Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Author Archive

MBB talk at Bilkent: Hannah Read, 17 April

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Hannah Read (Duke, Philosophy)

“Empathy Education: A Response to Affective Polarization.”

Date: Wednesday, 17 April, 2019

Time: 1240 – 1330

Place: H-232

Organized by the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Group at Bilkent University.

Abstract: In this talk, I propose empathy education as a response to the problem of affective polarization, or extreme antagonism towards moral and political opponents. More specifically, I suggest that empathy is a promising means of mitigating affective polarization and the highly negative practical, epistemic, and moral outcomes it can yield. I also maintain that empathy education of certain kinds plays a crucial role in motivating empathy for opponents, including those towards whom one is affectively polarized.

About the speaker: Hannah Read is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Duke University. Before Duke, she completed her MA in Philosophy at Tufts University and her BA in Philosophy and Literary Studies at The New School University. Her work falls primarily within moral philosophy, especially moral psychology and metaethics. She has additional interests in feminist philosophy and the philosophy of education. Hannah’s dissertation aims to address problems associated with sharp moral disagreement, including extreme antagonism and incivility between moral opponents. She is currently developing an account of the way in which empathy and perspective taking might play a crucial role in ameliorating antagonism and incivility between moral opponents by helping them understand and find common ground with one another.

Web: www.phil.bilkent.edu.tr 


Written by Sandrine Berges

April 11, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

SWIP-TR talk: Lisa Shapiro at Bilkent 12 April

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“The Challenges of Being a Thinking Thing”

By Lisa C. Shapiro (Simon Fraser University, Philosophy)

Date: Friday, 12 April, 2019

Time: 1100-1230

Place: H-232

This is a SWIP-TR event.


Abstract: What is it to be a thinking thing? What is it to teach someone to be a thinking thing? I look to the school at Saint-Cyr founded by Madame Maintenon to problematize our understanding of a Cartesian thinking thing as simply conscious awareness and to motivate an alternative interpretation which holds that thinking is involves essentially owning one’s thoughts, where this ownership is an achievement – the result of an active norm-governed process. If thinking is, in this sense, an achievement, it is an ability that we develop. The curriculum at Saint-Cyr also highlights three challenges of this way of thinking of thinking: the pedagogical challenge of how to teach someone to own one’s own thoughts; the autonomy challenge presented by the fact that thinking involves practice and so habituation, making it difficult to distinguish autonomic from true cognitive activity; and lastly, the affective challenge presented by the infusion of all education, including that of thinking, with moral norms.


About the speaker: Lisa Shapiro is Professor of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses on the 17th and 18th century, and in particular the theory of emotions, and the works of women philosophers of that period. Professor Shapiro is the lead investigator for a series of grants for the project New Narratives in the History of Philosophy. Among her publications is a translation of the correspondence between Elisabeth of Bohemia and Rene Descartes. Find out more about Lisa Shapiro here.



Written by Sandrine Berges

April 1, 2019 at 3:30 pm

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Jack Woods at Bilkent – POSTPONED

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“The Disunity of Truth as a Working Hypothesis”

By Jack Woods (Leeds, Philosophy) (co-author, Dan Waxman)

Date: tba

Time: tba

Place: tba



Abstract:  Many contemporary philosophers are engaged in the project of constructing theories of truth. But what exactly does this project consist in—what are the terms of engagement? Here is a natural pair of views about what we’re up to. First, as a descriptive matter, the ordinary intuitive concept of truth is inconsistent, or at least jointly inconsistent with our actual logical concepts. Second, as a result, the aim of constructing a theory of truth is to provide a revisionary theory which “limits the damage”. And the idea here is to isolate the main functional role that the ordinary notion of truth was supposed to play, and construct (insofar as it’s possible) a maximally strong, consistent theory which best serves that role.

Thinking of things this way, though, invites a question. Why would we think that there exists a single unified role for our notion of truth to play? After all, truth is put to a range of different uses which, on their face, differ wildly from one another. In pure mathematics, we use the notion of truth to distinguish intended from unintended models and to prove otherwise undecidable sentences. In natural language semantics, we use the notion of truth to give a compositional theory of meaning. In studying human behavior, we use the notion of truth to explain how we reliably and successfully achieve our aims. In epistemology, we use the notion of truth as a target for belief, assertion, and justification. And more generally, we seem to use truth in many domains as a mere device of generalization.

