History of the Metaphysical Mayhem

The Metaphysical Mayhem (then "Mighty" and "Midwestern" as well) was founded by Dean Zimmerman at Notre Dame in 1996, when he invited eight mostly early-career metaphysicians to South Bend to discuss their papers over a few days. This small workshop became an annual conference, growing over the years but continuing the tradition of informal yet intense discussion, and operating on the pre-read model: the papers were read in advance (except the Wine & Dinnertime papers), and sessions consisted of a short commentary followed by a long discussion.

In the first couple of years, there were no funds for travel or lodging, and many people stayed in the homes of Notre Dame faculty or grad students. But Mike Loux, Phil Quinn, Al Plantinga, and Peter van Inwagen always chipped in generously for food and drink, taking us to eat at some of South Bend’s finest restaurants — occasionally going so far as to take us to Mishawaka. The conference gradually expanded, in scope and notoriety.

The conference moved to Syracuse University with Dean in 2000, continued to expand there, and then moved with Dean to Rutgers, becoming biennial as of 2004. Starting in 2006, the Mayhem became a workshop for graduate students, in which faculty members present their work in extended sessions. Graduate student presentations were added to the program in 2016. The Mayhem has been interrupted by the pandemic, but we hope to continue once normalcy (?) returns.


(Please email Ted Sider with any corrections or additions! Pictures welcome too.)

Mighty Midwestern Metaphysical Mayhem I, Notre Dame, July 13-14, 1996

Speakers
Jan Cover and John Hawthorne, “A World of Universals”
Brian Leftow, “Theism and Singular Possibility”
Ned Markosian, “A Compatibilist Version of the Theory of Agent Causation”
Trenton Merricks, “Endurance and Presentism”
Michael Murray, “Tracing Betty”
Tim O'Connor, “Why Agent Causation?”
Quentin Smith, “Tense and Temporal Logic”
Dean Zimmerman, “The Homogeneous Stuff Objection to the Doctrine of Temporal Parts”
Participants
Michael Loux
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Fritz Warfield

Mighty Midwestern Metaphysical Mayhem II: Notre Dame, August 14-16, 1997

Speakers
Stewart Goetz, “Spatially Located Souls” (commentator: Jan Cover)
William Hasker, “Failed Dualisms”
John Hawthorne
Brian Leftow, "God and Necessary Truth" (commentator: Tim O'Connor)
Trenton Merricks, “The Varieties of Vagueness (Fewer Than You Think)”
Gregg Rosenberg, “On the Possibility of a Benign Panpsychism”
Tim O'Connor, “Necessary Being, Modality, and Explanation”
Ted Sider, "The Ersatz Pluriverse"
Loretta Torrago, “Vagueness and Identity” (commentator: Dean Zimmerman)
Fritz Warfield
Peter van Inwagen, "Meta-ontology" (commentator: Ted Sider)
Dean Zimmerman, “Temporary Intrinsics and Presentism” (commentator: Trenton Merricks)
Participants
Yuri Balashov, Patricia Blanchette, Michael Loux, Phil Quinn, Leopold Stubenberg
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Fritz Warfield

Mighty Midwestern Metaphysical Mayhem III: Notre Dame, July 2-4, 1998

Speakers
Tom Crisp and Fritz Warfield, "The Irrelevance of Indeterministic Counterexamples to Principle Beta" (commentator: Tim O'Connor)
Brian Leftow, “Aquinas’ Theory of Universals” (commentator: Jan Cover)
Trenton Merricks, “Realism about Personal Identity over Time” (commentator: Ted Sider)
Eugene Mills, "Soritical Supervenience" (commentator: Roy Sorensen)
Mike Rea, "Theism and Epistemic Truth-Equivalences" (commentator: Patricia Blanchette)
Ted Sider, "Presentism and Ontological Commitment" (commentator: Larry Lombard)
Quentin Smith, "Explaining the Origin of Spacetime by Principles of Simplicity" (commentator: Phil Quinn)
Roy Sorensen, "Direct Reference and Vague Identity" (commentator: Dean Zimmerman)
Stephen Yablo
Dean Zimmerman, "Epiphenomenalism and 'the Given'" (commentator: Mike Bergmann)
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Fritz Warfield

