The Department of Philosophy is pleased to announce that Professor Crispin Wright will deliver the

Bob Hale Memorial LecturePhoto of Bob Hale at a conference in his honour

Wednesday 25 September 2019

3.30pm, in the Diamond LT6, University of Sheffield

Crispin Wright will deliver a paper entitled "The Basic A Priori: Simple Arithmetic as a Case Study." This is a paper that began life as joint work between Bob and Crispin and the abstract is below.

The talk is open to all and will be followed by a reception. To help with numbers for seating and catering, please email s.romare@sheffield.ac.uk if you intend to come to the event.

Bob Hale was Emeritus Professor in the Philosophy Department in Sheffield.

Memorial notices:


Abstract for "The Basic A Priori: Simple Arithmetic as a Case Study"Photo of Crispin Wright

Following Kant and like many since, Frege took the idea that we have bona fide a priori knowledge of a large range of necessary propositions for granted. This view, once orthodoxy, is now increasingly regarded as problematic. However it is fair to say that most recent scepticism about the a priori has been driven either by abstract background theoretical commitments — for instance, by a thoroughgoing empiricism, as in Quine, or by epistemological externalism —or by the conviction that the extension of the a priori allows of no stable, interesting characterisation. The paper develops and explores a different, relatively neglected but equally important kind of sceptical challenge. Elementary arithmetical judgements are normally taken to be justifiable a priori if any are. Yet scrutiny of the kind of methods—simple informal cognitive routines involving counting and pictures— whereby such judgements are characteristically taken to be justified a priori serves to make it puzzling how they can justify what they are supposed to at all: how such procedures can merit either the very high levels of confidence we standardly place in the judgements they lead to, or the modal (counterfactual) significance we standardly attach to those judgements. The lecture will elaborate these apparent shortfalls and review four proposals for redressing them. Each is argued to be ineffective. The upshot is a deepened understanding of an important aspect of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy and a major intellectual challenge to those —still perhaps the majority— who incline to side with Frege.

Tags: Bob Hale, philosophy, lectures