I haven’t had serious blog access since the Truth and Realism conference, so I haven’t had a chance to congratulate Patrick Greenough and Michael Lynch for the wonderful conference they put on. So I hereby, belatedly, congratulate them heartily!
I’ll have more to say later (depending on blog access) on the papers by Robert Brandom and Crispin Wright, which were the two most interesting (to me at least) papers there. (I had read Ernie Sosa’s paper before, so it wasn’t as interesting as a new paper.) But there were lots of interesting and thought-provoking points came up in papers and, more frequently I think, in discussions.
The conference ran like a charm. The amount of organisation that must have gone into it boggles the mind. Some of the grad students (and undergraduates!) who worked throughout the conference to make sure everything was in its right place deserve sainthoods, or at least jobs in decent philosophy departments. So many things can go wrong at a gig this size, and as far as I could see none of them did, which is a remarkable achievement.
The only quibble I’d have was that the speaker line-up was a little top-heavy. Personally I’d have preferred to see Patrick and/or Michael doing papers rather than some of the more, erm, distinguished presenters. But it might have looked odd to have slotted themselves between the big names.
And it was fun having so many famous philosophers around. At the first dinner I was sitting next to Dorothy Edgington, and opposite Simon Blackburn, Robert Brandom and Richard Rorty. (Blackburn and Brandom kept up a good-natured game of who-can-tell-the-funniest-story for most of the night, ending in a high-scoring draw.) The next night seated in a row were (I think – I’m doing this from memory): Ernie Sosa, Kit Fine, Tim Williamson and John Hawthorne. Some of these dinner tables have enough stars to be top 10 philosophy programs. For a philosophy-junkie it was a little kid-in-candy-store-ish.
The gender balance wasn’t great but it was better than at the two epistemology conferences I was recently at. Something like 3 or 4 to 1 rather than 5 or 6 to 1. I think having such a focus on big famous names probably hurt here a little.
What I would like to be able to do would be to cap off this post with a parody of Sorted for E’s and Wizz rewritten as the story of the conference. The idea of comparing a conference like this to a mid-90s rave party sounds kinda fun. And some of the lines only have to be minimally changed
I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere, somewhere on a beach in Scotland
while others are fine just as they are
At 4 o’clock the normal world seems very, very, very far away.
But I’m just not enough of a writer to pull off a song-length parody that doesn’t sound rather awful. And that wouldn’t be a fitting tribute to a fine conference.