Hayek in Mind

Here is an interview with the editors of Advances in Austrian Economics.

Rethinking A.I.

Press release from MIT.

Essentially, we want to rewind to 30 years ago and revisit some ideas that had gotten frozen,” he says, adding that the new group hopes to correct “fundamental mistakes” made in AI research over the years.

Small is beautiful

Over at Vitorino Ramos’ ever thoughtful blog is a post extolling the virtues of the “small”. The point is twofold:

First, the superb detail afforded by the photographs that Vitorino has assembled shows a rather complexly “designed” creature – a design that belies the supposedly simple life-form that ants are typically taken to be. The engineering challenges required to even roughly approximate such creatures is formidable.

Second, the study of ant sociality is of central interest to researchers in A.I. – the concept of stigmergy offers those of us with an interest in complex systems (human sociality being the paradigm) – a very fertile vein of inquiry.

So, next time you are about to snuff out this creature, at the very least, stop and spare a thought for this creature – we have much to learn from the small and the “simple.”  To adapt Shakespeare:

As ants (flies) to wanton boys are we to th’ gods,

They kill us for their sport.

Brain Science Podcast

I want to give a plug to the excellent resource that is the Brain Science Podcast website so passionately managed by Ginger Campbell. There is even an iPhone app now available though I haven’t used it yet.

Alan Turing


The BBC has been running a series of articles on Turing.

For those of us who often discuss the conceptual aspects of liberty through the great works of social and political philosophy, we should stop and think about how our liberty was, to a great extent, preserved by Alan Turing.

According to Winston Churchill, Turing made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany.

His pivotal role in cracking intercepted messages helped the Allies to defeat the Nazis in several crucial battles.

A Profile and the Turing us philosophers/cognitive scientists know through his “Computing machinery and intelligence”, Mind 50: 433-460.

I PROPOSE to consider the question, ‘Can machines think? ‘This should begin with definitions of the meaning of the terms’ machine’ and’ think’. The definitions might be framed so as to reflect so far as possible the normal use of the words, but this attitude is dangerous. If the meaning of the words ‘machine’ and  ‘think ‘ are to be found by examining how they are commonly used it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the meaning and the answer to the question, ‘Can machines think?’ is to be sought in a statistical survey such as a Gallup poll. But this is absurd. Instead of attempting such a definition I shall replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words.

PM’s Apology



The Metaphysics of Mind

This past weekend I attended the Timothy Sprigge Memorial Conference (see link to obituary by Jane O’Grady who was in attendence). I met Sprigge in 1997 at the Bradley conference at Harris-Manchester College Oxford, a time when I was very interested in the idealists. Funny how philosophical changes come and go – Sprigge, ever the outsider, is now of interest to current philosophy of mind. Anyway, this conference brought together a very diverse group of theorists in the most congenial of environments and I was able to meet a few of my intellectual heroes.


Leemon McHenry (California State University, Northridge)

Sprigge’s Ontology of Consciousness

Pierfrancesco Basile (University of Bern)

It must be true—but how can it be? Some Remarks on Panpsychism and Mental Composition

Alastair Hannay (University of Oslo)

The Space We Share: Phenomenology and Metaphysics

Jason Brown (New York University Medical Center)

What is a Mental State?

Galen Strawson (University of Reading)

Fundamental Singleness: How to Turn the 2nd Paralogism into a Valid Argument

Jaegwon Kim (Brown University)

Explaining Consciousness: From Emergentism to A Priori Physicalism

William Seager (University of Toronto)

Concessionary Dualism and Physicalism

Seager and Che

Brian P. McLaughlin (Rutgers University)

Consciousness, Identity, and Explanation

Fred Adams (University of Delaware)

Consciousness: Why and Where?


Geoffrey Madell (University of Edinburgh)

Substance Dualism: You Know it Makes Sense

Ken Aizawa (Centenary College of Louisiana)

How Consciousness Can Safely Emerge


ken 2

David Cockburn (University of East Anglia)

Doubts About “Consciousness”

Andy Clark (University of Edinburgh)

Locating the Conscious Mind


Howard Robinson (Central European University, Budapest)

Quality, Thought and Consciousness

Stephen Clark (University of Liverpool)

How to Become Unconscious

Eduard Marbach (University of Bern)

Is there a Metaphysics of Consciousness without a Phenomenology of Consciousness? Some thoughts derived from Husserl’s Philosophical Phenomenology

Brenda Almond (University of Hull)

Religious Consciousness: Revisiting the God of the Philosophers

Julian Kiverstein (University of Edinburgh)

The Metaphysics of Time Consciousness

James Giles (University of Guam)

The Metaphysics of Awareness in Taoist philosophy

Tim Crane (University College London)

Consciousness as Predicated of Human Beings


Barry Dainton (University of Liverpool)

Phenomenal Holism

Peter Simons (Trinity College Dublin)

Consciousness for Four-Dimensionalists


Computer Simulations in Social Epistemology

The latest issue of EPISTEME is now available – the theme is computer simulations – an topic that is seeing a great deal of growth.