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December 2nd, 2016

  • 3:30pm: How Otto did not Extend His Mind, but Might Have: Dynamic Systems Theory and Social-Cultural Group Selection
    I start with the back-story on Otto, his career as a NASA scientist, when Otto supersized his embodied mind, embedding it in the natural and social-cultural environments and extending it to both, thereby creating with them, extended and distributed cognitive agents. I explore how this happened, arguing that four major objections to extended cognition: (1) the mark of the cognitive, (2) the function-identity fallacy, (3) cognitive bloat, and (4) scientific irrelevance lose much of their sting in the case of distributed cognition, the extension of cognitive agency to a group of cognitive agents, such as a scientific research team. However, I claim that a crucial fifth challenge, that advocates of the extended mind commit the causal-constitution fallacy, has yet to be satisfactorily addressed. I focus on Spyridon Palermos’ use of dynamic systems theory to refute this charge and I argue that his appeal to dynamic systems theory as a criterion of system-constitution fails. Instead, I suggest a social-cultural group selection hypothesis for understanding system-constitution. But, I leave it for another day to elaborate that hypothesis’ empirical plausibility.

November 18th, 2016

  • 3:30pm: Backdoors, Newgenics, and Eugenics Underground, by Rob Wilson (University of Alberta)
     This talk will take up the idea of newgenics–of eugenics persisting in contemporary practices that are not typically identified as eugenic–drawing on the disability theorist Rosemarie Garland-Thompson’s appeal to what she calls eugenic logic.  We’ll review some well-worn arguments concerning prenatal screening and newgenics, and consider several threads of thinking in contemporary bioethics that embolden (and perhaps manifest) eugenic logic.  Throughout the talk there will be a focus on disability, eugenics, and human variation, and I will make some framing comments that locate the talk in the broader framework of the book, The Eugenic Mind Project, from which it drawn.

September 30th, 2016

  • Image preview 3:30pm: The Veridicality of Perception in Aristotle, Rosemary Twomey (Simon Fraser)
    Aristotle repeatedly characterizes our perception of the special objects — colors, odors, flavors, and sounds — as true, or not mistaken. He is less explicit about other kinds of perception, including the perception of so-called common objects like shape and size and the perception of incidental, macro objects, but what he does say about such cases has led many to think that misperception is possible. To the contrary, I argue that Aristotle is committed to the veridicality of all perception, and that his recognition of this commitment can be seen in his treatment of the psychological capacity of imagination. The claim that perception is always veridical might first sound stipulative: we don’t say that someone who mistakes a parrot for a human voice has perceived a human voice. However, I argue that perception’s accuracy follows from Aristotle’s metaphysical account of perception, and in particular from the essential causal role that the external object plays in the activity of perception. As such, the claim that perception is always accurate is a substantive thesis, one that can help to ground his empiricism. I neutralize the passages that have been thought to acknowledge misperception. According to my interpretation, these statements can be read as addressing how likely we are to be in error about the special objects as opposed to the common and incidental objects: Aristotle never claims that when we are wrong about common or incidental objects it is because we are perceiving them incorrectly.

May 2nd, 2016

April 16th, 2016

  • 9:45am - 11:15am: “The Academic Animal is Just an Analogy: Against the Restrictive Account of Hegel’s ‘Spiritual Animal Kingdom’” by Miguel Guerrero, Presenting at the Pacific University Philosophy Conference
    In this essay, I will argue against the restrictive account of Hegel’s “Spiritual Animal Kingdom.” To demonstrate this, I will present the restrictive account, as expressed by Royce, Kojève, Loewenberg, and Shapiro. While the intellectual life analogy is useful, I argue that it must not be understood as the sole content of the “Spiritual Animal Kingdom” for two reasons. The first comes from H.S. Harris, who holds that das geistige Tierreich includes, but is not limited to, intellectuals. However, I argue that the restrictive account fails also due to a misunderstanding of what Hegel means by die Sache selbst (in English, “the matter in hand”). I distinguish between (a) the initial and (b) the universal matters in hand. The restrictive account fails because such interpretations mistake the universal matter in hand for the initial one. Such a mistake restricts the ability of consciousness to progress to absolute knowing, which is the ultimate project for Hegel’s Phenomenology.

April 15th, 2016

  • All Day: Festival of Scholars

    It is our pleasure to invite you to the Festival of Scholars, an opportunity for student-scholars and artists to present their research and art, while also learning from one another.

April 9th, 2016

  • 12:30pm - 2:00pm: Is Empathy Necessary for Morality? by Lilly Dragon, Presenting at the 21st Annual SUNY Oneonta Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
    Empathy plays a central role in our daily lives. Empathy makes is possible for us to experience perspectives other than our own. It is the ability to understand the concept of other minds, as well as to experience other’s emotions vicariously. Through this experience, the concerns of other’s become meaningful to ourselves and we are alerted when moral events are taking place. This experience is unique to empathy and may stimulate moral judgment and motivation. This is most often true with those who we consider near and dear. The partiality of empathy proposes a challenge to the traditional definition of morality, suggesting that we may have to expand this definition. In this paper, I explain the role empathy plays in our moral deliberations and motivations. First, I propose a working definition of empathy. Second, I explain Jesse Prinz’s argument that empathy is not necessary for morality. Third, I suggest some possible responses to Prinz’s argument. Finally, I suggest some further avenues for investigating the role of empathy in morality.

April 8th, 2016

February 19th, 2016

  • Image preview 3:30pm: “A Genealogy of Other Minds Skepticism” by Zed Adams (The New School For Social Research)
    We can be skeptical about other minds in a variety of ways, from wondering whether we can really know what an other’s experience is like, to wondering whether there are any other minds at all. In this talk, I offer a philosophical genealogy of these different varieties, as a way of clearly demarcating them, as well as better understanding their different sources.


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