Tim Button

The talks are grouped by topic (with some overlap). Clicking the topic explains roughly what I have talked about, when, and where.

Solipsism and the self

Carnap’s Aufbau addresses the Empiricist Problematic: How can we get from what is subjective to what is intersubjective and objective? By thinking through Carnap’s answer, I think we can see that the Problematic itself leads us towards solipsism. Talks at:

November 2015, Leeds

October 2015, Durham

October 2015, Bilkent

October 2015, Middle East Technical University

July 2015, Munich (MCMP)

May 2015, Salzburg

February 2012, UTexas Austin

Wittgenstein’s discussion of two uses of the word ‘I’, in the Blue Book, is a deep diagnosis of the temptation towards solipsism. I explain the threat, and how it is to be avoided, in ‘Wittgenstein on solipsism in the 1930s’. Talks at:

January 2017, Royal Institute of Philosophy

July 2015, Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy

May 2015, Salzburg

The Royal Institute talk is available on YouTube. It is aimed at philosophically interested people, but not necessarily academics (here’s the handout, if you want to recreate the full experience).

James’s views on meaning and content threaten to lead us into solipsism. I think that this threat can be avoided, but with some difficulty for James. This feeds into my paper ‘Other minds and God’. Talks at:

July 2015, The Reaches of Pragmatism, University College Dublin

Mathematics and logic

In Philosophy and Model Theory, co-authored with Sean Walsh, and subsequently, I have explored internalism in the philosophy of mathematics. Talks at:

May 2018, LSE

July 2017, Joint Session open sessions, Edinburgh

June 2017, The Logic of Totality, Glasgow

April 2017, NYU

April 2017, Columia

April 2017, Harvard Logic Colloquium

January 2017, Munich (MCMP)

January 2017, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Earlier, Sean and I co-presented material on categoricity:

June 2014, University of Paris 7–Diderot

The Tarski–Sher account of logicality tells us that quantifiers are logical iff they are bijection-invariant. I have been critically thinking about this whilst writing Philosophy and Model Theory with Sean Walsh. Talks at:

January 2016, UC Irvine (Logic and Philosophy of Science)

October 2015, Bergen

July 2015, Nottingham

At Nottingham, I also discussed material now published as ‘Knot and tonk’.

I have recently developed a set theory which arranges the sets into well-ordered stages, whilst yielding a Boolean algebra of sets. This has eroded my prejudices against the universal set; now I want to spread the love. Talks at:

November 2018, Vienna KGRC

October 2018, Arché (keynote speaker for their Graduate Conference)

September 2018, MIT


In chapters 18–19 of The Limits of Realism, I defend the in-principle coherence of (a version of) conceptual relativism, called conceptual cosmopolitanism. Talks at:

April 2013, Birmingham

January 2013, Cambridge (History and Philosophy of Science)

I then started to think more about specific circumstances under which we should think that conceptual cosmopolitanism actually arises.

September 2016, Uppsala

July 2016, Joint Session open sessions, Cardiff

June 2016, Metaphysics after Carnap, Leeds

In ‘Deflationary metaphysics and ordinary language’, I discuss Amie Thomasson’s easy ontology. I worry that ordinary language is too complex to yield easy answers to existence questions, and that ordinary language pulls us in different directions simultaneously. Talks at:

January 2015, Oxford Jowett Society

November 2014, Birkbeck

October 2014, Liverpool

May 2014, Metaontology Workshop, Cambridge

While writing The Limits of Realism, I started thinking about rival theories of truth. In ‘The weight of truth’, I explain why I am not a deflationist. Talks at:

November 2015, Leeds (workshop session)

May 2014, the Aristotelian Society

February 2014, Nottingham

January 2014, Kent

January 2014, Back to the ranch, Tucson

December 2013, Helsinki

November 2013, Stirling

Aristotelian Society talk available: online :: on iTunes

After thinking about conceptual cosmopolitanism (see above), I have been trying to articulate some concerns about Ontologese, focussing specifically on its logical fragment. Talks at:

July 2018, Joint Session open sessions, Oxford

September 2017, The Language of Ontology, Trinity College Dublin

In chapters 1–7 of The Limits of Realism, I try to defend Putnam’s model-theoretic argument. In particular, I defend his notorious just-more-theory manoeuvre. This should be understood as presenting a particular kind of philosopher – the external realist – with a dilemma: either an external realist’s attempt to fix reference is just more theory and so fails to fix reference; or it is without empirical content. The latter horn of the dilemma shows that the external realist is afflicted not just by Cartesian angst, but by Kantian angst, which is simply incoherent. Talks at:

May 2012, Stanford

April 2012, Miami

May 2013, Putnam’s model-theoretic arguments, Munich (MCMP)

Munich talk available as: flash :: quicktime :: mobile

In several places, I try to draw unifying connections across Putnam’s work. This is a major theme of The Limits of Realism. In chapters 8 and 10 of that book, I explain why Putnam’s model-theoretic argument eventually led him towards a naive theory of perception. Talks at:

May 2013, Putnam’s model-theoretic arguments, Munich (MCMP)

Munich talk available as: flash :: quicktime :: mobile

In ‘Brains in vats and model theory’, I explain the common core of Putnam’s discussion of brains-in-vats, Skolem's paradox, and permutations. Talks at:

November 2015, Leeds (workshop session)

I have also offered some broadly ‘unificatory’ comments on Putnam’s work in a couple of book reviews.

Last modified 07 Dec 2018