Invited Lectures

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November 2017

November 17, 2017 | Time: 3:30pm-5:30pm | Location: TUC 415AB

  • Empathy as a Natural Kind of Knowing by Anthony Jack (Case Western)
    • Abstract: In this talk I argue that, if empathy is to be considered of any serious philosophical interest, it must qualify as a natural kind. Hence, the way to resolve these issues is to identify the fundamental basis of empathy, and allow the science to guide its proper definition. One very popular hypothesis was that mirror neurons represent the fundamental basis of empathy. However, recent evidence favors a quite different fundamental basis for empathy. This basis turns out to be far more consistent both with folk conceptions of empathy and with prior philosophical conceptions of empathy. It also promises to shed light on the unfortunate post-Kantian division between Continental and Analytic traditions in philosophy.

December 2017

Dec 1, 2017 |Time: 3:30pm-5:30pm | Location: TUC 415AB

  • Psycho-Babble: Label Without a Cause or System Level With a Cause? by Jan-Pieter Konsman (U. Bordeaux)


Kristen Andrews (York)

Past Lecutres  

Sept 9, 2016: Elizabeth Schechter (Washington University)  

Oct. 21, 2016: Kristen Andrews (York)

Nov. 18, 2016 : Robert Briscoe (Ohio University)  

Dec. 2, 2016: Carl Craver (Washington University)  

Jan. 27, 2017: Chris Smeenk (Western Ontario)  

Feb. 10, 2017: Mazviita Chirimuuta (University of Pittsburgh)  

  • "Why do Birds Migrate, Why do Nerves Fire Action Potentials, and Why do Neuroscientists Talk about Representations?

    While neuroscientists often refer to "representations" in the brain, and other intentional notions, their status is controversial. In this talk I argue that intentional notions are typically brought in to describe systems which show apparently non-local causal interactions. I illustrate this idea with an examination of the neurologist John Hughlings Jackson’s (1835-1911) theory of motor representation, and a discussion of Ernst Mayr's (1961) distinction between ultimate and proximate causal explanation in biology. I argue that the same principles apply to computational explanations of neuronal firing which posit that the function of a neuronal circuit is, e.g., to represent a particular kind of external stimulus."

Feb. 17, 2017: Stuart Glennan (Butler University)  

  • "Pluralism without tears: mechanistic ontology and the pluralistic character of scientific knowledge"

    The growing interest in pluralism in 21st century philosophy of science has coincided with the explosion of philosophical interest in mechanisms.  I shall argue that this is no accident, and that at least some versions of the new mechanist approach provide an ontological account that can make sense of methodological pluralism while justifying a perspectival but realist account of scientific knowledge.

    As I interpret the New Mechanist account, natural and social phenomena depend upon mechanisms, in the sense that these phenomena are caused and constituted by the organized activities and interactions of the mechanism’s parts.  Knowledge about mechanisms is embodied in models that represent various features of the phenomena and the mechanisms upon which they depend.  I shall argue (contra some interpretations of New Mechanism) that modeling mechanisms necessitates adoption of what Weisberg (2013) has called multiple models idealization (MMI), and that it is the plurality of models that accounts for the pluralistic character of knowledge of natural phenomena and the mechanisms upon which they depend.

    The model-based approach has implications for our understanding of scientific knowledge claims.  On traditional accounts, propositional knowledge requires justified true belief; models though are not typically thought to be true representations of their targets, but are instead understood taken to be similar to their targets in various degrees and respects.  The similarity-based account suggests a natural path for disentangling the objective and pragmatic elements of scientific knowledge.  That a model resembles a target mechanism in some degree and respect may be a mind-independent truth, but the degrees and respects in which a model must resemble a target in order to count as a model of that mechanism will depend deeply upon pragmatic questions of how such models are to be used.

March 31, 2017: Michael Weisberg (Univeristy of Pennsylvania) 

"Understanding and Accepting Evolution"

  • Why do Americans overwhelmingly fail to accept the theory of evolution? Although it is tempting to think that this resistance is explained solely by religious fundamentalism, this issue is considerably more complex. In this talk, I will discuss new empirical work that finds a relationship between people's acceptance of evolutionary theory and their understanding of it, suggesting that combatting ignorance about evolutionary theory may be an effective strategy for increasing acceptance. I will also discuss various strategies for intervention including how teaching Philosophy of Science can play a key role in improving public understanding and acceptance.

April 7, 2017: Eric Mandelbaum (Baruch, CUNY) 

"Troubles with Bayesianism: An Introduction to the Psychological Immune System"

  • A Bayesian mind is, at its core, an ideally rational mind. Thus the current popularity of Bayesianism should strike us as somewhat curious, since recent events in human history don't much seem like the result of a rational agents cooperating in a reasonable fashion. In this talk, I'll try to reconcile Bayesian findings which purport to display our rationality, with the stark evidence of our current irrationality.  I conclude that instead of approximating a Bayesian processor, belief updating functions to maintain a Psychological Immune System. I'll conclude by discussing some ways the Psychological Immune System can illuminate recent and on-going political events.

Sept 1, 2017

A Phenomenological Ethics of Perceptual Experience by Daniel Dwyer

Sept 15, 2017

Diagnostic Kinds as Human Kinds by Natalia Washington (WashU & Cycorp)

Nov 13, 2017

Truth, Justice, & the American Way? The Need for the Arts & Sciences in the Post-Truth World

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