Is the Argument from Error a Convincing one Against the Simulation Theory of Mind?

How do I know what you are thinking right now without having direct access to your thoughts? Is it because I have a theory, or framework of propositions memorised that guide me, or do I run a simulation in my mind of what I would think if I were you? The first is called theory-theory (TT), the second simulation theory (ST). ST can be further divided into explicit accounts or those that use mirror neurones to explain how simulation takes place. Here I make a stance against strong versions of ST, especially those that mix mirror neurones with explicit accounts and will conclude that although explicit ST is problematic, it will be required to find a hybrid between ST and TT that may be able to incorporate empirical data in favour of both.

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Model United Nations Materials

This is a short collection of some MUN materials for delegates:
First up are two resolutions of the Security Council of the 2009 MUN at the United World College in Mostar that I had the pleasure to chair. The resolutions are not by me, but the entire committee on the situations in Sri Lanka and Somalia.
1st Resolution on the Situation in Somalia
2nd Resolution on the Situation in Sri Lanka
This is a resolution of the Human Rights Council of the 2010 MUN at the University of Edinburgh that I had the pleasure to chair. The resolution is not by me, but the entire committee on indigenous and uncontacted People.
Human Rights Council Resolution
Finally some basic information every delegate should have: A list of the most commonly used motions as well as a very brief overview of the UN charter to reference.
Die Wichtigsten Anträge
UN-Charter Overview

The Conductor

While listening to “I Giorni” by Ludovico Einaudi I felt that many universal truths were conveyed as happens often whilst listening to music. What if a deaf man, however, was to visit a musical performance? Would there be any chance of these truths being conveyed to him as well?

I suggest they could through the physicality of an orchestral conductor. This figure does, unlike the theatre director, not merely organise and bundle themes and truths, but channels and projects them onto the audience in an active and present manner. Since the conductor is not a character, he is always authentic and organic. Therefore he has become somewhat of a creative ideal to me.

I wish to exploit this ideal by placing a conductor on a theatre stage. The performance’s aim is not to actually conduct or copy specific movements to indicate volume or speed, but to visualise a musical score with the help of a physical score and thus help to bring about a sense of catharsis. I will use the music piece “Le Sacre du Printemps” by Igor Stravinsky to create this score.

The purpose of stage, lighting and costume will merely be to facilitate and emphasise the physicality of the conductor, as will all other elements of production. The vast amount of people who conduct their own recordings at home indicates to me a strong potential for catharsis embedded in this performance technique.

The Conductor (full version – pdf)

The Hedonist Swine Meets Neuroscience

“Hedonists do what they want. Their goal in life is happiness for themselves. Swines.” That is how most critics of the value theory approach hedonism, as the philosophy of swine. Here I argue that this critique can be overcome by appealing to neuroscience. I start with some counterexamples that Freud offered on his deathbed, and then move on to a new neuroscientific account, which it turns out, may be no more promising..

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Thomas’ / Marion’s 7th April 1980 – The Holonovel

I believe that the roots of the shrinking demand for theatre in the western world lies in stagnation. After the great insurrection of practitioners in the 20th century like Grotowski, Brecht, Brook or Johnstone, I feel that many local theatres decided to return to a Stanislavski based approach. Now, entering the 21st century, a significant shift in the audience’s perception of what is worth watching can be observed: Instead of only being a spectator, many people like going on Safari trips, bungie jumping or other sorts of activity, which put the spectator into the role of a Protagonist co-writing an own story. Best example is probably reality TV, in which the audience perceives the illusion of having power over who has leave the Big Brother House for instance. As Richard Schechner and Augusto Boal realised there is a tremendous opportunity for theatre unravelling from this phenomenon, since it is the most personal form of art. It has to become possible to enter a theatre and then experience something greater than mere watching and hoping that inner purification is transmitted by good actors. I believe that this Aristotelian idea of catharsis could best be achieved by not just presenting the audience with the possibility of passively interacting with actors as Schechner suggested in his theory of new or environmental theatre, but by providing the opportunity for the audience to feel and write the narrative they enter. My role in this independent project hence became one of a theatre maker.

The Holonovel (full version – pdf)

Yerma Photo Album

During my time in Bosnia, I had the pleasure and privilege to co-direct the theatre play “Yerma” by Lorca. The stage, lighting and costume designers, our guardian Danielle and the wonderful cast together made a piece that really evoked some great awes and left wonderful memories. We had the fortune of all getting along superbly at an extraordinary level of trust. Here I want to share some pictures made during one of the performances.