Mighty Majestic Midwestern Metaphysical Mayhem IV: Notre Dame, August 9-11, 1999

Speakers
David Chalmers (commentator: David Sosa)
John Hawthorne
Rob Koons (commentator: L. A. Paul)
Brian Leftow (commentator: Quentin Smith)
David Lewis
Brian McLaughlin
Trenton Merricks, "“Epiphenomenalism and Eliminativism” (commentator: Tamar Szabo Gendler)
Mike Rea, "Naturalism and Material Objects" (commentator: Brie Gertler)
Ted Sider, "Time and Temporal Parts" (commentator: Tim O'Connor)
Roy Sorensen (commentator: Loretta Torrago)
Peter van Inwagen (commentator: Zoltan Gendler Szabo)
Dean Zimmerman
Participants
Mike Bergmann, Andrew Cortens, Judy Crane, Tom Crisp, John Gibbons, Bill Hasker, Hud Hudson, Kathrin Koslicki, Steffi Lewis, Larry Lombard, Europa Malynicz, David Newman, Alvin Plantinga, Phil Quinn, Jim Stone, Fritz Warfield
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Fritz Warfield

Metaphysical Mayhem V ("Upstate Upheaval"): Syracuse, August 13-15, 2000

Speakers
George Bealer, paper on mental causation
Karen Bennett, "Token Dualism and Causal Competition (Or Mental Causation Yet Again)" (commentator: Sydney Shoemaker)
David Chalmers, "The Contents and Epistemology of Phenomenal Belief" (commentator: Mark Johnston)
Marian David, "Truth and Identity" (commentator: Delia Graff Fara)
Michael Della Rocca, "Essentialism versus Essentialism" (commentator: Tom McKay)
Ned Hall, “The Intrinsic Character of Causation” (commentator: Phillip Bricker)
John Hawthorne, talk on vagueness
Mark Johnston, talk about metaphysics
Alan Sidelle, “Is There a True Metaphysics of Material Objects?” (commentator: Trenton Merricks)
Roy Sorensen, "Mirror Imagery and Biological Selection"
Peter van Inwagen, “Temporal Parts and Identity across Time” (commentator: Ted Sider)
Timothy Williamson, "Vagueness, Identity, and Leibniz's Law" (commentator: Brian Weatherson)
Participants
Elisabeth Barker, Jose Benardete, Steffen Borge, Dmitria Burley, Andrew Cortens, Jan Cover, Cian Dorr, Michael Fara, Peter Forrest, Tamar Szabo Gendler, Neil Gohill, Mark Heller, Hud Hudson, Karson Kovakovich, Kevin Kukla, David Lewis, Europa Malynicz, Ned Markosian, Jeffrey McDonough, Peter Momtchiloff, Brendan Murday, Alyssa Ney, Tim O'Connor, Dan Orr, Philip Pegan, Jeremy Pierce, David Robb, Adam Sennet, Mark Steen, Leopold Stubenberg, Jim van Cleve, Ryan Wasserman, Fritz Warfield
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Tamar Szabo Gendler, John Draeger

Metaphysical Mayhem VI: Syracuse, August 9-11, 2001

Speakers
Cian Dorr, "On the Existence of Complex Properties" (commentator: George Bealer)
Kit Fine, "The Non-identity of a Thing and its Matter" (commentator: Gideon Rosen)
Katherine Hawley, "Worldly Vagueness without Vague Objects" (commentator: Diana Raffman)
John Hawthorne, "On Identity"
Mark Heller, "Worlds, Pluriverses, and Minds" (commentator: Hartry Field)
Eric Hiddleston, “Humean Supervenience, Chance, and Magic" (commentator: Jonathan Schaffer)
Jenann Ismael, "Why Simpler Theories are More Apt to Be True: Reticence and Virtue" (commentator: Roger White)
David Lewis, "How Many Lives Has Schrodinger's Cat?" (commentator: David Z. Albert)
Barry Loewer, "David Lewis's Humean Theory of Objective Chance" (commentator: Stephen Leeds)
Robert Stalnaker, "Metaphysical and Conceptual Necessity" (commentator: Daniel Nolan)
Participants
Jose Benardete, David Braun, Phillip Bricker, Mark Brown, Earl Conee, Carl Ginet, Benj Hellie, Tom Holden, Mark Johnston, Kathrin Koslicki, Peter Ludlow, Brendan Murday, Miechael McKenna, Peter Momtchiloff, Tim O'Connor, L. A. Paul, Philip Peterson, Sherrilyn Roush, Steve Schwartz, Ted Sider, David Sosa, Gabriel Uzquiano, Bob van Gulick, Brian Weatherson, Jessica Wilson
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Tamar Szabo Gendler, Alyssa Ney


