Rutgers Epistemology Conference 2019 @ Hyatt Regency, Conference rm. BC
May 3 – May 4 all-day

The REC is a pre-read conference. The papers will be made available on April 15.

Friday, May 3, 2019

1:30 – 3:15 pm

    Alex Byrne (MIT)

    Chair: TBD

Coffee Break

3:45 – 5:30 pm

    Susanna Rinard (Harvard)

    Chair: TBD


7:30 – 9:15 pm

    Jonathan Kvanvig (Washington University St Louis)

    Chair: TBD

Reception 9:30 – 11:00 PM

Saturday, May 4, 2019

9:30 – 11:15 am

    Anil Gupta (University of Pittsburgh)

    Chair: TBD

Coffee Break

11:45 – 1:30 pm      Winner of the Young Epistemologist Prize


    Chair: TBD


2:45 – 4:30 pm

    Maria Lasonen-Aarnio (University of Helsinki)

    Chair: TBD


Heather Battaly (University of Connecticut)

John Bengson (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Annalisa Coliva (University of California Irvine)

Thomas Kelly (Princeton)


Chris Copan, Andy Egan, Megan Feeney, Peter Klein, Matthew McGrath, Susanna Schellenberg, Ernie Sosa

The REC is a pre-read conference, so papers are to be read in advance. There is no registration fee for the conference, but please notify Megan Feeney, the conference manager, if you plan to attend by sending an email to If you wish to participate in the meals, please send a check made out to “Rutgers University” to Megan Feeney by April 15 ($80 if you are a faculty member or a postdoc; $60 if you are a graduate student or an undergraduate): Megan Feeney; Rutgers Epistemology Conference; 106 Somerset St, 5th Floor; New Brunswick, NJ 08901.

Rutgers-Bristol Workshop on the Metaphysical Unity of Science @ Rutgers U, Newark. Conklin Hall 455
Jun 10 – Jun 11 all-day

Schedule – June 10th 

(Talks are aprox. 45 minutes with 30 minutes for Q&A)

9:00    Mazviita Chirimuuta, Emergence in Science & the Unity of Science

10:15  Joyce Havstad, TBA

12:00  Lunch, Marcus P&B.  Part of RUN and Newark’s Community Development.

2:00    Ricki Bliss, Fundamentality: From Epistemology to Metaphysics

3:15    Tuomas Tahko, Laws of Metaphysics for Essentialists


Schedule – June 11th 

9:00    Kelly Trodgon, Grounding and Explanatory Gaps

10:15  Stuart Glennan, Rethinking Mechanistic Constitution 

12:00  Lunch, Mercato Tomato Pie.

2:00    Alex Franklin,  How Do Levels Emerge?

3:15    Ken Aizawa, New Directions in Compositional Explanation: Two Cases Studies


Mazviita Chirimuuta – Emergence in Science & the Unity of Science

This paper considers the implications of recent accounts of emergent phenomena for the question of the unity of the sciences. I first offer a historical account of physicalism in its different guises since the mid 19th century. Two threads connecting these otherwise quite different views have been the rejection of emergent phenomena and the commitment to the unity of science. In section two I provide an exposition of emergence as presented in recent philosophy of science, where the key claim is that “parts behave differently in wholes”, based on the empirical finding of what Gillett (2016) calls “differential powers.” Gillett argues that the empirical evidence does not yet support the strong emergentist claim that there is downward causation or any other form of influence from the whole system to its constituent parts, but that such evidence might be obtained. In section 3 I propose instead that the question of whether or not the finding of differential powers is taken to provide overwhelming evidence for strong emergence depends on the further interpretation of differential powers, and ultimately on very broad metaphysical commitments. The interpretation of differential powers that is most resistant to objections from opponents of strong emergence involves a rejection of substance ontology, and hence the rejection of physicalism. Thus, as I conclude in section 4, philosophers should not wait in expectation for empirical results that will settle the question of whether or not there is strong emergence.  I offer a preliminary costs/benefits analysis of the different ontologies of differential powers, intended to aid the reader in their decision over the status of strong emergence. On the most radical interpretation, the usual physicalist conception of the unity of science must be rejected, while a different kind of metaphysical wholism stands in its place.