Overdetermination and the Autonomy of the Mental

The problem of mental causation from the overdetermination argument could possibly be solved by rejecting the premise of physical completeness. I begin by elaborating the problem, give a priori reasons to reject the completeness of physics and examine the resulting problems associated with emergentism. I shall then move on to a posteriori reasons for rejecting the afore mentioned premise from the fields of quantum-electrodynamics (QED) and quantum chemistry (QC). I will conclude that although these reasons are justified, a rejection of the completeness of physics is but the first step to a satisfying account of mental causation.

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Let’s Separate Free Will from Moral Responsibility

This post will argue in favour of a separation between Free Will (FW) and Moral Responsibility (MR). It will start by examining the traditional relationships between these two and upon what premises they rest in terms of definitions and resulting truth values. It will then make a decision as to what attributes of MR are worth wanting and attempt to show that FW is not a condition for such an endeavour to succeed if we adopt a consequentialist view of MR. I shall then attempt to bring forward an example from Scot’s law to illustrate and then discuss a challenge by Strawson against this system. Afterwards it will briefly speculate that tensions could be relieved by rejecting a unified theory of MR in general. This post shall conclude that although such a distinction is prima facie reasonable, further research is required to see whether it is a first- best account of MR.

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Preferred Indifferents and Stoic Ethical Theory

The stoic ethical system is based on the idea that we should strive towards living in accordance with nature. As humans develop reason with adulthood, they need to become virtuous to achieve this and by extension happiness. I argue that prima facie there is nothing inherently incoherent about Stoic ethics. I begin by explaining the Stoic ethical system by looking at the good and virtue, then the indifferents, impulses and nature and give an idea of how these terms interconnect. This post shall then move onward to Aristo’s challenge of indifferents and try to respond to Aristo. It will conclude that although the arguments from Stoic ethics are not inconsistent, a prima facie account of their coherence is insufficient.

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Does the Extended Mind Hypothesis Constitute a Reductio of Functionalism?

The purpose of this post is to give a brief overview over the complexity of the discussion surrounding the hypothesis of extended cognition (HEC) and functionalism. I give some key definitions, outline some motives from multiple realisability (MR) and the martian intuition (MI) and then rehearse the problems with these concepts in relation to functionalism and the HEC. To make it a bit my own, I also indulge myself by proposing to give up a strong version of the MI in order to stick to a notion of MR that is only applicable to actual world creatures. This is meant to propagate some idea of a posteriori functionalism that could prevent falling into the trap of a radical HEC.

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On Defending Free Will with Quantum Theory

JJC Smart: “Indeterminism does not confer freedom on us: I would feel that my freedom was impaired if I thought that a quantum mechanical trigger in my brain might cause me to leap into the garden and eat a slug.” (2003: 63)

Libertarian free will (FW) cannot be defended solely by looking at the implications of quantum mechanics (QM). However, the last century threw a lot of empirical evidence onto us, the implications of which for FW are not yet understood. I shall define FW as the ability to choose out of my own will between genuine alternatives. Alas I require the actions of an agent to be causae sui (CS) i.e. their own cause, or, for an agent to have the ability to originate actions. To achieve such a definition from QM implications, one ought to first look at what these implications are and establish that they can affect us. I shall then examine the trade-off between randomness and freedom and finally look for CS among their implications. I will finish by offering a partial solution to the problem. This post assumes a logical positivist point of view and ignores epistemic concerns over QM. For simplicity, it will furthermore employ a counterfactual account of causation.

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Can Socrates Defend his Claim That No-One Does Wrong Willingly?

fslj3rI address the criticism that Socrates in the Protagoras unjustly makes an inference from his argument that ‘no-one does wrong knowingly’ to his conclusion that ‘no-one does wrong willingly’ in the Protagoras. I will start by briefly examining Socrates argument for why no-one does wrong knowingly, examine the link between knowledge and motivation, use Aristotelian voluntariness as counterexample to Socrates argument and conclude that these critiques fail because of a misunderstanding of how the term willingly is used by Socrates. Since it can be argued that among the works of Plato, the Protagoras most reflects Socrates position in this matter.

