Virtual Speaker Series 2021-2022 | College of Arts

Virtual Speaker Series 2021-2022

Friday January 21, 2022 10:00-11:30 am EST      Helen De Cruz

Wondrous Machines:
Speculative Fiction as a Tool for Philosophical Wonder

Helen De Cruz
(University of Saint Louis)

Friday January 21, 2022 10:00-11:30am EST

This is a virtual / on-line event.

Speculative fiction, more so than other forms of genre fiction or literary fiction, can make us wonder and marvel. This makes it valuable as a tool for philosophical wonder. In this paper I examine how speculative fiction accomplishes this, drawing on insights from philosophy of cognitive science and early modern philosophy. I argue that philosophers in the early modern period, as well as artists, had an increased attention for the passions (similar, but not identical, in scope to what we now call emotions), as is clear in works by Descartes, Hume, Smith and others. This led to sustained attempts to elicit passions in audiences, which we can see in baroque music, visual art, performance art, and early modern literature. Wonder was harnessed by early astronomers and life scientists, for example, in Robert Hooke's Micrographia. It is thus no coincidence that speculative fiction arose as a genre, with, for example Margaret Cavendish' Blazing-world (1666), Cyrano de Bergerac's L'Autre Monde: ou les États et Empires de la Lune (1657). I look at these early works of proto-science fiction to examine how the evoke philosophical wonder  and connect this to the enduring interest in philosophical speculative fiction today, with films such as The Matrix, Arrival and other works. 

Helen De Cruz (University of Saint Louis) COLLEGE OF ARTS GUELPHAbout the Speaker:
Dr. De Cruz is Danforth Chair of Humanities at St. Louis University, specializing in philosophy of religion and philosophy of cognitive science. Her work focuses on why and how people form beliefs in domains that are quite remote from everyday life, such as in mathematics, theology and science. Helen is author of the recent books Religious Disagreement (Cambridge UP, 2019), (with J. De Smedt) The Challenge of Evolution to Religion (Cambridge UP, 2020) and co-editor (with J. De Smedt and E. Schwitzgebel) of Philosophy and Science Fiction Stories: Exploring the Boundaries of the Possible (Bloomsbury Academic, 2021).

Virtual Location and Access:

A Zoom link will be emailed to all members of the Department of Philosophy by Maya Goldenberg, Speaker Series Coordinator, prior to the talk. The link can be shared with interested guests outside of the department.
Guests can also RSVP Maya (mgolden@uoguelph.ca) in order to have the meeting link emailed to them.

 


speaker speaker

How Biology perceives Chemistry:
Smells as Environmental Kinds

Ann-Sophie Barwich
(Indiana University Bloomington)

Friday November 26, 2021 10:00-11:30am EST

This is a virtual / on-line event.

What creates that distinct fruity odor of peach instead of mango or strawberry? I argue that the answer is not a correspondence relation linking a set of microstructural features with odor categories but demands a computational understanding of odor images. Orthodox explanations of odor perception in both science and philosophy have centered on structure-odor relations (SORs) to determine which particular parameters of a molecule may constitute its odor quality. To date, no such account has succeeded in delivering a straightforward mapping of the chemical stimulus with human sensory responses. SORs are notoriously riddled with irregularities, so much so that the exceptions constitute the rule. The inherent irregularity of odor chemistry is more than a big data challenge in tackling the molecular complexity of the stimulus. Drawing on recent studies in neurobiology and psychophysics, I show that understanding what constitutes the identification of odor quality, including its sensory classification into perceptual categories (such as musk or apple), requires a systems theoretical approach. Specifically, I advance an explanation of odors as ecological kinds. What characterizes olfactory encounters “in the wild” is the unpredictability of the chemical stimulus in its environment and its interaction with the sensory system. I suggest that the olfactory system is primarily tuned to track and identify the chemical environment, not classify individual chemicals. More precisely, the olfactory system measures the statistics of a changing odor environment. What makes us identify that distinct fruity odor of peach may not be a determinate set of molecular features in isolation, but how the olfactory system has learned to differentiate specific molecular features from its encounter with other, similar ones.