Joyce Havstad, TBC

Ricki Bliss – Fundamentality: from Epistemology to Metaphysics

In this talk, I explore what might follow for the metaphysics of fundamentality if we take seriously certain reasons to believe there is anything fundamental in the first place.

Tuomas Tahko – Laws of Metaphysics for Essentialists

There is a line of thought gathering momentum which suggests that just like causal laws govern causation, there needs to be something in metaphysics that governs metaphysical relations. Such laws of metaphysics would be counterfactual-supporting general principles that are responsible for the explanatory force of metaphysical explanations. There are various suggestions about how such principles could be understood. They could be based on what Kelly Trogdon calls grounding-mechanical explanations, where the role that grounding mechanisms play in certain metaphysical explanations mirrors the role that causal mechanisms play in certain scientific explanations. Another approach, by Jonathan Schaffer, claims to be neutral regarding grounding or essences (although he does commit to the idea that metaphysical explanation is ‘backed’ by grounding relations). In this paper I will assess these suggestions and argue that for those willing to invoke essences, there is a more promising route available: the unificatory role of metaphysical explanation may be accounted for in terms of natural kind essences.

Kelly Trogdon – Grounding and Explanatory Gaps

 Physicalism is the thesis that all mental facts are ultimately grounded by physical facts. There is an explanatory gap between the mental and physical, and many see this as posing a challenge to physicalism. Jonathan Schaffer (2017) disagrees, arguing that standard grounding connections involve explanatory gaps as a matter of course. I begin by arguing that Schaffer and others mischaracterize the explanatory gap between the mental and physical—it chiefly concerns what I call cognitive significance rather than priori implication or related notions. The upshot is that standard grounding connections normally don’t involve explanatory gaps. Then I consider two grounding-theoretic proposals about how to close explanatory gaps in the relevant sense, one involving structural equations (Schaffer 2017) and the other mechanisms (Trogdon 2018). While each of these proposals seeks to illuminate grounding connections, I argue that neither is helpful in closing the explanatory gap between the mental and physical.  

Stuart Glennan – Rethinking Mechanistic Constitution


The relationship between a mechanisms and its working parts is known as mechanistic constitution.   In this paper we review the history of the mechanistic constitution debate, starting with Salmon’s original account, and we  explain what we take to be the proper lessons to be drawn from the extensive literature surrounding Craver’s mutual manipulability account.  Based on our analysis, we argue that much of the difficulty in understanding the mechanistic constitution relation arises from a failure to recognize two different forms of mechanistic constitution — corresponding to two different kinds of relationships between a mechanism and the phenomenon for which it is  responsible.  First, when mechanisms produce phenomena, the mechanism’s parts are diachronic stages of the process by which entities act to produce the phenomenon.  Second, when mechanisms underlie some phenomenon, the phenomenon is a activity of a whole system, and the mechanism’s parts are those of the working entities that synchronically give rise to the phenomenon.  Attending to these different kinds of constitutive  relations will clarify the circumstances under which mechanistic phenomena can be said to occur at different levels.

Alex Franklin – How Do Levels Emerge?

 Levels terminology is employed throughout scientific discourse, and is crucial to the formulation of various debates in the philosophy of science. In this talk, I argue that all levels are, to some degree, autonomous. Building on this, I claim that higher levels may be understood as both emergent from and reducible to lower levels. I cash out this account of levels with a case study. Nerve signals are on a higher level than the individual ionic motions across the neuronal membrane; this is (at least in part) because the nerve signals are autonomous from such motions. In order to understand the instantiation of these levels we ought to identify the mechanisms at the lower level which give rise to such autonomy. In this case we can do so: the gated ion channels and pumps underwrite the autonomy of the higher level.

Ken Aizawa – New Directions in Compositional Explanation: Two Cases Studies

The most familiar approach to scientific compositional explanations is that adopted by the so-called “New Mechanists”. This approach focuses on compositional explanations of processes of wholes in terms of processes of their parts. In addition, the approach focuses on the use of so-called “interlevel interventions” as the means by which compositional relations are investigated. By contrast, on the approach I adopt, we see that there are compositional explanations of individuals in terms of their parts and properties of individuals in terms of the properties of their parts. In addition, I draw attention to the use of abductive methods in investigations of compositional relations. I illustrate my approach by use of Robert Hooke’s microscopic investigations of the cork and the development of the theory of the action potential.

