This year's forum is on the topic of 'Knowledge, Action, and Virtue'. The forum marks what is planned to be the first annual coming together of philosophers at institutions along an East-West axis, starting from Japan, passing through South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and ending in Edinburgh. The workshop is not only East-West because of the geographical locations of the institutions of the participating academics, it is also East-West because the philosophical discourse will include Eastern and Western philosophy, and simply philosophy.


Workshop: 'Knowledge, Action, and Virtue'

Dates: 2015, June, 24-25
Location: No.70 Linxi Rd., Shilin Dist., Waishuangxi Campus,
                    Taipei City, Taiwan
                    NO.2 Education Building, Room D1005

Confirmed Speakers:

Adam Carter - University of Edinburgh

Orestis Palermos - University of Edinburgh

Loy Hui Chieh - National University of Singapore

Christina Chuang - Nanyang Technological University

Leo Cheung - Chinese University of Hong Kong

Yong Huang - Chinese University of Hong Kong

Kai Yee Wong - Chinese University of Hong Kong

Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen - Yonsei University

Yasuo Deguchi - Kyoto University

Seisuke Hayakawa - Mie Prefectural College of Nursing

Rie Iizuka - University of Tokyo

Masaharu Mizumoto - Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

Kai Marchal - Soochow University

Chienkuo (Michael) Mi - Soochow University

Shane Ryan - Soochow University

Hsiang-min Shen - Soochow University

Cheng-hung Tsai - Soochow University

Wan-Chuan Fang - Soochow University

Yiu-Ming Fung - Soochow University




Wednesday, June 24

Chair by Wan-Chuan Fang

9:00~10:00 Skilful Reflection and Learning

Shane Ryan & Chienkuo Mi

It's our position that while there are competences that directly enable the gaining of true beliefs and so promote learning, there are also other competences that allow us to develop further competences. It is through such competences that we learn some of the competences that directly enable the gaining of true beliefs. Skilful reflection is a competence that we learn on the basis of other competences, and it is a competence that can allow us to directly gain true beliefs and to develop further competences. In fact the competence or virtue of reflection brings together both sorts of virtues that have been identified in the literature: faculty or ability based virtues and character based virtues. The former sort of virtue includes perception, memory, reasoning, introspection, etc., and the latter sort of virtue includes open-mindedness, fair-mindedness, intellectual courage, and so on. The virtue of reflection is a sort of master virtue, equipped to draw on what all the other virtues offer to the intellectual agent. The agent who has the virtue of reflection is equipped to make a virtuous intellectual judgement on the basis of her faculties and character based virtues.

10:00~11:00 Knowledge, Epistemic Luck and Propositional Memory

J. Adam Carter

Two varieties of knowledge-undermining (veritic) epistemic luck are typically recognized in mainstream epistemology: intervening and environmental epistemic luck. Surprisingly, propositional memory cases pose a unique and perhaps intractable challenge to this picture, and more generally, to mainstream thinking about knowledge and luck. My aim here will be to illuminate the source of the tension posed by such cases and to outline and evaluate several lines of response.

11:00~12:00 Knowledge and Cognitive Integration

Orestis Palermos

Cognitive integration is a defining yet overlooked feature of our intellect that may nevertheless have substantial effects on the process of knowledge-acquisition. To bring those effects to the fore, I explore the topic of cognitive integration both from the perspective of virtue reliabilism within externalist epistemology and the perspective of extended cognition within externalist philosophy of mind and cognitive science. On the basis of this interdisciplinary focus, I argue that cognitive integration can provide a minimalist yet adequate epistemic norm of subjective justification: so long as the agent’s belief-forming process has been integrated in his cognitive character, the agent can be justified in holding the resulting beliefs merely by lacking any doubts there was something wrong in the way he arrived at them. Moreover, since both externalist philosophy of mind and externalist epistemology treat the process of cognitive integration in the same way, we can claim that epistemic cognitive characters may extend beyond our organismic cognitive capacities to the artifacts we employ or even to other agents we interact with. This move is not only necessary for accounting for advanced cases of knowledge that is the product of the operation of epistemic artifacts or the interactive activity of research teams, but it can further lead to interesting ramifications both for social epistemology and philosophy of science.