About the Speaker:

Ann-Sophie Barwich (Indiana University Bloomington)  COLLEGE OF ARTS GUELPHDr. Barwich is a cognitive scientist, an empirical philosopher, and a historian of science. She is an Assistant Professor with joint positions in the Cognitive Science Program and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University Bloomington. Dr. Barwich conducts interdisciplinary research on the history, philosophy, and neuroscience of olfaction. Her book, Smellosophy: What the Nose tells the Mind, highlights the importance of thinking about the sense of smell as a model for neuroscience and the senses. She also researches methodological issues in molecular biology and neuroscience.

Virtual Location and Access:

A Zoom link will be emailed to all members of the Department of Philosophy by Maya Goldenberg, Speaker Series Coordinator, prior to the talk. The link can be shared with interested guests outside of the department.
Guests can also RSVP Maya (mgolden@uoguelph.ca) in order to have the meeting link emailed to them.

 


speaker speaker

What
is
Gaslighting?

Kate Manne (Cornell)

Friday November 5, 2021 1:00-2:30pm EST

This is a virtual / on-line event.

Gaslighting is often glossed as an interpersonal practice involving manipulating the victim into feeling "crazy." In this talk, I moot various desiderata for an adequate account of gaslighting, and argue for a broader account of the phenomenon—and, ultimately, a definition of gaslighting which allows that it can (a) be a political and cultural practice rather than an interpersonal one, (b) proceed by making victims feel negative moral emotions (such as guilty or ashamed) for deviating from the gaslighter's prescribed narrative, and (c) be defined functionally as a process which, roughly, makes the target feel defective for so doing. I close by considering practices that encourage fruitful disagreement as an antidote to gaslighting.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Manne is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University and author of Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women (Penguin Random House, 2020) as well as the APA Book Prize-winning Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (OUP, 2017). Kate regularly writes opinion pieces and essays or moral and political issues in New York Times, Boston Review, Huffington Post, and more.

For more on Kate’s scholarship, see http://www.katemanne.net/

Virtual Location and Access:

A Zoom link will be emailed to all members of the Department of Philosophy by Maya Goldenberg, Speaker Series Coordinator, prior to the talk. The link can be shared with interested guests outside of the department.
Guests can also RSVP Maya (mgolden@uoguelph.ca) in order to have the meeting link emailed to them.

 


 

speaker speaker

Value Judgments in a COVID-19 Vaccination Model:
A Case Study in the Need for Public Involvement in Health-Oriented Modelling

 

Stephanie Harvard (University of British Columbia)

Eric Winsberg (University of South Florida)

Friday October 15, 2021 10:00-11:30am EST

This is a virtual / on-line event.

Scientific modelling is a value-laden process: on the framework we developed (Harvard & Winsberg, forthcoming), both ‘representational decisions’ in model development and ‘inferential decisions’ in model interpretation draw on non-epistemic (i.e., social, ethical) values. In this presentation, we will use this framework to analyze non-epistemic value judgments in a recent COVID-19 vaccination model. This case study, we will argue, is a good reflection of non-epistemic value judgments in health-oriented modelling, generally; it supports making value judgments in health-oriented models explicit and interpretable by non-experts and inviting public involvement in making them. To close, we will discuss initiatives to support public involvement in health-oriented modelling, including a recent educational video series (see link below).

Readings and Links:

Harvard S, Winsberg, Symons J, Adibi A. 2021 Value Judgments in a COVID-19 Vaccination Model: A Case Study in the Need for Public Involvement in Health-Oriented Modelling. Social Science & Medicine286 (October 2021): 114323.
Harvard S, Winsberg E. Forthcoming. The Epistemic Risk in Representation. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.
Video series:  Science & Social Values: Values in Modelling

About the Speakers:

Dr. Harvard is a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She received a PhD in Population and Public Health in a joint program between the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) and Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris) in 2017. Her current focus is on the implications of philosophy's values in science literature for health economics modelling and knowledge translation (KT). For more on Stephanie’s research, see: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stephanie-Harvard
Dr. Winsberg is Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Florida. His research foci are the philosophy of computer simulation, philosophy of climate science, including ethics and policy,
and scientific authorship.  He recently co-edited with Elizabeth S. Lloyd, Climate Modeling: Philosophical and Conceptual Issues (Palgrave, 2021). For more on Eric, see: https://www.winsberg.net/

Virtual Location and Access:

A Zoom link will be emailed to all members of the Department of Philosophy by Maya Goldenberg, Speaker Series Coordinator, prior to the talk. The link can be shared with interested guests outside of the department.
Guests can also RSVP Maya (mgolden@uoguelph.ca) in order to have the meeting link emailed to them.