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November 10th, 2017

  • Image preview 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

  • Image preview 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.

  • 1:00pm: Philosophy: Meet Your Major
    Come eat FREE PIZZA! and learn about all you can do at Lewis & Clark studying Logic, Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Science, Greek and Roman Philosophy, Indian Philosophy, Philosophy of Film…AND MORE!!!

September 22nd, 2017

  • Image preview 3:30pm: “The What, the How, and the Why of Science Denial” by Adrian Bardon (Wake Forest University)
    What is going on when someone is “in denial”? Denial, as opposed to lying or bullshitting, arises from a state of sincere self-deception. This seems paradoxical. How can one self-deceive? And why would anyone ever want to be wrong about something? As it turns out, it is all-too-easy to self-deceive, and there are lots of reasons why people are motivated to deny reality.

    Science denial is the denial of consensus science on any of a wide range of issues, such as climate change, vaccine safety, GM foods, or water-supply fluoridation. Widespread denial of established science in areas like these can have a big impact on public policy and human well-being. We would do well to form a better understanding of what denial is, how it is maintained, and, perhaps most importantly, why we do it.

    Dr. Bardon is well-known philosopher who works in the philosophy of science. It promises to be an great talk. Hope to see you there!

September 15th, 2017

  • Image preview 3:30pm: “On Characterizing the Fundamental” by Jessica Wilson (University of Toronto)
    What is it for some goings-on to be fundamental at a world? Here I argue against ‘independence’-based accounts according to which this is for the goings-on be ‘un-Grounded’ or otherwise metaphysically independent from all others, motivate my preferred account according to which this is ultimately a primitive matter, and defend my account against several recent objections.

    Dr. Wilson is well-known philosopher who works in contemporary metaphysics. It promises to be an great talk. Hope to see you there!

April 21st, 2017

  • 3:30pm: “Berkeley on the Heterogeneity of the Senses”, Honors Thesis Presented by Bridger Ehli

    In his Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision, George Berkeley presents a revolutionary theory of visual perception. Central to this theory is what scholars have dubbed the “Heterogeneity Thesis,” which Berkeley calls the “main part and pillar” of his theory. This thesis is often interpreted as the claim that there are no common sensibles––that the sensible qualities we touch, for example, are not the sensible qualities we see. On the face of it, the thesis appears to be false, or at least to depart from common sense: we think we often see and touch the same quality or the same object. The aim of this paper is not to defend the Heterogeneity Thesis but to answer a series of questions: what is the Heterogeneity Thesis, what role does it play in Berkeley’s theory of perceptual experience, and why did he view it as the main part and pillar of his theory? I argue that Berkeley adopts several versions of the Heterogeneity Thesis, and that each version plays a crucial role in Berkeley’s story of how we navigate a spatial world, visually.

April 17th, 2017

  • Image preview 3:30pm: “What’s A Definition in Biology?” Richard Boyd, Cornell University
    According to the ‘homeostatic property cluster’ conception many categories in biology and other sciences are defined by naturally occurring property clusters and their underlying clustering mechanisms.  The HPC conception has been challenged on the grounds that it doesn’t accord with actual definitional practices in biology and that it fails to account for the role of phylogeny in defining biological taxa.  A response is developed that focuses on (1) the role of published ‘definitions’ in the sciences and (2) the relationship between philosophy of science and the (other) sciences.

March 3rd, 2017

  • Image preview 3:30pm: “Meaning and the Good Life” by Dan Haybron (St. Louis University)
    It is plausible that good lives somehow include virtue and well-being: living well and doing well. But it also seems to matter that our lives be meaningful. What does it mean to lead a meaningful life? Is meaning a further value, in addition to well-being and virtue? I will suggest that meaning in life concerns engaging with value in certain ways–for example, enjoying worthwhile activities. Meaning is important in life, and people can reasonably trade a good deal of personal happiness to lead more meaningful lives. But meaning is not itself a distinct kind of value. Rather, meaningful lives are desirable because of the contributions meaning makes to well-being and virtue.

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.


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