Friday, 26 September 2014

Philosophy of Mind and Psychology Reading Group --The Predictive Mind chapter 8

Alex Kiefer
Welcome to the Philosophy of Mind and Psychology Reading Group hosted by the Philosophy@Birmingham blog. This month, Alex Kiefer (CUNY), introduces chapter 8 of Jakob Hohwy's The Predictive Mind (OUP, 2013).

Chapter 8 - Surprise and Misrepresentation
Presented by Alex Kiefer

Chapter 8 of The Predictive Mind explores longstanding and unresolved debates about the nature of mental representation and representational content from the point of view of the Prediction Error Minimization framework. The chapter is concerned primarily with perceptual representation, in keeping with the emphasis on perception throughout the book.

Jakob offers novel perspectives on a wide range of topics in the theory of content and the philosophy of mind more generally. In this post I'll focus on the two topics that I take to be most crucial for characterizing the account of representational content that best fits with the PEM framework: misrepresentation and causal VS descriptive theories of content. The positions sketched in the chapter with respect to these topics can be summarized in the following two claims:

Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation is perceptual inference that minimizes short-term prediction error while undermining long-term prediction error minimization.

Causal VS descriptive theories: Cognitive systems that minimize prediction error represent the world by maintaining causally guided descriptions (modes of presentation) of states of affairs in the world.

In what follows I'll discuss these claims and Jakob's arguments for them in more detail, then consider challenges for each position as well as connections between the two topics.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Philosophy of Religion One-Day Workshop (9th October)

The John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion is pleased to announce

The 7th Philosophy of Religion One-Day Workshop

Date: 9th October, 2014

Location: Room G16, Law Building, University of Birmingham


2:00-2:45: Dani Adams (University of Leeds), ‘'God and Laws of Nature’

2:45-3:30: Toby Betenson (University of Birmingham), ‘Moral Anti-Theodicy and the Moral Philosophy of Raimond Gaita’

3:30-3:45: Break

3:45-4:30: Sarah Adams (University of Leeds), ‘Theism and Modal Expressivism’

4:30-5:30: Erik Wielenberg (DePauw University, USA), ‘The Absurdity of Life in a Christian Universe’

All welcome. Please let Yujin Nagasawa know whether you are planning to attend.

Birmingham Workshops: Aesthetics & Value (29th September)

Our series of BIRMINGHAM WORKSHOPS IN PHILOSOPHY starts on Monday 29th September with a workshop on Aesthetics & Value.

Aesthetics & Value

10:40am Coffee & Biscuits

11:00am Paul Boghossian (Birmingham, NYU): “Should We Be Objectivists about Aesthetic Value?”


1:45 Coffee

2pm Eileen John (Warwick): “Are Meals Art?”                    

4pm Aaron Meskin (Leeds): “Challenges to Experimental Aesthetics”

Talks will be in room G05 of the Law building. This is building R1 on the campus map.

All welcome. Please contact Scott Sturgeon if you are planning to attend.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Climate Change and Divestment Policies

Scott Wisor
Yesterday, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund made headlines by announcing that it would divest its portfolio of fossil fuel companies. The announcement was timed to coincide with global protests calling on governments to take action to combat climate change. The announcement seems welcome—one time oil barons decide it is time to shift to a green economy. But is the fossil fuel divestment campaign structured so as to contribute to efforts to halt global warming?

In a recent post at the Ethics and International Affairs blog, Scott Wisor argues not. On his view, the campaign is designed in such a way as that it cannot effectively change the conduct of fossil fuel companies. Worse, it may draw strength from more effective efforts to combat climate change by directing activist energy to misguided policies.

What do you think? Have a read of Scott’s post and feel free to comment.