12:00~13:30 Lunch

13:30~14:30 A Counterexample to the Robust and Anti-luck Virtue Epistemologies

Leo K. C. Cheung

This paper begins with an introduction to four different prominent versions of process reliabilism about knowledge, namely, the simple K-reliabilism, John Greco’s robust virtue epistemology, Duncan Pritchard’s anti-luck virtue epistemology, and the Goldmanian K- reliabilism. It then offers a counterexample, namely, the fewer barn façades case, to the anti-luck virtue epistemology, and thus to the robust virtue epistemology and the simple K-reliabilism. Since there are already other counterexamples, like Keith Lehrer’s Mr. Truetemp case, to the Goldmanian K-reliabilism, the discovery of a counterexample to the other three prominent versions of K-reliabilism is a strong attack on K-reliabilism in general.

14:30~15:30 Situationism and Virtue Epistemology

Rie Iizuka

Situationsits have criticized the empirical adequacy of moral virtues, and some of them have recently begun criticizing virtue epistemology in a similar fashion. In a series of paper, Mark Alfano explicitly claimed that virtue responsibilism is empirically inadequate. Virtue theories are attacked especially because virtues are prescriptive notions with descriptive properties: thick concepts. He argues that psychology tells us people are susceptible to seemingly trivial and epistemically (morally) irrelevant situational influences thus, predictive and explanatory appeals to characters are empirically inadequate (Alfano 2012). Here, in order for the descriptive component of virtue theory to be empirically adequate, Alfano (also Doris) implicitly presupposed that it must take some role in prediction and explanation of everyone’s behavior. In this paper, I doubt the adequacy of this presupposition. This presupposition becomes questionable when we draw our attention to the fact that virtue theory is also a normative theory. One interpretation available is virtue theory describes virtuous people’s psychology. In virtue theory, the theoretical importance of moral motivation (moral reasoning) is widely recognized. Hursthouse emphasized that people are virtuous not because of their natural temperament, but partly because of their moral motivation. The moral reasoning will be the sorts of reasons for which someone with a particular virtue, V will do a V act (Hursthouse 1999).
     Thus, if it is proved that our motivation is causally ineffective, then it will eventually threaten the empirical adequacy of the virtue theory. However, this is highly unlikely, when we pay attention to psychological studies on our motivation. Some psychologists have maintained that how we’re motivated have tremendous influence on our resulting actions. The widely recognized phenomena are when we are intrinsically motivated to do certain desirable activity, we are lead to do so more often than the extrinsically motivated counterparts (Ryan & Deci 2000). Thus, in this paper, I will defend the empirical adequacy of virtue theory from psychological perspective in a novel way.

15:30~16:30 Knowing-to: Other/More than Knowing-that and Knowing-How.

Yong Huang

Abstract: TBA

16:30~17:30 Paradoxes and Possibilities of "Confucian Freedom": From Yan Fu (1853-1921) to Mou Zongsan (1909-1995)

Kai Marchal

Abstract: This essay investigates the reception of two major representatives of Classical liberalism, namely John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant, in China. I show that the creative appropriation of these two thinkers by Yan Fu 嚴復 (1853-1921) and Mou Zongsan 牟宗三 (1909-1995) needs to be understood as a response to the challenges of global modernity. Finally, I argue that such a cross-cultural dynamic also has major philosophical implications.



Thursday, June 25

Chair by Yiu-Ming Fung

9:00~10:00 Suffering Substitution: A Mahāyāna Virtue Viewed from Contemporary Perspectives