The Ethical Stance and the Possibility of Critique. Webb Keane @ Wolff Conference Room, D1106
Sep 12 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Critique is an assertion of values pitted against a state of affairs. To say that things should not be the way they are–to respond to questions such as ‘Why do I think this political or economic arrangement is wrong (and why should I care?)?’ implies an ethical stance. Critique thus draws together fact and value, domains that a long tradition of moral thought has argued exist on distinct planes. For there are dimensions of political life that are incomprehensible without this conjunction between ethical motivations and social realities. But if they are to have political consequences, such questions cannot be confined to private introspection. Scale matters. This talk looks at the articulation between everyday interactions and social movements to show the interplay among the first, second, and third person stances that characterize ethical life. Drawing ethnographic examples from American feminism and Vietnamese Marxism, it considers some of the ways in which ethical intuitions emerge, consolidate, and change, and argues that objectifications and the reflexivity they facilitate help give ethical life a social history.

Thinking Beyond the Annihilation of Nature: Conscientia and Schelling’s Ethics of Redemptive Epistemology. Bruce Matthews, Bard @ Wolff Conference Room, D1106
Oct 17 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

In 1804 Schelling diagnosed our impending “annihilation of nature” due to our conceptual detachment from and consequent economic exploitation of our natural world. His critique of Modernity’s Cartesian Idealisms, effected through his inversion of the Kantian categories, results in a philosophical project whose relevance to our ongoing climate crisis is difficult to overstate.

Bruce Matthews
Bard College/BHSEC, professor of philosophy, research in German Idealism and Romanticism, with a focus on life and thought of F.W.J. Schelling, whose recent work revolves around Schelling’s critique of modernity with its anticipation of, as he wrote in 1804, ‘the annihilation of nature,’ and its relevance to the Anthropocene.

“Schelling in the Anthropocene: A New Mythology of Nature,” (Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, 2015), “Schelling: A Brief Biographical Sketch of the Odysseus of German Idealism,” in The Palgrave Handbook to German Idealism (2014), and “The New Mythology: Between Romanticism and Humanism,” in The Relevance of Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Books include the forthcoming intellectual biography, Schelling: Heretic of Modernity (2018), Schelling’s Organic Form of Philosophy: Life as the Schema of Freedom (SUNY 2011).

Presented by the Philosophy Department at The New School for Social Research

Aristotle’s concept of matter and the generation of animals. Anna Schriefl @ Wolff Conference Room, D1106
Nov 14 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

There is a broad consensus that Aristotle introduced the concept of matter in order to develop a consistent account of substantial change. However, it is disputed which role matter fulfills in substantial change. According to the traditional interpretation, matter persists while taking on or losing a substantial form. According to a rival interpretation, matter does not persist in substantial change; instead, it is an entity from which a new substance can emerge and which ceases to exist in this process. In my view, both interpretations are problematic in the light of Aristotle’s broader ontological project and are at odds with the way Aristotle describes the substantial generation of living beings. On the basis of Aristotle’s biological theory, I will suggest that Aristotelian matter is a continuant in substantial generation, but does not satisfy the common criteria for persistence that apply to individual substances.

Anna Schriefl
Anna Schriefl is Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin (assistant professor) at the University of Bonn, and currently a visiting scholar at the New School. She has published a book about Plato’s criticism of money and wealth, and most recently an introduction into Stoicism (both in German).

Symposium on Brian Cantwell Smith’s The Promise of Artificial Intelligence: Reckoning and Judgment (MIT Press, 2019) @ Kellen Auditorium, Room N101
Dec 6 all-day

Selected speakers:

Zed Adams

The New School

Brian Cantwell Smith

University of Toronto, St. George

Mazviita Chirimuuta

University of Pittsburgh
1st Graduate Conference in Political Theory @ Politics Dept. New School
Mar 6 – Mar 7 all-day

The Politics department at the New School for Social Research will host its 1st Graduate Conference in Political Theory on March 6-7th, 2020.

