Events Calendar
Nov 9
12:00 - 14:00
Realism, Evolution and the A Priori
Philosophy Guest Lecture
Dr Silvia Jones (Van Leer Institute)

Abstract: Arguments from evolution play a curious double role in recent debates about Access Problems for non-empirical domains of (a priori) truth, such as mathematics or morality. Antirealists argue that, if belief in mathematics and morals is determined by evolution, then we have reason to believe that our mathematical and moral beliefs are not about mind-independent truths, and that realism about mathematics and morals is false. Realists argue that, if belief in mathematics and morals is determined by evolution, then this gives us reason to think that belief in mind-independent mathematical and moral truths cannot be undermined. Thus, curiously, arguments from evolution can be used to argue both for and against realism. In my talk, I show why using evolution to argue for realism is problematic: it makes it too easy to be a realist about highly contentious domains, and it makes it too hard to challenge a realist's belief.

Bio: Silvia Jonas is a Polonsky Postdoctoral Fellow at the Van Leer Institute, and a Visiting Researcher and Lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She studied philosophy at Oxford and St Andrews and completed her PhD at Humboldt University Berlin in 2012. Silvia's current work focuses on shared metaphysical and epistemic problems for domains of a priori truth. Her book Ineffability and its Metaphysic: The Unspeakable in Art, Religion, and Philosophy has recently been published with Palgrave Macmillan in New York.


Seminar Room 8,
Cornwallis North West,
University of Kent,
United Kingdom


Open to all,

Contact: Dr Edward Kanterian


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Last Updated: 10/01/2012