Recent Events

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Friday, March 24, 2017, 11-1pm.
NYU, 5 Washington Place, Room 202

Romina Padro (The Saul Kripke Center at the Graduate Center, CUNY)
“A Dilemma for Intuition-Based Accounts of Basic Inferences”

Interest in intuition-based accounts of basic inferential transitions has lately been on the rise. Even old foes such as Boghossian (2003) seem to be warming up to them. We will consider different versions of this view – for example, Chudnoff (2013), Kripke (unpublished), etc. – and argue that they are faced with a dilemma. While ‘robust’ accounts of the role of intuitions are subject to what I call the ‘adoption problem’ (a problem based on Kripke’s unpublished reading of Lewis Carroll’s “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles”), showing that access to the relevant intuition is inconsequential, ‘weak’ accounts collapse into a view where the basic transitions are more plausibly explained by one’s training in the basic inferential practice. Either way intuitions turn out to be irrelevant.

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Friday, February 10th, 2017.

Women in Philosophy: Publishing, Jobs, & Fitting In. 11am-1pm, CUNY Graduate Center, Room 5307 (The Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies)

SWIP-Analytic’s session, “Women in Philosophy: Publishing, Jobs, & Fitting In” will be a roundtable featuring Elise Crull (City College, CUNY), Una Stojnic (NYU), and Denise Vigani (Drew University). They will discuss work habits, publishing, and job searches, among other things.

Miranda Fricker (The Graduate Center, CUNY) will lead discussion.

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Monday, November 7th, 2016, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
CUNY, Graduate Center, Room 5409

Claudia Passos (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
“Do newborns have sense of agency?”

I will argue that newborn babies have experiences of agency.  I present evidence from developmental psychology involving three types of behaviors (neonatal imitation, actions oriented to goals, actions toward objects, and actions toward people) and argue that this evidence supports a prima facie case that babies have experiences of agency.  I then address objections.  An important objection is that experiences of agency involve a higher-order attribution of agency generated by a high-level cognitive mechanism, which requires self-consciousness and a self-concept, and that babies lack the capacity for self-consciousness and a self-concept.  In the absence of these capacities, babies can be at best aware of certain actions they perform and not of their own agency in those actions.  I will argue for an intermediate view on which the experience of agency requires nonconceptual self-representation but not a self-concept.  If this view is correct, the lack of conceptual self-consciousness is no obstacle to the claim that babies have agency experience.  I also argue that some actions by newborns involve only action-awareness while others involve agency-awareness, and that consequently some but not all actions in babies involve the experience of agency.

Monday, November 7th, 2016, 1:00 – 2:00pm
CUNY, Graduate Center, Room 5409

Laura Pérez (Harvard University)
“Visual Properties and Social Groups”

In the middle of the 1990s’, social psychologists started to examine social perception –i.e., individuals’ perceptions of other individuals– in terms of ‘entitativity’. Entitativity is referred to the degree in which a collection of human individuals is perceived as being bonded together in a cohesive unit. Some social psychologists have been interested in the linkage of social perception with (i) our judgments about the entitativity of groups; (ii) mechanisms of learning and attending to groups; and (iii) the attribution of shared goals and shared traits to groups. Based, partly, on our perceptions of groups, we may predict their behavior well, decide to join or leave a group, and, in general, form perceptual beliefs about their goals and traits. The problem I tackle here is: what does this literature suggest regarding the nature of our visual experiences about social groups? I focus on the visual properties we see instantiated in groups of individuals to predict their behavior, to join or leave them, and to form perceptual beliefs about their goals and traits. I will make the case that visual properties related to perceived cohesiveness or unity are seen as being instantiated in social groups.

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Monday, October 3rd, 2016, 1:00–3:00 pm

Berit Brogaard (University of Miami)
“In Defense of Hearing Meanings”
6th Floor Lounge, Philosophy Department, NYU, 5 Washington Place, NYC

In Defense of Hearing Meanings According to the inferential view of language comprehension, we hear a speaker’s utterance and infer what was said, drawing on our competence in the syntax and semantics of the language together with background information. On the alternative perceptual view, fluent speakers have a non-inferential capacity to perceive the content of speech. On this view, when we hear a speaker’s utterance, the experience confers some degree of justification on our beliefs about what was said in the absence of defeaters. So, in the absence of defeaters, we can come to know what was said merely on the basis of hearing the utterance. Several arguments have been offered against a pure perceptual view of language comprehension, among others, arguments pointing to its alleged difficulties accounting for homophones and the context-sensitivity of ordinary language. After responding to challenges to the perceptual view of language comprehension, I provide a new argument in favor of the perceptual view by looking closer at the dependence of the justificatory qualities of experience on the notion of a defeater as well as the perceptual nature of language learning and language processing. (If you are planning to attend the talk, please email us swipanalytic@gmail.com and we will send you the paper).

