International conference on « The Metaphysics of Relations » 


               Université de Provence (Aix-Marseille 1), Aix-en-Provence

                                  December 9th, 10th & 11th,  2009

            Organizers : François Clementz, Jean-Maurice Monnoyer


Ever since the days of logical atomism, relations have played a key-role in analytic metaphysics. No wonder, then, that the controversy over their own ontological status is as alive today as ever. Indeed, while it woud be hard to overrate the importance, in this respect, of the conceptual revolution which took place, towards the end of nineteenth century, with the development of modern logic and the replacement of the Aristotelian subject-predicate form by Frege’s analysis of propositions into functions and arguments, it is now widely aknowledged that, contrary to Russell’s optimistic expectations, « the advances in the logic of relations » (to quote Mark Henninger’s apt remark) « did not resolve the problem of their ontological status ». Not only does this explain the growth and vigour of current philosophical work on such topics as the division between  « internal » and « external » relations, or the supervenience of (at least some varieties of) relations upon non-relational properties, but it has also done much to renew both scholars’ and analytic philosophers’ interest in the historical sources of the « problem of relations » in its modern guise.

The aim of the international conference to be held in Aix-en-Provence on December 9th, 10th & 11th, 2009 is to focus on both aspects of the current debate over the nature and specific mode of being of relations. About one third of the sessions will bear on its antecedents throughout the history of philosophy, from Plato and Aristotle to Meinong, Russell and Moore. The remainder will deal with its most recent developments - including work on relational tropes versus relation-universals, « neutral » relations, « multigrade » relations, and so forth -, as well as with some of its applications to the philosophy of mathematics or within the field of social sciences. The conference is organized jointly by the Department of Philosophy, the Centre d’épistémologie et d’ergologie comparatives (CEPERC, CNRS UMR 6059) and the Institut d’histoire de la philosophie (CNRS EA 3276) of the University of Provence, with the help and support of Institut Jean-Nicod (EHESS & Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris).