Talks and Conference presentations
This is my presentation for the 2015 conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA). I did a rough pilot version at a smaller conference in South Africa in September 2013, but this is rather more worked out. I also presented an abbreviated version at the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology in Estonia in 2015. For now, the link above takes you to the abstract - a working text of the paper will follow.
"Philosophers should be interested in 'common currency' claims in the cognitive and behavioural sciences."
This paper (presented first in January 2014) is a new attempt to introduce the common currency topic, and argue that it is warrants philosophical attention. This came into being because the introductions to the talks I was giving kept getting longer, and eventually I came to think that they were close to deserving to stand alone. We will see. Here is a working conference-paper length (about 6000 word) draft of that paper.
"Need there be a common currency for decision making?"
This was a working talk, that I gave a few times, including at the Spring Philosophy Colloquium, Grahamstown (September 2008), at the 35th annual conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa, Hogsback (January 2009), and at a one day philosophy of science colloquium in
(January 2010). Let me be frank - the talk wasn't very good, partly because I mistakenly thought I could cover a lot more ground than I actually could in a single session. There's a published version, which also isn't very good. Johannesburg
This talk was presented at the annual conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa, Salt Rock KZN (January 2013), and at a few departmental colloquia. The written version (as opposed to a set of slides and notes) is coming along nicely, and I'll post a draft version of it here as soon as it's fit for public consumption. The talk focuses on some arguments made against the common currency thesis by the biologist David Haig. (Some of the papers in question are available on his website here.)
The abstract of the paper I'm writing, with the term 'common currency' dropped from the title, is here: Intragenomic conflict and Intrapersonal conflict.
I've only presented this talk in departmental occasional seminars so far, but will take it to conferences in due course. The paper attempts to consider how defenders of a common currency might respond to the anti-representational arguments (in artificial intelligence) associated with various figures, and exemplified by the early 1990s work of Rodney Brooks. Brooks isn't directly concerned to say things about utility or preference - most of his anti-representationalist fire is aimed at world-modelling. But if there's no central system, then there's no place for a common currency to be represented either.
Update: As of late 2013 this paper is going forward as a collaboration with Blaize Kaye, who is planning PhD level research on the common currency topic.
"What does neuroeconomics reduce, and to what?"
I've presented this at a few departmental occasional seminars, and at at a one day Philosophy of Science Colloquium, Salt Rock KZN (January 2013). The talk is mostly about problems with Paul Glimcher's discussion of reductionism in his generally very fine book Foundations of Neuroeconomic Analysis (Oxford, 2011).
This was a talk I gave a TEDxUmhlanga in September 2013. It is broadly relevant to the concerns of this blog, and draws on ideas articulated in detail in the work of George Ainslie.
If the paper title in this list is a hyperlink, it will direct you to a page dedicated to that working paper on this blog.
- Philosophers should be interested in 'common currency' claims in the cognitive and behavioural sciences.
- Intragenomic conflict and common currencies.
- Subsumption architectures and common currencies.
- What does neuroeconomics reduce, and to what?
- On the motivational commensurability of pains and pleasures.
- The Descent of preference reconsidered.
- Sacred values, rule-based choice and common currencies.
Published papers and commentariesThe first paper to come out of this project isn't particularly good. (It's in a conference proceedings volume, and I wouldn't encourage anyone to read it.) Others can be found here:
- Spurrett, D. (2015) The Natural History of Desire. South African Journal of Philosophy, 34(3), pp304-313. [Publisher link, may be behind a paywall.] [Preprint on Research Gate.] [Preprint on Academia.edu.]
- Spurrett, D. (2014) Philosophers should be interested in 'common currency' claims in the cognitive and behavioural sciences, South African Journal of Philosophy. [Publisher link, may be behind a paywall.]
Three commentaries that I've written (one with a co-author) are indirectly relevant to the currency project:
- Ross, D. and Spurrett, D. (2005) ‘Behavioral (pico)economics and the brain sciences’, (commentary on Ainslie), Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28(5), 659-660. [Publisher link - may be behind a paywall.] [PDF on George Ainslie's site - may get taken down.]
- Spurrett, D. (2012) ‘What is to be done? Why reward is difficult to do without’ (Commentary on Clark, in Behavioral and Brain Sciences), Frontiers in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 3: 142. [Publisher link - Open Access.]
- Spurrett, D. (in press) 'Cui bono? Selfish goals need to pay their way'. This is an accepted commentary on a BBS target article (by Huang and Bargh). I'll post a link to the final version in due course. The commentary makes points associated with two versions of the common currency argument.
Version history:First posted March 19, 2013.
Updated May 6, 2013 (added reference to 'cui bono?'). Updated May 16, 2013 (added link to 'On the motivational commensurability of pleasure and pain'). Updated January 11, 2014 (added new entry, and links to 'Philosophers should be interested...'). Updated July 11, 2014 (updated links). Updated January 9, 2015 (added new entry).