fregean approaches. I close by outlining the central questions involved in pursuing this.

On Kreisel's Squeezing Arguments

Juliette Kennedy, University of Helsinki

G. Kreisel has suggested that squeezing arguments, originally formulated for the informal concept of first order validity, should be extendable to second order logic, although he points out obvious obstacles. We develop this idea in connection with second order logic but also in the light of more recent advances, delineating the difficulties across the spectrum of extensions of first order logics by generalised quantifiers and infinitary logics. In particular we argue that if the relevant informal concept is read as informal in the precise sense of being untethered to any particular semantics, then the squeezing argument goes through in the second order case. Consideration of weak forms of Kreisel’s squeezing argument leads naturally to reflection principles of set theory. (This is joint work with Jouko Väänänen.)

Empirical Evidence for Perceptual Confidence

John Morrison, Barnard College, Columbia University

Perceptual Confidence is the view that perceptual experiences assign degrees of confidence. For example, as a figure approaches, your experience might assign more and more confidence to the possibility that it’s your friend Isaac. Similarly, as a letter moves to the center from your periphery, your experience might assign more and more confidence to the possibility that it’s an E. In previous work, I motivated Perceptual Confidence using first-personal evidence. In this talk, I will consider recent third-personal evidence, including both fMRI and single-unit recordings. This evidence would support Perceptual Confidence if it could establish that there are probabilities encoded in early pre-conscious perceptual processes that are still encoded by conscious post-perceptual processes, because the simplest explanation might be that the probabilities are preserved by all intermediate processes, including whichever processes constitute our conscious perceptual experiences. I will argue that our existing evidence, while suggestive, does not yet establish this conclusion. But I believe that our future evidence might. Towards that end, I will describe what it would take for our evidence to support this conclusion, and briefly sketch some possible experiments.

Justification by Evidence

Earl Conee, University of Rochester

Evidence that we have in mind epistemically justifies some propositions to us. What is the justifying relation? We will consider three answers to this question: a subjective one, an external one, and a mixed one. The first two answers have assets. They also have severe liabilities. Although a mixed conception of how evidence justifies has greater assets and milder liabilities, a fully illuminating explanation of its justifying relation is elusive.

What Geometry Looks Like

Colin McLarty, Case Western Reserve University

Illustration and discussion of various kinds of visualization in current algebraic geometry.

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