Lezingen Faculteit Wijsbegeerte

Formal Epistemology Colloquium

The Department of Theoretical Philosophy in Groningen hosts a colloquium on Formal Epistemology with talks by Kenny Easwaran (Texas A&M) and Gerhard Schurz (Düsseldorf). 

Measuring Confidence  -  Kenny Easwaran (Texas A&M)

One objection many philosophers have raised to Bayesianism is the claim that it is implausible that degrees of belief could be so finely grained as to adequately be represented by precise real numbers. I will consider analogies to other numerical quantities and use them to argue that the precision implicit in Bayesianism is not in fact unrealistic.

The No Free Lunch Theorem and the A Priori Advantages of Regret-Based Meta-Induction  -  Gerhard Schurz (Düsseldorf)

Recently a new account to the problem of induction has been developed (Schurz 2008, Schurz and Thorn 2016) based on a priori advantages of regret-based meta-induction (RW) in online learning (Cesa-Bianchi and Lugosi 2006). The claimed a priori advantages seem to contradict the no free lunch (NFL) theorem (Wolpert 1996), which asserts that relative to a uniform prior distribution (UPD) over possible worlds all (non-clairvoyant) prediction methods have the same expected predictive success. It is argued that the NFL challenge cannot be `solved' by computing expected success relative to the `actual' instead of some prior distribution (as frequently argued) because this idea is viciously circular. A new way of dissolving the NFL challenge is developed, leading to four novel results:

  • RW enjoys free lunches, i.e., its predictive long-run success dominates that of other prediction strategies.
  • Yet the NFL theorem applies to iterated online prediction tasks provided the prior distribution is a UPD.
  • The UPD is maximally induction-hostile and assigns a probability of zero to all possible worlds in which RW enjoys free lunches. This dissolves the apparent conflict with the NFL.
  • The a priori advantages of RW can be demonstrated even under the assumption of a UPD. Further advantages become apparent when a frequency-uniform distribution is considered.              
Wanneerwo 07-06-2017
Waarroom Omega

Conference: Teaching the New Science

the role of Academia during the Scientific Revolution

15-17 June 2017, Faculty of Philosophy, Oude Boteringestraat 52 Groningen

The new scientific worldview emerged during the seventeenth century has been often considered as radically opposed to the Aristotelian-Scholastic philosophy that dominated universities at the time. Recent scholarship has significantly nuanced this picture by revealing the intricate osmosis between the Academic world and the new frontiers of natural philosophy. Textbooks and university courses are privileged laboratories to study the dissemination of ideas, the emergences of new methods, the evolution of controversies and the shaping of new scientific paradigms. This conference aims to bring together scholars working on different facets of the history and circulation of scientific ideas within and around the seventeenth century academic milieu.

Programme Teaching the New Science 


Confirmed Invited Speakers

•Christian Leduc (Montréal)

•Roger Ariew (South Florida)

•Klaas van Berkel (Groningen)

• Patricia Easton (Clermont)

• Helen Hattab (Houston)

• Sophie Roux (ENS Paris)

• Tad Schmaltz (Michigan Ann-Arbour)

Neil Sinhababu: Empathic Hedonists Escape Moral Twin Earth

Wanneer:wo 21-06-2017
Waar:room Omega

Lecture by Neil Sinhababu (National University of Singapore) organized by the Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

In Moral Twin Earth cases, humans meet aliens and disagree with them about moral questions. The causal theory of reference often used by naturalistic moral realists entails that such disagreement is impossible. To avoid this unwelcome result, I replace the causal theory with an empathic theory of representation, combining it with an experientialist analysis of moral concepts on which they apply to whatever moral feelings represent. This new semantic theory permits disagreement in Moral Twin Earth cases and entails ethical hedonism.

Neil Sinhababu is associate professor of philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He likes to think about desire, metaphysically interesting romantic relationships, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and pleasure.

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