The Future of Philosophy – Metaphilosophical Directions for the 21st Century

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The Future of Philosophy: Metaphilosophical Directions for the 21st Century
A Symposium Marking the 40th Anniversary of the Founding of the Journal Metaphilosophy

Date: 11 December
Room G22/26, Senate House South Block, London WC1


PROGRAMME
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Welcome – Barry Smith .

Intro – Armen Marsoobian .

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Terrell Ward Bynum (Southern Connecticut State)  - Two Philosophers of the Information Age

Abstract
Terrell Ward Bynum (Southern Connecticut State): Previous scientific and technological revolutions changed our understanding of human nature, the nature of society, and the nature of the universe. The impact upon philosophy was profound. It is not surprising, therefore, that today’s Information Revolution promises to have major philosophical implications. Physicists have recently argued, for example, that the universe is made of information and that human beings are exquisitely complex information objects. In addition new kinds of decision-making agents – such as, robots, softbots, and artificial companions – now can be found in homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces, entertainment centers. Instead of being utterly different from human beings, many computerized devices can be viewed as entities very much like ourselves – fellow information objects journeying together through an informational world. This radically different understanding of human nature and our role in the universe offers exciting, powerful – and to some people, threatening – answers to some of the deepest questions of philosophy and psychology: Who am I? What am I? What does it mean to be? What is my place in the universe? The result is sure to be a worldwide and decades-long philosophical conversation. This presentation is a small part of that conversation – one that briefly discusses just two of the growing number of “philosophers of the Information Age”: Norbert Wiener and Luciano Floridi. This presentation will briefly compare their views on human nature, artificial agents, the nature of society, and the nature of the universe.

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Timothy Williamson (Oxford)  - Philosophical Expertise and the Burden of Proof

Abstract
Timothy Williamson (Oxford): ‘Experimental philosophers’ criticize the use of thought experiments in philosophy on the basis of evidence that verdicts on them varies with factors independent of the truth. However, their data concern the verdicts of philosophically untrained subjects. According to the expertise defence, what matters are the verdicts of trained philosophers, who are more likely to pay careful attention to the details of the scenario and track their relevance. In a recent paper, Jonathan Weinberg and others reply to the expertise defence that there is no evidence for such expertise. I reply to them in this paper, arguing that they have misconstrued the dialectical situation. Since they have produced no evidence that philosophical training is less efficacious for thought experimentation than for other cognitive tasks for which they acknowledge that it produces genuine expertise, such as informal argumentation, they have produced no evidence for treating the former more sceptically than the latter.

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Philip Kitcher (Columbia)  - Philosophy Inside Out

Abstract
Philip Kitcher (Columbia): In 1920, John Dewey argued for “Reconstruction in Philosophy”, claiming that philosophical discussions had become detached from contemporary human problems and were “a sentimental indulgence for a few”. Dewey’s challenge is as pertinent today as it was then. I shall suggest that some of his own works provide guidance for rethinking the philosophical agenda. In this light, the principal points of philosophical growth are seen as areas often viewed as peripheral, while the supposedly “core questions” are relevant only insofar as they enable people to cope with the issues of primary concern. Philosophy is not only reconstructed, but also turned inside out.

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David Papineau (King’s College London)  - The Importance of Philosophical Intuition

Abstract
David Papineau (King’s College London): I shall argue that intuitions about hypothetical cases play a central role in philosophical theorising. They help us to identify deep-seated principles that direct our thinking. These principles can be untrustworthy but even then they are methodologically important. I shall illustrate my points with illustrations from recent debates in the philosophy of mind.

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Panel: The Future of Philosophy: Metaphilosophical Directions for the 21st Century
Chair: Armen T. Marsoobian (Editor in Chief, Metaphilosophy)

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