Conference on the work of Fred Dretske

May 14, 2014

Followed by the Sixth Workshop on the Philosophy of Information (WPI6): Program

May 15-16, 2014

Location: Smith Warehouse, Bay 4

Registration (Joint with WPI6): Closed.


Schedule (updated)

8:30 — Registration and breakfastBooks

9:00 — Opening remarks — Felipe De Brigard (Duke University)

9:15 — 10:45 — "Cognition Wars" — Fred Adams (University of Delaware)

10:45 — 11:00 — COFFEE BREAK

11:00 — 12:30 — "How Dretskian insights can help the metaphysician" — Jenann Ismael (University of Arizona)

12:30 — 2:00 — LUNCH (at Skewers, CASH Bar)

2:00 — 3:30 — "Time and Knowability in Evolutionary Processes" — Elliott Sober (University of Wisconsin—Madison)

3:30 — 4:00 — COFFEE BREAK

4:00 — 5:30 — "The Word Came Later: Dretske on Information and Representation" — Peter Godfrey-Smith (The Graduate Center, CUNY).

7:00 - Reception at the house of Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Joint event with WPI6)



Cognition Wars

Fred Adams

There is currently competition among theorists of cognition. There are many plant scientists who maintain the existence of plant cognition. There are biologists who maintain the existence of cognition in bacteria. In this talk, I will present the basis for such claims and evaluate them and discuss the future for theories of cognition in the cognitive sciences.


How Dretskian insights can help the metaphysician

Jenann Ismael

Dretske's insight in Knowledge and the Flow of Information was that mental states and processes are merely special ways physical systems have of processing, coding, and using information, and that the way to relate the inner world of thought and experience to the outer world of particles and strings was to take a side-on view of the agent in its environment and follow the information. I'm going to extend that insight and show how it can be used to shed new light on problems in metaphysics. I will consider two problems: the flow of time, and the nature of modality. Then I will compare the conclusions arrived at by these methods and those employed in contemporary analytic metaphysics.


Seeing and Touching and Knowing (CANCELLED)

David Sanford

I.                   A Refresher Course in Dretske's Notion of Non-Epistemic Seeing.

II.                Faces in a Crowd and Bricks in a Wall.

Dretske develops puzzle cases about seeing faces in a crowd, bricks in a wall, and so forth, that call for distinctions between degrees of visual involvement. There isn't a single correct answer to a question such as "Did Lucy see that particular brick in those circumstances?" because there isn't a single correct way, in those circumstances, of understanding the question.

III. Epistemic Touching.

After a selective commentary about the history of the philosophy of perception, I narrow the commentary to cover recent (and not so recent) research and on philosophical (and also empirical) investigations the roles of kinesthetic, vestibular, and pressure-sensitive modes of perception. I compare and contrast Dretske's treatment of epistemic seeing with epistemic perception by these other modes.


Time and Knowability in Evolutionary Processes

Elliott Sober and Mike Steel

Historical sciences like evolutionary biology reconstruct past events by using the traces that the past has bequeathed to the present. The Markov Chain Convergence Theorem and the Data Processing Inequality describe how the mutual information between present and past is affected by how much time there is in between. Here we use a Moran process framework to explore how the kind of evolutionary process (drift, and selection of various kinds) at work in a lineage affects the amount of information that the present state of the lineage provides about its evolutionary past.


The Word Came Later: Dretske on Information and Representation

Peter Godfrey-Smith