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When my Neighbour Felt the Munchies

In this post I want to share some experiences I had while I lived at a nifty flat in the Edinburgh city centre. It was at a busy road but quiet at night, spacious, well equipped and absolutely sufficient for my needs. Unfortunately, three months into my tenancy, a new neighbour downstairs opened a take-away shop, with which I have had much conflict. The following is a letter I wrote to the City of Edinburgh Council outlining what had happened. Some friends suggested that although it is a private matter, I should share this document for anyone with similar problems.

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A Text Seldomly Comes Alone: Why the Timeless Qualities of Athenian Drama are Not Enough.

Should we analyze Athenian plays as responses to the world around, or should we pay more attention to their “timeless” qualities? In this post I argue that we should look primarily at ancient drama as response to the world around. Awareness of contemporary Athenian history can greatly deepen our understanding of drama since it is not only specifically reflected upon in plays, but hidden within each word. A grasp of Greek society can therefore make the meaning of theatre much less opaque which this essay will attempt to show in respect to freedom of speech, religion, reception and the radically different Greek mind.

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Will Curriculum for Excellence Reduce Social Class and Gender Inequalities in Scot’s Education?

The latest Scottish educational reform, “Curriculum for Excellence” (CfE), has great potential to reduce inequalities in Scot’s education but in order to do so must overcome great obstacles within classrooms, schools and what happens extracurricularly. In this post, I begin by giving a definition of the concept of equality, will then move on to analysing and identifying issues in relation to gender inequalities and will afterwards consider how CfE and those executing it might influence these. Next I examine social class differences in education, their definition, expression and how CfE could aid lessen them. I conclude that CfE will help reduce inequalities, but it remains to be seen to what extent.

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A Strength and Weakness of Foundationalism

IMG_1354What is our knowledge of everyday propositions based on? The foundationalist believes that the answer to this question is that there is a foundation of a few beliefs which we know with certainty, upon which all other beliefs reside. What makes a proposition knowledge then is that it has a bases in this fundament. There are great challenges associated with this view however. I argue that to overcome the problems associated with it must become weaker and impure which will eventually lead to questioning the very distinction between foundational and inferential beliefs. This post will only consider internalist, modest foundationalism and in particular where foundational beliefs are justified by non-belief, non-propositional experiences. It shall start by defining that form of foundationalism as well as briefly putting it in the context of other forms, shall examine its ability to solve Agrippa’s trilemma simply as main strength and the way it needs to warp to escape coherentist attack as weakness. I will close by offering foundherentism as possible solution.

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On What Medea was Told to Tell Us about Ancient Women’s Lives

gsdg4f3There are only indirect tools for us today to draw conclusions about the lives of women in ancient Athens. Social status, norms or just habits can be reasoned about by looking at Athenian drama. Specifically, Medea’s speech from Euripides (230-51) has a lot of potentially interesting material on this subject. However, we must always consider a specific text in a wider context. Here, I believe that Medea’s special circumstances may be an obstacle to applying it to common Athenian women.

 

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Why the CDM, While Promising, is a Long Way from Being a ‘First-Best’ Market Mechanism

windIn economics, pollution is looked at as negative externality which induces cost into a system for almost everyone. Fortunately, a host of measures are being devised to address pollution on communal, national and international levels. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one such measure, but has quite a few problems associated with it, which shall be the concern of this post. I will outline the mechanism, elaborate on its function and  then consider Hepburn’s problem of CER markets.

The CDM (full version – pdf)

Playing Ball with Electrones: A New Puzzle for Pairing Physical and Mental Events

Two pairs of players through balls. Connecting who threw which is easy, you just follow its path through air. With mental events this is a bit more tricky, as was outlined by Jaegwon Kim. Here I argue that his solution for pairing just physical events is already problematic when considering the microscopic. As a consequence, the problem he constructs for pairing physical and mental events is a lot more head-ache inducing that we might have thought at first.

The Folly of Protectionism: A Short Introduction to Four Popular Measures

In a free global economy, the primary sectors in the US and the EU would not have a right to exist in their present form. It is only because of protectionist’ measures that those economies are able to shield themselves form the world supply and its price, and that their flourishing agricultural sector is able to sell its goods at the high price observable for instance in supermarkets in Scotland. This post will examine four such measures and their impact on domestic consumer welfare, and conclude that consumers are overall worse off with these measures in place. Yet, I finish with a positive evaluation of the reasons behind protectionist’ thought in Europe and the United States.

The Folly of Protectionism (full version – pdf)