Institut Jean Nicod

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Séminaire Général de l’Institut Jean Nicod

Institut Jean Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, Ecole Normale Supérieure 29, rue d’Ulm - vendredi de 11h à 13h

Séances passées : 

Vendredi 17 septembre 2010 de 11h à 13h
Philip Gerrans (Department of Philosophy University of Adelaide)
"An integrative explanation of delusion"

Abstract : Delusional subjects who are capable of rational belief fixation in some contexts seem unable to submit their delusions to rational evaluation, even in cases where they show insight into its implausibility.

This odd partitioning of delusional beliefs has led to them being described as rational, irrational, arational. As beliefs, imaginary states self-ascribed as beliefs, sui generis propositional attitudes. One problem with these all these psychological accounts is linking theme to the cognitive neuroscience of delusion. We have neural and cognitive correlates of delusion but no satisfactory multilevel explanation, which integrates them with the phenomenology and psychology.

At present there do seem to be clear candidates for neural correlates of delusion : Abnormalities of dopamine regulation, lack of the normal anticorrelation between ventromedial and dorsolateral processing and right lateral hypofrontality. However we do not understand their role in producing delusion because we do not know how they influence the cognitive processes involved in delusion formation.

This requires what Craver calls a theoretical definition. A description of systemic functioning that captures the relationships between mechanisms which play their roles different levels within a system. Theoretical definitions are proposed by philosophers of science who think of causal explanation as enabling manipulation and intervention. In multilevel systems causal explanation requires us to show how intervening at one level produces effects at another. Whatever metaphysical value of this account of causation the related idea of theoretical definition has an essential to play in integrative explanation of the mind.

I propose a theoretical definition of delusion as 

The monopoly of mental time travel * by hypersalient * experiences 

and defend it on the grounds that it is faithful to the psychology, accurately captures the cognitive architecture which subserves delusional thought and makes transparent the role of neural correlates. It is a better theoretical definition than others which import normative notions of rationality into the characterization of delusion. 

* Mental time travel : the integration of autobiographical memory and imagination as part of decision making. Recent evidence suggests that MTT is the default mode of human cognition and is anticorrelated with abstract reasoning.
* Salience : a representation which attracts cognitive processing resources, e.g. by focusing attention, is salient. 

Vendredi 5 novembre 2010 de 11h à 13h
Jiri Benovsky (Université de Fribourg)
"Pictorial representation and depiction of temporal extension"

Abstract :
The main task of this paper is to understand if and how static images like paintings and photographs can represent and/or depict temporal extension (duration). I shall concernatrate mainly on the case of photographs. In order to do this a detour will be necessary to understand some features of the nature of photographic representation and depiction in general. This important detour will enable us to see that photographs (can) have a narrative content, and that the skilled photographer can ’tell a story’ in a very clear sense, as well as control and guide the attention of the spectator of the photograph. The understanding and defence of this claim is a secondary aim of this paper, that will then allow us to provide a good treatment of the particular case of photographic representation and depiction of temporal extension. 

Vendredi 19 novembre 2010 de 11h à 13h
Bence Nanay (Syracuse University) 
"Perception, action and what’s in between"

Vendredi 3 décembre 2010 de 11h à 13h 
Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers University)
"The Metaphysics of Space-Time : A Manifold for Presentists"

Abstract : Philosophers who worry about the nature of time can be divided into A-theorists and B-theorists. The former regard the distinctions between what is present, past, and future as objective facts ; the latter take these distinctions to be relative to times or conversations or some other temporal thing. The most popular form of the A-theory is presentism, according to which the special nature of the present is explained in terms of existence. There is, however, considerable pressure on presentists to accept the existence of certain things that, intuitively, are “in the past”. Determinate facts about the state of the universe at each instant may fail to provide an adequate basis for certain cross-temporal facts that are physically important and objective. Theodore Sider has challenged the presentist to find a basis in reality for these physical facts ; and I offer a couple of ways in which a presentist could meet the challenge.

Vendredi 10 décembre 2010 de 11h à 13h
Pascal Boyer (Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory at Washington University in St. Louis)
"Three functions for episodic memory"

Abstract : Why do we have the capacity to recollect past episodes and provide vivid simulation of future or simply possible scenes ? Current models of episodic simulation are largely non-functional. They tell us little about why the capacity is advantageous for organisms. I outline three possible functional scenarios and their different predictions for the processes engaged in episodic simulation.