We are launching this event to provide graduate students in the history of political thought, political theory and political philosophy an opportunity to present and receive feedback on their work. A total of six (6) papers will be accepted and each of them will receive substantial comments from a New School graduate student, to be followed by a general discussion. We welcome submissions from all traditions, but we are particularly interested in providing a venue for those students working on critical approaches. We would also like to encourage applications from under-represented groups in the field.

We are delighted to announce that Professor Robyn Marasco (Hunter College, City University of New York) will deliver the inaugural keynote address.

Submissions for the conference are due by December 10th, 2019. Papers should not exceed 8,000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography) and should be sent in PDF format with the help of the electronic form provided below. Papers should be formatted for blind review with no identifying information. Abstracts will not be accepted. A Google account is needed in order to sign-in to the submission form; if you don’t have one, please email us. Papers will be reviewed over the winter break and notifications will be sent out early January 2020.

For any questions, please contact

Chinese Philosophy and Virtue Epistemology @ Brower Commons Conference Rooms A & B
Apr 17 all-day

Rutgers Workshop on Chinese Philosophy (RWCP) was launched in 2012. Co-directed by Tao Jiang, Dean Zimmerman and Stephen Angle, RWCP is designed to build a bridge between Chinese philosophy and Western analytic philosophy and to promote critical engagement and constructive dialogue between the two sides, with the hope of bringing the study of Chinese philosophy into the mainstream of philosophical discourse within the Western academy. It is run every other year, usually in late spring.

5th Rutgers Workshop on Chinese Philosophy: Chinese Philosophy and Virtue Epistemology
The 5th RWCP will be held on Friday, April 17, 2020. In this one-day workshop, six scholars of Chinese philosophy will engage two leading virtue epistemologists, Ernest Sosa and Linda Zagzebski. The program and papers will be available in the spring of 2020, one month before the workshop. RSVP will become available at that time as well, and it is required for attendance. Please stay tuned.


1. Where can I park?
Details will be provided as we get closer to the day of the workshop.
2. How can I get to the event on public transportation?
Take the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor Line to New Brunswick ( Make sure the train stops at New Brunswick as some might skip it during rush hours.

Contact Ms. Nancy Rosario (

Co-sponsored by Rutgers Global-China Office and the Confucius Institute.

With/In Environments: Reimagining Frameworks and Practices for Environmental Philosophy–Graduate Student Conference @ New School Dept. of Philosophy
Apr 14 – Apr 16 all-day

Since Plato, western philosophy has been set down a path paved by a disavowal of the sensuous, bracketed material bodies, and delimited aesthetic conceptions, leaving human beings and their built environments separated from the natural world. Such exclusions have left philosophy ill-equipped to deal with the various environmental crises we currently face, as economic rationality and utilitarian logic further de-animate the world and sharpen the human/nature distinction. Even the concept “environment” often, and ironically, brings with it implicit anthropocentric assumptions, conceptualizing, and thereby separating, the human as independent from the surrounding world and reinforcing the human/nature divide. As a result, our (mis)understandings of “nature” and “environment” may make us insensitive to and perpetuate, rather than address, climate change and other environmental catastrophes. To avoid ambiguities and clarify our understanding, we must ask: what role does Nature play within our theories and practices concerning so-called Environmental Philosophy? Furthermore, what spaces, practices, and questions are made possible when we broaden our understanding of “environment” to include a more robust conceptualization of the natural world and how the human being ought to be contextualized within it?

This conference asks how we might reorient the language and practices of philosophy in a way that can enable us to adequately respond to ongoing environmental crises. As a starting point, we propose a need to reimagine the concepts “human,” “nature,” and “environment,” as well as the reciprocal relations that constitute them. To recognize humans as natural organisms, we must reevaluate the sensuous, the material, and the aesthetic and the roles they play in our attempts to construct, understand, and preserve our environment(s). How should we make sense of our practices and our relations to those with whom we share our surroundings? How can we re-situate the human with/in the environment? Do we have the right tools to guide these investigations? How might philosophy look beyond itself—to literature, architecture, music, film, design—to better bring Environment, and thus the world, into view? In the spirit of this, we invite paper as well as project submissions from current graduate students in any discipline.

