Philosophy Faculty Lecture Series Summer Semester 2020

Academic year 2019-2020 at the Philosophy Faculty of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski

Summer Semester 2020

All of the lectures are scheduled for 17:00 in room 63 of the university’s main building.



Thursday, April 23: Luis Fernández Moreno (Complutense University, Madrid, Spain), “Descriptivist and Causal Theories of Reference.”

The notion of reference conveys a relation holding between an expression and an entity or some entities. The theories of reference mainly constitute answers to the question of how the expressions get connected (that is, refer) to certain entities or, as I put it, how the reference of expressions is determined. The two main types of contemporary theories of reference are the descriptivist and the causal theories. According to the descriptivist theory, the reference of a term, in its use by a speaker, is determined by properties or descriptions that the speaker associates with the term; in accordance with the causal theory, the reference of a term is mainly determined by causal (or historical) links between the uses of the term by speakers and, except in the case of the introducer of a term, regardless of the properties that the speaker associates with the term. The debate between these two sorts of theories has involved various types of linguistic expressions, although proper names and natural kind terms have been at the centre of that controversy. The lecture focuses on the reference of proper names and concentrates on two respective advocates of these theories, namely, G. Frege and S. Kripke.


Thursday, May 21: Lilia Gurova (New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria), “How Good Is an Explanation? It Depends on the Inferences which this Explanation Allows”

If we agree that (a) the primary function of explanation is to bring us understanding of the object being explained, or to deepen the existing understanding, and that (b) understanding is manifested in the inferences we (are able to) make about the object of our understanding and its relations to other objects, we should also agree that (c) one explanation is good, i.e. it successfully performs the function of bringing us understanding, if it allows us to draw inferences that were not available to us before we had this explanation. This simple argument suggests that in order to decide whether a given explanation is good or not, one should assess the inferential contribution of this explanation rather than its structure or the truthfulness of its explanans. The merits of this view of scientific explanation, called “inferentialist,” will be demonstrated on toy examples as well as on real examples from different areas of science (physics, biology and psychology).


Thursday, June 18: Vanessa Freerks (Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski, Bulgaria), “Genealogy, Death and the Birth of Power in Jean Baudrillard”

In L’échange symbolique et la mort, first published in 1976, Baudrillard critiques the repression of death in Western culture since the sixteenth century. The repression of death serves as a starting point for his own “genealogy of power.” According to Baudrillard, the administration and bureaucratization of death establishes the first and basic form of political power and domination. The disempowerment of death is at the same time the “birth of power.” In this presentation, I argue that Baudrillard follows Nietzsche’s genealogical mode of inquiry in providing a theory of the historical variables that give rise to power. Baudrillard thereby aims at reconstructing fictionalised hypothetical primal scenes of power and subjectivity which serve as a contrast to current self-understandings. Genealogy, as practised by Baudrillard in the footsteps of Nietzsche, is a critically motivated art of drastic presentation, which should help readers see themselves differently. I emphasise that Baudrillard uses examples from anthropology and primitive societies to highlight the centrality of death against all efforts to deny or rationalise it.


Past lectures for the Winter Semester 2020:
October 24, Room 63: Teresa Obolevitch (Pontifical University of John Paul II, Poland), "Russian Religious Philosophy: Vladimir Solovyov and His Followers."

November 28, Room 63: Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (University of Bucharest, Romania), "The Berlin Academy and the Controversy on Method in the Philosophy of the German Enlightenment."

December 19, Room 63: Dimitar Denkov (Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski," Bulgaria), "History of Bulgarian Philosophy and its Current Status."