Institut Jean Nicod

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Paris Consciousness/Self-consciousness [PaCS] group



Institut Jean-Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, ENS 29 rue d’Ulm, 75005. Salle de réunion.

Contact : Uriah Kriegel




Mardi 23 mai 2017 de 16h à 18h
Aïda Elamrani-Raoult (IJN)
"Does a computer 'see' like we see ? A Formal Comparison Of Human And Machine Vision"

Abstract: Recent progress in artificial intelligence have brought about autonomous cars, machines beating humans at the game of go, and even image recognition algorithms to outperform humans on classification tasks, e.g. assigning pertinent categories to a picture. These feats have been made possible through the development of a branch of machine learning called deep learning, a family of algorithms based on the concept of neural networks. Because this field takes its inspiration from neurobiology, and because its achievements race human intelligence, it is often mistakenly understood as an attempt at simulating or modelling the human brain. However, neuroscience depicts a more complex landscape of our cerebral processes. Because human vision is one of the most well studied area of neuroscience, and image recognition is a rather basic task, we choose this example to compare how deep learning algorithms may relate to brain processes. First, we concisely explain how a deep learning algorithm decomposes a picture in several abstract layers to identify the relevant information for classification. Then, we expose our current understanding of the visual system and build an algorithmic account of how it works. This formalization allows for a comparison between human and machines at an abstract level which reveals their respective strengths and weaknesses, hints at possible improvements for machines, and tightens the possible interpretations of our mental mechanics.

Lundi 19 juin 2017 de 16h à 18h
Elijah Chudnoff (Miami),
"The Epistemic Significance of Perceptual Learning."

Lundi 26 juin 2017 de 16h à 17h30
Carlota Serrahima (LOGOS)
"My Body is the Subject's Body"
et de 17h30 à 19h
Charles Siewert (Rice)
"Consciousness, Thought, and Self-Expression"

Mardi 27 juin 10h-11h30
Andrew Lee (NYU)
"Is Consciousness Intrinsically Valuable?"
et de 11h30-13h
Uriah Kriegel (IJN)
"Consciousness and Dignity"

Mercredi 28 juin de 17h30 à 19h
Susanna Schellenberg (Rutgers)
"Perceptual Consciousness as a Mental Activity".

Lundi 3 juillet de 16h à 18h
John Morrison (Columbia)
"Perceptual Confidence"

Mardi 15 août 16:00-18:00
Takuya Niikawa (Chiba University)
"A training program for phenomenological reflection".


Past sessions

Mercredi 14 septembre de 16h à 18h
Carrie Figdor (Iowa),
"Psychological Predicates in Non-Psychological Sciences: A defense of their literal interpretation".

Abstract: Advances throughout biology are revolutionizing our understanding of psychological properties. Successful uses of quantitative models of cognitive capacities across human and non-human domains provide strong reasons to interpret uniformly the psychological predicates that pick out these capacities and their components. A uniform literal interpretation of the predicates turns out to be the best interpretation. Biologists are not getting more poetic, anthropomorphic, or nonsensical as they learn more about the world. They are de-anthropocentrizing our understanding of the capacities themselves.

Lundi 3 octobre de 16h à 18h
Santiago Arango-Muñoz (Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia)
"Metacognitive feelings and cognitive penetration"

Abstract: Among the phenomena that make up the mind, cognitive psychologists and philosophers have postulated a puzzling one that they have called ‘’metacognitive feelings.’’ This talk aims to (1) characterize these experiences according to their intentional content and phenomenal character, and (2) describe the nature of these mental states as nonconceptual in the cases of animals and infants, and as conceptual mental states in the case of adult human beings. I will explore some arguments for proposing that metacognitive feelings are cognitive penetrated attitudes.

Mardi 25 octobre 10:30-12:30
Enrico Terrone (FMSH),
"Descartes Goes to the Movies: Imagination and Perception in the Film Experience"

Lundi 31 octobre de 16h à 18h
Takuya Niikawa (Chiba University, Japan),
"The Possibility of Scientific Research on Consciousness"

Mardi 29 novembre de 10h30 à 12h30
Filippo Contesi (IJN)
"Horror, Disgust, Fear"

Lundi 12 décembre de 16h à 18h
Reinaldo Bernal (IJN)
"Russellian Emergentism"

Mardi 13 décembre de 10h30 à 12h30
Adina Roskies (Dartmouth College),
"Predictive coding and cognitive ontology".

