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Philosophy Day! Symposium SP21

May 7, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Our biannual Philosophy Day! symposium will be held on Friday May 7th from 12:00pm–5:00pm. Talks will be held online (zoom link). Unfortunately, with the pandemic still in effect and speakers on the east coast, we will have to abandon our usual group dinner. For FA21, however, we anticipate that the symposium will be an in-person event.


12:00pm–1:00pm: Graduate Student Research Presentation
Ryan Lam (Cal State Long Beach)
‘Anarchism, statism, and uniqueness about value’
  • Abstract: Have you ever debated politics with someone and been hit with this sort of question: ‘if you disapprove of the State and its laws, why are you accepting all the benefits provided by the State?’ In this paper, I show how opponents of the State—particularly, philosophical anarchists—can accept the State’s benefits on prudential grounds but nevertheless reject the State’s legitimacy on moral grounds. I consider claims about the State’s unique benefits (Renzo 2011; Ferracioli 2015). I then consider the important objection that, even if anarchists can successfully defend that the State’s benefits are not metaphysically unique in theory, anarchists are forced to support the State (or give up the relevant benefits of the State) in practice because of the lack of immediate political alternatives. Finally, I offer a kind of error theory for our psychological proneness to accepting State legitimacy.

1:00pm–1:15pm: Short Break / Spillover Q&A

1:15pm–2:45pm: Alumni Speaker
Clinton Castro (Florida International University)
‘Egalitarian machine learning’
  • Abstract: Prediction-based decisions, which are often made by utilizing the tools of machine learning, influence nearly all facets of modern life. Ethical concerns about this widespread practice have given rise to the field of fair machine learning and numerous fairness measures, mathematically precise definitions of fairness that purport to determine whether a given prediction-based decision system is fair. Following Reuben Binns (2017), ‘fairness’ in this context is taken to be a placeholder for a variety of normative egalitarian considerations. I explore a few fairness measures to suss out their egalitarian roots and evaluate them, both as formalizations of egalitarian ideas and as assertions of what fairness demands of predictive systems. Special attention is paid to a recent and popular fairness measure, counterfactual fairness, which holds that a prediction about an individual is fair if it is the same in the actual world and any counterfactual world where the individual belongs to a different demographic group (cf. Kusner et al. 2018).

2:45pm–3:00pm: Short Break / Spillover Q&A

3:00pm–5:00pm: Keynote Speaker
Barbara Montero (City University of New York)
‘The crux about the mind-body problem’
  • Abstract: Much of philosophy of mind concerns the question of whether “zombies”—creatures that are identical to us in all fundamental physical respects but lack consciousness—are logically possible. I argue that although this question may be intrinsically interesting, it is of little relevance to what most people find important about the nature of the mind. What matters to most, I argue, is the actual nature of the mind as well as what is possibly true about the mind when we hold fixed the laws that govern our world. The logical possibility of zombies bears little on these issues.

5:00pm–5:30pm: Zoom Reception
Speakers and participants invited!


May 7, 2021
12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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