Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for October 2012

Talk at Bogazici: Erhan Demircioglu on “Recognitional Identification and the Knowledge Argument” 02/11/2012

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Erhan Demircioglu will be giving a talk this Friday (02/11/2012) at Bogazici on “Recognitional Identification and the Knowledge Argument”. The talk will take place from 5-7pm in TB130. Everyone welcome.
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ABSTRACT: Frank Jackson’s famous Knowledge Argument asks us to consider Mary, a perfect scientist who has all physical knowledge about experiencing red and yet who has not experienced red before. The intuition is that when Mary leaves her room and sees a ripe tomato, she will be surprised and exclaim “So, that is what it is like to see red!”, and thus will acquire a new piece of information about experiencing red. And, since physicalism implies that given her complete physical knowledge, Mary knows everything about experiencing red, Jackson argues, physicalism is false. Some physicalists (e.g., John Perry) have countered against this argument by arguing that what Mary lacks before experiencing red is merely a piece of recognitional knowledge of an identity, and that since having (or lacking) a piece of recognitional knowledge of an identity is not, or does not entail, having (or lacking) any pieces of knowledge of worldly facts, physicalism is safe.  I will argue that what Mary lacks in her room is not merely a piece of recognitional knowledge of an identity and that some physicalists have failed to see this because of a failure to appreciate that Mary’s epistemic progress when she first experiences red has two different stages. While the second stage of her epistemic progress can be plausibly considered as acquiring a piece of recognitional knowledge of an identity, there is a good reason to think that the first epistemic stage cannot be thus considered.
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Written by Lucas Thorpe

October 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Istanbul Technical University Talk (23.10 at 13:00). Zsolt Bátori (Budapest University of Technology and Economics). Philosophy of Perception Meets photography

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“Philosophy of Perception Meets Photography”
Zsolt Bátori
Budapest University of Technology and Economics

23.10. 2012, Tuesday, 13.00

Istanbul technical University

Faculty of Science and Letters

Department of Humanities and Social Science, Seminar Room

Abstract
In this paper I consider an important aspect of photographic realism that is strongly connected to the debate over photographic transparency, and to the question of what types of processes are to be considered perception proper. Photographic transparency theory holds that in photographs we see the scene photographed as we see objects through eyeglasses or in mirrors. I discuss some of the major arguments for and against transparency, and then I argue that formulating a position first requires an explication of one’s position about the nature of perception (seeing). In order to show what decisions one must make to arrive at a position about seeing, I consider beings with perceptual systems more or less different from ours. This discussion not only enables us to see how relative our notion of photographic realism is to our specific visual capacities, but it also helps to explicitly formulate a position about what conditions one might or might not consider necessary for seeing.! Although I do not argue for or against any of these specific conditions here, my considerations show through what steps the transparency debate may be resolved. This discussion also sheds some light on how to proceed when arguing for or against the (proper) perceptual status of specific perceptual mechanisms.

Written by Barry Stocker

October 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Talk at Bogazici: Gordon Bearn (Lehigh) on “Feeling Words: An Attitude to Linguistic Life.” 23/10/2012

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Gordon Bearn (Lehigh) will be giving a talk at Bogazici on Tuesday 23/10/2012. The talk will take place from 5-7pm in TB130.

Feeling Words: An Attitude to Linguistic Life.”

ABSTRACT:  Increasingly Wittgenstein is being favored with praise for his attention to the experiential dimension of linguistic life.  Following Rhees, I think Wittgenstein’s attention to experience, much of it appearing in pages devoted to seeing aspects, was drawn from him by his concern with whether something important would be missing if you did not experience the meaning of a word.  Wittgenstein’s answer was:  No, nothing important would be missing from our understanding of language if we were unable to experience the meaning of a word.  In this paper, I show that Wittgenstein’s repression of experience was a constant theme of the Investigations, and I suggest that it was a mistake.  Wittgenstein’s formalism, however rich, and it is rich, prevented him from following his thoughts in the direction they were leading.  He held himself back, but we should not be so careful.  We should risk feeling in the dark for a way to sensual semantics.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

October 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Barry Stocker at Fatih {repost, with room}

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Yard. Doç. Barry Stocker of İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi will speak at Fatih University.

The title of Barry’s talk is

Active Liberty and Freedom of Speech in Michel Foucault

Date: Thursday, 18 October 2012

Time: 3pm

room: M229

How to reach us:

By public transport: Metrobus direction Beylikdüzü/TÜYAP, get off one stop before terminus (Hadımköy), take the blue bus 418 or the yellow (sometimes green or red and white) HT18 towards Hadımköy (ca. 15 min. to Fatih Kampüsü). After the event, there is an E-60 express bus to Mecidiyeköy at 5pm

By car: leave the TEM at Hadımköy gişeleri, turn right and follow the signs for Fatih Üniversitesi

Written by davidbutorac

October 16, 2012 at 10:53 am

Is “to immediately perceive” a split infinitive?

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Stylists and editors really don’t like split infinitives such as “to boldly go”. I’ve been revising a paper on Reid’s account of colour perception and I sometimes use the expression “to immediately perceive”. So, for example, I will talk about “the capacity to immediately perceive” certain qualities.  The editors have suggested that I don’t use “to immediately perceive” as it is a split infinitive.

