Argument Rodizio

 

05 July 2024, 15:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

 

The Argument Rodizio is a session in which each participant presents a short, desirably surprising, argument in 5-10 minutes, to be discussed in the following 5-10 minutes.

 

Abstract:

 

  1. Robert Michels – “At the End of Human Inquiry”
  2. Ricardo Santos – TBD
  3. João C. Miranda – “Why Are You Booing Me? I’m Right!”
  4. Hugo Luzio – “Dream Irresponsibility”
  5. Ned Markosian – “The Paradox of Suffering”

The Curse of Satisfaction: Paradoxes of Desire

Ronald de Sousa (University of Toronto)

 

28 June 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)

 

Abstract: Plato was perhaps the first but certainly not the last philosopher to take a dim view of desire. Lust, in particular, offers a model of desire reducible, in Shakespeare’s famous phrase, to ‘expense of spirit in a waste of shame’: and other poets and philosophers have argued that desire is essentially pain, that its object is often not what we think it is, and that satisfaction (in the limited measure in which it is even possible) only makes it worse. This talk begins by distinguishing semantic satisfaction (getting what you thought you wanted) from emotional satisfaction (actually enjoying what you are getting). It discusses some findings of recent brain science and psychology, due to Kent Berridge and others, that show that the natural and expected correlation between wanting something and getting pleasure from it can be disrupted. This helps to explain the phenomenon of ‘dust and ashes’—the absence of emotional satisfaction following semantic satisfaction—as well as other ways in which ‘satisfaction’ can fail to prove satisfying. Such explanations, however, don’t altogether resolve the problem of the ‘curse of satisfaction’.

Biologically Autonomous Teleosemantics

Carl B. Sachs (Marymount University)

 

14 June 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)

 

Abstract: Teleosemantics remains one of the more promising approaches to naturalizing semantic content. Two long-standing objections to teleosemantics are the normativity objection and the intensionality objection. The normativity objection states that the proper functioning of a cognitive state can only be understood in terms of whether states of that kind are normal or abnormal in a population. The intensionality objection states that teleosemantics can only account for tracking and mapping relations, which are themselves purely extensional. I shall argue that the normativity objection can be addressed by grounding cognitive functions in the organizational approach to biological autonomy, rather than as traits distributed across populations. This approach does not solve the intensionality objection, but it does show that the two objections can be addressed separately.

 

 

LanCog is pleased to announce that the 2024 Petrus Hispanus Lectures will be delivered by Professor Susan Schneider (Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton), on June 25th and 27th.

 

Abstract

The topic of these talks is the Global Brain Hypothesis, according to which, in the near future, humans will become nodes in a distributed information processing network implemented through AI technologies. On this view, the AI ecosystem will feature ‘Emergent hyperintelligences’ arising from ‘megasystems’ of AI services. Humans, as users of AI services, are “nodes” in a larger algorithmic system that I call the computronium.  Eventually, parts of the system, fuelled by advancing generative models, global sensor systems, extensive amounts of users and data (including from brain-machine interfaces), become a ‘Global Brain system’. There may be several global brain systems competing for power (a multipolar system), two foes (a bipolar system), or a single hegemonic Global brain system. This hypothesis has unexplored philosophical implications in a wide range of areas, including: the extended mind, the nature of knowledge, chatbot ‘epistemology’, sentience (is the global brain conscious?), the metaphysics of the part/whole relationship of human nodes and how they relate to the computronium and global brain, and ethical considerations relating to the global brain—how to avoid a dystopia, ways the algorithms manipulate humans and what to do about it.

 

Lecture I

The Global Brain Argument: Nodes, Computroniums and the AI Megasystem

25 June 2024

16:00 (WET)

Anfiteatro II

Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon

 

Lecture II

Illusory World Scepticism and the Simulation Argument

27 June 2024

16:00 (WET)

Anfiteatro II

Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon

 

Free Attendance. No registration required. All welcome!

The Copernican Argument for Alien Consciousness: the Mimicry Argument Against Robot Consciousness

Eric Schwitzgebel (University of California, Riverside)

 

11 June 2024, 11:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)

 

Abstract: On broadly Copernican grounds, we are entitled to default assume that apparently behaviorally sophisticated alien species would be conscious. Otherwise, we humans would be inexplicably, implausibly lucky to have consciousness, while similarly behaviorally sophisticated species elsewhere would be mere non-conscious “zombies”. However, we are not similarly entitled to default assume that apparently behaviorally sophisticated robots would be conscious, at least in the present and near-term future. This is because such robots (unlike, we conjecture, most aliens) are normally designed to mimic superficial features associated with consciousness in humans. The Copernican and Mimicry Arguments jointly defeat a parity principle that one might have thought to be plausible, according to which we should apply the same types of behavioral or cognitive tests to aliens and robots, attributing or denying consciousness similarly to the extent they perform similarly. Our approach, instead of grounding speculations about alien and robot consciousness in metaphysical or scientific theories about the physical or functional bases of consciousness, appeals directly to the epistemic principles of Copernican mediocrity and inference to the best explanation. This permits us to justify default assumptions about consciousness while remaining to a substantial extent neutral about such metaphysical and scientific theories. (This is joint work with Jeremy Pober.)

The Mathematical Context of Frege’s Early Notion of Function

Joan Bertran San-Millán (Centre of Philosophy of Sciences, University of Lisbon)

 

7 June 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)

 

Abstract: Tappenden (1995) and Wilson (1992) describe the rich mathematical and historical setting of Frege’s Grundlagen der Arithmetik (1884). They point to the connections between Plücker and Clebsch’s understanding of functions – in the context of the duality principle in projective geometry – and Frege’s functional approach. However, I think more should be said about Frege’s early conception of function, developed by Frege in Begriffsschrift (1879). In this talk, I first provide new textual evidence to Tappenden and Wilson’s claim that substantial sources of influence on Frege’s early notion of function can be found in Clebsch and Plücker’s works. I then argue that the concept of function developed in Begriffsschrift is instrumental in Frege’s early mathematical project; shapes the syntax, quantification and calculus of the logical system; and should be distinguished from Frege’s later notion of function.

Merely Verbal Disputes in Philosophy: Addressing Their Defectiveness with (More) Metalinguistic Awareness?

Delia Belleri (LanCog, Centre of Philosophy, University of Lisbon)

 

31 May 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)

 

Abstract: In recent years, increasingly more authors have argued that certain philosophical debates are, or can be reasonably interpreted as being, merely verbal disputes. If this phenomenon is real, one might suspect that philosophers are not very good at identifying the meaning(s) of the words on which their disputes are based. To borrow a concept from psycholinguistics, philosophers may lack an appropriate kind of “metalinguistic awareness”. Would increasing the philosophers’ metalinguistic awareness prevent, or help one to diagnose more quickly, such defective linguistic exchanges? This paper advances some hypotheses on how metalinguistic awareness in philosophical disputes may be lost, how one might train oneself to raise it, and how it may be enhanced in practice. The conclusion will, however, be a pessimism of sorts: it is deeply unclear whether more metalinguistic awareness could be of any help in preventing or diagnosing merely verbal disputes in philosophy.

Can Conversational AIs Testify?

Domingos Faria (Universidade do Porto)

 

24 May 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)

 

Abstract: We learn new things, we acquire knowledge, based on the “say-so” of conversational AIs (such as ChatGPT). How should we understand these attributions of knowledge? Can it be understood as testimonial knowledge? The orthodox view, as defended by Coady (1992), Lackey (2008), Tollefsen (2009), Goldberg (2012), and Pagin (2016), is that conversational AIs cannot be considered testimonial sources, but at most instrumental sources of knowledge (in a similar way to the knowledge we obtain when we consult a thermometer). The main argument for this orthodox view can be summarized as follows: An entity S can testify that p only if S believes that p, S has the intention to deliver testimony that p, S is a responsible epistemic agent for transmitting that p, S is object of trust, and S is able to assert that p. But conversational AIs cannot believe that p, nor intend to testify that p, nor are they responsible epistemic agents who transmit that p, nor are they objects of trust, nor are they able to assert that p. Therefore, conversational AIs cannot testify that p. In this paper, I intend to show that this argument is not sound, since there are plausible reasons to reject both premises. Furthermore, by developing the framework conceived by Tyler Burge (1998), it is possible to argue that some instruments can testify, as is the case with conversational AIs.

Consciousness and the Significance of Middle-Sized Things

Timothy O’Connor (Indiana University)

 

23 May 2024, 14:30 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)

 

Abstract: Many physicalists suppose that middle-sized things of many kinds are real in an ontologically significant way that, e.g., mere aggregates are not. They have that status by being ‘weakly emergent’: emergent because they exhibit forms of behavior not characteristic of entities of which they are composed, while only weakly so because their existence and powers asymmetrically wholly depend on those composing entities. Ontological reductionists and nihilists charge that weak emergents (if such there be) are not ontologically significant because they do not make a fundamental difference to the way the world is or unfolds. I will argue that this charge is plausibly true in a world lacking strongly emergent conscious minds, but not otherwise. Weakly emergent entities enjoy a more robust ontological status by virtue of being objects of conscious practical and theoretical thought and action. Furthermore, the range of objects attaining such significance in a minded world depends on the kinds of minds in it: merely animal, human, and/or divine.

Aboutness and Scientific Modelling

Quentin Ruyant (Complutense University of Madrid)

 

17 May 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)

 

Abstract: According to the semantic conception of scientific theories, theories should be identified with families of models, each typically conceived of as a “possible world if the theory is true”. A “mapping” hypothesis relates these models to real-world phenomena. Although it purports to be closer to scientific practice than its predecessor the syntactic view, the semantic view is still idealistic: firstly, the mapping hypothesis is typically thought to be independent from contexts and model users, which is at odds with most analyses of scientific representation, and secondly, actual theoretical models are typically intensional and represent bounded situations instead of representing complete extensional worlds. All this has already been noted by various authors, but no well worked-out alternative to the semantic conception has been proposed so far. In order to move forward, I examine how the hyper-intensional notion of “aboutness”, used in philosophy of language and philosophical logic to capture intentionality and relevance, could be transposed to scientific modeling, so as to flesh out a pragmatic conception of scientific theories that would qualify for being a viable alternative to the semantic conception.