Arizona State University---Sedona Philosophy Conferences

Ángel Pinillos-organizer

1. Experimental Philosophy. December 16-18, 2016
Felipe De Brigard (Duke University)
Natalie Gold (King’s College-London)
Tania Lombrozo (UC Berkeley)
Edouard Machery (University of Pittsburgh)
Jennifer Nado (Lingnan University)
Shaun Nichols (University of Arizona)
Jennifer Wright (College of Charleston)

Alisabeth Ayars (Princeton), Joshua Alexander (Siena College), James Beebe (SUNY Buffalo), Wesley Buckwalter (University of Waterloo), Nat Hansen (University of Reading), Paul Henne (Duke University), Ron Mallon (Washington University in St. Louis), Joan McGregor (Arizona State University), Shyam Nair (Arizona State University), Ángel Pinillos (Arizona State University), Travis Rosenlieb (Arizona State University), Forrest Schreick (Arizona State University), Chris Weigel (Utah Valley University), Jonathan Weinberg (University of Arizona).

Tania Lombrozo
Title: Explaining for the Best Inference
Abstract: I’ll present research on the role of explanation in learning, including the relationship between this research and inference to the best explanation as discussed within epistemology. I’ll then suggest a way in which the empirical work suggests an alternative way to conceptualize the epistemic value of explanation, where explanation is evaluated as a learning-conducive practice rather than a mechanism for making inferences to likely hypotheses.

Jennifer Nado
Title: Conceptual Engineering and X-phi. 
 It’s common to portray philosophical method in terms of conceptual analysis. On this picture, the philosopher’s task is to characterize the boundaries of a pre-existing, philosophically interesting concept such as free will, consciousness, or moral goodness. An alternate, minority perspective on the task of philosophy views it instead as ‘conceptual engineering’.  On this picture, the philosopher aims to correct defects in our ordinary concepts, or perhaps to replace them entirely. I argue in favor of the conceptual engineering view of philosophy.  There is a temptation to suppose that this picture of philosophy will minimize the role of intuition in philosophical methodology, thereby potentially leaving the critiques raised by experimental philosophy without a target.  However, I claim that experimental philosophy is crucial to any project of conceptual engineering.

Natalie Gold
Title: Testing Team Reasoning 
N. Gold and J. Thom, King’s College London
 Coordination games require pairs of individuals to coordinate their choices without being able to communicate. One way to achieve this is through team-reasoning, asking ‘what should we choose’, rather than just assessing one’s own options (Sugden, 1999, 2003; Bacharach, 1999; 2006). It has been suggested that team-reasoning is more likely when individuals are encouraged to think of those they are attempting to coordinate with as members of an in-group (Bacharach, 2006; Gold, 2012). In an online study, we examined the effects of group identity on performance in a coordination game. We found that choice of team reasoning strategy was correlated with the ‘inclusion of other in self’ (IOS) scale (Aron et al., 1992; Gaechter et al., 2015), which has been used as a measure of shared identity or ‘oneness’. This was also reflected by participants’ self-reported strategies: those who reported trying to pick an option that stood out (making it easier to coordinate on) also reported higher IOS scores than did those who said they tended to simply choose the option associated with the largest potential payoff. We attempted to manipulate group identity to test our hypotheses, but this manipulation was not successful, resulting in no significant effects of condition on choices in the game, or reported strategies, or IOS. Overall, we found evidence of a relationship between perceived group identity and the tendency to attempt to coordinate, but the null effect of our manipulation leaves the causal direction of this relationship ambiguous.

Shaun Nichols
Title: The Autonomy of Essences / Essentialism and the Concept of Mind
Part 1: Many essentialized categories seem naturally to fall under other, more inclusive essentialized categories. For instance, DOG and CAT fall under the essentialized category MAMMAL, which itself falls under the essentialized category LIVING THING. But what is the relation between these more inclusive categories (e.g., LIVING THING) and the less inclusive ones (e.g., DOG)?  Does the DOG essence somehow include as a necessary condition the MAMMAL essence, yielding a hierarchy of essences? We (Nichols & Weinberg) defend a very different possibility, the “Autonomy Model”, on which each essence is, to some interesting extent, autonomous. So, while all dogs are living things, the essence of being a living thing is not central to the essence of being a dog. 
Part 2: Much work in social cognition focuses on the attribution of mental states and processes. But what about the basic concept of MIND? We (Ayars & Nichols) argue that the category of MIND is essentialized. We find that the presence of mental states is neither necessary nor sufficient for classifying an entity as having a mind.

Felipe De Brigard
Title: Vivacity and the distinction between memory and imagination

Edouard Machery
Title: On second thought: a refutation of the reflection defense
Despite its central role in philosophical practice, the method of cases has come under heavy criticism: Experimental studies suggest that judgments about classic philosophical thought experiments are sensitive to factors such as culture, gender, affect, framing, and presentation order – factors that are not standardly thought to be philosophically relevant. Critics of experimental philosophy have responded in various ways. The goal of this talk is to shed light on one response that has not yet received enough attention: the reflection defense. According to proponents of this defense, judgments about philosophical cases are relevant only when they are the product of careful, nuanced, and conceptually rigorous reflection, while the judgments elicited in experimental studies are swift shots from the hip that lack the necessary deliberative care. Critics conclude that, since these kinds of judgments are unfit to serve as input for responsible philosophical inquiry, experimental studies that reveal their vagaries can be safely ignored.

Jennifer Wright
Title: The Architecture of Virtue

2. Pragmatic Encroachment. February 24-26, 2017
Charity Anderson (Baylor University)
Stewart Cohen (University of Arizona)
Jane Friedman (NYU)
Dorit Ganson (Oberlin)
John Hawthorne (USC)
Brian Kim (Oklahoma State University)
Matthew McGrath (Missouri)
Brian Weatherson (Michigan)

Juan Comesaña (University of Arizona), Shyam Nair (Arizona State University), Ángel Pinillos (Arizona State University), Aaron Rizzieri (Yavapai College)