Jennifer Nagel and Joshua Alexander

http://www.vimeo.com/91851671

Jennifer Nagel and Joshua Alexander on epistemic intuitions and experimental philosophy.

Note: This is part of a series of PTV discussions involving contributors to Machery and O’Neill (eds.), Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy (2014)

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After discussing the central role that intuitions have traditionally played in epistemology, Alexander and Nagel turn to problems raised by experimental work on cultural variation in epistemic intuitions. They discuss Weinberg, Nichols, and Stich’s influential 2001 study on Gettier intuitions—and subsequent failures to replicate the results of that study. Then (20:14) they discuss whether and to what extent intuitions are viable as data in epistemology (Alexander has often been more critical of the use of intuitions than Nagel). Along the way, Nagel makes the case for a plurality of methods (32:54). They discuss how we could tell whether a given empirical result undermines the reliability of intuitions (43:10); whether traditional “armchair” philosophy really is introspective in the way that it’s sometimes made out to be (47:00); and the nature of philosophical expertise (54:47).

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Joshua Knobe and Eddy Nahmias

http://www.vimeo.com/88029898

Joshua Knobe and Eddy Nahmias on experimental approaches to free will.

Note: This is part of a series of PTV discussions involving contributors to Machery and O’Neill (eds.), Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy (2014)

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Knobe and Nahmias begin with an overview of the early history and aims of experimental philosophy. Then they discuss experiments on the contrast between bypassing and throughpassing intuitions about free will (8:57); Nahmias’s “theory lite view,” according to which ordinary people have no strong views about the relation between mind and brain (17:34); whether the folk have a causal or an interventionist view of agency (24:17); the effect of descriptions of determinism on folk intuitions (32:52); and Nahmias’s work on “willusionism,” inspired by his critical view of certain popularized versions of free-will skepticism (41:47). Finally, Knobe and Nahmias consider future results that could resolve some of their disagreements (48:49) and forecast the next big steps in experimental philosophy of free will (57:00).

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Christy Mag Uidhir and Aaron Meskin

http://www.vimeo.com/82160743

Christy Mag Uidhir and Aaron Meskin on the definition of art.

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Mag Uidhir and Meskin begin with an overview of philosophical approaches to the definition of art since the 1950s: Morris Weitz’s anti-essentialism about art (0:44); George Dickie’s institutional theory of art (4:44); and the recent decline of interest among philosophers in the definitional project (7:46). Mag Uidhir attacks the institutional theory (9:18). Meskin talks about the recent surge of attention to particular art forms (16:48). Mag Uidhir describes his work with P.D. Magnus on pluralism about art concepts (21:10). Then Mag Uidhir and Meskin debate Mag Uidhir’s views on the possibility and significance of art failure (30:39). They conclude with a discussion of Meskin’s wide-ranging experimental work on the mere exposure effect, the semantics of aesthetic adjectives, and the nature of aesthetic testimony (49:59).

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Gregg Caruso and Bruce Waller

http://www.vimeo.com/81866078

Gregg Caruso and Bruce Waller on free will and moral responsibility.

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Most people believe that we can and should be held morally responsible for our actions. Caruso and Waller both hold that this belief is not only false, but harmful. They recommend that we abandon the notion of moral responsibility. But they disagree about free will: Waller thinks that we can preserve a scientifically and philosophically respectable notion of free will without moral responsibility; Caruso thinks that free will and moral responsibility should both be rejected. They begin their discussion with an overview of the traditional problem of free will (1:09). Next, they discuss Waller’s view of free will (9:14) and debate whether the notion of free will ought to be given up (23:51). Then they lay out their reasons to be skeptical about moral responsibility (41:04) and consider some of the concerns that have been expressed by defenders of moral responsibility (54:05).

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Michael Strevens and J.D. Trout

http://www.vimeo.com/79217588

Michael Strevens and J.D. Trout on explanation and understanding in science (and beyond).

