Institut Jean Nicod

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PEACOCKE Christopher

Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University




Invited by the Institut Jean-Nicod for a series of three lectures at the Department of Cognitive Studies - May 2021





"Philosophical and Empirical Issues in the Perception of Music"

Nicod Philosophy Colloquium

Friday, May 14, 2021 from 11am to 1pm

Abstract :

This talk will address the question of what it is for music to possess emotional and other psychological content ; and what it is not. It will discuss the relations of the approach suggested to other recent theories (Robinson, Schlenker). More generally, it will address the relations between constitutive philosophical theories on the one hand and both scientific and historical issues on the other. It will consider the relation of a constitutive account to autism and musical understanding ; to the visual perception by the audience of musical performers ; and to the structure of underlying representations involved in music perception in the mind-brain. Time permitting, it will also discuss the contributions constitutive philosophical accounts can make to the characterization of musical styles.


"Deductive Inference"

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Abstract :

What is it for a thinker to be making a deductive inference ? I propose an account that involves recognition of a distinctive kind of content, and operation on it, that underlies all deductive inference. The account explains the epistemic status of deductive inference. I contrast the account with the proposals of John Broom and Gilbert Ryle. Deductive inference cannot on this account be reduced to conceptual role. Nor can it be explained in terms of natural deduction systems or axiomatic formulations of logical reasoning. Acceptance and use of logical principles can be explained using the apparatus proposed. The account can also be input into an account of the vexed notion of justification.


"Two Kinds of Explanation"

Séminaire "Maps and Diagrams" (Roberto Casati)

Friday, May 28, 2021, from noon to 2pm

Abstract :

A series of examples illustrates a distinction between two kinds of explanation in psychology, between those that are content-structured, and those, while nevertheless involving mental representations, are not. The distinction is most salient in cases involving the mental representation of magnitudes, but I argue that it has application to multiple psychological phenomena. Sometimes phenomena that do not really have a content-structured explanation are presented as such – these are masqueraders. In a second part of the paper, in a series of Theses I draw out the consequences of recognition of the distinction, which range from a reconceptualization of issues about the nature of perceptual content to a vindication of a significant notion (contra Pylyshyn) of imagistic representation.



Christopher Peacocke is also invited by the Assembly of the Collège de France, on the proposal of Professor François Recanati, for a series of lectures at the Collège de France, in two parts :



  • Wednesday, May 5, 2021 "What can be heard in the music : what, why, and how"
  • Wednesday, May 12, 2021 "Musical perception and agency"


  • Wednesday, May 26, 2021 "Factive norms and their significance"
  • Wednesday, June 2, 2021 "Moral realism"

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