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Naïve and systematic theories in physics and epistemology AND Vague Projects and the Puzzle of the Self-Torturer

Two public lectures organized by the Department of Theoretical Philosophy

Naïve and systematic theories in physics and epistemology
by Jennifer Nagel

Our experience of the world is not simply a blur of colours and sounds: we are immediately conscious of objects and other people.  Some implicit understanding or representation of objects and agents enables us to have these rich experiences and navigate the physical and social world as we do.  Our access to this implicit understanding is strangely limited, however: studies of naïve physics, for example, have shown that the explicit physical theories that seem intuitively natural to us are not only mistaken about reality, but also fail to reflect our actual competence in interacting with that reality.  Arguing that there is a parallel between naïve physics and what we might call ‘naïve epistemology’, I aim to extract a lesson for intuition-driven theory of knowledge.

Vague Projects and the Puzzle of the Self-Torturer
Sergio Tenenbaum and Diana Raffman

The puzzle of the rational self-torturer was first presented by Quinn as a challenge to orthodox rational choice theory. The self-torturer ends up making intransitive choices by deciding according to an intuitively acceptable set of preferences. The puzzle, however, seems to challenge not only orthodox rational choice theory but also independently intuitive constraints on a theory of rationality. We argue, first, that the puzzle does present a special challenge for orthodox theories; orthodox theories cannot meet an important desideratum for acceptable solution, a desideratum we call non-segmentation. We then propose a solution to the puzzle that rejects orthodox rational choice theory, but that preserves intuitive features of this theory. Finally we argue that our solution depends on nothing beyond the application of a simple formulation of the instrumental principle of rationality to what we call “vague projects”.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012
16.15-19.00 h
Oude Boteringestraat 52, room Alfa

Last modified:29 October 2013 5.46 p.m.