Dinner With Faculty: Thomas Hofweber

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Thursday, Sept. 21 | 6:30 p.m.
The Carolina Club, 106 Stadium Drive, Chapel Hill
Price: $45; Carolina Alumni members save $15

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Dine and discuss issues with UNC faculty in a small-group setting, limited to 10 guests. Read the faculty bio and find additional dinner details below.

Dinner Details:

Dinner at The Carolina Club begins at 6:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) and includes three courses plus coffee and tea. Lunch begins at 12 p.m. No jeans, please.

Contact Catherine Nichols ’89, senior coordinator of faculty relations and travel, if you need to modify your registration or cancel, (919) 270-3524 or

Bio: Thomas Hofweber

I am a professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I work mostly in metaphysics, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mathematics. I am presently working on three projects:

1. A project on the philosophy of logic, concerning the place of logic in various philosophical disciplines, in particular the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of language, and metaphysics.

2. A project on human extinction, in particular concerning what humanity should do to prepare for its own extinction.

3. A project on philosophical issues tied to artificial intelligence, in particular language models, including questions concerning what language models represent about the world,  what they ultimately model, and whether the models are subject to the norms of rationality, in particular,  coherence norms.

I am also the director of the AI Project here at UNC and the main organizer of the Idealism Network.

Over the last few years I have been working on idealism, in particular a defense of a strong version of idealism, which holds that not just minds in general, but our human minds in particular, are metaphysically central to reality as a whole. This view is defended in some detail in my  book: Idealism and the Harmony of Thought and Reality (Oxford University Press 2023) (amazonOUP).

The official abstract is as follows:

Do human beings have a special and distinguished place in reality? In Idealism and the Harmony of Thought and Reality Thomas Hofweber contends that they do. We are special since there is an intimate connection between our human minds and reality itself. This book defends a form of idealism which holds that our human minds constrain, but do not construct, reality as the totality of facts. Reality as the totality of facts is thus not independent of our minds, and our minds play a metaphysically special role in all of reality. But reality as the totality of things is taken to be completely independent of us.

Hofweber’s proposed form of conceptual idealism is formulated via the notion of a harmony between our minds and reality. This harmony is defended through considerations in the philosophy of language. How can one possibly defend a metaphysical thesis like idealism from considerations about our own representation? A key step in the book’s argument is to consider a special class of concepts—inescapable concepts—which we cannot rationally replace with different ones. This leads to a new approach for making progress in metaphysics—immanent metaphysics—which is broadly neo-Kantian in spirit.

A more detailed table of contents is here: Idealism and the Harmony of Thought and Reality

This defense of idealism is tied to a larger approach to metaphysics, immanent metaphysics, and a particular view of the relationship between metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of language, all of which are spelled out in the idealism book.

I have also done recent work in the philosophy of logic, the philosophy of language, and metaphysics.

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