Yasuo Deguchi

Everything including self is empty. It is not clear whether this thesis of Mahayana Buddhism can be compatible with such ideas as moral agency, responsibility, and social ethics. Then how to establish social ethics of emptiness that accords with the doctrine of emptiness? This is one of main questions that motivated Kyoto school philosophers including Keiji Nishitani. Throughout his carrier, Nishitani tried to solve the above problem in one or another way. One of his last answers synthesizes an East Asian Mahayana idea of authentic self aka Buddhahood, Confucian idea of Heaven as ethical supervisor, Kierkegaardrian face-to-face relation between self and God, and Weberian idea of vocation. This philosophical chemical-combination results in a sort of virtue ethics where ‘honesty to ones own authentic self’ is ranked as the premier virtue and master carpenter serves as its model.
Nishitanian authentic self remains abstract, content-less or deflationary. In other words, he replaced Mahayana thesis of emptiness of self with his deflationary view on self. But here is a problem: his authentic self is so deflationary that it can license too many conducts and vocations as being honest to itself. This may lead Nishitanian virtue ethics to a sort of opportunism that ethical standards can too easily vary with cultural and political situations.
To get rid of such a problem, let me propose a more inflationary idea of authentic self. Being inspired by Nishitani’s idea on emotional and volitional emptiness, this inflationary self takes into account emotional and volitional dimension of self.

10:00~11:00 Rational Devotion and Human Perfection

Christina Chuang

Abstract: In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna lays out three paths of yoga as the means to achieve human perfection:  the path of self-less action (karma yoga), the path of devotion (bhakti yoga), and the path of knowledge (jnana yoga).  In this paper I will argue for an interpretation of the Gita in which the path of devotion is the highest path because devotion is more than having an intense feeling of love for God.  Rather, practicing devotion to a particular form of God is an intellectual love for God that entails an intuitive understanding of the essence of things through the mind.  My approach is to cross-examine the concept of human perfection as discussed in the Gita and Spinoza’s Ethics.  Human perfection is characterized in both texts as a total liberation from being guided by things external to oneself other than by one’s own nature.  Spinoza’s idea of the “free man” resembles the self-realized agent in the Gita, because a human being becomes more “perfect” when it expresses God’s power to a greater degree.  Spinozistic devotion is a single act of the mind, an intellectual intuition of God’s essence, which, in turn, will lead to the practice of self-less actions.

11:00~12:00 Naming and Essences

Kai-Yee Wong

Abstract: The descriptivist picture of names has fallen into disrepute due to intense criticisms, most famously, by Saul Kripke in the 1970s. In Truth by Analysis (Oxford, 2012), Colin McGinn aims to breathe new life to the description theory. He argues for a new descriptive analysis according to which naming requires the provision of descriptions specifying the conditions that constitute the essences of the referents. By focusing on essences, McGinn argues, his analysis can not only avoid the modal problem of rigidity but also withstand Kripke’s semantic arguments. This paper raises some objections against McGinn’s analysis.

12:00~13:30 Lunch

13:30~14:30 Knowledge of Meaning as Anscombe’s Practical Knowledge and Its Implication to Virtue Semantics

Masaharu Mizumoto

1. Introduction
We know what we mean. Or so we think. Many philosophers have tried to reduce this knowledge to knowledge of a theory of truth, whether or not they think that giving such a theory is sufficient for a theory of meaning. In this paper I will instead propose to view the knowledge of meaning as practical knowledge, in the sense of knowing what I am doing. Mandy philosophers think, pace Chomsky, that knowledge of language is practical knowledge, in the sense of knowing how to use words. Practical knowledge in our sense is Anscombe’s (Anscombe 1957), which was also termed as “knowledge without observation”.
The account can be divided into two steps. Step 1 is the account of the content of what the speaker intends to mean. At this stage there is no gap between the speaker’s knowledge of intended meaning of the utterance u and the knowledge of what she means by u qua an idiolect. This content is then explained as the content of the possible knowledge. The content of such hypothetical knowledge is then explained by an analysis of knowledge, what I called Sustainability, or knowledge as a sustainable (formally, monotonic) belief against the actual (not merely possible) information in the environment (Mizumoto 2011). This will specify the relevant information the speaker is supposed to have, together with the absence of relevant information in the environment, which I call “knowledge condition.” (Note that this analysis is not a conjunctive analysis of knowledge, as criticized by Williamson 2000). Step 2 connects the content captured by this knowledge condition with the speaker’s knowledge (or ignorance) of language, through the account of the knowledge of what the speaker means by an utterance u, taking account of the linguistic norms and our dispositions of deference. This knowledge is also explained by the same analysis of knowledge, or Sustainability.

