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Burman Lectures

The Burman Lectures in philosophy have been given annually by internationally leading philosophers since 1996. The lectures are arranged by the Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Umeå University.

The Burman Lectures in Philosophy 2022

Perspectives, Frames, and the Coercion of Intimacy

Professor Elisabeth Camp, Rutgers University
Time: 15-17 June 2022, at 13.15-15.00 PM
Place: Umeå University, Hörsal F (Lecture hall F)

Learn more about Elisabeth Camp

Lecture 1: From Point of View to Perspective

Wednesday June 15, 13.15-15.00, Hörsal F

Abstract: In both ordinary speech and theoretical discourse, we often talk about ‘points of view’ and ‘perspectives’ to gesture toward ways in which agents differ in their interpretations of a common informational content.  While such perceptual language is ubiquitous and compelling, its application to abstract domains like politics, art, and science must be metaphorical.  I introduce three analogies with perception; sketch my own view of a perspective as an open-ended disposition to notice, structure, and respond to information in an intuitive, holistic way; and identify some payoffs of this analysis.

Lecture 2: Perspectival Framing With Pictures and Words

Thursday June 16, 13.15-15.00, Hörsal F

Abstract: We communicate through various media, and for various purposes.  Pictures and words make meaning in different ways, which offer different imaginative and expressive profiles for communication. I explore three differences between imagistic and linguistic systems, in terms of what contents they can represent, how they express perspectives, and the force with which they present the perspectival contents they communicate, and I explore the ensuing aesthetic tradeoffs they present.

Lecture 3: Frames, Nicknames, and the Coercion of Intimacy

Friday June 17, 13.15-15.00, Hörsal F

Abstract: Perspectival frames offer powerful tools for cultivating deep intimacy, by coordinating intuitive thoughts and entraining emotions. However, as Ted Cohen says, while “intimacy sounds like a good thing,” “sometimes one draws near another in order to deal a penetrating thrust.” I survey some of the linguistic tools that speakers deploy to coerce intimacy, focusing especially on nicknames. Like honorifics, nicknames mark social relations; and like given names, they are often bestowed in the hope – or imputation – that they ‘fit’ their referents. I suggest that these sociosemantic roles make them especially pernicious when deployed as weapons, and also especially challenging to model within an orthodox theory of meaning.

All interested are welcome to these lectures!

Previous Burman Lectures


Jeff McMahan, Sekyra and White’s Professor i moralfilosofi vid Oxford University
The Ethics of Creating, Saving, and Ending Lives
Lecture 1: Abortion, Prenatal Injury, and What Matters in Alternative Possible Lives
Lecture 2: The Population Ethics Asymmetry and the Permissibility of Procreation
Lecture 3: Moral Reasons to Cause People to Exist


Professor Ingrid Robeyns, Utrecht University
Why worry about wealth?
Lecture 1: What is limitarianism?
Lecture 2: Arguments for economic limitarianism
Lecture 3. Objections to economic limitarianism


Prof. Jennifer Saul, University of Sheffield.
Race, Manipulative Language, and Politics
Lecture I: Dogwhistles, Political Manipulation and the Philosophy of Language
Lecture II: Racial Figleaves, The Shifting Boundaries of the Permissible, and the Rise of Donald Trump
Lecture III: 'Immigration' in the Brexit Campaign: Dogwhistle Terms in Complex Contexts


Jenann Ismael, University of Arizona
Determinism, Time, and Totality
Lecture I: Determinism and the Causal Order
Lecture II: Time and Transcendence
Lecture III: Totality


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

Older lectures

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

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 Erik 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 known for his expressivist theory of moral judgments, among other things.

A longer presentation of Erik Olof Burman, written by Inge-Bert Täljedal (Pdf in Swedish)