Monday, February 29, 2016

A Highly Desirable Symposium

Call for Abstracts

 “You know that guy in your brain who warns about bad decisions? He was getting a cup of coffee.”
(Jerry, in Seinfeld, Season 2, Episode 5.)

The first Highly Desirable Symposium will be held in or near Durban, South Africa, between the 16 and 18 June of 2016.

The entire symposium will be held in plenary with slots at least an hour long. The broad focus of the workshop is on action selection and motivation. We are particularly keen on papers about the nature and roles of states (including desires, preferences, hedonic states and utilities) representing or standing for the values of options, actions, cues, accessible world-states, etc.

We welcome papers approaching these questions from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, including philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of biology, psychology, economics, neuroscience and artificial intelligence.

Suggested topics and questions:

·        Is there an evolutionary rationale for the development of preferences, and if so what is it?
·        What is the right naturalistic philosophical analysis of desire?
·        Are there genuinely incommensurable preferences?
·        Can behaviour be efficiently controlled without representations of value?
·        How do the concepts of desire and preference relate?
·        What is the relevance of neuroeconomics to philosophy?
·        What is the right representational analysis of desires, utilities, preferences?
·        How do pleasure and pain relate to desire and preference?
·        Do the demands of efficient control require a final common path?
·        Is motivational strength best thought of as scalar, or vector?

If you wish to be considered for inclusion in the programme, please send a title and informal abstract (between 250 and 500 words) to on or before Wednesday 16 March 2016. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out shortly after that date.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Early 2016 Update

The blog has been semi-stagnant, but the research project has not.

I'm pleased to report that Biology and Philosophy has accepted 'Does Intragenomic Conlflict Predict Intrapersonal Conflict?' subject to some minor revisions. I'll share a preprint here in due course.

Also, the text of 'Herbert goes to Monte Carlo' (written with Blaize Kaye) is taking shape nicely, and should also be ready to share within a few months. This is the paper in which we attempt to stage a battle between some of the arguments in favour of a common currency, and the case against both representationalism and centralisation found in Rodney Brooks' famous manifesto 'Intelligence without Representation'.

A by-product of working on the 'Herbert' paper is that I've got extensive notes about the final common path argument, and a few other arguments in favour of a common currency, which I hope to convert into pieces suitable for posting here.