Vendredi 17 décembre 2010 de 11h à 13h
Martine Nida-Rümelin (Université de Fribourg)
"Doings, Actions, Free Will and the Phenomenology of Agency"

Vendredi 21 janvier 2011 de 11h à 13h
Elizabeth Schier (Université de Macquarie, Australie) :
"So what if Mary didn’t know"

Vendredi 28 janvier 2011 de 11h à 13h
Corine Besson (Oxford)
"A tense problem for relativism about future contingents" (with Anandi Hattiangadi)

Abstract :
John MacFarlane has recently argued that truth-relativism can solve the problem posed by future contingents. He claims that his truth-relativistic account makes the best sense of the intuitions that underpin some of our pre-theoretic judgements concerning the truth-values of statements about the future and their retrospective assessments. This paper argues that this is not the case. Contrary to what MacFarlane claims, truth-relativism doesn’t make good sense of these intuitions. The paper also offers a different approach to the problem of future contingents which does make good sense of them.

Per Martin-Löf (U. de Stockholm)
"Assertions made, assertions, assertoric contents and propositions" 

Marta Abrusan (University of Oxford) 
"Aboutness and Presuppositions"

Abstract :
This talk presents a predictive mechanism to derive the presuppositions of verbs.The starting point is the intuition, dating back at least to Stalnaker (1974), that the information conveyed by a sentence that is in some sense independent from its main point is presupposed. The contribution of the paper presented is to spell out a mechanism for a diagnostic to decide what will become the main point of the sentence and how to calculate independence. It is proposed that this can be calculated by making reference to event times. As a very rough approximation, the main point of an utterance is what (in a sense to be defined) has to be about the event time of the matrix predicate and the information that the sentence conveys but is not (or does not have to be) about the event time of the matrix predicate is presupposed. The notion of aboutness used to calculate independence is based on that of Demolombe and Farinas del Cerro (2000).

Filipe Drapeau-Viera Contim (Université de Rennes 1)
"Full-blown Millianism and Transparent Empiricity"

Abstract : 

The paper makes a case against the Millian conception of epistemic properties being a priori/being empirical. It provides a new argument to show that Millian propositions are too coarse-grained to be qualified as being a priori or being empirical. 
I will begin with identity statements. Salmon (1993) and more recently Soames (2005 & 2006) have challenged Kripke’s thesis according to which identity statements may express necessary truths that can’t be known but empirically. Millianism in its strong version implies the apriority of identity : if Hesperus is identical to Phosphorus, then, appearances notwithstanding, it is an a priori truth that Hesperus is Phosphorus.
My reductio argument against Millianism starts from a much neglected point : the same Millian reasoning leads to the empiricity of distinction (when concrete objects are involved) : if Hesperus is not identical to Phosphorus, then it is an empirical truth that Hesperus is not Phosphorus. This epistemic asymmetry between identity and distinction in Millianism makes epistemic profiles “unstable” in my terminology, i.e. varying dependently on the truth-values of propositions. Many of them will be a priori contents if true, and empirical contents if false. I will show that such instability is incompatible with a prima facie desirable principle : the Transparency of epistemic profiles. The very simple idea behind this is that one can determine a priori, just by reflecting on the nature of the entertained proposition, that it is either an a priori content or an empirical content. For instance, even if you don’t know whether it rains in Paris the 4th of March, you are already in a position to know a priori that it is the kind of content whose truth-value can be settled only by empirical method (Transparency of Empiricity – TE). In the same way, mere reflection reveals that (knowable) mathematical propositions can be known by a priori means, whatever truth-value they have (Transparency of Apriority – TA).
I will show that Millianism conforms to TA but massively violates TE. The main lesson to be drawn from this odd consequence is that, pace Salmon and Soames, being empirical and being a priori need to be relativized to “way of taking” propositions (Oppy 1994, Geirsson 1999, Jeshion 2000). The true bearers of epistemic properties are not Millian propositions but enriched propositions involving “modes of presentation” in addition to objects and properties.

Vendredi 18 mars à 11h 
Valentine Hacquard (linguistique, Université du Maryland) 
"Acquiring the semantics and pragmatics of attitude verbs"

