Philosophy & Bioethics Staff Seminar Series

Time: Seminars are held on Fridays at 2.15pm (unless otherwise noted)

Location: Room E561, 5th floor East, Building 11 (Menzies), Clayton campus (unless otherwise noted)

Convenor: Bob Simpson |

Upcoming Seminars – Semester 2, 2015

August 7: Jake Chandler (LaTrobe): Reasons to believe and reasons to not

Abstract: The provision of a precise, formal treatment of the relation of evidential relevance — i.e. of providing a reason to hold or to withhold a belief — has arguably constituted the principal selling point of Bayesian modeling in contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science. By the same token, the lack of an analogous proposal in so-called AGM belief revision theory a powerful and elegant qualitative alternative to the Bayesian framework, is likely to have significantly contributed to its relatively marginal status in the philosophical mainstream. In the present talk, I sketch out a corrective to this deficiency, offering a suggestion, within the context of belief revision theory, concerning the relation between beliefs about evidential relevance and commitments to certain policies of belief change.

August 14: Toby Handfield (Monash): Cooperation among equals: Evolution and the role of egalitarian norms

Abstract: Is egalitarianism desirable? Apart from any intuitive appeal it might have, does egalitarianism promote social outcomes that are desirable on independent grounds? Utilitarians, for instance, can usually give qualified support to egalitarianism on the basis that sharing resources equally will tend towards maximizing the aggregate utility. In this paper, I examine a similar sort of reason for egalitarianism that could be embraced by utilitarians, but which could have much broader appeal also. Egalitarian norms appear to play an important role in promoting cooperative behaviour. This link between egalitarianism and cooperation is derived from evolutionary theory. It is argued that models of cultural and genetic evolution give us some reason to think that manifestly desirable cooperative behaviours will be more stable in societies with egalitarian norms. The same models, however, have some apparently unattractive corollaries. The evolutionary mechanism for the promotion of cooperative outcomes within a group may require (i) destructive conflict, or at least hostility, between groups, and (ii) norms which not only entail relative uniformity of wealth and power, but which suppress all manner of diversity within groups. So egalitarianism may promote the evolutionary stability of cooperation, but at a cost.

August 21: Monima Chadha (Monash): Title TBC

August 28: Ema Sullivan-Bissett (Birmingham): Unimpaired abduction to alien abduction: lessons on delusion formation

Abstract: In this paper I argue that an investigation into alien abduction beliefs can inform and support my preferred version of the one-factor account of delusion formation. Although I remain neutral on whether alien abduction beliefs are delusions, I argue that the formation and maintenance of these beliefs can be explained by a one-factor account, and that this account can explain paradigmatic monothematic delusions in the same way. If alien abduction beliefs are not delusions, we can still take an important lesson from this case into the delusion formation literature. . If alien abduction belief can be explained by a one-factor account, so too I argue, can (other) monothematic delusions, since there are no differences between alien abduction belief and monothematic delusions which indicate the need for additional explanatory factors. Additionally, whilst alien abduction belief can be readily explained using a one-factor framework, the two-factor framework needs adjusting to give an explanation in this case My conclusion is that the delusion formation debate—specifically, a defence of the one-factor account—can be informed by an investigation into alien abduction belief, a much under-discussed case in the literature on delusion formation.

September 4: Robbie Arrell (Monash): Title TBC

September 11: Laura Schroeter (Melbourne)

September 18: Katrina Hutchinson (Monash): Title TBC

September 25: Alan Hajek (ANU): Title TBC

October 9: Norva Lo (LaTrobe): Title TBC

October 16: John Thrasher (Monash): Title TBC

October 23: Jacqueline Broad (Monash): Title TBC

October 30: Jennifer Windt (Monash): Title TBC

November 13: Justin Clark-Doane (Columbia): Title TBC