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The 2017 Burman Lectures in Philosophy

Determinism, Time, and Totality

The 2017 Burman Lectures in Philosophy will be given by Jenann Ismael, University of Arizona.

Lecture I:  Determinism and the Causal Order

Wednesday October 25, 13.15-15, hörsal F, Humanities Building

Abstract: Could a LaPlacean intelligence, given full information about the laws and the initial conditions of a deterministic universe, predict the decision of every other system in that universe?  The common wisdom is: yes, and indeed, that is just what determinism means.  But the possibility of counterpredictive devices - i.e., devices designed to act counter to any prediction of their behavior that is made known to them - seems to place limits on this predictive ability.  I look at what those limits are, and what it teaches us about determinism.

Lecture II:  Time and Transcendence

Thursday October 26, 13.15-15, hörsal F, Humanities Building

Abstract: The paradox of predictability forces us to drive a wedge between the on-the-ground causal order and a transcendent view of the world (a view from outside of space and time).  The second lecture in the series explores the significance of the fact that determinism is not a feature of the on-the-ground causal order, but rather something that emerges from a transcendent view.  This reveals a deep connection between the problem of fatalism and the problem of determinism, and suggests that they are both aspects of the problem of how to reconcile the transcendent vision of the universe with the view from within. 

Lecture III: Totality

Friday October 27, 13.15-15, hörsal F, Humanitiets Building

Abstract: The notion of totality emerges in the first two lectures as a pivot point that turns an immanent view of the world into a transcendent view.  In the last lecture, I will explore what we might call ‘the logic and the metaphysics’ of totality. I show how it is connected to a set of interesting philosophical problems (set theoretical paradoxes, grounding and truth-maker principles, disputes in cosmology). I raise questions that I hope will prompt some new interest in the topic. Finally, I bring the discussion back to the notion of human freedom and say something about how we should understand our little part of totality.

All interested are welcome to these lectures!

Arranged by: The Department of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, Umeå University.

Previous Burman Lectures


Karen Bennett, Cornell University.
Making things Up
Lecture 1: Building
Lecture 2: Causing
Lecture 3: Relative Fundamentality


Elizabeth Anderson, Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies at the Department of Philosophy, University of Michigan.
Pragmatism in Ethics: Why and How
Lecture 1: Why Pragmatism?
Lecture 2: How to Be a Pragmatist 1: Correcting Moral Biases
Lecture 3: How to Be a Pragmatist 2: Experiments in Living


Michael Smith, McCosh Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
What We Should Do and Why We Should Do It
Lecture 1: "The Standard Story of Action"
Lecture 2: "A Constitutivist Theory of Reasons"
Lecture 3: "A Case Study: The Reasons of Love"


David Chalmers, Australian National University and New York University
Structuralism, space, and skepticism
Lecture 1: Constructing the world
Lecture 2: Three puzzles about spatial experience
Lecture 3: The structuralist response to skepticism


Stephen Finlay, University of Southern California
Metaethics as a Confusion of Tongues
Lecture 1: Metaethics: Why and How?
Lecture 2: The Semantics of ”Ought”
Lecture 3: The Pragmatics of Normative Disagreement


Dag Prawitz, Stockholm University
Bevis, mening och sanning


Tim Crane, University of Cambridge
Problems of Being and Existence
Lecture 1: Existence, Being and Being-so
Lecture 2: Existence and Quantification Reconsidered
Lecture 3: The Singularity of Singular Thought


Jerry Fodor, Rutgers University
What Darwin Got Wrong
Lecture 1: What kind of theory is the Theory of Natural Selection?
Lecture 2: The problem about `selection-for`


Susanna Siegel, Harvard
The Nature of Visual Experience
Lecture 1: The varieties of perceptual intentionality
Lecture 2: The contents of visual experience


Alex Byrne, MIT
How do we know our own minds?
Lecture 1: Transparency and Self-Knowledge
Lecture 2: Knowing that I am thinking


Jonathan Dancy, University of Reading and University of Texas, Austin
Lecture 1: Reasons and Rationality
Lecture 2: Practical Reasoning and Inference


Ned Block, New York University
Consciousness and Neuroscience
Lecture 1: The Epistemological Problem of the Neuroscience of Consciousness
Lecture 2: How Empirical Evidence can be Relevant to the Mind-Body Problem


John Broome, Oxford


Wlodek Rabinowicz, Lund
Värde och passande attityder


Kevin Mulligan, Genève
Lecture 1: Essence, Logic and Ontology
Lecture 2: Foolishness and Cognitive Values


Hubert Dreyfus, Berkeley
Lecture 1: What is moral maturity? A Phenomenological Account Of The Development Of Ethical Expertise
Lecture 2: The primacy of the phenomenological over logical analysis: A Merleau-Pontian Critique of Searle's Account of Action and Social Reality


Herbert Hochberg, University of Texas, Austin
Lecture 1: A Simple Refutation of Mindless Materialism
Lecture 2: Universals, Particulars and the Logic of Predication


Susan Haack, University of Miami
The Science of Sociology and the Sociology of Science
Lecture 1: Social Science as Semiotic.
Lecture 2: Sociology of Science: The Sensible Program.


Howard Sobel, University of Toronto
Lecture 1: First causes: St. Thomas Aquinas's 'Second way'.
Lecture 2: Ultimate reasons if not first causes: Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz on 'the Ultimate Origination of Things'.


Ian Jarvie, York University
Science and the Open Society


David Kaplan, UCLA
What is Meaning: Notes toward a theory of Meaning as Use

Sidansvarig: Sandra Olsson


About the Burman Lectures

The Burman lectures started in 1996 on the initiative of Inge Bert Täljedal, then Mayor of Umeå and later Vice Chancellor of Umeå University. The lectures commemorate Eric Olof Burman (1845-1929), Umeå’s "first professor of philosophy”.

Burman was born in Yttertavle outside of Umeå, went to high school in Umeå, and became professor of Practical Philosophy 1896-1910 at Uppsala University. Nowadays Burman is best known as the teacher of Axel Hägerström, who is well-known for his realist anti-metaphysical stand and his expressivist theory of moral judgments). Some of Hägerström’s criticism of idealistic views were foreshadowed in the teachings of Burman.

It should perhaps be pointed out that our Burman is not the only Burman in the annals of philosophy. In addition to Eric Olov Burman from Yttertavle, there was the Dutch Cartesian philosopher Frans Burman (1628-78).

A presentation of Erik Olof Burman (in Swedish), written by Inge-Bert Täljedal, is available online:

Presentation of Erik Olof Burman