SoCal Metaphysics Network
Graduate Workshop
organized by Sayid R. Bnefsi

with special shout-outs to:Louis Doulas, Miriam, and Gloria at UCI Philosophy

Daniel Z. Korman (UCSB)3:00-5:00 PMHG 1010 @ UCI

low-key grad student workshophigh-key grad student developmentthree speakers, pre-read papers, brief overviews and engaging Q&As

Friday, April 22, 202212:30-2:45 PMHG 1010 @ UCI

Keynote Title:

On the Metaphysics of Race


Philosophers of race appeal to a wide variety of different factors in analyzing racial phenomena: ancestry, physical appearance, systems of privilege and oppression, shared ways of life, and so-called “racial essences”. My aim in this paper is to distinguish four importantly different questions about racial groups that one may be trying to answer in appealing to these factors. I’ll show that marking these distinctions proves quite fruitful, revealing ways of strengthening existing arguments for the non-existence of racial groups, new avenues for addressing various challenges to biological and social accounts of race, and a range of hybrid positions that have been largely overlooked in the literature.

Paper Title:
A Tractarian Structuralism: Dissolving the Wellfoundedness Problem Abstract:

This paper has two aims. One is to suggest that developing a “Tractarian” structuralism allows the structuralist to be free from one of the major problems of their view: wellfoundedness without fundamental objects. Another is to argue that such a structuralism is to be found in the Tractatus. This all relies heavily on an interpretation of the discussion of structural properties, formal concepts, and types in the 4s. Both the dissolution of the wellfoundedness problem and the structuralist interpretation of the Tractatus depend on making sense of “object” as merely denoting a logical role, with no metaphysical significance. My approach to the Tractatus is largely in line with a “logically oriented” reading (but stopping short of a “resolute” reading). Particularly of importance is the context principle (TLP 3.3), which sets up a “top-down” order of semantic grounding. This discussion aims to shed new light on the general structuralist project and perhaps on Tractatus interpretation as well. Any contribution of the latter kind found herein is towards an understanding of the climbing of the ladder.

Paper Title:
On Racism: An Account from the Victim’s Perspective

In this paper, I plan to advance our understanding of racism in three ways. First, I present an account of racism as harm to persons on the basis of perceived racial properties. Second, I argue that there are three interacting perspectives that can be taken with regard to this harm and to which existing accounts of racism can be assigned. These perspectives center a) perpetrators of racism (as in perpetrator-centered accounts), b) victims of racism (as in victim-centered accounts), and c) the broader social context (as in structural and institutional accounts). Third, I discuss some metaphysical consequences of the victim-centered perspective, which has thus far been mostly unconsidered in accounts of the wrongs of racism. I argue that victim-centered accounts articulate the interaction between racism and persons’ bodies in such a way that they can account for certain obvious things about race and racism which otherwise resist straightforward explanation. Focusing on victim-centered accounts of racism profoundly expands our capacity to understand and respond to racist harm.


Paper Title:

Memberless Organized Social Groups


Many philosophers maintain that some organized social groups (e.g., baseball teams, committees, and courts) may exist despite having no members. In this paper, I examine cases that motivate this position, cases where an organized social group seems to persist despite having no members. My aim here is twofold. First, I aim to show that we may accept that such cases are possible without accepting the possibility of memberless organized social groups; second, I aim to show that the acceptance of the possibility of memberless organized social groups comes at a steep price.