My colleague Ariel Zylberman has organized a one-day academic workshop here at UAlbany, coming up on March 15. The topic is constitutivism about moral norms— the view that norms are presumed by the very nature of action and agency.
The powerhouse list of speakers comprises Matthias Haase (Chicago), Michelle Kosch (Cornell), Sharon Street (NYU), and David Velleman (NYU). The official commenters will be Hille Paakkunainen (Syracuse), Francey Russell (Yale), Jason D’Cruz (UAlbany), and Paul Katsafanas (Boston University).
If it sounds like your kind of thing and you might be in the capital region in mid-March, more information and the registration form are at the workshop webpage. It’s a free workshop, but Ariel is asking that attendees register by March 1.
Next month Kareem Khalifa (Middlebury College) is visiting Albany to present work that he developed in collaboration with Emily Sullivan (Delft University of Technology).
Will it turn out to be a comedy of errors, or can they show that the sound and fury about the epistemic role of idealization is just a tempest in a teapot? Either way would be interesting, and all’s well that ends well.
Idealizations and Understanding: Much Ado About Nothing?
3:00-5:00, March 9, 2018
UAlbany Humanities Building, room 354
Abstract: Idealizations frequently advance scientific understanding. Because of this, many have argued that understanding is non-factive or that falsehoods play a distinct epistemic role. In this paper, we argue that these positions greatly overstate idealizations’ epistemic import. We bring work on epistemic value to bear on the debate surrounding idealizations and understanding, arguing that idealizations qua falsehoods only have non-epistemic value. We argue for this claim by criticizing the four leading approaches that give epistemic importance to idealizations. For each of these approaches, we show that: (a) idealizations’ false components only promote psychological convenience instead of the epistemic good of understanding, and (b) only the true components of idealizations have epistemic value.
As I wrote a while ago, my department is trying to drum up more graduate applications. One strategy is to send out encouraging e-mails. I’m endeavoring to write to all the philosophy departments in our corner of the country. I’m presently in the middle of that, so you might hear from me soon.
In the interests of maximizing reach, I’m posting the e-mail here too.
My department has had a precipitous drop in both applications and admissions for our PhD program. We have funded positions which we haven’t been able to fill with new-to-program students. These are a pretty good deal and involve no teaching responsibilities for the first year.
So I have two requests:
First, how do you think we should go about trying to make people who might be interested aware of the opportunity? Some programs mail out glossy posters touting their graduate programs. I suspect those mostly get thrown away, however, and I’m not sure that people these days look to posters for information.
Second, if you are in the position of mentioning our program to someone who might be suited for it, then please do so. Obviously this isn’t everybody: Students who can get funded slots at top-ranked programs should take them, some students should be talked out of going to grad school, and so on. But there are students who would get a lot out of coming here. We have strong faculty in a number of areas. Our graduates have a decent record of getting permanent and even tenure-track jobs. Many have gotten jobs at community colleges, the sort of jobs that aren’t even on the radar for graduates from top-ranked programs.
The UAlbany Philosophy department is hiring this year. If you know someone who’s a fit for the position, please encourage them to apply. The department is pretty congenial, and Albany is a nice place to be.
In terms of research specialty, we are looking in applied ethics broadly construed. We mention some things that could mean in the ad, but we are pretty open-minded about it. The backstop requirement is that a candidate must be OK with teaching an upper-division undergraduate course in Philosophy of Law pretty much every year.
Area of specialization: Applied Ethics and/or Political Philosophy
The successful candidate will have a promising research program in the area of specialization. The Philosophy Department at the University at Albany is interested in building on its existing strength in the area of global justice, but will consider candidates working in other areas such as bioethics, environmental ethics, the intersection of political philosophy and philosophy of science, business ethics, etc.
The job involves teaching both at the graduate and undergraduate level. In addition to teaching in their area of research, the candidate should be willing to teach Philosophy of Law at the undergraduate level on a regular basis.