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In science and in ordinary life, we want to explain and understand features of the world around us. How can we tell a good explanation from a bad one? What’s the connection between explanation and understanding? Strevens and Trout begin with an overview of accounts of explanation developed in the philosophy of science during the 20th century. Then they discuss the interrelations between explanation, understanding, grasping, and knowing (5:26). Next, they discuss Trout’s views on the role of empathy in explanation and understanding (16:35), evolutionary psychology in social science (21:37), and “the trap of the sense of understanding” (24:30). Then they turn to the practical benefits of explanation (37:11) and Strevens’s work on the level of detail in a good explanation (44:18). They conclude by discussing explanation outside of science (51:50).

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Matthew Haber and Joel Velasco

http://www.vimeo.com/77370499

Joel Velasco and Matthew Haber on biological systematics.

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Biological systematics is about the classification of life given the diverse evolutionary history, morphology, and genetic features of living things. In this episode, Haber and Velasco discuss a range of philosophical issues raised by biological systematics, with a focus on species classification. They consider views of species as natural groupings (6:37), as lineages (17:26), and as natural kinds or homeostatic property clusters (33:38). Haber defends a view of species as individuals (44:28), and Velasco raises doubts about that view (55:33). Velasco presents a view of species as a rank (66:25). They conclude by discussing naming and reference in biological systematics (74:38).

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Amy Kind and Angela Mendelovici

http://www.vimeo.com/74961641

Amy Kind and Angela Mendelovici on representationalism about moods.

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Note: This is the first in a series of collaborations between Philosophy TV and Routledge.

Representationalism is the view that the phenomenal character of any given mental state (what it is like to be in that state) is (or is reducible to) the intentionality of that state (the way that the state represents or is about something else). Mendelovici is a representationalist; Kind opposes representationalism. In this conversation, Kind and Mendelovici debate Mendelovici’s novel attempt at a solution to an important problem for representationalism: the problem of undirected moods.

Moods cause a problem for representationalism because certain moods do not seem to be about anything at all. For example, free-floating anxiety seems entirely undirected (unlike, say, fear in the presence of a wolf, which is about the wolf).

After introducing their topic (1:42), Kind and Mendelovici lay out the problem of undirected moods (10:03). Then (20:27) they consider some of the ways that representationalists have previously tried to handle this problem. Next (32:04), they discuss Mendolivici’s view, according to which undirected moods represent unbound properties, i.e., properties that do not attach to any object. They conclude (50:55) by discussing some of the reasons why someone would want to be a representationalist in the first place.

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Philip Goff and David Papineau

http://www.vimeo.com/51634517

Philip Goff (left) and David Papineau (right) on physicalism.

Goff rejects physicalism. Papineau accepts it. In this episode, they examine the arguments on each side. They consider the much-discussed “knowledge argument” against physicalism (10:28), explore Goff’s own reasons for rejecting physicalism (17:23), weigh the dualist arguments of Chalmers and Jackson (27:21), discuss Papineau’s reasons to reject the transparency of phenomenal concepts (32:48), ponder what Levine calls the “explanatory gap” (36:19), and confront the specter of epiphenomenalism (47:35).

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Lawrence Krauss and Roy Sorensen

http://www.vimeo.com/43677798

Lawrence Krauss (left) and Roy Sorensen (right) on origins and nothingness.

How did our universe get to be the way it is? Has our universe always existed, or did it arise from nothing? Is it even possible for something to come from nothing? Lawrence Krauss has argued that physicists have discovered some of the answers to these ancient philosophical questions; Krauss’s ideas are controversial among certain philosophers. In this conversation, Roy Sorensen and Krauss consider the connections between Darwinian evolution and Krauss’s views (13:50), discuss whether the scientific worldview is particularly depressing (22:41), examine the meaning of questions about “something rather than nothing” (35:25), and explore the nature of nothingness (47:18).

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Paul Humphreys and John Symons

http://www.vimeo.com/38224874

Paul Humphreys (left) and John Symons (right) on emergence.

A property is said to be emergent if it arises from but is not reducible to some fundamental property (or set of properties). There is a wide range of properties that might conceivably be emergent; consciousness is the textbook example, which might explain why philosophers of mind are responsible for some of the most fully developed treatments of emergence. In this episode, after discussing some history of the concept of emergence, Humphreys and Symons wrangle over whether emergence is definable (10:01), discuss ways in which debates over emergence have spread beyond the philosophy of mind (15:12), and speculate about where those debates might lead in the future (41:01).

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