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PostDoc: Philosophy of AI

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Job List: 
Europe
Name of institution: 
Technical University of Eindhoven
Town: 
Eindhoven
Country: 
Netherlands
Job Description: 

3-year, full-time post-doc position in the Philosophy and Ethics department (Faculty of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences) at on the general theme of “Opacity in Artificial Intelligence”. The successful applicant will join a strong team of philosophers who work on AI, in a group that focuses on technology, science and applied ethics.

Outline of the project:

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News source: Jobs In Philosophy

Understanding Legal Argument (1): The Five Types of Argument

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I have been teaching about legal reasoning and legal argumentation for years. When I do so, I try to impress upon students that legal argument is both simple and complex. It is simple because in every legal case there is, in essence, one basic type of argument at the core of the dispute between the parties. This argument works from a general legal rule to a conclusion about the application of that rule to a set of facts. Philosophers and logicians would say that the basic form of legal argument is a syllogism: a simple three-step argument involving a major premise (a general principle or rule), a minor premise (a claim about a particular case or scenario) and then a conclusion (an application of the general rule to the particular case). Here is a simple conditional syllogism: (1) If roses are red, then violets are blue. (Major Premise)(2) Roses are red. (Minor Premise)(3) Therefore, violets are blue. (Conclusion) My view is that legal arguments take on a similar conditional, syllogistic form. There is a legal rule that stipulates that if certain conditions are met, then certain legal consequences will follow. This is the major premise of legal argument. Then there is a set of facts to which that rule may apply. This is the minor premise of legal argument. When you apply the rule to the facts you get a conclusion. In abstract form, all legal arguments look like this: (1) If conditions A, B and C are satisfied, then legal consequences X, Y and Z follow. (Major premise: legal rule)(2) Conditions A, B and C are satisfied (or not). (Minor Premise: the facts of the case)(3) Therefore, legal consequences X, Y and Z do (or do not) follow. (Conclusion: legal judgment in the case). To give a more concrete example, imagine a case involving a potential murder: (1*) If one person causes another person’s death through their actions, and they performed those actions with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm, and they had no lawful excuse for those. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

Querying vs Dismissive Objections

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It's worth distinguishing two very different ways of presenting an objection, and the two associated dialectical roles that an objection can play.(1) Constructive* Querying objections serve the role of creating a dialectical opening, posing a challenge to which the target is invited to respond.  Questions like: "How would your view deal with X?" or "How much of a problem do you think Y poses for your view?" are paradigmatically querying objections, as I'm using the term here.  A key feature of querying objections is that they are not presented as presumptively decisive; if anything, the opposite might be the case: the critic may well presume that their target has a good response available, and they're curious to learn what it is.(2) Dismissive objections, by contrast, aim to shut down the dialectic, demonstrating that the target view is hopeless and that no further time should be wasted discussing it.  They may typically take the form of statements rather than (genuine, non-rhetorical) questions.  By their nature, dismissive objections are presented as presumptively decisive, though of course the critic need not be dogmatic about this: while expecting that the target has no good response, they should still remain open to being surprised.With this distinction in hand, are there any interesting observations worth making about the two approaches?  Querying objections are obviously friendlier, and more pleasant to be on the receiving end of.  So they seem especially appropriate in collegial contexts, like colloquium talks.  More than that, they seems to communicate a spirit of open-mindedness, respect, and intellectual humility that many may regard as philosophical virtues more generally.That said, I think there is a legitimate place for dismissive objections in intellectual (and especially public) discourse.  Some positions really are hopelessly misguided, after all, and it really would be better for. . .

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News source: Philosophy, et cetera

Uncancelled Cat & Potato Head

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A past victim of “cancel culture”? The right-wing news, certain pundits and certain politicians decided to make Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head a battlefield in their manufactured culture war. The core claim is that Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head have been cancelled by the left. The narrative soon expanded to include President Biden, asserting that he is somehow involved in this matter. As of this writing, he is not. While Ben Shapiro’s famous catch phrase is “facts don’t care about your feelings”, it seems that some on the right do not care about facts. The Dr. Seuss matter involves two sets of key facts that seem to have been intentionally misrepresented by some on the right. The first set involves the Read Across America Day context. It is true that Learning for Justice, which is a left-wing group, did call for schools to avoid “connecting Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss.”  Loudoun County Public Schools did decide to “to not connect Read Across America Day exclusively with Dr. Seuss’ birthday.” In the face of backlash, the district released a statement making it clear that they were not banning Dr. Seuss books. Dr. Seuss was simply not the emphasis of Read Across America day in the district. As such, Learning for Justice did not call for Dr. Seuss to be cancelled nor was Dr. Seuss cancelled by this school district. The second set of facts involves the decision of Dr. Seuss’ estate to stop publishing six books because they  contain illustrations that “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” While the illustrations in question have long been criticized, there does not (as of this writing) seem to have been any  focused effort to force the estate to  stop publishing these works. On the face of it, this seems to be a business decision made either from a change in moral values on the part of the decision makers or a recognition that racist content can hurt their reputation and brand (and hence profits). Unless some evidence is forthcoming,. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

How women have shaped philosophy: nine female philosophers our authors admire

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When asked to name a philosopher, it is more than likely that many of the major thinkers that spring to mind will be male. Throughout history, men have dominated the philosophical canon, with women vastly underrepresented. However, we can in fact trace women engaging in philosophical discourse back to ancient times. There is a long and rich tradition of female thinkers who have made important contributions to philosophy, and whose works merit further recognition.To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month this month, we asked some of our authors to tell us about a female philosopher they admire, and why. Read their responses below for an illuminating and varied look at female thinkers and the contributions they have made to the field.Macrina the Younger“Ancient philosophy is not known for female thinkers. Only a few names are apt to spring to mind here, such as Diotima, a possibly fictional character featured in Plato’s Symposium, or Hypatia, famously murdered by a Christian mob in late ancient Alexandria. But there are hidden figures to be found, like Macrina the Younger (d. 379 AD), sister of the Greek church father and philosopher Gregory of Nyssa. Gregory devoted two works to his sister after her death, in what has been called “the most spectacular representation of a woman saint as philosopher” in antiquity. I would encourage anyone with an interest in Platonism or Christianity and philosophy to read his dialogue On Soul and Resurrection, in which Macrina is cast in the role of a female, Christian Socrates, discoursing on immortality while she is literally on her death bed. Paired with his more hagiographic account in his Life of Macrina, it gives us a vivid sense of her piety and learning, and of the way that pagan philosophy was taken up and repurposed by late ancient Christian theologians.”– Peter Adamson, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, author of the A History of Philosophy Without any. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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