Davidson on Practical Knowledge

Volume 3.9 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy [JHAP] has now been published.
This issue features an article by David Hunter entitled “Davidson on Practical Knowledge”. Here is an abstract:

Did Donald Davidson agree with G.E.M. Anscombe that action requires a distinctive form of agential awareness? The answer is No, at least according to the standard interpretation of Davidson’s account of action. A careful study of Davidson’s early writings, however, reveals a much more subtle conception of the role of agential belief in action. While the role of the general belief in Davidson’s theory is familiar and has been much discussed, virtually no attention has been paid to the singular belief. This essay makes a start on remedying this neglect. I begin, in section 1, by examining Davidson’s claim that for a desire or belief to rationalize and cause an action it must have a suitable generality. It must, he says, be ‘logically independent’ of the action itself. While he was clear about this requirement in the case of the desire that forms part of a person’s primary reason, I show in section 2 that his early treatment of belief confuses general and singular beliefs. This confusion reflects his failure clearly to distinguish the two roles belief can play in his account of action: as rationalizing cause and as agential awareness. Somewhat surprisingly, though, after he carefully drew the distinction and announced that intentional action requires practical knowledge, he pretty much ignored it. This may explain why some have assumed that Davidson parted ways with Anscombe on this. But a careful study of their writings shows that in fact they held remarkably similar views on the nature and need for practical knowledge.

Call for Participants: Logic in Kant’s Wake


From 6-8 May 2016, McMaster’s Philosophy Department will be hosting the final installment of the workshop. The event is sponsored by McMaster’s Bertrand Russell Research Centre (Faculty of Humanities), Michael Forster’s Humboldt Professorship (Bonn, Germany) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The general motivation for the project is to better understand the development of logic in the 19th century and, in particular, to make sense of an idea that seems to have been formidably widespread at the time, namely, that Kant had a tremendous influence on the discipline. This surprising observation raises a number of questions, for instance: What did logicians understood ‘logic’ to mean before and after Kant? What were Kant’s views on logic and how did they inform the views of his successors? What characterizes the Idealists’ reception of Kant’s ideas on logic? How does logic develop in other post-Kantian contexts, e.g. in Fries’ and Herbart’s theories, and later in those of Trendelenburg, Lotze and the algebraists in Britain? Where does the groundbreaking work of Bolzano, Frege and Russell fit within the broader (German-speaking, British) contexts? What of the relation between logic and psychology before the well-known anti-psychologistic criticisms of the end of the 19th century?

Workshop Participants:

  • Frederick Beiser, Syracuse
  • Michael Forster, Bonn
  • Nicholas Griffin, McMaster
  • Jeremy Heis, UC Irvine
  • Sandra Lapointe, McMaster
  • Gary Ostertag, CUNY
  • Lydia Patton, Virginia Tech
  • Consuelo Preti, The College of New Jersey
  • Graham Priest, CUNY/Melbourne
  • Brigitte Sassen, McMaster
  • Nick Stang, Toronto
  • Clinton Tolley, UC San Diego

Call For Participants

We welcome anyone who is interested to attend to indicate their intention in advance, so that we can plan in consequence. The program is also still open. Each participant will be allocated 90 minutes. Ideally, presentations should be 30-35 minutes, to allow time for thorough discussion and maximize constructive input as well as the exchange of ideas. Each participant will be expected to contribute to the proceedings (in a volume with a first rate publisher). The workshop should be a place where participants can test ideas and benefit from discussion toward the final draft of their paper.

There are not many spots available, but we warmly welcome submissions, especially from experts whose work might help throw lights on aspects of the development of logic in the 19th century – e.g. alternative conceptions of its scope, method and place within philosophy – that have been neglected. If you are interested in participating, please send a short message indicating your interest and an abstract, no later than 1 November to:


Notification will be given shortly thereafter.

CfP: Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics Annual Meeting at the 2016 CHSS

Call for Abstracts

Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics Annual Meeting
University of Calgary, May 29-31, 2016

Special Session: Mathematics and Logic in the 19th and 20th Century

Kenneth May Lecturer: Dr. Jamie Tappenden, Department of Philosophy, University of Michigan

The CSHPM will be holding its 2016 Annual Meeting at the University of Calgary in conjunction with the 2016 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The meeting will be held Sunday through Tuesday, May 29-31, 2016.

Members are invited to present papers on any subject relating to the history of mathematics, its use in the teaching of mathematics, the philosophy of mathematics, or a related topic. Talks in either English or French are welcome.

