Tommaso Piazza

University of Pavia & LanCog

The Many Ways of The Basing Relation

22 June 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: S’s belief that P is said to be doxastically justified if and only if S believes that P and this belief is based on a reason that provides S with propositional justification for P. Depending on the (doxastic or non-doxastic) nature of the reason that provides S with justification for P, the process whereby S bases her belief that P can take a different form. If it is a non-doxastic reason, like an experience that P, S forms the belief as a spontaneous non-inferential response to her having the experience. If it is a belief, to base a second belief on the first is to infer the content of the second from the content of the first. The distinction between these two basic ways in which a belief of S may be based on a reason is implicit in much epistemological literature but, I contend in this paper, non-exhaustive. In fact there are cases, somewhat surprisingly disregaded by the extant epistemological literature, where a subject has a doxastically justified belief which has not been formed on the basis of the subject’s reasons in any of the ways described above. To accommodate these cases I define and deploy the novel notion of a non-doxastic inference, and defend the claim that one can base a belief on a non-doxastic state also by inferring a belief from it in this sense.

Rachael Wiseman

University of Liverpool

Self-Knowledge Without Self-Ascription

15 June 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Thoughts that are candidates for self-knowledge are typically expressed using sentences with ‘I’ as the grammatical subject followed by a predicate-expression that contains a psychological verb and its object. ‘I see a lion’, ‘I intend to leave’, ‘I feel hot’, ‘I want a biscuit’. It is typical to suppose that when I say of myself ‘I ψ a’—where ‘ψ’ is a psychological verb—I self-ascribe the attribute given by the predicate-expression ‘ψ a’. It is this supposition that I would like to challenge. I think it gets the grammar of first-person thought wrong and that it does so in ways that matter not only because it gets that grammar wrong but also because it leaves us with a picture of ourselves and our place in the world that is ethically bad for us.

Occipital and left temporal instantaneous amplitude and frequency oscillations correlated with access and phenomenal consciousness

8 June 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Given the hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers, 1995) there are no brain electrophysiological correlates of the subjective experience (the felt quality of redness or the redness of red, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field, the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothball, bodily sensations, etc.). However, there are brain occipital and left temporal electrophysiological correlates of the subjective experience (Pereira, 2015). Notwithstanding, as evoked signal, the change in event-related brain potentials phase (frequency is the change in phase over time) is instantaneous, that is, the frequency will transiently be infinite: a transient peak in frequency (positive or negative), if any, is instantaneous in electroencephalogram averaging or filtering that the event-related brain potentials required and the underlying structure of the event-related brain potentials in the frequency domain cannot be accounted, for example, by the Wavelet Transform or the Fast Fourier Transform analysis, because they require that frequency is derived by convolution rather than by differentiation. However, as I show in the current original research report, one suitable method for analyzing the instantaneous change in event-related brain potentials phase and accounted for a transient peak in frequency (positive or negative), if any, in the underlying structure of the event-related brain potentials is the Empirical Mode Decomposition with post processing (Xie et al., 2014) Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition.

Eylem Özaltun

Koç University

Action Awareness as the Source of Flexibility in Skillful Copings

1 June 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: As observed by Descartes, human action is distinctive for the wide range and specificity of skills we display. Many of these skills are highly flexible, and can be employed in varied circumstances and for varied goals. Now, how is our being self-conscious, self-aware and rational related to the distinctive way in which we act? Almost everyone agrees that we must be self-conscious and rational to acquire these skills, but the role of self-awareness and reasoning in exercising these skills is in dispute. Recently, a number of authors have argued that action awareness is in fact indispensable for successful performance. I think these recent studies make our ability to cope skillfully even more puzzling: how does the agent manage to synthesize this vast information about the context, current state of affairs, the goal, the current state of herself and her abilities; provided by diverse monitoring forms, available at different levels of reflection, in multiple sensory modalities; with respect to diverse factors that bear on the novel case at hand in such a way that she can give the highly specific bodily response that the situation requires here and now? This is what I call the problem of orchestration. I aim to show that this is a cognitive problem with motor solution, i.e., that the flexible motor control cannot proceed without the guidance of cognitive control. The main idea is that we do not solve the problem of orchestration blindly: there must be a type of awareness distinct from all the different forms of awareness that are specified by recent studies which go into the execution of action as input. I aim to specify this type of awareness that enables the agent to exert cognitive control all the way down to the motor output.

