Bernhard Nickel on "A Conception of Kinds for Generics (and cp-laws?)"

We are very pleased to announce that Bernhard Nickel, Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University, will deliver a talk for Filosofisk seminar this semester. The seminar is open for everyone, and will be followed by an informal reception.

Portrait of Bernhard Nickel (Photo: Harvard University).

Bernhard Nickel (Photo: Harvard University).


Generic sentences in English, such as “ravens are black” or “tigers have stripes” are non-strict generalizations: some members of the kind fall outside of the scope of the generalization, such as albino ravens or tigers, respectively. This is a prima facie surprising fact, since in various forms of inquiry, we tend to adjust the extension of our kind terms so that we can formulate universal generalizations about them. This is why jadeite is distinguished from nephrite, gold from fools’ gold, and so on. In this talk, I’ll propose a theory of kinds according to which kinds in arenas of inquiry that characteristically articulate non-strict generalizations are formed not in order to support inductive inference, but to serve an explanatory need.

About Bernhard Nickel

Bernhard Nickel is Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. He joined the department in 2006 after receiving his Ph.D. from MIT in 2005. Nickel's research centers on the philosophy of language. He is currently investigating the viability of truth-conditional semantics for natural language, working on a broadly quantificational account of generics. This project raises questions in adjacent areas, especially the philosophy of science: what is a natural kind? What is the connection between explanation and generality? He is also interested in debates in the philosophy of mind, especially the nature of representation.

About the seminar series

Philosophical Seminar is a philosophy colloquium series, hosted by the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas at UiO. The departmental colloquium has previously hosted renowned philosophers such as Charles Taylor, Peter Railton,  Galen Strawson, Julia Annas, Martin Kusch, Stephen Darwall, Berit Brogaard, John Sallis, Robert B. Pippi, Serena Parekh and Laurie Paul.

The colloquia are open to everyone and followed by an open and informal reception on the third floor in the same building. Students are especially encouraged to attend, and all participants are invited to the reception afterwards.

Published Sep. 4, 2018 4:14 PM - Last modified Oct. 19, 2018 11:54 AM