Institut Jean Nicod

Accueil du site > Séminaires & Colloques > Séminaires > Archives > 2017-2018 > Colloquium > Présentation


Elizabeth Spelke (Harvard University)

Vendredi 10 novembre 2017 de 11h30 à 13h

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

Core Knowledge and Composition


Young children rapidly develop a basic, commonsense understanding of how the world works. Research on infants suggests that this understanding rests on early emerging cognitive systems for representing bodies and their motions, agents and their actions, people and their social engagements, places and their relations of distance and direction, forms and their scale-invariant geometry, and number : six systems of core knowledge. These systems are innate, abstract, strikingly limited, and opaque to intuition. Infants’ knowledge then grows both through gradual learning processes that people share with other animals, and through a fast and flexible learning process that is unique to our species and emerges with the onset of language. The latter process composes new and intuitive concepts productively by combining concepts from distinct core knowledge systems. The compositional process is poorly understood but amenable to study, through coordinated behavioral testing and computational modeling of infants’ learning. To illustrate, this talk will focus on core knowledge of objects, agents, and social beings, and on two new systems of concepts that emerge quite suddenly at the end of the first year : concepts of artifact objects as bodies whose forms afford specific actions, and concepts of people as social agents whose mental states are both phenomenal and intentional.


Joëlle Proust (Institut Jean Nicod)

Vendredi 24 novembre 2017 de 11h30 à 13h

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

Joëlle Proust, Institut Jean-Nicod, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris.

"Epistemic feelings and thought awareness : a projective view of cognitive phenomenology"

Cognitive phenomenology (CP) refers to the experience one has when performing cognitive actions, such as exchanging ideas, planning a trip, trying to remember a name, or solving a problem. It will be argued that CP has two forms, which are determined by two crucial functions of conscious awareness of one’s own cognitive actions. Task-indexing imagery has the function of maintaining executive attention focused on the present informational goal until fully completed. Activity-dependent noetic feelings have the function of evaluating on-line the feasibility and correctness of cognitive actions. Conceptual and empirical arguments in favour of this functional duality of CP will be discussed. A projection theory of the role of sensory information in cognitive phenomenology will be defended. This theory purports to explain why task-indexes and epistemic feelings have a sensory vehicle but are felt as expressing respectively intended goal (e.g. proving that P) and graded epistemic opportunities (feasibility) or outcome properties (relevance, coherence, truth, etc.).


David Plunkett (Dartmouth College)

Vendredi 8 décembre 2017 de 11h30 à 13h

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

“Metalinguistic Negotiation and Speaker Error”
By David Plunkett and Tim Sundell

In recent work, we have argued that a number of disputes of interest to philosophers – including some disputes amongst philosophers themselves – are metalinguistic negotiations. Metalinguistic negotiations involve a disagreement between speakers about how they should use language in the context at hand. For example : which rival concept a given term should express. In a metalinguistic negotiation, speakers navigate such normative issues about words and concepts implicitly, via a “metalinguistic” use of a term (wherein speakers use words to communicate views about the very term they are using). In this paper, we do two things in relation to our work on metalinguistic negotiation. First, we synthesize much of our existing discussion into a unified picture of metalinguistic negotiation, as well as expand on that picture in new ways. Second, we consider an important objection to our view : that it involves an unacceptable attribution of false views to speakers involved in disputes, including false views about what they are arguing about and how they are arguing.


Michael Martin (University College London and University of California, Berkeley)

Vendredi 15 décembre 2017 de 11h30 à 13h

Michael Martin (University College London and University of California, Berkeley)

Betwixt Feeling and Thinking : "Two-Level Accounts of Experience"


Manuel Rebuschi (Archives Henri-Poincaré, Université de Lorraine)

Vendredi 26 janvier 2018 de 11h30 à 13h

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

Manuel Rebuschi (Archives Henri-Poincaré, Université de Lorraine)

Quelle sémantique pour les jeux vidéo ?


L’interprétation des énoncés produits dans le contexte des jeux vidéo et de leurs environnements virtuels suscite différentes questions. Les joueurs perçoivent des situations, ils paraissent également y agir et s’y engager en première personne. Une joueuse peut ainsi énoncer, à propos d’un monstre couvert d’écailles apparaissant à l’écran : « Je vois Anguirius, là devant moi. Je vais le tuer. Je suis Godzilla, c’est moi la plus forte ». La situation est celle d’une fiction interactive qui donne lieu à une interprétation de noms propres fictionnels, mais aussi d’indexicaux et de verbes transitifs intensionnels, notamment de verbes d’action conjugués à la première personne, dans des usages inédits pour les lecteurs ou spectateurs des fictions ordinaires quoique pratiqués par les acteurs au théâtre ou au cinéma. Dans l’exposé, je m’appuie sur la logique de la perception de Hintikka, la sémantique des fictions de Lewis et la logique dynamique pour les jeux de van Benthem pour proposer un cadre d’analyse de tels énoncés.


