Why Read Hannah Arendt Now: Book Launch and Movie Screening @ Wolff Conference Room, NSSR, D1103
Mar 13 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Vera List Professor of Philosophy, Richard J. Bernstein, will present his new book on Hannah Arendt, Why Read Hannah Arendt Now (2018, Polity Press), followed by a screening of the documentary film Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt.

Free and open to the public.

Black Women Philosophers Conference @ Elebash Recital Hall, CUNY Grad Center
Mar 15 – Mar 16 all-day

What does a philosopher look like? Inevitably, our mental pictures are shaped by the dominant imagery of the white male marble busts of Greco-Roman antiquity—Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca—and their modern European heirs—Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Mill. Even today Western philosophy is largely male and overwhelmingly white—about 97 percent in the U.S., close to 100 percent in Europe. Diversifying the field requires expanding our corporeal imaginary of its practitioners. This conference, timed to honor Professor Anita Allen-Castellitto (Penn), the first black female President in the 100-year-plus history of the American Philosophical Association, aims to showcase the work of a traditionally under-represented population, challenging these preconceptions. Allen and fifteen other black women will speak on their research across a wide variety of philosophical topics.

Charles W. Mills & Linda Martín Alcoff


Anita Allen-Castellitto, University of Pennsylvania
Kathryn Belle, Penn State University
Emmalon Davis, New School for Social Research
Nathifa Greene, Gettysburg College
Devonya Havis, Canisius College
Janine Jones, University of North Carolina Greensboro
Axelle Karera, Wesleyan University
Michele Moody-Adams, Columbia University
Mickaella Perina, University of Massachusetts Boston
Camisha Russell, University of Oregon
Jackie Scott, Loyola University Chicago
Kris Sealey, Fairfield University
Jameliah Shorter-Bourhanou, Georgia College, College of the Holy Cross
Anika Simpson, Morgan State University
Briana Toole, CUNY Baruch College
Yolonda Wilson, Howard University

Stay tuned for schedule details!

Hosted by: The Center for the Humanities and the PhD Program in Philosophy at the The Graduate Center, CUNY.

Co-sponsored by: The American Philosophical Association Committee on the Status of Black Philosophers, and the Advanced Research Collaborative at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Free and open to the public, but please register for Friday, March 15th here:

Please register for Saturday, March 16th here:

The venue is wheel-chair accessible.

To download a PDF version of the flyer, click here.

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.

Positions in Patriarchy: Retooling the Metaphysics of Gender. Robin Dembroff (Yale) @ CUNY Grad Center, rm 5307
Oct 17 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Decades of feminist theory have approached the question ‘what is gender?’ with an eye to gender as a system — in particular, the system that creates and sustains patriarchy. Using this approach, feminists have proposed theories of gender focused on the social positions that persons occupy within a patriarchal system. However, these analyses almost uniformly assume a gender binary (men women), and so look for corresponding, binary social positions. In this talk, I defend the importance of position-based metaphysics of gender, but challenge the assumption that positions in patriarchy can be captured in a binary. Rather than throw out the baby with the bath water, I’ll propose an alternative position-based approach. It begins with modeling the key axes of the patriarchal ‘blueprint’, or the shared beliefs, norms, and attitudes at the core of dominant, western gender ideology. I’ll then build a framework for describing the variety of positions that persons can collectively occupy in relation to this blueprint. A central upshot is that metaphysics intended to illuminate and debunk gender as imagined within the western patriarchal system fails to sufficiently achieve this end when it presupposes the same binary framework. The categories men and women, I’ll argue, are not primarily descriptive, but rather, contested tools with the central function of reinforcing or revising social power.

Presented by SWIP-Analytic

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

Objectivity and the Humanities – Prospects for a New Realism. Markus Gabriel @ Deutsches Haus at NYU
Oct 21 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Over the last decades, the humanities have come under pressure from the scientific worldview. To many, it seems as if the humanities provide us at best with less-than-objective knowledge claims. Arguably, there are at least two overall reasons for this. On the one hand, the scientific worldview tends to associate objectivity with the kind of knowledge-acquisition, explanation, and justification characteristic of the natural sciences. On the other hand, the humanities themselves have contributed to the impression that they might be less relevant than the natural sciences to epistemic progress due to internal problems having to do with the very concept(s) of knowledge, reality and objectivity.

New Realism is a term for a whole series of current trends in philosophy that has important consequences for our understanding of knowledge in general. In particular, it reshapes our account of the human being qua source and object of knowledge claims. In this context, New Realism draws on a crucial indispensability thesis: we simply cannot eliminate the standpoint from which humans gather information about human and non-human reality alike from our account of reality itself. In light of this thesis, it turns out that the humanities are fully-fledged contributions to objective knowledge about reality – a fact we cannot ignore without succumbing to illusion. Against this background, the talk concludes that the so-called “scientific worldview” is untenable: it is built upon a denial of knowledge we actually possess, and so, by not being scientific enough, it fails to respect its own premises.

About the speaker:

Markus Gabriel holds the chair in epistemology, modern and contemporary philosophy at the University of Bonn. He is the director of the International Center for Philosophy and the multidisciplinary Center for Science and Thought. With Jocelyn Benoist he also directs Bonn-Paris Center for Research on New Realisms. His work focuses on contemporary philosophy, in particular epistemology and ontology, in an attempt to spell out the consequences of various trends in philosophy in a conversation with the humanities. Currently, he is working on a book called Fictions which deals with topics at the intersection of philosophy, literary studies and sociology.

The NYU Department of German and Deutsches Haus at NYU present “Objectivity and the Humanities – Prospects for a New Realism,” a talk by Professor Markus Gabriel.

Attendance information:

Events at Deutsches Haus are free of charge. If you would like to attend this event, please send us an email to Space at Deutsches Haus is limited; please arrive ten minutes prior to the event. Thank you!

Objectivity and the Humanities – Prospects for a New Realism” is a DAAD-supported event.

Film screening & discussion “Toxic Reigns of Resentment” @ Klein Conference Room, Room A510
Oct 24 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Sjoerd van Tuinen and Jürgen Schaflechner will present their film “Toxic Reigns of Resentment” featuring Wendy Brown, Grayson Hunt, Rahel Jaeggi, Alexander Nehamas, Robert Pfaller, Gyan Prakash, Peter Sloterdijk, and Sjoerd van Tuinen. NSSR philosopher Jay Bernstein will respond after the screening.

After the fall of the Soviet empire and the triumph of global capitalism, modernity appeared to keep its dual promise of liberty and equality. The spreading of human rights and democratic forms of government were intrinsically linked to free flows of global capital and free markets. Supported by technological developments and an ever-increasing digitalization of daily life, the future contained the promise of abundance and recognition for all.

Only a few decades later, however, we witness an oppositional trend: A revival of nationalism paired with xenophobia, an increasing tribalization of politics, a public sphere oscillating between cruelty and sentimentality, and a Left caught up in wounded attachments. Social media, once the promise to give voice to the disempowered, link cognitive capitalism with a culture of trolling and hyper moralization. Algorithms programmed to monetarize outrage feed isolated information bubbles and produce what many call the era of post-truth politics.

How did we enter this toxic climate? Are these developments a response to the ubiquity of neoliberal market structures eroding the basic solidarities in our society? Has the spread of social media limited our ability to soberly deal with conflicting life worlds? And have both the left and the right given in to a form of politics where moralization and cynical mockery outdo collective visions of the future?

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