Royal Institute of Philosophy Stapledon Colloquium 2022-23

The Stapledon Colloquium Series features external speakers and members of the Liverpool department of Philosophy presenting current philosophical research. The seminars are free and open to members of the public. The seminar takes place on Thursdays, 3-5pm at the School of the Arts Library, 19 Abercromby Square, Liverpool L7 7BD.

In 2022-23, we will be presenting a mixture of online and in-person seminars.

Read about Olaf Stapledon here.

For any organisational queries, contact Dr Vid Simoniti

Semester 1

06 Oct 22

(in person)

Raamy Majeed, University of Manchester


Emotions Beyond Modularity

Are our emotions triggered by emotion-specific mechanisms, i.e., “modules”, or are they constructed from domain-general “core systems”? Modular theories of emotion struggle to accommodate the growing body of evidence against emotional modularity, whereas non-modular theories, such as various forms of constructionism, typically ignore some of the main reasons why modules were posited in the first place. This paper takes as its point of departure the observation that both modular and non-modular theories of emotion make certain assumptions about the cognitive architecture of emotion without paying adequate attention to the various ways such an architecture itself can be transformed during ontogenetic development. In response, I argue both the evidence for and against emotional modularity can be accommodated by employing Karmiloff-Smith’s (1992, 1998, 2009, 2015) notion of “progressive modularisation”: the formation of module-like structures through multidirectional interactions between an agent's genes, brain, cognition, behaviour and environment.

20 Oct 22

(online, 5pm start)

Annalisa Coliva,

University of California, Irvine

Hinge Trust

By looking at On Certainty, I offer a characterization of trust in its most basic form and show how trust enters epistemology not just when testimony is concerned, but also in the process of acquiring hinges that are essential to all our epistemic practices. 

I claim that trust is a specific kind of stance which comes before the ability of forming justified beliefs for or against empirical propositions, which may be directed not only at people but also at perceptual and cognitive faculties, objects, artifacts, and various features of one’s environment. Given the basicness of such a stance and the fact that it manifests itself in the clearest form when we are considering its role with respect to hinges, I call it “hinge trust”. 

I then consider its bearing onto current debates about trust and make a case for a “trust-first” redressing of those debates. That is, for ceasing to analyze trust as “reliance +” some other factor, such as goodwill, benevolence, commitment, etc. Similar to what happens in the “knowledge first” literature, 

Afterwards, I consider the relation between trust and distrust, arguing, once again, in favor of a “trust-first” approach, according to which trust is prior to and better than distrust. 

Finally, (and only if there is time) I look at the role of trust with respect to testimony and in hinge epistemology more generally.

Register for the online seminar here

03 Nov 22 (in person)

Gregor Moder, University of Ljubljana

The Monarch and The Master: Hegel and Shakespeare on Power

This paper discusses Julius Caesar, both the historical individual and the play by William Shakespeare, in order to elucidate the difference between the idea of the monarch and the concept of the master in Hegel’s political philosophy. The premise for our consideration will be twofold. First, these two ideas should be strictly distinguished. Second, we will argue that the clue to their difference is in Hegel’s recurring claim that death is the absolute master.

17 Nov 22 (online)

Peter van Inwagen, University of Notre Dame / Duke University

Stapledon’s Star Maker: Metaphysical and Theological Reflections

This lecture concerns the being called “the Star Maker” in Olaf Stapledon’s novel of that title. I will examine Stapledon’s descriptions of the Star Maker with an eye to answering this question: Supposing that there really is a being to whom these descriptions apply, what is there to be said for and against each of the following statements?

The Star Maker is not God, but he’s the closest thing there is to God

The Star Maker is God––albeit a God very different from the God of the Abrahamic religions.

I will also compare the Star Maker with Spinoza’s God and with the being called “the young man” in Kingsley Amis’s novel The Green Man.

Register for the online seminar here

01 Dec 22

Troy Jollimore (California State University, Chico)

Love and Belief

As proponents of so-called “epistemic partiality” have claimed, we tend to see those we love more positively than we view those to whom we are indifferent. But what does ‘seeing more positively’ amount to? Currently dominant accounts of epistemic partiality tend to wrongly view the lover as naïve or epistemically irrational, or to be oversimplistic in their accounts of love’s influences on epistemic practices and on resulting beliefs. In this talk I discuss various forms of epistemic partiality, and push back against the common tendency to assume that objective epistemic standards must be in conflict with the practices and tendencies of a good friend or lover.

Register for the online seminar here