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Philosophy Day SP19

May 10, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Come join us at our SP19 Philosophy Day Symposium at Cal State Long Beach, as we celebrate our students and the end of the academic year. Philosophy Day will occur on Friday May 10th, from 12:00pm–6:00pm, in USU–304 (i.e., in the Hermosa Beach Room on the 3rd floor of Student Union).
This year, our SP19 event will have two keynote speakers, along with our Honors Showcase and graduate student research presentations. Prof. Ravi Sharma—an old friend of the CSULB Philosophy Department—will kick off the event at noon, and Prof. Robin Muller will cap off the symposium with a presentation beginning at 4:30pm.


12:00pm–1:15pm: Keynote Presentation
Ravi Sharma (Clark University)
‘The Socratic problem resolved’
  • Abstract: It is typically thought impossible to recover the views of the historical Socrates from our main surviving sources—the literary portrayals by Plato and Xenophon. Those sources are thought to conflict irremediably on the doctrines they attribute to Socrates. But I shall argue that this is untrue: when read with sufficient care, they agree on fundamental matters of doctrine, and there is no good reason to deny those doctrines to the Socrates of history.
1:30pm–2:00pm: Undergraduate Honors Showcase
Richard Link (Cal State Long Beach)
‘Pluralism and eliminativism about concepts’
  • Abstract: Cognitive psychologists have long sought to understand the structure and content of concepts. Since the 1970s, there have been a few theories of concepts that have most successfully been accepted as strong candidates for being a successful theory. Namely, these are prototypes, exemplars, theories, and ideals. Recently there has been a move towards creating a theory of concepts that embraces several different kinds of concepts. Disagreement arises, however, about whether concepts are a natural kind. This debate falls on competing ideas about proper explanation in the special sciences. There are the mechanists on one hand and the functionalists on the other. While the mechanist framework may lead one to argue that concepts are not a natural kind—the so-called ‘eliminativist’ position—the functionalist framework compels one to maintain that concepts are a natural kind, thus leading to a pluralist position. I will argue that both mechanist and functional explanations have a place in cognitive psychology. Applying this position to the case of theories of concepts, I will argue that concepts are a natural kind and that we should adopt a pluralist position.
2:00pm–2:30pm: Undergraduate Honors Showcase
Michael Lara (Cal State Long Beach)
‘What Mary might have known: an exposition of the knowledge argument’
  • Abstract: What is it like to have a particular phenomenal experience? It’s like this. There is a seeming ineffability when attempting to answer this question. There must be a set of facts about the matter, and anyone who has had that particular experience surely knows them. The challenge of expressing the facts about subjective phenomenal experience in comparison to facts such as the boiling point of water or the hardness of a diamond prop up the intuition that the facts about phenomenal consciousness might be irreducible to the physical facts of the world. Thus, an explanatory gap arises. Through an exposition of Jackson’s Knowledge Argument against physicalism, this presentation aims to show that the burden is on the claimant that physicalism is false, and not on the physicalist to show that physicalism is true. This is particularly evident when an argument against physicalism relies on intuitions about qualia, i.e., what it’s like to have a phenomenal experience for oneself. In examining responses to the Knowledge Argument by Tye, Chalmers, and Dennett, I will show that, for many non-physicalist accounts of the possibility of non-physical facts about qualia, there is a physicalist account which meets its demands while providing more clarification, a higher level of explanatory power, and with less reliance on intuitions about phenomenal consciousness.
2:45pm–3:30pm: Graduate Student Research Presentation
Miguel Hernandez (Cal State Long Beach)
‘The unbearable lightness of seemings’
  • Abstract: Phenomenal conservatism states that if it seems to S that p, then, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby has at least some degree of justification for believing that p. This talk will attempt to demonstrate phenomenal conservatism’s failure as a theory of justification. This failure is due to a lack of clear explanation pertaining to how seemings are meant to confer justification. Furthermore, I will build upon a common objection to phenomenal conservatism, called ‘the tainted source objection’, which emphasizes seemings’ susceptibility to the subjects’ biases and desires, leading to blameworthy beliefs that are justified under phenomenal conservatism.
3:30pm–4:15pm: Graduate Student Research Presentation
Christopher George (Cal State Long Beach)
‘Toxic roulette!’
  • Abstract: Modern industrial pollution poses health risks—including death. The law currently allows some corporate actors a defense to claims they’ve killed people. It shouldn’t. I argue no one would consent to be an environmental casualty; and so the doctrine of assumption of the risk should not apply to toxic tort cases.
4:30pm–6:00pm: Keynote Presentation
Robin Muller (Cal State Northridge)
‘Rethinking the forbidden experiment with Merleau-Ponty’
  • Abstract: Contemporary discussions of child development increasingly center the role of the other—especially the parent—in the formation of the self. While there is much to be admired in these accounts, they tend to presume a normal upbringing. But what we might be able to learn about normal human development from non-normative cases? Should we expect, for instance, that the absence of a ‘normal’ intersubjective developmental context will impact child development at a purely ‘mental’ or psychological level, or might the impact be more extensive? To answer these questions, I begin by drawing on resources from the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty, reconstructing his critical engagements with child development theorists in order to argue that ‘mentalistic’ conceptions of self-formation fail to adequately capture the behavior of even the ‘normally’ developing child. I then turn to a specific example of the so-called ‘forbidden experiment’—a term meant to capture cases of child development under conditions of extreme social isolation—in order to argue, in a Merleau-Pontyan spirit, that the presence of the other is essential, not only to the formation of the self-concept, but also to the formation of the body.

6:30pm: Dinner at local restaurant
Speakers, participants, and guests invited!



May 10, 2019
12:00 pm - 6:00 pm


CSULB University Student Union
Long Beach, CA 90840-2408 United States
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