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The 2016 Burman Lectures in Philosophy

Making Things Up

Professor Karen Bennett, Cornell University.

10-12 October at Umeå University

Lecture 1: Building

Monday October 10 at 13.15-15, Humanities building, Lecture hall F

Abstract: I characterize a class of relation I call ‘building relations’: roughly, relations whereby less fundamental phenomena are made of or generated from more fundamental phenomena.  I argue that it’s better to speak generally about a class of such relations than to claim that there is a single most privileged one.  Finally, I defend the claim that such relations are a) antisymmetric and irreflexive and b) necessitating in a particular sense against some recent claims to the contrary.

Lecture 2: Causing

Tuesday October 11 at 13.15-15, Humanities building, Lecture hall F

Abstract: I argue that the class of building relations is causally tainted in the following two senses.  First, causation itself counts as one, and second, various particular building relations frequently obtain in virtue of causal facts.

Lecture 3: Relative Fundamentality

Wednesday October 12 at 13.15-15, Humanities building, Lecture hall F

Abstract: Philosophers frequently help themselves to relative fundamentality talk.  But what does it mean to say that one thing is more fundamental than (or ontologically prior to) another?  I argue that we cannot treat the relative fundamentality facts as primitive, and instead must account for them in terms of building.  I go on to provide an account of the more fundamental than relation in terms of building, and defend it against various objections.

All interested are welcome to these lectures!

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

Previous Burman Lectures


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"


Prof. 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