Congratulation to Graduate Student Mandy Long, who has been awarded The University Outstanding Graduate Student Award! The Outstanding Graduate Teaching Awards were established in 1999 to recognize teaching assistants who demonstrate excellence in the classroom or laboratory.
Check out graduate student Nimra Asif’s recent article in Synthese, “Minimal theory of mind – a Millikanian Approach.” Synthese is a philosophy journal focusing on contemporary issues in epistemology, philosophy of science, and related fields.
Minimal theory of mind (ToM) is presented in the theory of mind literature as a middle ground between full-blown ToM and mere behavior-reading. Minimal ToM seems to be a useful construct for studying and understanding the minds of nonhuman animals and infants. However, providing an account of minimal ToM on which minimal mindreading is significantly less demanding than full-blown mindreading yet more than just a behavior-reading process is a challenge. In this paper, I argue that to address this challenge, we need to depart from the traditional framework of mindreading in more radical ways than offered by current minimal theory of mind accounts. First, I explain the traditional view of mindreading on which mental state attribution is treated as essential for mindreading and analyze the general respects in which it makes mindreading demanding for the mindreader, such as requiring the mindreader to have concepts of mental states, engage in inferential reasoning processes involving mental states, and form meta-representations. Then I discuss and critically evaluate two accounts of minimal ToM and argue that these accounts either do not depart sufficiently from the demanding requirements of traditional mindreading or risk becoming re-descriptions of behavior-reading accounts. Finally, I present an alternative Millikanian account of minimal ToM that avoids this risk while departing more radically from the traditional view of mindreading by providing a way for minimal mindreaders to represent the mental states of others and respond to them without engaging in conceptual mental state attribution.
Check out graduate student Cody Turner's recent article in Philosophy and Technology, "Augmented Reality, Augmented Epistemology, and the Real-World Web."
Augmented reality (AR) technologies function to ‘augment’ normal perception by superimposing virtual objects onto an agent’s visual field. The philosophy of augmented reality is a small but growing subfield within the philosophy of technology. Existing work in this subfield includes research on the phenomenology of augmented experiences, the metaphysics of virtual objects, and different ethical issues associated with AR systems, including (but not limited to) issues of privacy, property rights, ownership, trust, and informed consent. This paper addresses some epistemological issues posed by AR systems. I focus on a near-future version of AR technology called the Real-World Web, which promises to radically transform the nature of our relationship to digital information by mixing the virtual with the physical. I argue that the Real-World Web (RWW) threatens to exacerbate three existing epistemic problems in the digital age: the problem of digital distraction, the problem of digital deception, and the problem of digital divergence. The RWW is poised to present new versions of these problems in the form of what I call the augmented attention economy, augmented skepticism, and the problem of other augmented minds. The paper draws on a range of empirical research on AR and offers a phenomenological analysis of virtual objects as perceptual affordances to help ground and guide the speculative nature of the discussion. It also considers a few policy-based and designed-based proposals to mitigate the epistemic threats posed by AR technology.
A large part of Asay’s book, A Theory of Truthmaking, is dedicated to show the benefit of applying the truthmaking method to various debates in philosophy. In this paper, I will focus on Asay’s discussion of realism in chapter 8, where he aims to define “realism” in terms of truthmaking and proposed three conditions to satisfy for an account to be realist. The third condition, “to maintain that those truths are true in virtue of that ontology in a relevant fashion”, is mainly invoked to properly characterise quasirealism as anti-realist. This condition itself is intriguing but hard to understand. I will look into Asay’s articulation on this condition and demonstrate the difficulties in interpreting it in a way that is consistent with Asay’s methodological commitments. I will explore three interpretations of condition (iii): the second-order truthmaking interpretation (SOTI), the epistemic interpretation (EI), and the functional interpretation (FI). I will show that SOTI poses a dilemma to Asay’s ontology-first truthmaking project, EI is undesirable because it deviates from the focus of ontology, and FI would render Asay’s truthmaking account redundant.