Please send your title and abstract (200 words or less) in Word or in the body of an email by February 1, 2016 to:

For the Special Session:

Thomas Drucker
Department of Mathematics
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Whitewater, WI 53190-1790

For the General Session:

Eisso Atzema
Department of Mathematics & Statistics
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469

CfP: Bertrand Russell Society at the Central APA

Call for Papers and Abstracts

Bertrand Russell Session
at the American Philosophy Association Central Meeting

Palmer House Hilton
Chicago, Illinois
March 2 – 5, 2016

The Bertrand Russell Society is pleased to announce the Bertrand Russell Session, to be held at the APA Central 2016 meeting. We welcome submissions in any area of Russell’s philosophy broadly construed. These areas can include, but are not limited to, Russell’s work in or influence on logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of education, or ethics. Submissions focussing more generally on Russell’s place in the history of philosophy are also welcome.

Guidelines: Presentations should be prepared for no more than 20 minutes. Submissions can either be full papers or abstracts. Preference will be given to full papers. Please prepare submissions for blind review and include a separate document that includes: the paper title, author(s) name(s), affiliation(s), and contact information.

Deadline: Please email submissions to dustin.olson@rochester.edu by November 10, 2015.

BRS websitehttp://bertrandrussell.org/

Conventionalism and the Impoverishment of the Space of Reasons: Carnap, Quine and Sellars

Volume 3.8 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy [JHAP] is now online.

It features an article by Kenneth R. Westphal entitled “Conventionalism and the Impoverishment of the Space of Reasons: Carnap, Quine and Sellars”.

It also includes a review by David Pereplyotchik of an anthology on Sellars edited by Willem deVries.
Continue reading Conventionalism and the Impoverishment of the Space of Reasons: Carnap, Quine and Sellars

Conventionalism and the Impoverishment of the Space of Reasons: Carnap, Quine and Sellars

This article examines how Quine and Sellars develop informatively contrasting responses to a fundamental tension in Carnap’s semantics ca. 1950. Quine’s philosophy could well be styled ‘Essays in Radical Empiricism’; his assay of radical empiricism is invaluable for what it reveals about the inherent limits of empiricism. Careful examination shows that Quine’s criticism of Carnap’s semantics in ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’ fails, that at its core Quine’s semantics is for two key reasons incoherent and that his hallmark Thesis of Extensionalism is untenable. The tension in Carnap’s semantics together with Quine’s exposure of the severe limits of radical empiricism illuminate central features of Sellars’s philosophy: the fully general form of the myth of givenness, together with Sellars’s alternative Kantian characterisation of understanding; the full significance of Carnap’s distinction between conceptual analysis and conceptual explication, and its important methodological implications; the specifically pragmatic character of Sellars’s realism; and Sellars’s methodological reasons for holding that philosophy must be systematic and that systematic philosophy must be deeply historically and textually informed. This paper thus re-examines this recent episode of philosophical history for its philosophical benefits and systematic insights.

SSHAP 2016 (Denver) – Call For Papers

The fifth annual conference of the Society for the Study of the History of Analytical Philosophy will be held in Denver, Colorado 16-18 June 2016. It is locally organised by Sean Morris and funded by the Philosophy Department at Metropolitan State University Denver.

Invited Speakers:

The Society for Study of the History of Analytical Philosophy is an international organization aimed at promoting discussion in all areas of scholarship concerning the development of philosophical logic, philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, the philosophy of science and epistemology. It welcomes scholars interested in the many ways in which the disciplines were influenced by thinkers such as Bolzano, Brentano and his school, Husserl, Frege, Russell, the Vienna Circle, Tarski and the Polish school, for instance, but also seeks to promote work engaging with lesser know figures and trends.

Previous conferences have been held at McMaster University, Indiana University, Université du Québec à Montréal and Trinity College Dublin.


SSHAP invites submissions for its 2016 annual conference. Paper submissions in all areas of the history of analytic philosophy are welcome.

A selection of papers from the conference will be published in a special volume of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy. (www.jhaponline.org)

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: January 15, 2016.

Submission Instructions

Authors are requested to submit their papers electronically according to the following guidelines:

1) Papers should be prepared for blind refereeing, 2) put into PDF file format, and 3) sent as an email attachment to the address given below. 4) The subject line of the submission email should include the key-phrase “SSHAP submission”, and 5) the body text of the email message should constitute a cover page for the submission by including i) return email address, ii) author’s name, iii) affiliation, iv) paper title, and v) short abstract and vi) academic rank.

Time allowed for presentation is 60 minutes (including discussion). We recommend that papers submissions be no longer than 4000 words.

Electronic submissions and queries should be sent to: