Institut Jean Nicod

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Paris Consciousness/Self-consciousness [PaCS] group


Institut Jean-Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, ENS 29 rue d’Ulm, 75005. Salle de réunion.

Contact : Uriah Kriegel

Past sessions

Cycle de conférences : Charles Siewert (Rice University, Professeur invité à l'ENS)

Lundi 5 octobre 2015 de 16h à 18h
Charles Siewert, "First-person reflection and the study of consciousness"

Mercredi 7 octobre 2015 de 16h à 18h
Charles Siewert, "Phenomenal intentionality and vision"

Mercredi 7 octobre 2015 de 18h à 19h
Dan Ryder (British Columbia),
"The nature of mental representation: How folk psychology can guide the cognitive sciences"

Lundi 12 octobre 2015 de 16h à 18h
Charles Siewert, "On the cognitive richness of experience"

Mercredi 14 octobre 2015 de 16h à 18h
Charles Siewert, "The problem of self-knowledge: a critical-phenomenal approach"

Lundi 19 octobre 2015 de 16h à 18h
Martine Nida-Rümelin (Université de Fribourg),
"Consciousness and Self-consciousness"

Lundi 9 novembre 2015 de 16h à 18h
Stéphane Lemaire (Université de Rennes 1),
"What Pain Does not Reveal"

Lundi 16 novembre 2015 de 16h à 18h
Zoe Jenkin (Harvard),
"Perceptual Experience, Core Cognition, and Epistemic Evaluability"

The scope of epistemic evaluability is traditionally taken by epistemic internalists to include belief formation processes, but not the processes leading up to perception. Perception is thought to provide justification in virtue of its phenomenal character or content, instead of its etiology. I’ll argue that this picture is misguided, in light of insights from psychological research on mechanisms of object perception in core cognition. I'll outline some underlying criteria for epistemic evaluability, and argue that the perceptual processing mechanisms in core cognition meet these criteria, and so the scope of epistemic evaluation should include the etiology of some perceptual states.

Lundi 30 novembre de 16h à 18h
Aïda Raoult (Chicago/Marseille),
"Reviewing Tests for Machine Consciousness"

The accelerating advances in the fields of neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and robotics have been reviving interest and raising new philosophical, ethical or practical questions that depend on whether or not there may exist a scientific method of probing consciousness in machines. This paper provides an analytic review of the existing tests for machine consciousness proposed in the literature over the past decade and an overview of the diverse scientific communities involved in this enterprise. The tests put forward in their work typically fall under one of two grand categories: architecture (the presence of consciousness is inferred from the correct implementation of a relevant architecture) and behavior (the presence of consciousness is deduced by observing a specific behavior). Each category has its strengths and weaknesses. Architecture tests main advantage lies in their potential to test for qualia, a feature that is getting an increasing attention in recent years. Behavior tests are more synthetic and more practicable, but give a stronger role to ex post human interpretation of behavior. We show how some disciplines and locations have affinities toward certain types of tests, and which tests are more influential according to scientometric indicators.

Lundi 7 décembre de 16h à 18h
Alex Grzankowski (Texas Tech/Cambridge),
"A Relational Theory of Non-Propositional Attitudes"

Abstract: According to the ‘standard theory’, propositional attitudes are two-place relations holding between subjects and propositions. In this talk, I consider the prospects of offering an analog for non-propositional attitudes. As we will see, many of the same types of motivations and advantages that have made the standard theory of propositional attitudes attractive apply to non-propositional attitudes as well. Of course, in the case of non-propositional attitudes, objects other than propositions are called for and the suggestion to be offered is that non-propositional attitudes are two-place relations holding between subjects and properties.
Broadly, I have three goals. First, to serve as a guide, I will offer some important even if familiar motivations for the standard theory of propositional attitudes. Second, guided by points of similarity and contrast with the propositional attitudes, I will offer the property-view of the non-propositional attitudes. Finally, I will defend the view against a seemingly obvious objection – namely that subjects don’t typically fear, like, love, and so on properties.

Mardi 12 janvier 2016 de de 10h30 à 12h30
Christopher Prodoehl (NYU), "Naturalizing Creativity: The Source of What's Expressed"

Abtract: The traditional concept of artistic inspiration is that of a supernatural source of artistic ideas and motivation. These come to the artist from something other than herself: from God, or the Muses, or even vital nature. I try to make sense of this idea in more naturalistic terms. Following R.G. Collingwood, I suppose that artists create works that are expressive of emotions, and that the process of doing so is one of becoming conscious of (by “articulating”) the very emotions expressed. I then argue that, given the way those emotions are made conscious through the creative process, the artist’s grasp of them does not yield self-knowledge. By then connecting self-knowledge to the metaphor of source, I suggest that we can capture the idea that the artist is not the source of the emotions of which her work is expressive, and so not the source of one essential aspect of the work itself.

Lundi 18 janvier 2016 de 16h à 18h
Franz Knappik (Humboldt),
"Bayes and the first person: a probabilistic inference account for consciousness of thoughts through inner speech".

Abstract: On a widely held view, episodes of inner speech provide at least one way in which we become conscious of our thoughts. However, it can be argued that consciousness of thoughts in virtue of inner speech presupposes (unconscious) linguistic interpretation of the simulated speech (Frankish 2004; Martínez-Manrique & Vicente 2010; Carruthers 2011). The need for such self-interpretation (even if unconscious) seems to clash with distinctive first-personal characteristics that we would normally ascribe to consciousness of one's own thoughts - for instance, the absence of conscious ambiguity and uncertainty about what we are thinking. In this talk, I try to resolve this puzzle by proposing an account of how inner speech can give rise to consciousness of thoughts. This account combines a view of self-interpretation in terms of Bayesian probabilistic inference with the idea that the production of inner speech involves forward models. On the resulting account, the consciousness of one's own thoughts that we can have in virtue of inner speech is at the same time interpretive and distinctively first-personal.

Mardi 19 janvier 2016 de 10h30 à 12h30
Enrico Terrone (FMSH)
"The Remains of an Illusion: A Phenomenology of Temporal Experience in Film"

Abstract: Many scholars in the philosophy of pictures agree that the experience of a scene depicted by a film is a perceptual experience of that scene. Yet, this does not normally entail that the spectators undergo the illusion of having a standard face-to-face perception of the events portrayed by that scene. There is just as a potential illusion, which is not normally actualized because the proper perception of the screen neutralizes it. Still, the perceptual recognition of the screen just neutralizes the sense of presence, that is, the impression that the events portrayed by the film are occurring here, in front of us, in our immediate surroundings. I will argue that the film experience also involves a sense of presentness, that is, an impression that the events portrayed are happening now. That is because the film experience, as a perceptual experience, should obey to a principle that Robin Le Poidevin (2015) states in the following terms: “what we perceive, we perceive as present – as going on right now”. Thus, the sense of presentness, unlike the sense of presence, cannot be neutralized by the perceptual system itself. It can be neutralized only at a higher cognitive level, if the spectator knows that the events perceived in the film are not really happening now.

Mardi 9 février 2016 de 10h30 à 12h30
H. Haroutioun Haladjian (Western Sydney),
"Consciousness and Attention"

Abstract: Recently, more scientists are attempting to better understand human consciousness through empirical studies on visual attention. This is not surprising since consciousness and attention do seem closely related,especially when thinking about the phenomenal aspect of visual experience. While this is a useful approach forstudying consciousness, we still need to clarify the extent to which consciousness and attentional processes are related in order to make meaningful conclusions from this research. Recent studies have identified cases of attention without consciousness and possibly some cases of consciousness without attention, indicating some level of dissociation between the two—a dissociation that must be clarified. Another important point to explore is the evolutionary aspect of attention and consciousness—attention appears in simpler organisms while phenomenal consciousness seems to be limited to a few, more complex, species. This suggests that attention appeared before consciousness from an evolutionary perspective. In this talk, I will present arguments for the dissociation between consciousness and attention (based on Montemayor & Haladjian, 2015, MIT Press), which will include outlining the forms of consciousness and the forms of attention, how they overlap minimally within conscious attention, and how evolution can make sense of these distinctions.

Lundi 14 mars 2016 de 16h à 18h
Jennifer Nagel (University of Toronto)
Knowledge and belief attribution in development

Abstract: Recent research into mental state attribution has focused intensely on the capacity to attribute false beliefs. It is remarkable that we are able to grasp not only what others know about our shared environment, but also what others mistakenly take to be the case. Somehow, out of the countless ways in which an observed agent could be wrong about the world, we can identify just the right natural misconception and keep track of it, even as we also keep track of the divergent way in which reality itself is unfolding. But how do we come to calculate the content of this misconception? I argue that close examination of this question, starting with developmental research, reveals something interesting about the concept of belief and its relationship with knowledge. Studying this problem also helps us see why knowledge attributions figures so prominently in ordinary explanations of action, when one might have thought that pure belief-desire explanation would at some point take over as the more economical way of understanding agency.

Mardi 15 mars 2016 de 10h30 à 12h30
Paul Boswell (Michigan),
"Making Sense of Unpleasantness"

Abstract: Unpleasant sensations possess a unique ability to make certain aversive actions seem reasonable to us. But what is it about these experiences that give them that ability? According to some recent evaluationist accounts, it is their representational content: unpleasant sensations represent a certain event as bad for one. Unfortunately evaluationism seems unable to make sense of our aversive behavior to the sensations themselves, for it appears to entail that taking a painkiller is akin to shooting the messenger, and is every bit as unreasonable. In this paper I distinguish two versions of the shooting-the-messenger challenge: First, how do we account for the badness of unpleasant sensation? And second, how do we account for our access to that badness? I suggest plausible responses to the first question, but I also argue that the seriousness of the second has not been appreciated. I then propose a solution to the second: when we introspect our pains we also turn our emotional distress inwards, enabling them to represent our pains as bad.