Hu, Mengyu. 2022. “Truthmaking in a Realist Fashion.” AJPH 1, 5. https://doi.org/10.1007/s44204-022-00010-w
The logical analysis of Nāgārjuna’s (c. 200 CE) catuṣkoṭi (tetralemma or four-corners) has remained a heated topic for logicians in Western academia for nearly a century. At the heart of the catuṣkoṭi, the four corners’ formalization typically appears as: A, Not A (¬A), Both (A &¬A), and Neither (¬[A∨¬A]). The pulse of the controversy is the repetition of negations (¬) in the catuṣkoṭi. Westerhoff argues that Nāgārjuna in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā uses two different negations: paryudāsa (nominal or implicative negation) and prasajya-pratiṣedha (verbal or non-implicative negation). This paper builds off Westerhoff’s account and presents some subtleties of Nāgārjuna’s use of these negations regarding their scope. This is achieved through an analysis of the Sanskrit and Tibetan Madhyamaka commentarial tradition and through a grammatical analysis of Nāgārjuna’s use of na (not) and a(n)- (non-) within a diverse variety of the catuṣkoṭi within the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.
Rahlwes, Christopher. Nāgārjuna’s Negation. J Indian Philos (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-022-09505-5
This summer, the fellowship will support Chris’s dissertation research on “Absence, Difference, and Denial: An Analysis of Negation” in the work of Nagarjuna and Zhuangzi, and Mengyu’s dissertation research on meta-semantics and mixed disjunctions.
The Ruth Garrett Millikan Graduate Research Fellowship was created in 2017 with an endowment by some beneficent anonymous donors and continues to be augmented by generous gifts from admirers, friends and colleagues of Professor Emerita Ruth Garrett Millikan, one of the world’s most distinguished philosophers, and a cherished member of UConn’s philosophical community. To support the fellowship fund, please visit the UConn Foundation.
Congratulations Mengyu and Chris!
Graduate student Steve Núñez‘s photo essay “Free the Land: Landscape Photography as a Decolonial Practice” has been featured in the Visual Culture Journal Refract, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Exploring themes of race and shared ecologies across the Americas, the born-digital photography exhibition I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies presents a hemispheric vision of African diasporic and Native life in the United States, Caribbean, and Latin America. The exhibition features experimental virtual reality (VR) and filmic components. In this curatorial essay, themes of the entangled dispossession of Native sovereignty and African enslavement are explored in the works of seven photographers from Trinidad to Wisconsin to Peru to Dominica. Artists Abigail Hadeed, Nadia Huggins, Kai Minosh Pyle, Allison Arteaga, steve núñez, Melia Delsol, and Dóra Papp provide a visual critique of the long history of racial capitalism, climate crisis, and Black and Indigenous presence. Together the photographic essays form a constellation, a vision of what environmental and racial justice can look like for the hemisphere after the catastrophe of European conquest. Speculatively picturing Black and Indigenous coalitions in the past, present, and future, the artists use the technology of the camera to frame nature, exploring visual aesthetic forms that seek not to replicate the capture of the colonial archive.
Check out Philosophy Graduate Student Drew Johnson’s recent publication titled “Proper Function and Ethical Judgment Towards A Biosemantic Theory of Ethical Thought and Discourse.” You can read the full paper here.
This paper employs Ruth Millikan’s biosemantic theory of representation to develop a proposal about the function of ethical claims and judgments. I propose that ethical claims and judgments (or ethical ‘affirmations’) have the function of simultaneously tracking the morally salient features of social situations and directing behavior that coordinates in a collectively beneficial way around those features. Thus, ethical affirmations count as a species of what Millikan labels ‘Pushmi-Pullyu’ representations that simultaneously have a descriptive and a directive direction of fit. This proposal supports a version of motivational internalism that can accommodate a surprising range of actual failures of motivation. I also briefly situate this proposal in the metaethical literature, contrasting it with other hybrid views incorporating elements of cognitivism and expressivism.
Congratulations to graduate student Cody Turner, who’s recent paper titled “Neuromedia, Cognitive Offloading, and Intellectual Perseverance” was accepted for publication at the journal Synthese. To read more check out a preview of the pre-publication version attached below!