Monika Betzler

University of Munich

Inverse Akrasia: A Case for Reasoning about One’s Emotions

25 May 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: So-called “inverse akrasia” is meant to describe cases in which an agent acts against her better judgment out of an emotion. Such cases of akrasia are “inverse” as acting according to one’s countervailing emotions proves in the end to be the right thing to do. Cases of inverse akrasia challenge the assumption that akrasia is always irrational. This insight has motivated philosophers to draw further lessons from such cases. They maintain that (i) best judgments are nothing but beliefs (Arpaly), and that (ii) emotions can track reasons equally well and lead to a particular kind of understanding (Brady). The first view gives up on any plausible idea of agential guidance. The second view does not have the resources to distinguish between emotions that are reason-tracking and those that aren’t. So far, little work has been devoted to the question of what cases of inverse akrasia can teach us with respect to our reasoning. My aim is to examine how we can reason about our emotions so as to distinguish reason-tracking emotions from irrational emotions, and transform our best judgment on the basis of our reasoned emotions.

Yonatan Shemmer

University of Sheffield

Subjectivists May Disagree

18 May 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Subjectivists, it is often said, cannot account for disagreement since on their view apparently conflicting moral judgments turn out to be compatible reports of the different beliefs of the speakers about their own conative attitudes. Jackson (2008) has argued that compatible belief reports can still constitute disagreement if the reports are reports of conflicting underlying attitudes. Thus when I say ‘I believe the wall is green’ and you say ‘I believe the wall is red’ we disagree even though our claims may well both be true. I do believe the wall is green and you do believe it is red.  We think that Jackson’s reply is the most natural way for subjectivists to address the objection but claim that this reply commits the subjectivist to provide an account of disagreement in conative attitudes. Typically accounts of disagreement in conative attitudes fail to fit into a unified theory of disagreement because they understand disagreement about non-normative matters to be a case of inconsistency whereas they understand disagreement about normative matters to be a case of pro-attitudes that cannot both be satisfied.  Such accounts also struggle to match our intuitions since they struggle to explain why two people who wish to kill each other do not thereby disagree. We argue that our Normative Theory of Disagreement (Priestley-Shemmer 2017) solves both of these problems and thus complements Jacksons approach. At the heart of our theory lies the thought that disagreeing peers have reasons to modify their attitudes in light of their disagreement. We then address an important objection to our theory, namely, that deviant incentives may give reasons to modify attitudes in such a way that would force our theory to classify the parties as disagreeing when in fact they are not.

Alan Hájek

Australian National University


11 May 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Probability theory is the dominant approach to modeling uncertainty. We begin with a set of possibilities or outcomes, usually designated ‘Ω’. We then assign probabilities—real numbers between 0 and 1 inclusive—to subsets of Ω. Nearly all of the action in the mathematics and philosophy of probability for over three and a half centuries has concerned the probabilities: their axiomatization, their associated theorems, and their interpretation. I want instead to put Ω in the spotlight. Ω is a set of possibilities, but which possibilities? While the probability calculus constrains our numerical assignments, and its interpretation guides us further regarding them, we are entirely left to our own devices regarding Ω. What makes one Ω better than another? Its members are typically not exhaustive—but which possibilities should be excluded? Its members are typically not maximally fine-grained—but how refined should they be? I will discuss both philosophical and practical problems with the construction of a good Ω. I will offer some desirable features that a given Ω might have, and some heuristics for coming up with an Ω that has them, and for improving an Ω that we already have.

Filippo Ferrari

University of Bonn

How to Disagree with the Agnostic

4 May 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: In this paper I aim to offer a positive reply to the following question: Can the agnostic — i.e. someone who suspends judgement about whether a certain proposition <p> is true — be in a state of disagreement with someone who (dis)believes <p>? The project is that of developing a theoretically fruitful account of the notions of ‘suspended judgement’ and ‘disagreement’ which explains how and why the agnostic is in a state of disagreement with both the believer and the disbeliever on the very question whether it is true that p. The plan is as follows: I will first elaborate on a doxastic-non-cotenability view of disagreement (MacFarlane 2014); second, following some recent work by Friedman (2013), (2015), I will provide an account of suspended judgement as a sui generis cognitive mental attitude. The focus will be in particular on developing the normative profile associated with the attitude of suspended judgement in contrast with that of belief and disbelief. My proposal is to understand part of the normative profiles of these cognitive mental attitudes in terms of the normative commitments that they engender in the context of enquiry. Disagreement is then explained in terms of the incompatibility between the sets of normative commitments that the agents involved in a situation of disagreement are subject to in virtue of their possessing contrasting attitudes.