Conference: The Dissonant, the Adverse and the Weird

Université de Genève, 6th April 2023

Espace Colladon, Rue Jean-Daniel Colladon 2





    11h15 – 12h30            Richard Holton (Cambridge) – Conative Dissonance

    Abstract: There has been much research on cognitive dissonance: on the phenomenon of changing one’s beliefs to make what one does make sense. But what of conative dissonance: changing one’s desires to make what one does make sense? This has something in common with the phenomenon of adaptive preferences, but the normal idea there is the rather different one that one changes one’s desires in order to make them more easily satisfied. Taking off from some ideas of Richard Wollheim’s, I make a first attempt at exploring the terrain.


    14h30 – 15h45            Sarah Paul (NYU – Abu Dhabi) – Perspectives on Adversity

    Abstract: The pursuit of challenging, long-term goals often involves encounters with setbacks and challenges that threaten our confidence. In other work, Jennifer Morton and I have argued that in responding to these obstacles, the exercise of gritty agency can be useful. Agents who can recognize the challenges in front of them, but nonetheless maintain confidence in the continued pursuit of the goal, exhibit an important capacity we term 'epistemic resilience'. But how should the agent understand the evidential significance of the obstacles in front of her? In this talk, I suggest that there is an important role to be played by how agents interpret the setbacks they encounter. There is latitude here, insofar as the evidence is often compatible with multiple interpretive frameworks. I draw on work on perspectives in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of science to argue that this is the case. I aim to show that these interpretive frameworks play an important role not only in shaping how it is rational to respond to the available evidence, but also in determining the contours of the practical and zetetic options we face. This talk is drawn from a book manuscript I’m co-authoring with Jennifer Morton on Striving.


    16h15 – 17h30            Neil Levy (Oxford & Macquarie) – Do People Really Believe Weird Things?

    Abstract: One possible answer to the question “why do people believe weird things" is "they don't." I examine the prospects for this response. I argue that many weird belief reports are insincere. In addition, however, people sincerely report believing things they don't believe. I examine how they come to mistake their imaginings for beliefs.