Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Klassische Deutsche Philosophie

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Philosophie | Klassische Deutsche Philosophie | Veranstaltungen | Workshop: Thought Experiments, Modal Knowledge, and Counterfactuals

Workshop: Thought Experiments, Modal Knowledge, and Counterfactuals

In philosophy, claims of knowledge are often based on considering non-actual scenarios. But it is not so clear what explains and justifies such practices. Opposing the traditional view that the knowledge at stake is conceptual or based on rational intuitions, Timothy Williamson has come up with a revolutionary proposal: both modal claims and thought experiments can be accounted for in terms of our capacity for evaluating everyday counterfactuals. No wonder this innovative proposal sparked intense debate. To mention just two critical points: First, one might wonder
whether our ability to evaluate the relevant counterfactuals depends upon prior knowledge of metaphysical necessity or essentiality. If so, the account runs the risk of being circular. Second, Williamson’s account of thought experiments is designed to address the problem that any case description could be realised in a deviant way. One might suspect that Williamson’s own counterfactual account falls prey to the same difficulty. The workshop aims at promoting the critical discussion of the counterfactual account of both modal knowledge and thought experiments.
Location: Unter den Linden 6, Room 3059

Preliminary program:


Sept 2


9.30 - 11.00  Timothy Williamson, Oxford: TBA




11.30 - 13.00 Joachim Horvath, Köln:

                   Thought Experiments without Modal Reasoning


13.00 - 15.00 Lunch Break


15.00 - 16.30 Daniel Dohrn, Maribel Romero and Tobias Rosefeldt, Berlin:

                   Thought Experiments and Deviant Realisations I




17.00 -18.30 Daniel Dohrn, Maribel Romero and Tobias Rosefeldt, Konstanz

                  and Berlin:

                  Thought Experiments and the Problem of Deviant Realisations I


20.00           Dinner


Sept 3


9.30 -11.00  Juhani Yli-Vakkuri, Oslo:

                 Actuality and Conceptual Necessity




11.30 – 13.00 Christian Nimtz, Bielefeld: TBA


13.00 - 15.00 Lunch Break


15.00 - 16.30 Jonathan Ichikawa, Vancouver:

                   Modals, Modality, and Modal Epistemology


16.30 – 17.30 Closing Discussion


20.00            Dinner




Additional information


Itinerary hotel Allegra - Friedrichstraße station - conference venue


Hotel Allegra

Albrechtstraße 17
10117 Berlin
Tel. +49 (30) 3 08 86-0
Fax +49 (30) 3 08 86-100


The station closest to the hotel and the workshop is Friedrichstraße. There are two airports, Schönefeld and Tegel. From Schönefeld, you may take the Airport Express (RB 14, RE 7) train or the S45 metro train to Friedrichstraße. From Tegel, you may take the bus 128 to Kurt-Schumacher-Platz and then the U6. Or you may take take the bus TXL to Hauptbahnhof and then S5 or S7 to Friedrichstraße.