Abstract : Children seem not to fully acquire the meaning of verbs like ’think’ until their fourth birthday : they systematically judge a sentence like ’John thinks that Mary is under the bed’ as false if Mary is not under the bed, regardless of what John believes. They, however, understand very early on that ’x wants p’ can be true even if p is not. A common explanation for this asymmetry links it to conceptual development (cf.
Tardiff & Wellman 2000, Perner et al. 2003). Under this view, children lack the ability to attribute beliefs to themselves and others (theory of mind) until age 4. Because the meaning of the verb think requires a cognitive resource that children of this age do not have, they are simply unable to acquire the verb. On the other hand, while they struggle with the concept of belief well into their fifth year, the concept of desire is held to develop much earlier. Thus, children do not have the same difficulties with verbs reporting desires than with those reporting beliefs. The development of linguistic understanding, under this hypothesis, derives from changes in the available conceptual resources. As new conceptual resources become available, they can be utilized for representing the relevant verb meanings.
However, several issues cast doubt on the conceptual development hypothesis. First, recent infant studies have questioned the assumption that children acquire a theory of mind at a late age : infants may have the ability to attribute false beliefs by 15 months, at least when this ability is assessed by implicit measures such as looking time (cf. Onishi & Baillargeon 2005, Song, et al. 2008, Southgate et al. 2011, Kovacs et al. 2010). Second, de Villiers and colleagues (de Villiers 1995, deVilliers & deVilliers 2000, deVilliers & Pyers 2002) show that children understand attitude verbs before they pass classic false belief tasks, and argue that mastering attitude verbs is a prerequisite for the ability to attribute false beliefs.
This talk argues for an alternative, semantic, explanation for the asymmetry in children’s understanding of think and want, which doesn’t rely on a fundamental change in conceptual structure, and presents some preliminary experimental evidence in support of this hypothesis.

Roy Sorensen (Washington University in Saint Louis)
"How Vagueness Makes Judges Lie"

Abstract : Most commentators on vagueness accept the Verdict Exclusion Principle : applying a predicate to one of its borderline cases yields an unknowable proposition. If three million dollars was a borderline case of `excessive bail’ for Michael Jackson in 2004, then no one can know that a three million dollar bail was excessive and no one can know that it was not. Since you should assert only what you know, you can only shrug your shoulders. Adjudicators lack this agnostic option. Their professional obligation to be decisive conflicts with the Verdict Exclusion Principle. 
The second way vagueness makes judges lie is through the underspecificity of their knowledge. The law forbids disjunctive indictments. Knowing that the defendant is guilty of either A or B is not good enough. If neither alternative can be proved individually, then the defendant prevails. This standard of proof, reminiscent of intuitionism in mathematics, violates an attractive moral principle `Known criminals ought to be punished for their crimes’. Consequently, a judge is under pressure to make assertions that are more specific than the propositions he believes. So are others involved in the process : witnesses, police, experts, and prosecutors. 
All of these dutiful liars have my sympathy. My thesis is that their justice-hungry lies are part of a systemic moral dilemma created by the inevitable penetration of vagueness into law. The ingenuity with which legal scholars and vagueness theorists have sought to escape the dilemma is a testament to its poignancy. Perhaps we can ameliorate some of the difficulty with reforms that make a better trade-off between competing desiderata for a legal system. But there is no improvement that stops vagueness from systematically motivating judicial lies. 

Peter Gardenfors (Philosophie/sciences cognitives, Université de Lund)
"Using conceptual spaces to model actions, events and the semantics of verbs"

Galen Strawson
"Cognitive Phenomenology"

Kit Fine (New York University)
Counterfactuals without Possible Worlds

Abstract :
I present a difficulty for the possible worlds semantics for counterfactuals and show how it can be solved by using a version of situation semantics in its place.

VENDREDI 27 mai 
Neil van Leeuwen (University of Johannesburg)
Religious Credence ≠ Factual Belief 

Abstract : I argue that psychology and epistemology should classify religious credence and factual belief as distinct cognitive attitudes, despite the fact that common parlance uses the same word (“belief”) for both of them. This is a thesis about attitudes, not contents. Just as fictional imagining and assumption for the sake of argument are different cognitive attitudes from factual belief, so too is religious credence. I argue for this thesis by identifying properties of factual belief that are needed to characterize factual belief and distinguish it from other attitudes. Then I note that religious credence generally lacks these properties. 
Furthermore, religious credence has characteristic properties of its own that 
factual belief generally lacks. To summarize : factual belief (1) is practical setting 
independent, (2) has cognitive governance over other attitudes, and (3) is evidentially vulnerable ; by way of contrast, religious credence (a) has perceived moral orientation, (b) is susceptible to free elaboration, and (c) is vulnerable to moral authority. Toward the end of the paper, I propose the normative epistemic 
principles of Balance and Immunity to enable us better to judge which cognitive attitudes are or are not characteristic of well-functioning cognitive systems.

VENDREDI 17 juin de 10h45 à 12h45
John Kulvicki (Department of Philosophy, Dartmouth College)
"Sounds, durations, and experiences"