Metaphysical Mayhem VII: Syracuse, August 11-13, 2002

Speakers
George Bealer, "Kripke's error"
Patricia Blanchette, “Partial Mathematical Objects” (commentator: Joseph Melia)
Phillip Bricker, “The Relation between General and Particular: Entailment vs. Supervenience”
Tom Crisp, “Presentism, Grounding and Ersatz B-Series” (commentator: Ted Sider)
David Chalmers, “Envatment as a Metaphysical Hypothesis”
John Divers
John Hawthorne and Ted Sider, "Locations"
Trenton Merricks, “The End of Counterpart Theory” (commentator: Gideon Rosen)
Timothy Williamson, “Unrestricted Quantification” (commentator: Michael Glanzberg)
Participants
Bob Adams, Karen Bennett, Mark Brown, Dmitria Burley, Alex Byrne, Andrew Cortens, Michael Della Rocca, John Devlin, Alicia Finch, Greg Fitch, Eric Funkhouser, Andre Gallois, Tamar Szabo Gendler, Brie Gertler, John Hawthorne, Mark Heller, Eric Hiddleston, Thomas Hofweber, Dave Horacek, Tom Holden, Terry Horgan, Mark Heller, Michael Jubien, Karson Kovakavic, Steffi Lewis, Shannon Love, Europa Malynicz, Cei Maslen, Joseph Melia, Peter Momtchiloff, Daniel Nolan, L. A. Paul, Mike Rea, Gideon Rosen, Susanna Siegel, Robert Stalnaker, Mark Steen, Meg Wallace, Brian Weatherson, Richard Zach
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Tamar Szabo Gendler, Brendan Murday

Photos from Dave Chalmers's website

Metaphysical Mayhem VIII (“Ruckus on the Raritan"): Rutgers, August 2004

Speakers
George Bealer, "Defining necessity"
Richard Grandy, "In Defense of Ordinary Objects"
John Hawthorne
Henry Laycock, "Existence and the Variable"
Ned Markosian, Stuff and Things
Mike Rea, "Presentism and Fatalism"
Jonathan Schaffer, "Monism"
Robert Stalnaker, Merely Possible Objects
Peter van Inwagen, "McGinn on Existence"
Commentators
??
Participants
Phillip Bricker, Trenton Merricks
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman

Metaphysical Mayhem IX: Rutgers, June 3-7, 2006 (theme: time)

Speakers
David Albert, Frank Arntzenius, Delia Graff Fara (scheduled but could not participate), Peter Ludlow, Tim Maudlin, Ted Sider
Participants
Dan Altschuler, Sam Cumming, John Hawthorne, Karen Lewis, Peter Ludlow, Jenny Nado, Jessica Rett, Adam Sennett, Andrew Sepielli, Justin Sharber, Nick Stang
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Shieva Kleinschmidt


Metaphysical Mayhem X: Rutgers, July 7-11, 2008 (theme: metaontology)

Speakers
George Bealer, Cian Dorr, Matti Eklund, Carrie Jenkins
Ted Sider, "Metametaphysics and Metaontology"
Commentators
Karen Bennett, Thomas Hofweber, Kris McDaniel, Daniel Nolan, Robbie Williams
Participants
Andrew Cortens, Delia Graff Fara, Paul Hovda, Bryan Pickel, Gideon Rosen
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Josh Armstrong, Jason Turner