Mardi 29 mars 2016 de 10h30 à 12h30
Raamy Majeed (Cambridge),
"The Abductive Argument for the Cognitive Penetration of Colour Experience".

Can cognitive states ‘penetrate’ our perceptual experiences? Macpherson (2012) argues that there is one alleged case of cognitive penetration that cannot be explained away, viz. the effects of cognition on colour perception, as demonstrated by Delk & Fillenbaum (1965). This paper aims to show that, though Macpherson’s example is controversial, her arguments motivate a penetrability interpretation of several other experimental findings, especially if we understand these arguments as inferences to the best explanation. I demonstrate this by defending her argument from Zeimbekis’s (2013) response, which claims that certain experimental factors, e.g. reduced acuity conditions, give rise to an anchoring bias that makes subjects misjudge (but not necessarily misperceive) colours. I argue that not only is the anchoring hypothesis compatible with the penetrability thesis, but that an explanation along the lines of anchoring that employs this thesis is a better explanation of the experimental results than one which doesn’t. I thereby conclude that we still have abductive reasons to suppose that colour perception, in some cases, is affected by cognition.

Lundi 11 avril 2016 de 16h à 18h
Philip Gerrans (University of Adelaide),
"Pain asymbolia, depersonalization and the sense of self. A processing account".

In a recent paper Colin Klein writes. “the phenomenology of asymbolia might resemble a kind of depersonalization syndrome. … The asymbolic, and the depersonalized more generally, feel sensations that they are estranged from — that they do not take to be theirs in the sense that we normally do”.

This raises the question “in what sense we normally take sensations to be ours?” I propose an answer to this question based on an interpretation of recent neuroscientific evidence about the relationship between affective feelings and bodily representation. In particular I focus on the way placebo analgesia affects affective rather than nociceptive processing. I conclude that emotional processes create the sense of “mineness” lost in depersonalization. I then turn, less confidently, to problems for this account. The first is people who experience depersonalization for their affective responses. Prima facie this should not be possible on my account. The second is the case of R “ a conscious, self-aware, and sentient human being despite the widespread destruction of cortical regions purported [by me as well as the targets of this article] to play a critical role in self awareness” (Phillipi et. al. 2012). I think my account can be saved by attending to the hierachical nature of cognitive-affective processing.

Mardi 12 avril 2016 de 14h à 16h - exceptionnellement en Salle Prestige 1, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm.
Valeria Giardino (CNRS / Archives Henri Poincaré, Nancy)
"Manipulative imagination: how mathematical reasoning gets embodied".

The aim of my talk will be twofold. First, I will introduce the notion ofmanipulative imagination as particularly salient in mathematics. Second, I will discuss its relations with other notions of imagination that have been recently proposed in the literature. In previous work, together with S. De Toffoli, we have analysed the practice of topology and proposed that topologists, in order to become experts, have to learn how to use manipulative imagination. Such a form of imagination is central to many areas of topology, for example knot theory (De Toffoli & Giardino, 2014), low-dimensional topology (De Toffoli & Giardino, 2015) and braid theory (De Toffoli & Giardino, forthcoming). To clarify, in order to follow the proofs, topologists have to envisage transformations ofand on the diagrams. If manipulative imagination exists, and possibly it is used also in other areas of mathematics besides topology, what kind of imagination is it? Relying on the taxonomy recently proposed by Dokic and Arcangeli (2015), the objective of the second part of my talk will be to discuss to which category such an imagination belongs.

Mercredi 18 mai 2016 de 14h à 16h
Elijah Chudnoff (University of Miami)
"Epistemic Elitism and Other Minds"

Mardi 24 mai 2016 de 10h30 à 12h30
Elijah Chudnoff (University of Miami)
"Mature Intuition"

Mardi 7 juin 2016 de 14h30 à 16h30 - Salle 235C, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm. Séminaire organisé conjoitement avec le séminaire Naturalizing Epistemic Norms
Daniel Singer (University of Pennsylavania).
"Sophisticated Epistemic Consequentialism"

The goal of this paper is to flesh out the most plausible version of a truth-centered consequentialist account of epistemic normativity. I argue that the best version of epistemic consequentialism should be viewed as giving an account of the epistemic ‘ought,’ an ‘ought’ that’s analogous to the moral ‘ought’ that ethical consequentialists aim to account for. By taking seriously the strengths and limitations of real human agents and distinguishing between the criterion of right or good belief and what subjective strategies an agent ought to use in her deliberations, the epistemic consequentialist can account for the structure of important epistemic normative notions like justification and rationality while avoiding prominent objections to more simple consequentialist views in the literature, like the objections from Berker (2013a,b) and Greaves (2013). In getting clear about how the analogy between ethical and epistemic consequentialism is most plausibly construed, I hope to establish a base from which future work can exploit the structural similarities between the two views to advance research in both subdisciplines. In the end, I argue that there’s an important way in which the case for the developed version of epistemic consequentialism is more compelling than its ethical counterpart.