Institut Jean Nicod

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La naturalisation des normes épistémiques

Naturalizing Epistemic Norms


Epistemic norms (from now on: "ENs") refer to the dimensions on which mental contents can be evaluated with respect to their contribution to knowledge. Any learner needs to predict how exhaustively or accurately she can learn some material,  assess whether she understands what she reads, and  determine whether she should accept a proposition given a context of epistemic or instrumental deliberation. Little is known, however, about how ordinary people actually recognize ENs and use them in their epistemic decisions. There is no agreement as yet about whether all humans are sensitive to the same ENs, nor, even, about what they are. Epistemologists have mainly focused on truth, coherence, evidentiality and rationality, while anthropologists and psychologists have emphasized the import of additional norms such as relevance, consensuality and fluency. The seminar will be open to philosophers interested in addressing these questions, on the basis of all the methods available, among which formal and non formal epistemology, semantics, decision theory, and experimental psychology.

Contacts:  Joëlle Proust and Paul Egré


Mercredi 22 mars 2017 de 14h à 16h, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005 Paris, Salle Langevin.
Peter Carruthers (University of Maryland)
"Basic Questions"

I propose to argue that a set of questioning attitudes are among the foundations of human and animal minds. While both verbal questioning and states of curiosity are generally explained in terms of metacognitive desires for knowledge or true belief, I argue (following Whitcomb, 2010, and Friedman, 2013) that each is better explained by a pre-linguistic sui generis type of mental attitude of questioning. I review a range of considerations in support of such a proposal and improve on previous characterizations of the nature of these attitudes. I then broaden their explanatory scope to include a number of forms of exploratory search. The talk will have three main goals: (1) to characterize the nature of the questioning attitudes, outlining their causal role and type of content; (2) to argue that they are fundamental components of the mind, being widespread among animals and not constructed during ontogeny out of other attitudes; and (3) to suggest that they encompass a great deal more than just curiosity (also motivating exploratory and foraging search, and perhaps also attentional search and memory search).

Past sessions

Mercredi 9 novembre de 14h à 16h, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005 Paris
Salle Théodule Ribot (ancienne salle Prestige 1)
Santiago Echeverri (Geneva/Rutgers)
"Emotional Justification"

Abstract: Emotions such as amusement, anger, fear, disgust, and admiration can be epistemically justified or unjustified. In this paper, I distinguish two different ways of understanding the underlying concept of justification: (1) an axiological approach that construes justification in terms of epistemic goodness and (2) a normative approach that construes it in terms of epistemic permissibility. I use this distinction to assess Deonna and Teroni’s (2012a, 2012b) recent account of emotional justification. I argue that they have failed to provide necessary conditions for emotional justification understood in the axiological sense and sufficient conditions for emotional justification understood in the normative sense. Next, I suggest that the sufficiency problem is not specific to Deonna and Teroni's account. Indeed, it can be generalized to any broadly cognitivist conception of emotions that subscribes to two claims: (1) that the content of evaluative experiences is grounded in more basic modes of representing the world and that (2) at least some emotions are epistemically basic. Finally, I sketch a solution to the sufficiency problem. My proposal exploits the idea that emotions are manifestations of dispositions such as sentiments and concerns.

Jeudi 24 novembre de 14h à 16h, Institut Jean Nicod, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm, Salle de réunion, RDC.
Hans van Ditmarsh (CNRS)
"Logic and lies"

In public announcement logic it is assumed that new information (coming from an anonymous outside source) is reliable, that is, true. There is a version of public announcement logic (by Gerbrandy) that accommodates both true and false information. In this logic we can model that false new information is taken to be true (this corresponds to the outside observer announcing a proposition phi when phi is false). This therefore serves as the basis for a logic of lying: a 'lie that phi' is an action in the sense of dynamic modal logic, that is interpreted as a state transformer relative to the formula phi. Its precondition is that phi is false (not true). The states that are being transformed are pointed Kripke models encoding the uncertainty of agents about their beliefs. Lies can be about factual propositions but also about modal formulas, such as the beliefs of other agents or the belief consequences of the lies of other agents. In public announcement logic the announcement of phi made by an agent a in the system is modelled as the (outside observer) announcement of 'agent a believes/knows that phi'. Using this 'translation' we propose a related dynamic logic wherein one can model an agent lying to another agent, and even an agent bluffing to another agent (where you are bluffing if you do not know/believe whether what you say is true). This finally brings us to the usual analysis of 'a lies to b' as 'a says phi but believes not phi' (with the intention that b believes phi), in the interpretation 'a announces phi (heard by b) whereas a believes not phi' (the intentional aspect is not modelled in this analysis). Other epistemic attitudes can also be modelled. For example, a 'true lie' is a lie that becomes true when announced. (So lying about phi makes phi true - as Donald Trump would wish to believe.) A nice example of 'white' true lies is when two of your friends are in love and you lie to both of them individually that the other one will go to a party tonight: then they both go, meet, and live happily ever after. Needless to say, detailed examples illustrate our lying concepts.

- Hans van Ditmarsch, Jan van Eijck, Floor Sietsma, Yanjing Wang. On the Logic of Lying. LNCS 7010, 2012.
- Hans van Ditmarsch. Dynamics of Lying. Synthese, Volume 191, Issue 5, pp 745–777, 2014
- Thomas Ågotnes, Hans van Ditmarsch, Yanjing Wang. True Lies.