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The Forum is open to everyone, including students, visitors, and faculty members from all departments and institutes!

The 60 minute lecture is followed by a 10 minute break and a 30-60 minute discussion. The language of presentation is English or Hungarian.

The scope of the Forum includes all aspects of theoretical philosophy, including:

  • logic and philosophy of formal sciences
  • philosophy of science
  • modern metaphysics
  • epistemology
  • philosophy of language
  • problems in history of philosophy and history of science, relevant to the above topics
  • particular issues in natural and social sciences, important for the discourses in the main scope of the Forum.


4 April  (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
Hans Radder
Faculty of Philosophy
VU University Amsterdam

Does the Brain ‘Initiate’ Freely Willed Processes? A Critique of Libet-Type Experiments and Their Interpretation
In the extensive, recent debates on free will, the pioneering experiments by Benjamin Libet continue to play a significant role. The claim that these experiments demonstrate the illusoriness of freely willed actions is both strongly endorsed and hotly disputed. In this paper, we provide an analysis and evaluation of Libet’s experiments from a philosophy of science perspective, which differs from the usual approaches in philosophy of mind or moral philosophy. Our analysis focuses on Libet’s central notion of the ‘initiation’ of freely willed processes by the brain. First, we use the INUS theory and the manipulability theory of causation to investigate whether the experiments show any causal relationship between brain activity, on the one hand, and free decisions or (freely willed) motor activity, on the other. In addition, we examine three other interpretations of the notion of initiation (in terms of a necessary condition, a correlation and a regular succession). We argue that none of these four interpretations can be supported by the design and results of Libet’s experiments. Significantly enough, on the basis of these experiments we cannot even conclude that each free decision, or each (freely willed) motor action, is always preceded by a readiness potential. Furthermore, more recent Libet-type experiments cannot solve these problems either. Our general conclusion is that neither Libet’s nor Libet-type experiments can justify the claim that the brain initiates freely willed processes.

11 April  (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
Attila Molnár
Institute of Philosophy, Eötvös University, Budapest
Possible Objects and Their Collisions in SpecRel
with the Aid of Modal Logic

The Logic and Theory of Relativity group lead by H. Andréka and I. Németi created the first order classical theory of the Special relativity, named SpecRel. Although this axiom system looks very simple, it can reproduce the main theorems of the special relativity. But, as the group said, sometimes the classical first-order framework does not seem to be sufficient to give back the appropriate physical meaning. For example the main axiom of SpecRel is about that there could be a photon which crosses certain points. This „could be” indicates some kind of notion of possibility, which is barely accessible from a classical first-order logic. This problem becomes more disturbing when the system SpecRel is expanded by certain dynamical axioms, according to that for instance for every observer, everywhere any kind of possible collision is realizable.
In the seminar I will present a certain modal axiom system which is able to handle these issues, moreover, with this axiom system I will attempt to achieve another goal: to give an explicit and operational definition to the notion of mass via possible collisions.

18 April  (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
Gergely Kertész* and Andrea Komlósi**
* Department of Philosophy and the History of Science, Budapest University of Technology and Economics
Institute of Philosophy, Eötvös University, Budapest
Miféle dolog egy negatív ok, ha egyáltalán valami? - Avagy azért száradtak el a virágok, mert a kertész elfelejtette locsolni őket?
(What kind of a thing is a negative cause, if it is something at all? - Or did the flowers dry out because the gardener forgot to water them?)
A negatív okozásról való beszéd általánosnak mondható mind a hétköznapi nyelvben, mind a tudományos diskurzusban. Ugyanakkor a jelenség magyarázata komoly problémát jelent minden kontrafaktuális szemantikára épülő okságelmélet számára. Az előadás megvizsgál néhány az irodalomban felvetett megoldási javaslatokat, majd megmutatja, hogy egy hibrid elmélet, ami a kontrafaktuális megközelítést az ún. produktív értelmezéssel kombinálja, jobban összhangban van bizonyos alapvető metafizikai elköteleződésekkel, mint alternatívái.

25 April  (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
Barry Loewer
Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University
Two Accounts of Laws and Time
Among the most important questions in the metaphysics of science are “What are the natures of fundamental laws and chances?” and “What grounds the direction of time?  My aim in this paper is to examine some connections between these questions, discuss two approaches to answering them and argue in favor of one. Along the way I will raise a number of issues concerning the relationship between physics and metaphysics and consequences for the methodology of metaphysics.