Åsa Wikforss (Stockholms universitet)

Vendredi 9 février 2018 de 11h30 à 13h

"Cognitive Perspective and the Transparency of Mental Content"


In the talk I examine the transparency of content thesis : The thesis that subjects can tell a priori, on the basis of introspection, whether two thoughts or thought constituents have the same content. It is widely agreed that transparency is a significant thesis, both by proponents and opponents of the thesis. Proponents claim that the thesis is presupposed if content is to play a role in assessments of rationality and the explanation of action, along the lines suggested by Frege, while opponents suggest that rejecting transparency undermines the need for Fregean contents. I argue that transparency is less significant than is assumed, and that the real controversy turns not on transparency but on whether it is essential that content serves to capture the subject’s cognitive perspective, her reasoning and actions. I suggest that there is a connection here with the debate over incomplete understanding. Both debates illustrate the fundamental tension between the idea that content plays an explanatory role and broadly externalist accounts of content.


Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern University)

Professeur invité à l’EHESS

What Is Justified Group Belief ?

Vendredi 23 mars 2018 de 11h30 à 13h

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

How should we understand a group’s justifiedly believing that p ? The importance of this question is clear, both theoretically and practically. If we do not understand the justification of groupbeliefs, then we cannot make sense of our widespread epistemic attributions to groups of evidencethat they have, or should have, and of propositions that they know, or should have known. Moreover, the justificatory status of such beliefs matters a great deal to whether groups are morally and legally responsible for certain actions and, accordingly, the extent to which they oughtto be held accountable.

Despite this, the topic of group justification has receved surprisingly little attention in theliterature, with those who have addressed it falling into one of two camps. On the one hand, thereare those who favor an inflationary approach, where groups are treated as entities with epistemic“minds of their own.” For these theorists, the justificatory status of group belief involves onlyactions that take place at the group level, such as the joint acceptance of reasons. On the otherhand, there are those who favor a deflationary approach, where group justified belief isunderstood as nothing more than the aggregation of the justified beliefs of the group’s members.

In this paper, I raise new objections to both of these approaches. If I am right, we need to look in an altogether different place for an adequate account of justified group belief. From theseobjections emerges the skeleton of the positive view that I go on to defend, which I call the groupepistemic agent account of group justified belief : groups are epistemic agents in their own right, with justified beliefs that respond to evidence and normative requirements that arise only at thegroup level, but which are nonetheless importantly constrained by the epistemic status of thebeliefs of their individual members.


Alberto Voltolini (Université de Turin)

Vendredi 4 mai 2018 de 11h30 à 13h

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

Fusion Experiences

Both a meaning experience, an experience of as of understanding a certain expression (Strawson 1994), and the experience of seeing-in, the pictorially relevant twofold experience of discerning a certain subject in another object, typically a picture’s vehicle (Wollheim 1980 2 ), can be taken to be fusion experiences (Husserl 1913 2 , Briscoe 2017), in the sense that although they are constituted by parts, they amount to a sensory whole (Husserl 1913, Wollheim 1987).

Thus, one may take them to structurally be the same kind of experience : just as one sees a subject in a picture’s vehicle, one hears (sees) a meaning, or a thought, in the expression one hears (sees) (McDowell 1998). Yet their similarity notwithstanding, they are not the same kind of experience. Granted, in both experiences the higher-level components depend on their lower-level components : one could not see a subject in a picture’s vehicle if one did not already see that vehicle ; one could not hear a meaning in an expression if one did not hear that very expression. Moreover, such a dependence is generic : one can hear the same meaning in hearing different (synonymous) expressions ; one can see the same subject even if one has a different experience of the vehicle, for the vehicle has changed its colours and shapes.

Nevertheless, the relationship between the folds of the seeing-in experience is more intimate than that between the parts of the meaning experience. One can hear an expression, not only in its lower-level auditory qualities but also in its morphosyntactic qualities, and yet hear no meaning in it ; moreover, when one also hears its meaning, the previous auditory experience of the expression is not modified. Granted, one can also see a picture’s vehicle without also seeing a subject in it. Yet when one sees a subject in it, the experience of the vehicle is modified, for it comes to have an enriched content. This has to do with the fact that, unlike the meaning experience, qua pictorial experience the seeing-in experience is a recognitional experience (Schier 1986, Lopes 1996) : in order to recognize a certain subject in a picture, one must experience that picture’s vehicle in such a way that grounds that recognition. In this respect, only the seeing-in experience amounts to a proper fusion experience, an experience of a sensory whole that does not coincide with the experiences of its parts.

(Stumpf 1890).


Catharine Abell (University of Manchester)

Vendredi 8 juin 2018 de 11h30 à 13h

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

"Fictive Utterances as Declarations"

What kind of speech act is involved in producing works of fiction ? Previous responses to this question claim either that it is a sui generis illocutionary act characterised by a communicative intention to elicit imaginings, or that producing fictions involves pretending to perform ordinary illocutionary acts such as assertions, rather than actually performing any illocutionary act. In contrast, I argue that producing fiction involves making declarations : illocutionary acts that are distinctive in their ability to effect changes in the status of their objects simply in virtue of their successful performance. I focus on two consequences of this account. Firstly, readers identify the contents of fictive utterances by appeal to rules, rather than to authors’ intentions. I argue that this account of interpretation solves an epistemological problem to which rival accounts succumb. Secondly, authors’ fictive utterances can create fictional entities in much the way that the act of marrying creates marriages. I argue that this provides an account of the nature of fictional entities with distinct advantages over rival accounts.


David Pitt (California State University)

Vendredi 15 juin 2018 de 11h30 à 13h

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

"Singular Thought"


Jonathan Schaffer (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)

“Ground Functionalism”

Vendredi 29 juin 2018 de 11h30 à 13h

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