Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

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Talk by Michelle Adams at Bilkent, 15 December (NSC/Psychology)

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Michelle Adams (Bilkent, NSC/Psychology)

“Cognitive Aging and its Relationship to Neuronal Structure and Function

Friday, 15th December, 2017, 1240 – 1330, A-130

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


Abstract: Normal aging is accompanied by a range of biological changes that diminish quality of life. Understanding the changes contributing to memory decline is important for developing strategies to prevent or lessen cognitive problems. What are the specific changes that take place during aging which lead to decrements in neural function? What are the intrinsic biological determinants of those changes? What factors can ameliorate these changes? I will present data from the laboratory examining the neural consequences of aging on behavior and the brain. In addition, I will discuss the effects of an intervention, caloric restriction, which alters the course of neural aging.

About the Speaker: Dr. Adams received her PhD in Neuroscience in 2001 from the New York University – Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  Her PhD work focused on the relationship among brain aging, cognitive decline, estrogen, and glutamate receptors.  Dr. Adams did a postdoctoral fellowship at the HHMI in Brown/MIT examining the functional consequences of altering glutamate receptor levels and then in 2004 she went to the Neurobiology and Anatomy Department at Wake Forest University School of Medicine to study the effects of caloric restriction on synaptic glutamate receptors.  In 2005 Dr. Adams became an assistant professor at Wake Forest University and then in 2009 she moved to Bilkent University where she is currently an associate professor in the Psychology Department and director of the interdisciplinary graduate program in Neuroscience.


Written by Sandrine Berges

December 6, 2017 at 9:47 am

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Talk by Jeremy Koons at Bilkent 7 December

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“‘Ho hum, I’m being attacked by a bear’: How judgment is tied to concern and motivation”

Jeremy Koons (Georgetown University in Qatar, Philosophy)

Thursday 7th December, 2017, 1540-1715, H-232


Abstract: A persistent problem in metaethics is the question of how to reconcile the cognitive and motivational elements of moral judgment. The lynchpin to the ‘moral problem’ is the Humean philosophy of mind, which holds that belief and desire are ‘distinct existences,’ and that both must be present to explain motivation. I attack the Humean theory of motivation from two directions. First, I argue that it presupposes a ‘formalist’ model of reasoning that has come under sustained attack from Brandom, Sellars, Lewis Carroll, and others. Second, I argue that in making moral (and other sorts of practical judgments), we take some feature of the world to be salient (and others not to be so). However, to see certain features as salient is already to make a judgment embodying various concerns, attitudes, and commitments; and hence, it is to make a judgment that is also essentially practical in nature (i.e., tied to intention and action).

Written by Sandrine Berges

December 4, 2017 at 8:59 am

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Applying to graduate programs: meeting for undergraduate students at Bilkent

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A meeting about applying to graduate programs in philosophy will be held
on Monday 4 December, between 12:40 and 13:30 in G160 at Bilkent University. In this meeting, Dr Jack Woods (Leeds) will talk about the nuts and bolts of the
application process and how to increase your chances of getting into a
graduate program in North America or Europe.


Written by Sandrine Berges

December 1, 2017 at 7:43 am

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Talk by Jack Woods at Bilkent, Tuesday 5 December.

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Constructivism, Yes! Constitutivism, No! (at least for serious naturalists)

By Jack Woods (University of Leeds, Philosophy)

Tuesday 5th December, 2017, 1640-1800, H-232



Many contemporary naturalistic pictures of normativity struggle with extensional adequacy. If we tie our reasons to our psychological states, practices, values, or the like, as any serious naturalist should, then we face the problem that our actual psychologies, practices, and values are radically disordered and incomplete. We are limited creatures, after all, and we make many mistakes. We thus need to augment these pictures with ways of ironing out the wrinkles and stretching them to cover all the applicable situations.

