MCMP Summer School Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students

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Monday 1st August

14:00 - 14:15 Welcome remarks from Christian List
14:15 - 15:00 Rae Langton presentation
15:00 - 15:15 Information session on the Master’s program
15:15 - 15:30 Presentation of the Summer School
15:30 - 16:00 Get to know each other

Tuesday 2nd August

10:00 - 10:50 Lecture Stream I (Emily Sullivan) - Lecture 1
11:00 - 11:50 Lecture Stream I - Lecture 2
12:00 - 12:30 Lecture Stream I - Exercise or discussion session
12:30 - 14:30 Lunch break
14:30 - 15:30 MCMP Fellows´talks
Robert Prentner: Mathematized Phenomenology
William D´Alessandro: Transferable and Fixable Proofs
15:30 - 16:30 Social event

 Wednesday 3rd August

10:00 - 10:50 Lecture Stream I - Lecture 3
11:00 - 11:50 Lecture Stream I - Lecture 4
12:00 - 12:30 Lecture Stream I - Exercise or discussion session
12:30 - 14:30 Lunch break
14:30 - 16:30 Student presentation
17:00 - 19:00 Evening lecture by A.W. Eaton: Reflections on Being a "Female" in Philosophy

Thursday 4th August

10:00 - 10:50 Lecture Stream II (Atoosa Kasirzadeh) - Lecture 1
11:00 - 11:50 Lecture Stream II - Lecture 2
12:00 - 12:30 Lecture Stream II - Exercise or discussion session
12:30 - 14:30 Lunch break
14:30 - 15:30 MCMP Fellows´ talks
Anita Kashmerian: Moral decisions in (and for) groups
Vanessa Carr: The Use of Structural Equation Models to Understand Causation and Causal Phenomena
15:30 - 16:30 Round Table Discussion

Friday 5th August

10:00 - 10:50 Lecture Stream II - Lecture 3
11:00 - 11:50 Lecture Stream II - Lecture 4
12:00 - 12:30 Lecture Stream II - Exercise or discussion session
12:30 - 14:30 Lunch break
14:30 - 16:30 Student presentations
16:30 - 16:45 Wrap up

The student presentation session will run throughout the week.


Atoosa Kasirzadeh: Explanations in mathematical and computational sciences

This course is divided into two parts. In the first part, we will discuss different approaches to explanation in the philosophy of science, in particular, inferential, causal, counterfactual, distinctively mathematical, and unificationist approaches. We will pay particular attention to the kind of explanatory dependence at play in different approaches. In the second part, we turn to explanations for opaque computational systems with a special focus on a new research paradigm titled Explainable Artificial Intelligence. We discuss how the accounts of scientific explanation discussed in the first part can enhance the demands from Explainable Artificial Intelligence.

Emily Sullivan: Idealizations in machine learning

In this lecture, we will discuss different types of idealizations that are operative in opaque machine learning models and explanaiblity models. How do current methods (e.g. feature importance, counterfactual explanations) idealize? When do their idealizations fail? How might we improve idealizations in ML?


Vanessa Carr: The Use of Structural Equation Models to Understand Causation and Causal Phenomena

Since the early noughties, many philosophers interested in the metaphysics of causation, and various causal phenomena, have enthusiastically taken up the idea of using structural equation models to represent causal structures. The thought underlying this practice is that modelling causal structure in this way allows for an improved understanding of the nature of causation and causal phenomena. But to what extent are structural equation models distinctively useful for gaining improved understanding of causation and causal phenomena? This is the question to be addressed in this talk. I will begin by presenting the elements of structural models, and the way that these have been used to represent various kinds of causal structure. I’ll then outline, on the one hand, how the use of these models has been thought to be distinctively useful, and on the other hand, how some have challenged the use of these models as somewhat limited.

William D´Alessandro: Transferable and Fixable Proofs

A proof P of a theorem T is transferable when it’s possible for a typical expert to verify T solely on the basis of their prior knowledge and the information contained in P . Easwaran has argued that transferability is a constraint on acceptable proof. Meanwhile, a proof P is fixable when it’s possible for other experts to correct any mistakes P contains without having to develop significant new mathematics. Habgood-Coote and Tanswell have observed that some acceptable proofs are both fixable and in need of fixing, in the sense that they contain nontrivial mistakes. The claim that acceptable proofs must be transferable seems quite plausible. The claim that some acceptable proofs need fixing seems plausible too. Unfortunately, these attractive suggestions stand in tension with one another. I argue that the transferability requirement is the problem. Acceptable proofs need only satisfy a weaker requirement I call “corrigibility”.

Anita Kashmerian: Moral decisions in (and for) groups

Part 1. Moral judgments have a very prominent social nature, and in everyday life, they are continually shaped by discussions with others. Psychological investigations of these judgments, however, have rarely addressed the impact of social interactions. To examine the role of social interaction on moral judgments within small groups, we had groups of 4 to 5 participants judge moral dilemmas first individually and privately, then collectively and interactively, and finally individually a second time. We employed both real-life and sacrificial moral dilemmas in which the character’s action or inaction violated a moral principle to benefit the greatest number of people. Participants decided if these utilitarian decisions were morally acceptable or not. In Experiment 1, we found that collective judgments in face-to-face interactions were more utilitarian than the statistical aggregate of their members compared to both first and second individual judgments. This observation supported the hypothesis that deliberation and consensus within a group transiently reduce the emotional burden of norm violation. In Experiment 2, we tested this hypothesis more directly: measuring participants’ state anxiety in addition to their moral judgments before, during, and after online interactions, we found again that collectives were more utilitarian than those of individuals and that state anxiety level was reduced during and after social interaction. The utilitarian boost in collective moral judgments is probably due to the reduction of stress in the social setting.

Part 2. People assign less punishment to individuals who inflict harm collectively, compared to those who do so alone. We show that this arises from judgments of diminished individual causal responsibility in the collective cases. In Experiment 1, participants (N=1002) assigned less punishment to individuals involved in collective actions leading to intentional and accidental deaths, but not failed attempts, emphasizing that harmful outcomes, but not malicious intentions, were necessary and sufficient for the diffusion of punishment. Experiments 2.a. compared the diffusion of punishment for harmful actions with ‘victimless’ purity violations (e.g., eating human flesh in groups; N=752). In victimless cases, where the question of causal responsibility for harm does not arise, diffusion of collective responsibility was greatly reduced—an effect replicated in Experiment 2.b. (N= 500). We propose discounting in causal attribution as the underlying cognitive mechanism for the reduction in proposed punishment for collective harmful actions.

Robert Prentner: Mathematized Phenomenology

In this talk, I will look at the prospects of integrating a first-personal perspective with a third-personal perspective on conscious experience. A third-personal perspective can be defined in terms of objective measures informed by physiological or behavioural data. A first-personal perspective, by contrast, is tied to the subjective experience of a phenomenally conscious system, i.e. a system for which it feels like something to exist and have experiences.Philosophically, the topic of my talk amounts to a cross between traditions from the analytic philosophy of mind (consciousness studies) with more continental approaches from phenomenology. I will thereby focuses on the structural features that come with being conscious and that underlie the constitution of experienced objects. A novel approach in this area is to try to mathematize those ideas and eventually make them amenable to an exchange with current research in science.