2. Against Truth-Condition
This account of the knowledge of meaning is continuous with the account of the content of the propositional attitude by its satisfaction condition (in the case of intention), or truth-condition (in the case of belief). The limitations of truth-condition in capturing the content of utterance or sentence have been well-known. Especially famous is its coarse-grainedness. For example, truth-condition cannot distinguish necessary truths, and therefore if mathematical truths are necessary truths, there would be only one truth-condition for mathematics, given that truth-condition is analyzed by or equated with a set of possible worlds (Stalnaker) or possible situations (Barwise & Perry). Also, this entails that if I believe some mathematical truth, I also believe all the mathematical truths, and that if P is a necessary truth, for any contingent proposition Q, I believe that P-and-Q whenever I believe that Q, where the content of propositional attitude is analyzed by its truth-condition. However, even if these difficulties are all overcome, say by introducing more fine-grained notion of truth-condition, there remains one crucial, even inherent, difficulty for it. That is, as I have argued elsewhere, the notion of truth cannot rule out the possibility of accidental truth.
Conditions that are accidentally satisfied are almost by definition what is not intended or meant by the speaker. Thus any proper account of the content of utterance or sentence uttered in a specific context must rule out such accidentally satisfied conditions. This requirement is not necessary, if minimalists are right and we can always have some literal content. As Travis argued with many examples, such literal sense (if exists) must be at least supplemented by the contextual information to be a propositional content. Minimalists argue against this that at least some minimal proposition (literal content) is always there as long as each part of the sentence or utterance has its literal sense (indexicals and demonstratives aside), which should be enough for the knowledge of what one says by an utterance. This however assumes unlimited compositionality principle, which is dubious to say the least. For example, take the famous example of Wittgenstein, “It’s 5 O’clock at the sun”. We do need to assume some restricted compositionality principle of meaning (to the extent we know how to use relevant words in paradigmatic situations), but if we cannot accept such unlimited compositionality, we cannot and should not expect that any grammatically correct sentence expresses a (minimal) proposition. If so, we cannot always expect the existence of even the literal content (or minimal proposition) for an utterance either, and consequently the knowledge of the theory of truth is all the more insufficient for the knowledge of what one means by an utterance.

3. Step 1: Knowledge Condition
The notion of proposition or content captured in Step 1 is knowledge condition, in the sense that it is identified with the content of practical knowledge of the speaker about what the speaker intends to mean by an utterance. Since it is knowledge, rather than mere belief, accidentally satisfied conditions are ruled out by the analysis of knowledge, or Sustainability. There, the speaker obtains information about the environment and the belief that is sustainable (that is, would not be retracted given the normal pattern of belief change) against such information (hypothetically obtained in whatever order) counts as knowledge. The relevant belief in the Gettier cases does not satisfy this condition, and therefore the content of belief that does satisfy this condition (Sustainability) is finer-grained and far richer than the one captured by truth-condition. (If we are to treat it mathematically, it must be analyzed as a set of primitive centered worlds, that is, worlds from a particular perspective with particular set of pieces of information, rather than a set of ordinary possible worlds, which should even contain subjective experiences or qualia, contrary to the original Lewisian centered world qua an ordered pair of a spatial and temporal point and the centerless world.)
Still, we do need and assume some understanding of literal sense of the relevant term in uttering jokes and ironies (and perhaps in using metaphors). But that is exactly because in uttering jokes and ironies we must know what we are doing. We would retract the belief about what we mean by an attempt of joke or irony if we find out that the relevant word is actually not used by others in the way we thought. Step 2 is concerned with the very issue of this literal (conventional) sense.