I’m not sure, however, that “to immediately perceive” is a split infinitive. Here’s my thinking: We talk about immediate perception and indirect perception. I’m not sure that there is such a thing as indirect perception, but in order to deny the fact that there is such a thing as indirect perception, we have to allow the expression “indirect perception” into our language. So I have no problem with the expression. Anyway my worry is that if we think that “to immediately perceive” is a split infinitive, then we should say “to perceive immediately” and “to perceive indirectly”. This would suggest, however, that “perceiving p immediately” and “perceiving p indirectly” are two ways of doing the same thing. And this doesn’t seem right to me. I think these are two quite distinct types of attitudes towards p. So my thought is that there are really two quite distinct verbs here: “to immediately perceive” and “to indirectly perceive”. “Immediately” here is not really functioning as an adverb. We can distinguish between how and what questions. And I think the “immediately” in “to immediately perceive” is part of the answer to a what question, rather than the full answer to a how question? Q: What is he doing? A: He is immediately perceiving a particular quality. As opposed to: Q: How is she perceiving the quality? A: immediately.

So I’d to keep the expression “to immediately perceive”. Any thoughts here? Have I been living abroad for too long and lost my intuitions about what counts as correct English?

Written by Lucas Thorpe

October 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Talk at Koc: Michael Tomasello (Leipzig) on ‘Communication Before Language’ 30/10/2012

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Michael Tomasello (Leipzig) will give a talk on ‘Communication Before Language’ at Koc University, Tuesday October 30th 2012, at 4pm in the Sevgi Gönül Auditorium. Details can be found here.

Michael Tomasello is co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and the Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Center, and the director of the Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology.  He is a leading researcher of socio-cognitive, communicative, and moral development in young children and great apes. His books include Why We Cooperate (MIT Press, 2009); Origins of Human Communication (MIT Press, 2008); Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition (Harvard University Press, 2003). His awards and distinctions include Klaus Jacobs Research Prize in 2011, the Wiley Prize in Psychology in 2011,  the Hegel Prize in 2009, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1997.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

October 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm

When a predator wants to pray

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http://washingtonjewishweek.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=18094

The case is philosophically very interesting in various regards. I recommend at least a quick look. Below, I will summarize and make an observation.

There is a show on NBC where they catch pedophilic sexual predators red-handed and on one of their episodes they caught a 56 year old (prominent) rabbi soliciting sex with a 13 year old boy. (According to the evidence police later found this was not his first time. He also had a long and explicit sex-chat with the decoy posing as this underage boy during which he sent the boy a picture of himself performing oral sex on another man).

Then the rabbi got a 6.5 year sentence and served his term. When he got out, he declared that he repented (the Hebrew word for this official repentance seems to be “T’shuvah”) he wanted to be allowed to pray in a relatively inclusive synagogue on the sabbath days. The community of the synagogue initially allowed him, but as the news of his past deeds became widely known in the community, some people expressed strong objections to his presence citing the presence of children in the building on the sabbath days as a safety concern.

After a “backbreaking amount of time” was spent on debating “how to handle the former Rabbi’s presence in the synagog” involving online forum debates about their moral duty to a fellow faithful and consultations with expert psychiatrists, prosecutors and detectives, “the Board decided that without agreement on suitable strictures for this individual’s attendance, this person would, sadly, not be welcome.”

My observation is this: This is a tough moral dilemma. Any community, especially those which consist of very well-intended people, would struggle to come to a solution which would satisfy every member. (And they couldn’t reach a consensus in the case, the vote was not unanimous at their board.) I don’t profess to have a good solution either. But if religion can provide significant moral guidance into people’s lives, which is unattainable without faith, why didn’t religion make the dilemma easier to solve for this particular religious community? Why do their reasoning and deliberation process sound very much like what would have happened in a non-religious community with the same amount of social cohesion and generosity?

This question bothers me a lot, because I see atheists being criticized time and again on the grounds that atheism impoverishes the moral dimension of the individual and society, whereas faith in God provides moral guidance. Unless this moral guidance is as invisible as God himself, shouldn’t we be able to perceive its effects somehow?

My own take on this matter is that we are all permanently stuck in the same moral ambiguity. Believing in God or having faith in commandments doesn’t solve any problem. Yes, we can assume that there is a god commanding us to do x and even reach at quick verdicts with harsh punishments, unconditional forgiveness, or principled indifference, but this case shows that when a well-intended epistemically responsible group of adults who care for each other face a tough moral dilemma it shall remain tough, regardless what the creator of the universe commands. This is so in part because there is an ambiguity about what the command is, born out of the puzzlingly cryptic and convoluted statements through which the alleged commands are conveyed. But even if the commands were utterly unambiguous, the question “Is God’s command righteous?” is always a meaningful question to ask even for a theist, assuming that the theist wants to do his epistemic duty to find a satisfactory solution to the dilemma as the good people of the synagogue tried in this case.

Written by burkayphil

October 11, 2012 at 9:48 am