Metaphysical Mayhem XI: Rutgers, May 27-31, 2010

Speakers
Karen Bennett, John Hawthorne, Kris McDaniel
Ted Sider, "Structuralism"
Dean Zimmerman
Participants
Gregory Antill, Jamin Asay, Andrew Bailey, Caleb Cohoe, Sam Cowling, Adam Crager, Jeffrey Englehardt, Daniel Fogal, Martin Glazier, Keinan Greene, Michael Hicks, Robbie Hirsch, Erik Hoversten, Alex ("Action") Jackson, Michael Johnson, Philipp Keller, Shieva Kleinschmidt, Mark Lee, Michaela McSweeney, Carla Merino-Rajme, Zachary Miller, Lisa Miracchi, Matthew Moss, Corey Nichols, Zee Perry, Kristen Primus, Katrina Przyjemski, Brad Rettler, Blake Roeber, Jeff Russell, Amy Seymour, Justin Sharber, Derek Shiller, Erica Shumener, Jeffrey Snapper, Meghan Sullivan, Kurt Sylvan, Patrick Todd, Jonathan Vertanen, Jennifer Wang, Jared Warren
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, ??


Metaphysical Mayhem XII: Rutgers, May 14-18, 2012

Speakers
Katherine Hawley, “Ontological Innocence”
John Hawthorne
Jonathan Schaffer, “Structural Equation Models of Grounding”
Ted Sider, "Parts"
Dean Zimmerman
Participants
Andrew Bailey, Marco Dees, Adam Murray, Alex Skiles
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Matt Benton

Metaphysical Mayhem XIII: Rutgers, May 19-23, 2014

Speakers
Karen Bennett, “The Metaphysics of (Non-)Fundamentality”
Shamik Dasgupta, “Empirical Rationalism”
L. A. Paul, “Fundamental Ontological Categories”
Jonathan Schaffer, “Grounding and Explanatory Gaps"
Ted Sider, "Object-Free Metaphysics"
Participants
Simona Aimar, Fatima Amijee, Michael Bertrand, Rebecca Chan, Robin Dembroff, Samuel Elgin, David Ingram, Li Kang, Matthew Leonard, Daniel Murphy, Noel Saenz, Rohan Sud
Organizers
Dean Zimmerman, Georgi Gardiner, Peter van Elswyk

Metaphysical Mayhem XIV: Rutgers, August 8-12, 2016

Speakers
Ross Cameron, “Logic, Truthmaking, and Ontology”
Boris Kment, “Ground and Paradox”
Jonathan Schaffer, “Beyond Fundamentality”
Ted Sider, "When are Theories Equivalent?"
Amie Thomasson, “Easy Ontology”
Participants
Jonathan Barker, Nathaniel Baron-Schmitt, Elle Benjamin, Naomi Dershowitz, Frances Fairbairn, Maegan Fairchild, Peter Finnochario, Cameron Gibbs, Theodore Locke, Yael Lowenstein, Damian Melamedoff, Alex Moran, Daniel Munoz, Callie Phillips, Steve Steward
Organizers
Jonathan Schaffer, Nick Tourville

Metaphysical Mayhem XV: Rutgers, 2018

Speakers
Sara Bernstein, “Causation and Grounding”
Cian Dorr, "Learn Conversational Higher-Orderese in Just Three Hours!”
Daniel Nolan, “Hyperintensionality and Impossible Worlds”
Ted Sider, "Determinism and the Metaphysics of Quantity"
Jessica Wilson, “Fundamentality and Metaphysical Dependence”
Participants
Zachary Blaesi, David Builes, Pablo Carnino, Lu Chen, Samuele Chilovi, Augie Faller, Carolyn Garland, Patrick Grafton-Cardwell, John Himelright, Hannah Kim, Vivek Mathew, Allison Koslow, Carlos Romero, Byron Simmons, Alison Springle
Organizers
Jonathan Schaffer, Chris Hauser, Nick Tourville

Metaphysical Mayhem XV: Rutgers, 2020 (canceled due to pandemic)

Speakers
Shieva Kleinschmidt, Kris McDaniel, Carolina Sartorio, Brad Skow, Dean Zimmerman
Participants
Joshua Babic, Robert Bassett, Rhys Borchert, Thiago Xavier De Melo, Jaime Castillo Gamboa, Zachary Goodsell, Jessica Anne Heine, Joanna Lawson, Seungil Lee, Taylor-grey Miller, Ryan Olsen, Emilie Pagano, Levy Wang, Mallory Webber, Qiong Wu
Organizers
Jonathan Schaffer, Christopher Fruge