4. Step 2: Towards Virtue Semantics
Note that, our belief about what we are doing is defeasible just as any other empirical belief. If we obtain relevant information and realize that we are not doing what we thought we are doing, we would retract the belief, and therefore such belief is also non-monotonic. Thus the belief is knowledge if and only if it is sustainable (monotonic) against the actual information in the environment, according to Sustainability analysis. Then our knowledge of what we mean by an utterance is also given the same analysis (Sustainability). There, we assume that the speaker obtains linguistic information about the use of words by other people. As I said, in Step 1 there is no gap between the speaker’s knowledge of intended meaning of the utterance u and the knowledge of what she means by u qua an idiolect. Here, however, if the speaker realizes that the vast majority of people use the relevant word differently from her own use, then she would retract the previous belief about what she has meant by the utterance. So the belief was not knowledge after all. This step therefore accommodates the due normativity of meaning, through the linguistic norms shared by the community of the speaker.
However, this step presupposes our tendency or disposition of deference to the use of others. If the speaker is not moved by the information about the use of others at all, then she is actually speaking an idiolect, and Step 1 was enough for her knowledge of meaning (of her own idiolect).
However, linguistic deference is not always deference to shared norms imposed by authorities. Rather, we may think that the linguistic norms are gradually formed through the deference of ordinary people to the use of some other people whom ordinary people trust, respect, or are attracted to. Thus there are certainly some people to whose use we tend to or disposed to defer, and others to whose use we are not disposed to defer. What makes this difference? If we compare the deference to linguistic norms to deontological ethics, this individual-based system of deference may be compared to virtue ethics. Virtuous person is the one people want to be like, playing the role of the ideal of the people. Likewise, we may say that people to whose use ordinary people tend to or are disposed to defer, possess some linguistic or semantic virtue. The term “virtue semantics” was coined by Tsai (2008). Our version of virtue semantics may be a little different, based on the system of deference relevant only in Step 2. Still, I shall argue that it is a virtue of this virtue semantics that it allows us to have a broader perspective of the externalist semantics, bringing into view the individual-based deference which also involves the one in ordinary educational contexts, the inter-generational transmissions of linguistic norms, and even the phenomena of cross-linguistic deference.

14:30~15:30 Rethinking Diachronic Agency: A Care Perspective

Seisuke Hayakawa

As many philosophers of action emphasize, human agency is temporally unfolding over time. The most dominant approach has analyzed our diachronic agency by exploring the nature of intention, a plan, and a policy. Particularly, Michael Bratman’s work has made a major contribution to this field by clarifying important functions of what he calls “a self-governing policy”. However, in contrast to Bratman’s policy perspective, I will adopt a care perspective, and attempt to show that it can highlight a neglected dimension ofdiachronic agency. The concept of care was originally introduced into philosophy of action by Harry Frankfurt. Since then, care-based theories of agency have also been developed by other philosophers. However, I will argue that Frankfurt and these theorists fail to clarify the distinctive significance of caring because their analyses are not well-grounded in the understanding of receptivity that typically lies at the heart of caring. Finally, I will contend that a diachronic form of empathic receptivity plays a non-negligible and irreducible role in constituting a rational form of diachronic agency.

15:30~16:30 Non-Rational Action and Disagreement: A New Argument Against (Strong) Non-Conformism

Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen

Recently there has been a surge of interest in the intersection between epistemology and action theory, especially in principles linking justification or rationality in thought and justification or rationality in action. Recently there has also been a surge of interest in the epistemic significance of perceived peer disagreement: what, epistemically speaking, is the rational response in light of disagreement with someone whom one regards as an epistemic peer? The objective of this paper is to explore these two issues—separately, but, crucially, also in connection with one another. I turn first to the idea that the normative standing of our actions depends on the normative standing of our beliefs. I endorse this idea. More precisely, I endorse a principle according to which adequate epistemic justification for beliefs pertaining to success conditions for a given goal-directed action is a necessary condition on rational execution of that action. I then turn to the debate concerning the epistemic significance of perceived peer disagreement. The basic issue is whether perceived peer disagreement is always epistemically significant in the sense of serving as a defeater of the justification or rationality characteristic of the involved parties’ beliefs prior to recognition of the disagreement. Conformists argue that this is so, non-conformists that it is not. My goal is to present a new argument against non-conformism. The key premise is the principle that adequate epistemic justification for beliefs pertaining to success conditions for a given goal-directed action is a necessary condition on rational execution of that action. I argue that, given this principle, non-conformism fails to yield the verdict that the epistemic requirement on rational action is violated in cases where, intuitively, it is violated. In light of this failure I conclude, with the conformist, that perceived peer disagreement has defeating force. Finally I offer some reflections on the nature of the defeaters generated by perceived peer disagreement.