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12 September 2013, Modal epistemology and the philosophy of science, Odense, Denmark

Date: 12 September 2013
Location: Odense, Denmark

Dear colleagues,

Drop me an email, if you are interested in attending this workshop. Registration is free.

Workshop: Modal epistemology and the philosophy of science.

Venue: Univ. of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense S, Denmark Room Ø18-307-2

Time: 12th September 2013 10-18.


10-11: Mikkel Gerken, Univ.of Edinburgh: 'Outsourced Cognition.'
11-12: Jacob Busch, Univ. of Aarhus: 'Inferring the existence of entities (or kinds) one inference at a time.'
13-14.30: Rene van Woudenberg, VU Amsterdam: 'Design Scepticism.'
14.30-15.00: Coffee
15-16.30: Darrell Rowbottom, Lingnan University: 'Against Scientific Realism: New Arguments from Inconceivability.'
16.30-17: Break
17-18: Asger Bo Skjerning Steffensen, Univ. of Aarhus : 'Conceivability and De Re Modal Knowledge: A reply to Roca-Royes.'

The workshop is funded by an endowment from The Danish Research Council - Humanities.


Mikkel Gerken: Outsourced Cognition

The dramatic developments in technologically enabled social cognition over the last decades call for a rethinking of many aspects of human cognition. According the hypothesis of extended cognition, we must revise our psychological categories by eliminating allegedly superficial distinctions between (internal) cognition and (external) processes. As an alternative to this proposal, I outline a hypothesis of outsourced cognition which seeks to respect distinctions that are operative in both folk psychology and empirical psychology. According to this hypothesis, the cases of coupled systems involve outsourcing cognitive or information-processing tasks to resources distinct from those that are attributable to the individual. Importantly, outsourcing cognition is itself a cognitive process that is attributable to the individual. I argue that this proposal is not merely conservative in preserving explanatory categories in folk psychology and the cognitive sciences but that it also contributes to a more fine-grained taxonomy of cognitive categories. As such, it is explanatorily important. As a case study, I consider the epistemology of testimony. I will argue that important epistemological categories may be preserved by adopting the outsourced cognition hypothesis over the extended cognition hypothesis. Moreover, I will argue that the outsourced cognition hypothesis is also of direct explanatory value in informing the epistemology of testimony.

Jacob Busch: TBA

Rene van Woudenberg: Design Skepticism

There is a tendency, especially among popular science writers, to make bold pronouncements to the effect that we now know that living things, despite appearances to the contrary, are not designed. Here, for instance, is Richard Dawkins: The analogy between telescope and eye, between watch and living organism, is false. [.] Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. After having claimed that we know that God doesn't exist, Alex Rosenberg even adds a modal twist to the plot: Taking physics seriously has the surprising consequence that you have to accept Darwin's theory of natural selection as the only possible way that the appearance of purpose, design, or intelligence could have emerged anywhere in the universe. In this paper I want to take issue with such claims by presenting two challenges to design deniers, i.e. people who claim that we know that something is not designed. These challenges are meant to undermine the possibility of knowing that something is not designed, or at least to show how difficult it really is to know such a thing. Inspiration for these challenges comes from two sources: radical skeptical arguments and arguments deployed by skeptical theists in response to the evidential problem of evil

Darrell Rowbottom: Against Scientific Realism: New Arguments from Inconceivability

There are several existing arguments against scientific realism which rely on the notion that key alternatives are (synchronically or diachronically) inconceivable. But there are other such arguments which have remained unarticulated. In this paper, I will chart the possibility space of such arguments, and outline some promising novel arguments for anti-realism.

Asger B.S. Steffensen: TBA


Nikolaj Nottelmann
Associate Professor, PhD
Institute for The Study of Cultures - Philosophy
University of Southern Denmark
Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M

DK +45 65503667

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