Both constructivism and constitutivism offer tempting ways of doing this. The former explains our reasons in terms of acceptable procedures—deliberation, refinement, etc—for ironing out the basic materials we start with. For example, views which start with our values and go on to look at what we’d accept under a process of bringing these into nice accord with each other are constructivist. Constitutivism looks to see what reasons and principles are required by the facts about what we are—agents, rational beings, actors—and uses these to augment what we actually care about, value, or do. Both strategies, and especially their combination, look to solve various problems about the extensional adequacy of contemporary naturalistic views. Unfortunately, it seems to me that both moves, and especially their combination, inevitably come into conflict with the intuitions which motivated these naturalistic pictures of normativity in the first place. In particular, justifying instrumental and theoretical rationality this way requires that we posit either mysterious normativity or psychological unreality.

My aim here is to sketch how we can and why we should lean back on constructivism to flesh out naturalistic accounts of reasons, then to show that using constitutivism to avoid problems for constructivism runs into serious problems. I then propose a way of doing much of the work constitutivist pictures are supposed to do, for a hybrid conventionalist-humean picture, without running into the serious problems which arise for constitutivism. The key idea is to view instrumental and theoretical rationality as just yet more standards which we have independent reason to conform to.

Written by Sandrine Berges

November 28, 2017 at 10:02 am

MBB Seminar, Aslı Kılıç at Bilkent 24 November

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Aslı Kılıç (METU, Psychology)  “Interference in recognition memory

Friday, 24 November, 2017, 1240 – 1330, H232.



Abstract: Recognition memory refers to the ability to discriminate recently studied items from new ones. Forgetting in recognition memory has been defined as worsening memory due to interference caused by various sources. These sources include memories of other items and contexts in which the test item has been experienced before. The experiments that will be presented in this talk aims to examine the role of context and other items on interference theory by investigating how list strength, list length and output interference interact with each other in recognition memory. For example, strengthening items during study decreases interference in subsequent tests. On the other hand, studying items in shorter lists does not contribute to stronger memories that reliably. Theoretical implications of these findings will be discussed in reference to extent models of recognition memory.

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

Written by Sandrine Berges

November 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm

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Gürol Irzık at Bilkent 23 November

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Gürol Irzık (Sabancı)  “Epistemic Public Trust in Science

Thursday, 23 November, 2017, 1540-1715, H-232


Abstract: In this presentation I provide an analysis of public’s having warranted epistemic trust in science, that is, the conditions under which the public may be said to have well-placed trust in the scientists as providers of information. I distinguish between basic and enhanced epistemic trust in science and provide necessary conditions for both. I then present the controversy regarding the (alleged) connection between autism and measles-mumps-rubella vaccination as a case study to illustrate the offered analysis. The realization of warranted epistemic public trust in science requires various societal conditions, which I briefly introduce in the concluding section.

Written by Sandrine Berges

November 18, 2017 at 12:37 pm

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Talk at Bilkent on Thursday 16 November: Kamuran Osmanoğlu

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“It Just Looks the Same: Differences in Racial Categorization among Infants and Older Humans”

By Kamuran Osmanoğlu (University of Kansas, Philosophy)

Thursday 16th November, 2017, 1540-1715 , H-232


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Forms of racial cognition begin early: from about 3 months onwards, many human infants prefer to look at own-race faces over other-race faces. What is not yet fully clear is what the psychological mechanisms are that underlie racial thoughts at this early age, and why these mechanisms evolved. In this paper, we propose answers to these questions. Specifically, we use recent experimental data to argue that early racial preferences are simply the result of a “facial familiarity mechanism”: a mental structure that leads infants to attend to faces that look similar to familiar faces, and which probably has evolved to track potential caregivers. We further argue that this account can be combined with the major existing treatments of the evolution of racial categorization, which apply to later forms of racial cognition. The result is a heterogeneous picture of racial thought, according to which early and later racial categorization result from very different psychological mechanisms.

Written by Sandrine Berges

November 15, 2017 at 6:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized