Wednesday, April 18, 2007

BSD Conference

Saturday I attended the annual Berkeley-Stanford-Davis Graduate Conference in Philosophy which was held this year on the Berkeley campus. It was nice to see my alma mater again. Anyway, I attended a few interesting talks. One of them, of course, was my own. :)

The title of my paper was "The Modal and Temporal Problems from Concern". The basic idea was that certain theories of modality (necessity and possibility) as well as certain theories of time and persistence across time all have a similar problem in that they interpret the modal and temporal facts of reality in such a way that we would have no good reason to care for such facts and such facts could give us no good reasons to act in the ways we ordinarily think such facts justify us in doing so. So for instance, the theory of presentism says that the past and future do not exist - they are not real. So in order to give future tensed or past tensed statements the right truth-values, they have to interpret "past" facts or "future" facts as really facts about the present time. Ordinarily, we would take the past fact that, say, I committed some heinous act as a giving us good reason to punish me or blame me, etc. But, (I will leave the specific details of the paper aside) the sorts of facts the presentist identifies with such a past fact cannot do that - it cannot give us any reason at all for punishing me or otherwise holding me responsible for my past action. After all, on the presentist view, there is no such thing as my past heinous action to blame me for in the first place.

I got some good feedback from others at the conference. Mostly what came out was that I had forgotten to make explicit a few things in the paper, which I will soon remedy (that's what conferences are for, after all!). All in all, it was a good time.

No comments: