Please join us:
Friday April 3, 5pm
TB 130 (Anderson Hall)
How to Save Mental Causation
Non-reductive physicalism holds that mental properties, such as beliefs, desires, sensations and so on, are “nothing over and above” physical properties, but that mental properties are not identical with physical properties. Most non-reductive physicalists also believe that mental properties can be causally efficacious: my belief that it is raining can cause me to open my umbrella. Some opponents of non-reductive physicalism, most notably Jaegwon Kim, argue that if mental properties are not identifiable with physical properties, mental causation is difficult to account for: physical properties do all the causal work, so there is no room for mental causes. In this talk, I will explore the success and the limitations of one particular response to this problem. This response suggests that the causal powers of a mental property are a subset of the causal powers of a physical property that realizes it. Because of this subset relation, mental properties are parts of physical properties, and parts and wholes don’t causally compete. I will argue that this parthood claim is problematic. If it is taken literally, the metaphysical commitments to justify it are implausible. If it is taken metaphorically, then what it takes to respond to Kim’s challenge is available to all non-reductive physicalists. I believe that the parthood claim should be taken metaphorically, and that non-reductive physicalists can successfully respond to Kim’s objection without any appeal to a part-whole relation.
Talk, István Aranyosi (Bilkent), “Description, acquaintance, and the a posteriori physicalist response to the Knowledge Argument”
5pm, Monday, March 30
TB 130 (Anderson Hall)
One of the popular physicalist responses to the Knowledge Argument (KA) is based on
the idea that knowledge is opaque, hence, according to this response the argument fails
to establish anything about ontology. Rather, what it does establish is that propositions
containing exclusively physical and functional concepts do not a priori entail propositions
that contain phenomenal concepts. Defenders of KA, while acknowledging that
knowledge is opaque, have replied by pointing out that the physicalist have merely
shifted the focus of the problem. KA can be applied to the new items brought in by the
physicalist, such as: the property of having phenomenal concepts, the fact that there
are phenomenal modes of presentation, or that there is a knowing relation to physical
properties involving phenomenal content. All these are not entailed by the totality of
descriptive, physical truths, hence, physicalism is still false.
I will show, based on some ideas related to the difference between knowledge by
acquaintance and knowledge by description, that the concession made by defenders
of KA to the effect that the argument establishes at most the existence of phenomenal
concepts or phenomenal modes of presentations of physical properties leads to the demise
of KA. Yet, if the concession is not made, then KA is begging the question.
Call for Abstracts/Papers/Commentators: Aristotelian Themes in Metaphysics and Koslicki Book Workshop
Talk at Bogazici next Friday: Frank Chouraqui (Koc), The Paradox of Fiction: A Phenomenological Proposal
Please join us.
Friday, March 13
Anderson Hall 130 (TB 130)
In this talk, I attempt to formulate a solution to the traditional paradox of emotional response to fiction. I begin with a critique of the existing solutions, arguing that they fail the tests of parallelism and/or parasitism. I draw from this critique the requirements for a satisfactory solution. I then propose a solution which involves rejecting neither of the premises of the paradox, but rather rejecting the common view that emotions rely on existence-beliefs. I then proceed to offer an account of the controversial view that the beliefs relevant to emotional responses to fiction may be treated independently from existence-beliefs. I argue that this route, although unavoidable, demand an ontological discussion of the relations between emotion and belief. I finish by discussing the basic outlines of an ontology which could support this view.
if you have any questions, email marksteen[at-symbol]gmail[dot]com
Talk at Bogazici, Imge Oranli (DePaul), “The Augustinian-Kantian Legacy and The Inscrutability of Evil”
Friday, March 6, 5:30-7:30pm
TB 130 (Anderson Hall)
“The Augustinian-Kantian Legacy and The Inscrutability of Evil”
This paper offers a critical examination of the implications of the Augustinian-Kantian legacy on evil. As to the question of “why the human will turns towards evil?” both Augustine and Kant provide the answer that it cannot be known. Thus, in the Augustinian and the Kantian treatment of moral evil, the ground of evil remains inscrutable. Evil is inscrutable because the source of evil, namely, “free choice of the will,” is understood to be internal to the individual. My consideration of Augustine and Kant’s theories of evil attempts to problematize the presupposed ‘freedom’ of the will in the formation of evil-doing. In light of this problematic, I underscore that the objects of choice are communicated to individuals socially.
In my work, I try to point to the inadequacy of understanding the cause of evil with a model based upon the individual alone; it is not only misleading insofar as the chain of causality almost always extends beyond the individual but quite problematic insofar as, methodologically, it removes us from the prospect of the problem of preventing social evils. Borrowing from Adi Ophir, I deploy the notion of the ‘social production of evil’ in an attempt to question the philosophical assumption that treats evil action as grounded solely in the “freely chosen” action of the individual, and I ask, how free are choices really? I am interested in uncovering the implications of the Augustinian-Kantian legacy on evil because of its contemporary force; globally, we live in a political climate where perpetrators of social evil are continuously rendered inscrutable, as if, the source of their motivations is internal and natural.
We will be continuing with our Kant reading group at Bogazici this semester. We will meet in TB365 on Thursdays, 5.15-7pm.
We will start this Thursday (12/02/2015) by looking at Kant’s essay “On the Common Saying: that may be true in theory, but is no use in practice”. A copy of the essay can be found here.
During the first meeting we will decide what to read for the rest of the semester.
If you would like more information, or would like to be added to our mailing group, please email Melisa: email@example.com
We will be continuing with our cog-sci/philosophy reading group at Bogazici this semester. We will meet on Tueday evenings from 5.15-7pm in TB130. Everyone is welcome.
For the first 4 weeks of the semester we will be reading:
(1) Tuesday, February 10th
Andy Clark, Whatever next Predictive brains, situated agents and the future of cognitive science, BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES (2013) 36, 181–253 (Target Article.)
(2) Tuesday, February 17th
Andy Clark, CONTINUED. (Commentaries and Reply)
(3) Tuesday, February 24th
Pothos and Busemeyer, Can quantum probability provide a new direction for cognitive modeling? BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES (2013) 36, 255–327 (Target Article)
(4) Tuesday, March 3rd
Pothos and Busemeyer, CONTINUED. (Commentaries and Reply)
If you would like to attend the reading group, or have any questions, please email Merve at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This reading group is part of the project “Concepts and Beliefs: From Perception to Action”, funded by Tubitak.