Mardi 10 janvier 2017 de10h30 à 12h30
Takuya Niikawa (Chiba University),
"Naive Realism and Phenomenal Intentionality".

Mardi 31 janvier 2017 de 10h30 à 12h30
Xiaoxing Zhang (Sorbonne)
"Acquaintance and Degrees of Justification"

Richard Fumerton has proposed a theory of acquaintance which can be a source of epistemic justification to various degrees. When we feel a pain, we are capable of introspections that allow us to acquaint with 1) the sensation of pain, 2) the concept of pain, and 3) the fit between the sensation and the concept. This triple structure of acquaintance, especially the third, seems to guarantee the truth of our corresponding judgement - that we are in pain. Acquaintance in this sense is an infallible cognitive process. But while discussing obscure sensations, Fumerton used the same model, so that we can equally be acquainted with the fitness between the concept of pain, on the one hand, and a “similar” sensation on the other, such as a pain-like itch. It follows that, although acquaintance can be categorized as infallible for certain cases, it does not provide infallible justification for internalist foundationalists: if we can be acquainted with the fitness both when it’s perfect and when it’s not perfect, then we won’t be able to tell whether we are in the perfect case or in a case where errors are possible.  This situation seems acceptable to Fumerton. And Matthias Steup has also suggested that acquaintance as an “infallible process” is compatible with its “fallible justification”. I shall argue, however, that their compatibility is far from obvious in the framework of internalist foundationalism.

Mardi 7 février 2017 de 10h30 à 12h30
François Kammerer (Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV)
"Does the explanatory gap really arise from a fallacy?"

Abstract: Many philosophers have tried to defend physicalism concerning phenomenal consciousness, by explaining dualist intuitions within a purely physicalist framework. One of the most common strategies to do so consists in interpreting Many philosophers have tried to defend physicalism concerning phenomenal consciousness, by explaining dualist intuitions within a purely physicalist framework. One of the most common strategies to do so consists in interpreting the “explanatory gap”, or the “intuition of distinctness” (the persistent impression that phenomenal states cannot be identical with physical states), as resulting from a fallacy, or a cognitive illusion.

Most of the debates on the issue have been focused on the question of knowing whether this intuition of distinctness really is an illusion, or whether instead it tells us something real about the nature of our experiences. However, from a physicalist point of view, it is also relevant to ask whether the psychological process that leads to the explanatory gap can be plausibly understood as a fallacy, or if it is better described as the result of another kind of illusion (for example, a perceptual-like illusion).

I will compare the process that gives rise to the intuition of distinctness with the process underlying typical fallacies, and I will show that this comparison weighs against interpreting this intuition as the result of a fallacy. I will make clear that this does not give us an argument against physicalism per se, but that this has consequences on the kind of physicalism we should embrace.weighs against interpreting this intuition as the result of a fallacy. I will make clear that this does not give us an argument against physicalism per se, but that this has consequences on the kind of physicalism we should embrace.

Lundi 27 février 2017 de 16h à 18h
Andrew Lee (NYU),
"Objective Phenomenology" 

At the end of “What is it like to be a bat?,” Thomas Nagel speculated about the possibility of an objective phenomenology, or a way of describing phenomenal facts in a form comprehensible to creatures unable to have the experiences under consideration. Nagel’s remark was intriguing and provocative, but it was not clear how to develop it in more depth. I argue that there is an important and interesting class of phenomenal facts that are objective—namely, facts about the structure of experience. By contrast, facts about the qualitative character of experience are subjective. But even though structural facts about experience are objective, investigating them still requires either first-personal methods or bridging principles. The upshot is that structural facts about of experience are objective, but cannot be investigated solely using the methods that science traditionally employs.

Lundi 10 avril 2017 de 16h à 18h
Emile Thalabard (Université Paris-Sorbonne)
"In defence of generic phenomenology"