The 2020 Edgington Lectures: Catherine Z. Elgin

Catherine Z. Elgin

The 5th biennial Edgington Lectures will be delivered by Professor Cathrine Z. Elgin (Harvard) in the spring of 2020 at the Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, London. Professor Elgin will speak on The Realm of Epistemic Ends.

The lectures are free to attend and all are welcome (no registration is required).

The Lectures

The Realm of Epistemic Ends

Epistemic agents are ineluctably interdependent. We are nodes in epistemic networks, supporting and supported by others. Via testimony we convey and glean information. We teach and learn from others – not just facts but also techniques, strategies, standards, and skills that are vital to our understanding of the world. Each of us relies on methods and devices that she could never have invented, validated, or calibrated on her own. If epistemic autonomy requires complete independence, it is a chimera. But if autonomy is a matter of self-government, our situation is different. The autonomous agent, Kant maintains, makes the rules that bind her. She does so not in isolation, but as a legislating member of a realm of ends – that is, as one among many who jointly ratify those rules. Building on the account of epistemic normativity I presented in True Enough, I will argue that epistemic communities are quasi-Kantian communities of epistemic ends. Members of such communities are autonomous epistemic agents who collectively certify epistemic norms by justifying those norms to one another. I will show that the constraints on a realm of ends insure that this does not make knowledge or understanding relativistic or subjective. Epistemic autonomy and epistemic interdependence are mutually supportive.

Graduate Workshop

In tandem with the Edgington Lectures, Professor Elgin will lead a workshop which graduate students in philosophy and related disciplines are invited to attend. The workshop programme and location are here.

The workshop is also free, but we will be asking those attending to register.

The Lectures: When and Where

The Edgington Lectures are held in Birkbeck College, University of London.

The workshop programme and location will be here.