Billy Dunaway (Missouri-St Louis)

Daniel Fogal (Uppsala)

Sara Packalén (Stockholm)

Jessica Pepp (Umeå)

Andreas Stokke (Umeå)

Provisional Schedule


Daniel Fogal (Uppsala): ‘Varieties of Normative Explanation’

Commentator: Eric Johannesson (Stockholm)

Fogal (220 Kb)




Sara Packalén (Stockholm): ‘A Semantic Defence of Subjectivism’

Commentator: Nils Franzén (Uppsala)

Abstract: Subjectivism about normative language holds that "X is good (bad)" means (roughly) "I approve (disapprove) of X". A problem for the view is that it seems to give the wrong truth-conditions for sentences where a normative claim is embedded under modal operators. For example,  "If X is good, then necessarily X is good" is true while "If I approve of X, then necessarily I approve of X'' is false. I pick up and develop a suggestion of how to solve this problem from of Humberstone and Davies' 'Two notions of necessity' (1980). I also supplement the solution with a pragmatic account of disagreement. 

Packalén (238 Kb)




Billy Dunaway (Missuouri-St Lous): ‘Realism, Meta-semantics, and Risk’

Commentator: Tobias Wilsch (Uppsala)

Abstract: This paper explores the prospects for an underexplored epistemological argument against realism about the normative. The starting point is a meta-semantic thesis which (I have argued elsewhere) is a consequence of realism: that normative properties are easy to refer to. This thesis means, roughly, that some speakers who fail to regularly apply their normative terms like ‘ought’ to the property obligation will nonetheless succeed in referring to obligation, rather than some distinct property that better fits their use of ‘ought’. This meta-semantic commitment is a consequence of two more general theses: (i) that normative realism is the thesis that normative properties are metaphysically very fundamental, and (ii) that highly fundamental properties are easy to refer to. While this combination of claims is potentially very helpful to realists who wish to explain normative disagreement, and what distinguishes their view from sophisticated versions of anti-realism, there is a worry: that it makes knowledge of the normative hard or impossible to come by. This argument makes use of the following premises: 

(iii) that the meta-semantics for ‘ought’ will be moderately “stable”,

(iv) knowing a proposition requires believing it in a way that rules out being at risk of having a false belief. 

By moderately “stable”, I mean that there are a bunch of ways of using ‘ought’ that will succeed in referring to the property obligation, but at some point a change is use will make the referent of ‘ought’ “jump” to some property that is distinct from obligation. (iii) is a consequence of the realist’s commitments (i) and (ii). (iv) is an independently plausible necessary condition on knowledge. But they threaten to show that normative knowledge is impossible, since semantic “jumps” will produce false beliefs. So if the meta-semantics of ‘ought’ puts us at risk of seeing a semantic jump, it will put one at risk of having false beliefs, and hence will destroy normative knowledge. This argument form is potentially very threatening, and I explore what the realist’s metaphysics, meta-semantics, and epistemology need to look like in order for her to formulate a satisfactory response.

Dunaway (156 Kb)


Jessica Pepp (Umeå): ‘What Determines the Reference of Names? Neither Practice nor Epistemic Fix’

Commentator: Levi Spectre (Open University of Israel)

Abstract: It is fairly widely accepted that Saul Kripke, Keith Donnellan, and others showed in the 1960s-1980s that proper names, in particular uses by speakers, can refer to things free of anything like the epistemic requirements posited by Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. This paper separates two aspects of the Frege-Russell view of name reference: (i) the metaphysical thesis that names in particular uses refer to things in virtue of speakers thinking of those things and (ii) the epistemic thesis that thinking of things requires a means of determining (in the sense of figuring out or identifying) which thing one is thinking of. My question is whether the Kripke-Donnellan challenge should lead us to reject (i), (ii), or both. Contrary to a popular line of thinking that sees practices or conventions, rather than singular thinking, as determinative of linguistic reference, my answer is that we should reject only the epistemic thesis, not the metaphysical one.

Pepp (213 Kb)




Andreas Stokke (Umeå): ‘Lies, Harm, and Practical Interest’

Commentator: Jonas Åkerman (Stockholm)

Abstract: This paper develops an account of the ethics of lying that satisfies two main desiderata: (i) rejecting the view that lying is always wrong and (ii) rejecting the traditional view that lying necessarily involves intentions to deceive. I argue that there is no single factor that explains why lying is wrong, when it is wrong. Rather, the paper explores the view that lying may be wrong for many different reasons. It is argued that moral considerations against lying interact with other considerations, chiefly, against doing harm, and that this interaction explains why lying is permissible, when it is permissible. Further, this interaction is seen as sensitive to the bearing of the content of the relevant lie on the practical interest of the recipient. 

Stokke (108 Kb)


Jens Johansson (Uppsala) and Jonas Olson (Stockholm)