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Friday, September 9th, 2016, 4:00-6:00pm

Anya Farennikova (University of Bristol)
“Bayesianism and the Perception-Cognition Divide”
Co-sponsor: Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies
CUNY Graduate Center, Room 5307

ABSTRACT: Perceptual experience and belief are frequently treated as distinct kinds of mental states. A belief might prompt a new perceptual experience, and new experience can confirm or trigger a belief. Despite causal influences of this sort, it was commonly held that perceptual experience is insulated from the information contained in beliefs. However, recent scientific evidence shows that this picture is mistaken: perception is routinely influenced by beliefs and expectations. This evidence of cognitive penetration thus erodes a strict perception-cognition divide. Two recent approaches to the mind, Bayesianism and Predictive Coding, do further damage to the divide. According to these approaches, influences from cognition on perception are not just pervasive, but integral to its functioning. In this talk I’ll argue that if these two approaches are correct, there is no use in saving divide. Perception and cognition do not exist. Understood as paradigm changes, Bayesianism and Predictive Coding imply eliminativism with respect to belief and experience. They constitute a real revolution in the philosophy of mind, and it is time for philosophers to embrace the change.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

2016 SWIP-Analytic Essay Prize Winner Presentation

Arianna Falbo
Simon Fraser University
“Why Two (or more) Belief-Dependent Peers are Better Than One”

1:00-3:00 PM, Room 202
NYU Philosophy Department
5 Washington Place, NYC
Joint NYU Department Tea & SWIP-Analytic Reception to Follow

**Attendees are encouraged to read the prize-winning paper in advance of the presentation. Email swipanalytic@gmail.com to obtain a copy of the paper.**

ABSTRACT: The following principle is widely assumed in the literature surrounding the epistemology of peer disagreement: When S disagrees with a group of epistemic peers P1, P2, P3. . . Pn concerning the truth of p, if S has already taken into account the dissent of P1, then S’s disagreement with P2, P3. . . Pn does not need to be accounted for if the beliefs of these subsequent dissenters are not independent of P1’s belief that p. Hence, S can be rationally excused from considering these subsequent dissenters. I call this assumption ‘Belief-Dependence Excusal’ and argue that it is false. This is because the epistemic perspective of a peer can itself be evidentially significant irrespective of whether or not her beliefs are independent of other dissenters that I have already rationally accounted for. I focus on testimonial belief-dependence as it applies to a group of dissenters whose beliefs are all (at least partly) justified by the same report.

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Monday, March 7, 2016, 5:00-7:00 PM
NYU Philosophy Department

Professor Carol Rovane, Columbia University

“Group Agency vs. Collective Agency:  A Matter of Point of View”

ABSTRACT: Some philosophers are prepared to allow that a group of human beings can function as an individual agent, that deliberates and acts from a point of view of its own – a group point of view that is distinct from the points of view of its human constituents.   These philosophers generally assume that if such a group agent were to emerge, its human constituents would still retain their status as individual agents in their own rights, each with a separate point of view.  However, this assumption wrongly assimilates group agency and collective agency.   Collective agency is by definition the agency of many;  whereas, in cases of genuine group agency, a group of human beings comes to deliberate and act literally as one.  The process by which this is accomplished cannot leave the points of view of the group’s human constituents intact as they were before.  Either the process will absorb all of their agency and thereby obliterate the very distinctions between their points of view, or it will absorb a part of their agency and thereby occasion rational fragmentation within their human lives – a situation that is not entirely dissimilar to dissociative identity disorder, only it is not pathological.  These points about group agency have profound implications for the issue of personal responsibility.

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Photo of Jane FriedmanTuesday, February 2, 2016, 5:00-7:00 PM
CUNY Graduate Center Room 5489, 365 Fifth Avenue, NYC

Professor Jane Friedman, New York University

“Inquiry and the Doxastic Attitudes”

ABSTRACT: In this talk I’ll give the start of a theory of inquiry and inquiring, tying these to some familiar folk-psychological attitudes.  After that I’ll use this bit of the theory to characterize some different doxastic attitudes: belief, degrees of belief, and suspension of judgment.  I’ll use the theory of inquiry to argue that belief — the traditionalist’s “full” belief — has a special role to play in inquiry. Degrees of belief, even extremely high ones, don’t play the same sort of role.  I’ll bring some of the results of the talk to bear on suspension of judgment as well.  In general, the hope is to helpfully orient the doxastic around inquiry.

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