The Pacific Division held its annual meeting at Asilomar Conference Grounds, 26-28 March, 2008. The weather was cool and breezy, and the proceedings, as always, lively and interesting.
The program was philosophically diverse, centring around no one theme or topic. The first day, nonetheless, leaned towards discussion of fiction. Jillian Isenberg offered a critique of stipulationist theories of truth in fiction, and Nicholas Diehl argued for symmetry of narration across media, with special emphasis on film. Some of these themes were echoed during the evening symposium on Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner, organized by Amy Coplan. Papers by Colin Allen, David Davies, and Amy Coplan considered issues from the film that included emotion, cognition and cognitive value, film as philosophy, and cinematic style.
The second day began with novel approaches to some traditional issues in aesthetics. Rafael de Clercq argued that the aesthetic relevance of sortals is independent of aesthetic ideals. And Andrew McGonigal offered a provocative answer to his title question ‘Why Define Art?’ An invited author meets critics panel on Nick Zangwill’s Aesthetic Creation followed, with criticism from Gary Iseminger and Daniel Nathan, responses from Nick Zangwill, and an animated Q&A period. The afternoon paper session began with a paper by Heidi Maibom and James Harold on the aesthetic sensibilities of psychopaths, implying important connections between ethics and aesthetics. Derek Matravers followed with a paper on expression in music and painting, concluding that desiderata for theories of expression may be theory-dependent. John Kulvicki’s ‘Pictorial Diversity’ rounded off the session, analyzing interpretive schemes for the varieties of pictorial representation. The proceedings for the day concluded with a tribute session on the philosophy of the late Robert Solomon, organized by Stephen Davies. Papers by Stephen Davies, Peter Goldie, and Jenefer Robinson focused on the themes of humor, aesthetic pleasure, and sentimentality in Solomon’s work. Kathleen Higgins then masterfully connected the three papers with her commentary. The session offered a warm farewell to a dear friend of many conference participants and ASA members.
The final day of proceedings comprised four papers. Anton Alterman offered a theory of meaning for children’s fictions. Peter Alward offered a paper on on-stage illocution, critiquing the game model of theatrical speech acts. Alix Cohen offered an insightful and scholarly analysis of Kant’s notion of the ugly. And Tom Leddy, with his paper ‘Roadside Clutter’, offered a philosophy of road litter, city rubbish, and other such junk.
The Pacific Division’s third annual graduate student essay prize was awarded to Nicholas Diehl for his paper ‘Imagining De Re and the Symmetry Thesis of Narration’.
A few proposals were met with general approval at the annual business meeting. Future conference chairs should consider electronic proceedings (for obvious reasons), and an earlier paper/panel submission deadline to better accord with Asilomar’s payment and contract schedule. Dabney Townsend will continue to serve in a treasury capacity.
A few personal highlights: Amy Coplan’s new personal record of delivering – stopwatch in hand – a two hour paper in 22 minutes flat; Jenefer Robinson’s uncanny impersonations of characters from the Three Stooges and the Goon Show; a Thursday night free to enjoy local seafood and informal philosophy; a trip to that Monterey bar, the name of which has changed from the original (which no one can ever remember in the first place); and the support and encouragement of so many friends and colleagues.
Many thanks to our excellent paper commentators: Lee Brown, Gemma Celestino, Don Crawford, Eva Dadlez, Jim Hamilton, Flo Leibowitz, Graham McFee, Michael Rings, Dustin Stokes, Jonathan Weinberg, and Edward Winters. And many thanks to our able session chairs: Jennifer Judkins, Justin London, James Mock, Stephanie Ross, Jason Simus, and Dabney Townsend. Thank you to all of the following people for serving as referees and consultants for the meeting: Don Crawford, David Davies, Jeff Dean, Stacie Friend, Jim Hamilton, Rob Hopkins, Sherri Irvin, Andrew Kania, Aaron Meskin, Glenn Parsons, James Shelley, Bob Stecker. And a special debt of gratitude to Jim Hamilton, Sheila Lintott, Dom Lopes, Aaron Meskin, and Dabney Townsend for essential advice and assistance in preparing the meeting.
Future meetings are in the capable hands of Sherri Irvin in 2009, and David Davies in 2010.