Focusing on these quite distinct roles for a truth concept to play naturally leads one to wonder whether a single concept is capable of playing them all. More specifically, once the diversity of roles of truth is made clear, there seems to be space for a radically disunified view of truth: perhaps the aim of damage limitation might be better served by allowing our naive—inconsistent—notion of truth to fragment into several different notions, each of which is locally suited for one of the projects of the kind mentioned above. In other words, these quite distinct roles seem to suggest that we flirt with a version of alethic pluralism.

About the speaker: Jack Woods is University Academic Fellow in Mathematical Philosophy at the University of Leeds. He works in the philosophy of logic, language, and metaethics. He also has interests in ancient philosophy. His recent work has focused on a defense of a conventional approach to normativity, especially the normativity of logic. He taught previously at the Department of Philosophy at Bilkent University and did his graduate work at Princeton University under John Burgess. He has published in journals such as Ethics, Philosophical Studies, The Journal of Philosophical Logic, Nous, and Philosophia Mathematica.

Written by Sandrine Berges

March 29, 2019 at 1:40 pm

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MBB Seminar at Bilkent tomorrow: Ercument Cicek

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Ercument Cicek (Bilkent, Computer Engineering)

“ST-Steiner: A Spatio-Temporal Gene Discovery Algorithm.”

Date: Wednesday, 27 March, 2019

Time: 1240 – 1330

Place: A-130

Organized by the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Group at Bilkent University.

Abstract: Whole exome sequencing (WES) studies for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) could identify only around six dozen risk genes to date because the genetic architecture of the disorder is highly complex. To speed the gene discovery process up, a few network-based ASD gene discovery algorithms were proposed. Although these methods use static gene interaction networks, functional clustering of genes is bound to evolve during neurodevelopment and disruptions are likely to have a cascading effect on the future associations. Thus, approaches that disregard the dynamic nature of neurodevelopment are limited in power. In this talk, I will present a spatio-temporal gene discovery algorithm for progressive disorders, which leverages information from evolving gene coexpression networks. in the context of ASD, the algorithm solves an adapted prize collecting Steiner forest based problem on coexpression networks to model neurodevelopment and transfer information from precursor neurodevelopmental windows. The decisions made by the algorithm can be traced back, adding interpretability to the results. We apply the algorithm on WES data of 3,871 samples and identify risk clusters using BrainSpan coexpression networks of early- and mid-fetal periods. On an independent dataset, we show that incorporation of the temporal dimension increases the predictive power: Predicted clusters are hit more and show higher enrichment in ASD-related functions compared to the state-of-the-art.

About the speakerErcument Cicek earned his BS and MS degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from Sabanci University. He received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Case Western Reserve University in 2013. During his Ph.D., he visited Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to work on gene discovery algorithms for Autism Spectrum Disorder. After graduation, he worked as a Lane Fellow in Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon University till 2015. Since then, he is an assistant professor in the Computer Engineering Department of Bilkent University and is an adjunct faculty member in the Computational Biology Department of Carnegie Mellon University. Short bio: Ercument Cicek earned his BS and MS degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from Sabanci University. He received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Case Western Reserve University in 2013. During his Ph.D., he visited Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to work on gene discovery algorithms for Autism Spectrum Disorder. After graduation, he worked as a Lane Fellow in Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon University till 2015. Since then, he is an assistant professor in the Computer Engineering Department of Bilkent University and is an adjunct faculty member in the Computational Biology Department of Carnegie Mellon University.

Written by Sandrine Berges

March 26, 2019 at 11:03 am

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Applications open for MA in Philosophy at Bilkent.

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The department of philosophy at Bilkent is now accepting applications for the M.A. in Philosophy (for those starting the degree in Fall 2019).

All successful applicants will receive a comprehensive scholarship(tuition waiver, accommodation support, private health insurance, and monthly stipend).

