Conference 2022-10-24

3 conferences by Nick Zangwill


24 October | Colégio Almada Negreiros, room CAN SE1 | 11h00–13h00

The Moral Line between Human Beings and Animals
I argue that rationality can be used to mark a moral line human beings and at least the non-human animals that we breed to eat. I develop an account of the role of rationality in generating distinctive rights that does not have application to non-human animals, even though we do have obligations to them. I then consider the empirical evidence concerning animal psychology that bears on our moral relations to animals. In particular, I probe some central empirical issues about the rational capacities of animals, beginning with primates. I argue that it is at present unclear whether they have rational capacities. However, I then look at the empirical literature concerning the animals that we breed to eat, and here I argue that it is far clearer that they lack rational capacities. On this basis I argue that a moral line between human beings and non-human animals is a good one despite it being unclear in some places. That unclarity does not mean that there are not many cases that fall clearly one side or the other, which is what we need for action. I draw the consequences for carnivorism.


27 October | Escola de Arquitectura, Arte e Design (EAAD), Auditório 2 | 10h00

Aesthetic Formalism, Architecture and Politics
I survey the general debate over aesthetic formalism. I foreground the aesthetic role of naïve appearances in giving content to the debate. I then turn to architecture and see how the debate has played out there. I propose to understand the role of ‘functionality’ in architecture in terms of appearances. The political aspect of a certain modernist functionalist ideal is drawn out. Issues about the modernist / classicist contrast are explored. A role for political content in architecture is found in the example of the Friday Mosque in Esfahan. I return to the aesthetic role of visual appearances and argue for their dominant role in understanding architecture, where that allows other values that depend on that dominant role.


28 October | Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto (FLUP), Anfiteatro 2 | 11h00–13h00

Language Game Theory and Other Minds: the evolution of miscommunication
I argue that miscommunication is endemic in some areas of language. I begin from game-theoretical account of public language, according to which there are positive and negative payoffs for agreeing and failing to agree on the meanings (references to objects or properties) of linguistic symbols, and then I consider the extension of this account to the language for other minds. I argue that the mathematical structure demanded there is significantly different. Miscommunication may be and often is often an evolutionarily stable strategy. I then adduce empirical evidence in favor of the actuality of systematic miscommunication about matters of mind. I conclude that the model needed for the language of other minds is different from that which is appropriate for the language for non-minded objects and properties that surround us.