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November 9th, 2018

  • 3:30pm: “Do Experts Really Perceive the World Differently from Non-Experts?” By Kevin Connolly (Minerva Schools)
    People sometimes say things like the following: Cabernet Sauvignon tastes differently to an expert wine taster, or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony sounds differently to a seasoned conductor. Such claims are often made by philosophers, from the 14th-century Hindu philosopher Vedānta Deśika to the 18th-century Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid as well as to contemporary philosophers like Ned Block, Susanna Siegel, and Christopher Peacocke. But do experts really perceive the world differently from non-experts? According to an alternative story, the wine tastes (or the symphony sounds) the same to the expert and non-expert alike. On this view, it’s just that the expert has specialized concepts for the wine (or the symphony) that the non-expert lacks, while the wine tastes (or the symphony sounds) the same to both. Which of these two accounts is correct? In this talk, I examine and evaluate the evidence, drawing on philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience.

March 21st, 2018

  • 6:00pm - 8:30pm: Philosophy Extravaganza 2018
    We pose a question to speakers from different disciplines and then discuss the question over a free dinner.  You can RSVP here

February 23rd, 2018

  • 3:30pm: “Abstract on the Possibility of a Neuroaesthetics of Natural Environments” by James Dow (Hendrix College)
    Experiences of nature sometimes involve multisensory engagement, immersion of ourselves in nature, and transformative experiences. Could such aesthetic experiences be described, explained, and predicted by neuroscience? Neuroaesthetics has emerged as a discipline that explains and predicts aesthetic experiences of visual art, music, and literature. Enactivists about perception have argued against the possibility of neuroaesthetics based on the claim that perceptual experience involves sensitivity to sensorimotor contingencies. Engagement theorists about nature aesthetics have argued that engaged aesthetic experiences are non-conceptual, participatory, and action-oriented. Do the enactivist arguments against the possibility of a neuroaesthetics of art provide similar challenges to the possibility of explaining and predicting aesthetic experiences of natural environments? I argue for the counterintuitive thesis that while neuroaesthetics of art can overcome hurdles posed by the enactivists, by appealing to pragmatic representations, the neuroaesthetics of natural environments cannot overcome challenges presented by the action-oriented nature of aesthetic experience of nature.

January 26th, 2018

  • 3:30pm: “Oppressive Things” by Shen-yi Liao (University of Puget Sound)
    Minds can be biased. Practices can be biased. Things can be biased too. Oppressive things are parts of the physical world that are biased in congruence with systems of oppression—such as racism, sexism, classism, and ableism. Oppressive things structure and normalize patterns of associations, imaginings, and behaviors. And oppressive things sustain and reinforce problematic epistemological, moral, and aesthetic norms.

November 10th, 2017

  • 3:30pm: “Memory as Macrocognition” by Bryce Huebner (Georgetown University)​
    We often talk to others about what we remember, and about what has happened to us. A great deal of work in social and cognitive psychology suggests that these practices of collaborative remembering shape what we remember individually, as well as what we will forget. In this talk, I will explore the social implications of these kinds of effects. I will argue that practices of collective remembering play a critical role in shaping our shared understandings of the world, by highlighting aspects of the world that are salient to us, and downplaying the aspects of the world that are not. This process helps to sustain shared understandings of the world; but it can also generate barriers to understanding other ways of thinking, and it can even make other perspectives seem unintelligible. But more importantly, I will argue that  understanding why this occurs helps to open up strategies for exploring novel imaginative possibilities, and constructing ways of understanding the world that go beyond what any of us could imagine on our own. 

November 3rd, 2017

  • 3:30pm: “A Democratic Conception of Fair Exchange in Markets” by Thomas Christiano (University of Arizona)

    Democratic governance is often thought to be the gold standard of fairness in collective decision making. Fairness in voluntary exchange has not similarly received a fully satisfactory analysis. The most prominent views tend to arrange themselves into two basic camps: the voluntariness conceptions of fair exchange and the equal value conceptions. Though there are insights here, I think both of these fail to grasp the basic structural conditions of fairness in exchange. What I propose to do in this paper is to take the democratic conception of fairness in collective decision making and extend it so that it applies in a distinctive way to voluntary exchange. I think this approach solves some of the puzzles inherent in the other approaches and provides a powerful analysis of the normative principles regulating the structural conditions of voluntary exchange. One further benefit of this approach is that it brings to bear the widely accepted values of democracy to the evaluation of voluntary exchange in a deeply illuminating way, without sacrificing an appreciation of the distinctive features and virtues of voluntary exchange. I want to suggest the fruitfulness of this analysis by applying the democratic conception to market exchange, understood broadly in a neo-classical way. I do not intend to endorse the neo-classical approach, I want simply to show the value of the democratic conception buy showing how it can help evaluate the fairness of markets understood in a neo-classical way. I apply the idea to perfectly competitive markets and to imperfectly competitive markets.


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