Up to five successful applicants will have the opportunity to spend a semester at the School of Philosophy at Australian National University. [Photos]

The philosophy department at Bilkent is ranked #1 in Turkey for research. Our research focuses on central areas of analytic philosophy: metaphysics and philosophy of mind, and social and political philosophy. We also have strengths in the history of philosophy.

Applicants from all disciplines are encouraged to apply. We also welcome applications from international students. The language of instruction for all courses is English.

Admission to the Program is highly competitive.

Admission requirements and online application can be found here. Note that the English language proficiency scores are not required for native English speakers.

Deadlines for Fall 2019 applicants:-
Application deadline: 8 June 2019 (at 5.30pm local time)
Written exam for invited candidates: 13 June 2019*
Interview for invited candidates: 14 June 2019*

* International students may take the written exam remotely and complete the interview via skype. A similar arrangement may be possible for Turkish students who are not based in Ankara.

See the Philosophy Department webpage for poster and details.

Inquiries to philgrad@bilkent.edu.tr

Apply here.

Written by Sandrine Berges

March 10, 2019 at 1:02 pm

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Recent Trends in the Philosophy of Biology at Bilkent: Registration Open

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Please note that there are limited places and that registration is compulsory. You can register here .


Recent Trends in the Philosophy of Biology – May 17-18, Bilkent University Philosophy Department.

Philosophy of biology is a field of study that aims to solve conceptual puzzles within the biomedical sciences, as well as illuminate traditional questions in philosophy by appealing to biological knowledge. About 40 years ago, philosophy of biology was still a niche topic in the philosophy of science. Now that the field has matured into a thriving sub-discipline engaging philosophers and biologists alike, it is time to take stock. Where is the field going? What are some of the questions that still require work? And what new methods are available to address them? In an effort to address these issues, this interdisciplinary conference will explore some of the recent trends in the philosophy of biology.

Keynotes: Laura Franklin-Hall (NYU), Barry Loewer (Rutgers), Alexander Rosenberg (Duke), & Elliott Sober (Wisconsin-Madison).

Speakers: Beate Krickel (Ruhr-University of Bochum), Adrian Currie (Exeter), Thomas Pradeu (CNRS/ Bordeaux), Arnon Levy (Hebrew University), Topaz Halperin (Hebrew University),  Mehmet Elgin (Muğla University), & Rafael Ventura (Bilkent University).

Dates: May 17-18, 2019

Host Department: Philosophy, Bilkent University

Mandatory Registration: Limited seats are available for this event. Attendance is free for all graduate students, post-docs, independent researchers and faculty, but advance registration is required.  Click here to register.

Written by Sandrine Berges

March 7, 2019 at 8:31 am

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Talk by Poppy Mankowitz at Bilkent 1 March

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Verbal Disputes and Variance

By Poppy Mankowitz (St Andrews, Philosophy)

Date: Friday1st March, 2019 

Time: 1100-1230 

Place: H-232


AbstractThere has been much recent interest in the idea that, when philosophers disagree over existence claims like ‘There are numbers’, ‘Chairs exist’ or ‘There are some objective moral facts’, their dispute is merely verbal: they are disagreeing about the meaning of certain words rather than about something more substantive. It is important to clearly articulate and assess this view, since it threatens to undermine the aims and conclusions of a broad range of arguments within philosophy. In this talk, I will argue that the existing analysis of verbal disputes in the philosophical literature is incompatible with the way natural language theorists analyze meaning. I will claim that the best theories of natural language support an alternative strategy for modelling the idea of a merely verbal dispute. Moreover, this strategy provides clearer criteria for recognizing when, if ever, disputes over existence claims are merely verbal.

About the speaker: Poppy Mankowitz completed her doctoral studies at the University of St Andrews (Arché Philosophical Research Center) and her MPhil at King’s College London. She works primarily on the philosophy of language, semantics and metaphysics. She is currently Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the New University of Lisbon (Nova Institute of Philosophy). Her current research centers on the way we structure information within discourse, and how attending to information structure can resolve a range of philosophical problems. Dr Mankowitz has a forthcoming article in Mind & Language, entitled ‘Triggering Domain Restriction’. 

Web: www.phil.bilkent.edu.tr 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bilkent.philosophy

Written by Sandrine Berges

February 25, 2019 at 2:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized