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Episode 88: Kent Bach discusses jumping to conclusions

This month, we talk to Kent Bach (San Francisco State University) about his picture of how beliefs relate to particular thoughts. Click here to listen to our conversation.

bach_smallIn this episode, Kent Bach discusses two of his big ideas at the border between the philosophy of mind and epistemology. The first is that when someone is engaged in everyday, commonsense reasoning, the fact that that person isn’t thinking about irrelevant distractions irrelevant can in and of itself be evidence that those consideration are indeed irrelevant. For instance, if I’m trying to remember which presidents were carved into Mount Rushmore, the fact that I’m not even considering Ronald Reagan or George H. W. Bush can actually serve as evidence that they aren’t worth considering as possibilities. (Assuming my ability to make accurate snap judgments is in order.) Adopting this perspective on fast, everyday reasoning means taking seriously a lot of what we do subconsciously. Snap judgments can carry real evidential weight, not just in the conclusions they reach, but in what they exclude from consideration.

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Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on perceptual particularity

If you’re in the mood to do a deep dive and learn more about the view that Susanna Schellenberg shared with us during the previous episode, she suggests taking a look at the following papers of hers:

Perceptual Particularity
Phenomenal Evidence and Factive Evidence
Experience and Evidence
Belief and Desire in Imagination and Immersion
Perceptual Content Defended
Ontological Minimalism About Phenomenology

Enjoy!
-Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 87: Susanna Schellenberg discusses perceptual particularity

This month, we sit down with Susanna Schellenberg to talk about what ordinary perception does and doesn’t have in common with hallucination. Click here to listen to our conversation.

schellenbergWhen you picture to yourself how vision works, you probably imagine something along the following lines. There’s some light which gets projected into your eyes, and the light stimulates the rod and cone cells in your retina. These sensations create a blob of unanalyzed, 2D sensory information that doesn’t ‘mean’ anything yet. Then your mind goes to work on that 2D sensory information and interprets it, so that instead of looking like a meaningless blob, it ends up looking like e.g. a pine tree to the left of another pine tree.

According to that intuitive view, there are three entities that enter into your visual experience: a) some actual pine trees, reflecting light into your eyes, b) the raw, intermediate, blob of sensory information, and c) the final visual experience, which comes across as looking like some trees.

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Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on photographs

For those of you who would like to follow up on our discussion with Daniel Smyth, he recommends the following papers:

Snapshots, Perception, and Intimacy,’ Daniel Smyth
Photography, Vision, and Representation,’ Joel Snyder and Neil Walsh Allen
Picturing Vision,’ Joel Snyder
Transparent Pictures,’ Kendall Walton
What’s Special About Photography?‘ Ted Cohen

He also recommends the following book on Hubble imagery:

Picturing the Cosmos, Elizabeth A. Kessler

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 86: Daniel Smyth discusses photographs and their vicissitudes

smyth2This month, we discuss photographs and their vicissitudes with Daniel Smyth, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Sage School of Philosophy of Cornell University. (And yes, Smyth used to study and teach at the University of Chicago!)  Click here to listen to the episode.

In this episode, Smyth asks: What does a photograph evidence? Away from philosophers, you might simply answer: A photograph evidences what it depicts. And it depicts what happened — what a camera detected in front of it when the photograph was taken. Of course, no? Well, consider the three photographs below (and keep them in mind as you listen to this episode). We can start with a straightforward photograph. Amidst the Olympics, you may have seen a photograph like this one:

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Posted in Podcast.


Episode 85: Bryce Huebner discusses race and cognitive science

This month, we discuss race and cognitive science with Bryce Huebner, associate professor of philosophy at Georgetown University. Click here to listen to our conversation.

huebnerOf course, we as individuals can be racist. Of course, so can our institutions. But when do we realize this, so that we might get something done about it? In this sense, two years ago, we here at the University of Chicago found ourselves “ahead of the curve.”

A year before Yale made national headlines following some students’ racist Halloween costumes, our school had strikingly similar trouble. Two years ago, for Halloween of 2014, a few UofC students dressed up as Mexican gangsters. Two Latino UofC students, Vincente Perez and Jamie Sanchez, then publicly called out the costumes as racist. The gangster-dressing student Perez first noticed went on to apologize publicly, but by then, Perez and Sanchez had developed their calls around such individuals into calls around their institution, their university. For instance, in the short term, Perez and Sanchez, and almost 2,500 petition supporters, called on the University to survey the campus about its climate around racial, ethnic, and other identities. And in the long term, they called on the University to diversify its core curriculum and faculty. A year later, then, as Yale and a slew of other schools saw protests, the University of Chicago saw relative calm. Though the University had not agreed to most of Perez and Sanchez’s calls, it had launched a survey of its campus’s climate, hopefully with an eye to larger reforms. (Survey results are to be released in the coming months.)

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Posted in Podcast.


Further Reading on democracy

For those who are interested in following up on democracy and governmental legitimacy, check out the following article by our distinguished guest:

Consent and Political Legitimacy,’ Amanda Greene

For a deeper dive, Amanda Greene recommends the following:

Democratic Legitimacy, Fabienne Peter
Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework, David Estlund
On Legitimacy and Political Deliberation,’ Bernard Manin, Elly Stein and Jane Mansbridge
Arguing for Majority Rule,’ Mathias Risse
‘Procedure and Substance in Deliberative Democracy,’ Joshua Cohen (in Deliberative Democracy)
Defending the Purely Instrumental Account of Democratic Legitimacy,’ Richard Arneson
‘Democracy: Instrumental vs. Non-Instrumental Value,’ Elizabeth Anderson (in Contemporary Debates in Political Philosophy)
Democracy: A History, John Dunn
Max Weber on Democracy: Can the People Have Political Power in Modern States,’ Tamsin Shaw
Can International Organizations Be Democratic? A Skeptical View,’ Robert Dahl
The Meaning and Measure of State Legitimacy: Results for 72 Countries,’ Bruce Gilley

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 84: Amanda Greene discusses the legitimacy of democracy

Last year, we talked about anarchism. This year, we turn to democracy with Amanda Greene, Lecturer in Philosophy at University College, London, and Law and Philosophy Fellow at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our discussion.

Amanda GreeneIn the West, at least, most of us consider democracy to be the obvious choice for the best form of government, but we rarely take a step back to think about why. Amanda Greene agrees that democracy is the best choice, but thinks that most attempts to understand why it is the best choice build the idea that democracy is the most legitimate form of government into the very definition of democracy. That makes democracy hard to object to, but it also isn’t very illuminating as an explanation. Her approach, instead, is to start with a pretty austere definition of legitimacy, which allows that some governments can be legitimate without being democratic, and then argue that democracy is the best way to achieve that.

Join us as our guest takes us through the ins and outs of our modern political system!

Matt Teichman

Posted in Podcast.


Further Reading on Genealogical Anxiety

Those of you who would like to follow up on our interview with Bob Simpson can check out this article, which was the impetus for a lot of what we talked about:

You Just Believe that Because,’ Roger White

That one requires a journal subscription, but you can look at Bob’s own paper on this (with Josh DiPaolo) without a journal subscription here:

Indoctrination Anxiety and the Etiology of Belief,’ Joshua DiPaolo and Robert Mark Simpson

Happy reading!

Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 83: Bob Simpson discusses genealogical anxiety

This month, we discuss genealogical anxiety with Bob Simpson, lecturer in philosophy at Monash University. Click here to listen to our conversation.

simpsonIf you listen to this podcast, then for better or worse, you have likely been exposed to some Nietzsche (hopefully at a safe level!). In the nineteenth century, Friedrich Nietzsche (perhaps notoriously) introduced an epistemological sense of genealogy — a genealogy of what we purport to know — by telling a story about how we have come to know the things we purport to know. Of course, many others have developed intellectual history — history of ideas — history of what and how people and communities have thought and developed. Such history can at least encourage scholarship to be self-aware. Well and good.

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Posted in Podcast.