Possible Topics:

●        Environmental Aesthetics: Re-Considering Beauty + the Sublime

●        Environmental Justice + Restorative Justice + Transformative Justice

●        Environmental Ethics + Sustainable Practices

●        Diversity + Biodiversity

●        Capitalism and Climate

●        Eco-phenomenology

●        Eco-deconstruction

●        Environmental Racism/Racist Environments

●        Ecofeminist conceptions of nature

●        Land Rights and Property Relations

●        Posthumanism + Object Ontologies

●        Afrofuturism + Technological Utopias

●        Environmental Ethics In Narratives

●        Mastery of Nature in Philosophy

●        Anarcho-primitivism

●        Queer and Trans Ecologies

●        Local and Global Ecologies

●        Regionalisms and Globalisms in the Ecological Imagination


Confirmed Conference Keynotes:

Sandra Shapshay, CUNY Graduate Center, New York

Emanuele Coccia, École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris

Dates and Location:

This conference will be held at the New School for Social Research in New York City from Thursday, April 14, to Saturday, April 16. While we (tentatively) plan to hold the conference primarily in-person we would also like to provide a hybrid option for those who would prefer to participate remotely. Following the conference, on Sunday, April 17, all participants and attendees are invited to participate in a conference hike in Cold Spring, NY (about an hour and a half north of NYC and accessible by the Metro North commuter train).

Call for Papers: Submission Procedure:

Please submit complete papers (Word Limit: 3500) and an abstract of 250 words or less by January 1st in the form of a Word attachment (.docx) or PDF to Please prepare your submission for blind review by removing any identifying information from the body of the paper. In your email please include your name, affiliation, and paper title. Notification of acceptance will be sent by January 15.

Call for Projects: Submission Procedure:

Please submit a project description (Word Limit: 1000) by December 1st in the form of a Word attachment (.docx) to, as well as:

For Visual Arts projects: submit 5 images of your work as .jpeg.

For Performing Arts projects: submit video/ audio of your work in .mp4 format

Please prepare your submission for blind review by removing any identifying information. In your email please include your name, affiliation, and project title. Notification of acceptance will be sent by January 15.

If you have any questions please email


Rutgers Epistemology Conference 2022 @ Hyatt Regency New Brunswick
Apr 29 – Apr 30 all-day

The REC is a pre-read conference. The papers will be made available on this website on April 15.


Friday, April 29, 2022

  • 1:30 – 3:15 pm
    • Jeremy Fantl (Calgary)
      • Chair: TBD
  • Coffee Break
  • 3:45 – 5:30 pm
    • Thomas Kelly (Princeton)
      • Chair: TBD
  • Dinner
  • 7:30 – 9:15 pm
    • Jane Friedman (NYU)
      • Chair: TBD
  • Reception 9:30 – 11:00 PM


Saturday, April 30, 2022

  • 9:30 – 11:15 am
    • Peter Graham (UCR)
      • Chair: TBD
  • Coffee Break
  • 11:45 – 1:30 pm      Winner of the Young Epistemologist Prize
    • Mona Simion (Glasgow)
      • Chair: TBD
  • Lunch
  • 2:45 – 4:30 pm
    • Kathrin Glüer (Stockholms Universitet) and Asa Wikforss (Stockholms Universitet)
      • Chair: TBD


  • Patrick Greenough (University of St. Andrews)
  • Sarah Paul (NYU-Abu Dhabi)
  • Declan Smithies (OSU)
  • Julia Staffel (University of Colorado)


Participants (to be updated soon)

Chris Copan, Andy Egan, Megan Feeney, Peter Klein, Matthew McGrath, Susanna Schellenberg, Ernie Sosa


The REC is a pre-read conference, so papers are to be read in advance. There is no registration fee for the conference, but please notify Chris Copan, the conference manager, if you plan to attend by sending an email to If you wish to participate in the meals, please send a check made out to “Rutgers University” to the conference manager by April 15 ($80 if you are a faculty member or a postdoc; $60 if you are a graduate student or an undergraduate): Chris Copan; REC; 106 Somerset St, 5th Floor; New Brunswick, NJ 08901.