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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.


5 March (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
György Szabó
Complex Systems Group
Research Institute for Technical Physics and Materials Science, Budapest
Játékok ízekre szedése
(Decomposition of games)
A potenciáljátékok szisztematikus tanulmányozása világított rá a kétstragégiás párkölcsönhatásokra épülő evolúciós játékok és a mágneses Ising model között meglévő szoros kapcsolatra. Ebben az esetben a nyereménymátrixot olyan kölcsönhatások összegének tekintjük, amelyek azonosíthatóak a ferromágnességért vagy anti-ferromágnességért felelős kölcsönhatással és egy külső mágneses térrel. Ugyanez az eljárás kiterjeszthető a háromstratégiás modellekre is. Megmutatjuk, hogy a nyereménymátrix Fourier-komponensei eddig rejve maradt szimmetriákat és alaptulajdonságokat tesznek láthatóvá.

12 March (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
Mojca Küplen
Institute of Philosophy,  Research Center for the Humanities,
 Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Kant and the Problem of Pure Judgments of Ugliness
In the history of aesthetic thought, beauty has been construed as aesthetic value par excellence. According to aesthetic theories, beautiful is that which gives rise to the feeling of pleasure within us. Hence, aesthetic value of both nature and art works is measured in terms of the feeling of pleasure they occasion in us. Ugliness, correlated to the feeling of displeasure, on the other hand, has been traditionally theorized as an aesthetic category that stands in opposition to beauty, and therefore associated with aesthetic disvalue and worthlessness.

In recent years, and particularly with the development of modern art, this traditional aesthetic picture has been widely criticized. It has been pointed out, based on the proliferation of art works that evoke intense feelings of displeasure, that ugliness can be greatly appreciated. Moreover, the characterization of ugliness as aesthetically significant and interesting is not distinctive for art works alone, but for natural objects as well, as pointed out by some contemporary writers in environmental aesthetics.

A general objective of this paper is to give an account of ugliness that entails, as its necessary part, the explanation of its possible appeal. In particular, I propose a solution to the problem, known in philosophical aesthetics as ‘the paradox of ugliness’, namely how we can value something that we prima facie do not like and find positively displeasing.
I develop my explanation of ugliness in light of Kant’s theory of taste put forward in the Critique of the Power of Judgment. Even though Kant did not write about ugliness, I argue that his explanation of the beautiful has much to say about its opposite. This, however, is not immediately apparent. Even more, recent studies have argued that Kant’s explanation of the feeling of pleasure in the beautiful leaves no possibility to accommodate judgments of ugliness. In short, the argument is the following: according to Kant, judgments of taste have a subjective universal validity, because they depend on the state of mind of free harmony between imagination and understanding that we all share, and which is a subjective condition of cognition. But this state of mind of free harmony produces the feeling of pleasure alone. Hence, there is no possibility to accommodate judgments of ugliness, that is, a universally communicable state of mind of free disharmony between imagination and understanding that would give rise to the feeling of displeasure within us.

Worse yet, it has been argued by Paul Guyer that the existence of a disharmonious state of mind is inconsistent with Kant’s epistemological theory. A harmonious relation between cognitive powers is required for the basic awareness of the representation itself. Accordingly, we cannot even be conscious of a representation in which imagination and understanding were in disharmony. Hence, pure ugliness is epistemologically impossible.

In this paper I argue for the opposite view, namely, that Kant’s theory of taste does allow for the possibility of pure judgments of ugliness. I critically review the main interpretations of Kant’s central notion of the free play of imagination and understanding (precognitive, abstractive, multicognitive, metacognitive) and then develop a new interpretation of free play, one, that takes into consideration Kant’s account of reflective judgments and the a priori principle of purposiveness, and which allows for the epistemological possibility of a disharmonious state of mind and ugliness. Finally, I apply my interpretation of ugliness in Kant’s aesthetics to resolve certain issues that have been raised in contemporary aesthetics, namely the possibility of appreciating natural and artistic ugliness.

19 March (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
Péter Mekis
Department of Logic, Institute of Philosophy
Eötvös University, Budapest
Frege and the Problem of Understanding
Any theory of meaning needs to be supplemented by a theory of understanding, that is, an account of how language users get access to the meanings of linguistic expressions. In the case of Frege's work on meaning, this account is partial and mostly implicit.

In the case of a formal language, Frege's theory of meaning has straightforward consequences regarding the process of understanding. Since the expressions of a Begriffsschrift are transparent, decoding a complex symbol is fairly compositional, based on the syntactic structures of the expressions and their definitions.

In the case of ordinary language, the problem is more complicated, and it is not systematically discussed in Frege's writings. Based on sporadic remarks, we can assume that ordinary language understanding requires psychological factors that are absent from Frege's theory of meaning.

The most interesting problems arise at the interface of ordinary language and formal language, concerning what Frege calls the elucidations of the primitive concepts of a formal language. These elucidations are made in ordinary language, and they play a foundational role in the definitional hierarchy of a formal language. Thus the phenomenon of elucidation has far reaching consequences regarding the Fregean account of the foundations of logic and arithmetic.

26 March (Wednesday) 5:00 PM  Room 226
 Zalán Gyenis* and Miklós Rédei**
* Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics, Budapest
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, LSE, London
Can Bayesian agents always be rational?
In this talk we take the Abstract Principal Principle to be a norm demanding that subjective degrees of belief of a Bayesian agent be equal to the objective probabilities once the agent has conditionalized his subjective degrees of beliefs on the values of the objective probabilities, where the objective probabilities can be not only chances but any other quantities determined objectively. We define weak and strong consistency of the Abstract Principal Principle and show that the Principle is both weakly and strongly consistent. It is argued that it is desirable to strengthen the Abstract Principal Principle by adding a stability requirement to it. Weak and strong consistency of the resulting Stable Abstract Principal Principle are defined, and the strong consistency of the Abstract Principal Principle is interpreted as necessary for a non-omniscient Bayesian agent to be able to have rational degrees of belief in all epistemic situations. It is shown that the Stable Abstract Principal Principle is weakly consistent, but strong consistency remains an open question. We conclude that we do not yet have proof that Bayesian agents can have rational degrees of belief in every epistemic situation.