Big History surveys the past at multiple scales, from those of cosmology to those of human history. Do cosmological scales reduce humans to insignificance? Surprisingly, they make us seem extraordinarily interesting if you focus not on spatial and chronological scales, but on another dimension, complexity. There are good reasons for thinking that modern human societies represent a remarkably high level of complexity. Our very existence is odd on planetary and perhaps cosmological scales. How can a universe ruled by the second law generate such complexity? And how likely is it that we are unique at cosmological scales?
This lecture will be followed by a drinks reception, all welcome.
Jonathan Glover (born 1941) is a British philosopher known for his studies on ethics. He was educated at Tonbridge School, later going on to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was a fellow and tutor in philosophy at New College, Oxford. He currently teaches ethics at King's College London. Glover is a fellow of the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution in the United States.
Social thinkers in all fields are faced with one unavoidable question: what does it mean to be 'human' in the 21st century? As definitions between what is 'animal' and what is 'human' break down, and as emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and nano- and bio- technologies develop, accepted notions of humanity are rapidly evolving.
Humanity 2.0 is an ambitious and groundbreaking book, offering a sweeping overview of key historical, philosophical and theological moments that have shaped our understandings of humanity. Tackling head on the twin taboos that have always hovered over the scientific study of humanity - race and religion - Steve Fuller argues thar far from disappearing, they are being reinvented.
Fuller argues that these new developments will force us to decide which features of our current way of life - not least our bodies - are truly needed to remain human, and concludes with a consideration of these changes for ethical and social values more broadly.
Is it right to use biomedical technologies to make us better than well or even perhaps better than human? Should we view our biology as fixed or should we try to improve on it? College students are already taking cognitive enhancement drugs. The U.S. army is already working to develop drugs and technologies to produce "super soldiers." Scientists already know how to use genetic engineering techniques to enhance the strength and memories of mice and the application of such technologies to humans is on the horizon.
Allen Buchanan is James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law at Duke. He is also a Distinguished Research Associate at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford and a Research Professor at the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he spends the spring semester. His research and teaching are mainly in Bioethics, with special emphasis on the application of genome science-based technologies to humans, Political Philosophy, and the Philosophy of International Law. His most recent books are "Beyond Humanity: The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement" and "Better Than Human: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Ourselves." He is currently spending six weeks as a research fellow at the Forschung Kolleg in Bad Homburg, an affiliate of the Goethe-University in Frankfurt, Germany.
A Crisis of Faith puts forth one of the most comprehensive and accessible arguments for the claim that theism is false and faith-based belief is foolish. Drawing from many disparate fields, including epistemology, evolutionary biology, textual criticism, the philosophy of mind and (what the author refers to as) secular eschatology, Crisis attacks the theistic position from multiple angles. In doing so, this book not only delineates established arguments against God's existence, but explores topics that no other atheists have yet considered - for instance, how might cognitive enhancements foment the further secularization of society? Phil Torres puts together an overwhelmingly convincing case that religion ought to become a thing of the past: it's bad epistemology and, in a world marked by radical advances in genetics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, it greatly increases the likelihood of disaster. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the philosophical foundations of atheism and the many practical reasons it ought to be accepted.
Written by one of the pre-eminent researchers in the field, this book provides a comprehensive exposition of modern analysis of causation. It shows how causality has grown from a nebulous concept into a mathematical theory with significant applications in the fields of statistics, artificial intelligence, philosophy, cognitive science, and the health and social sciences. Pearl presents a unified account of the probabilistic, manipulative, counterfactual and structural approaches to causation, and devises simple mathematical tools for analyzing the relationships between causal connections, statistical associations, actions and observations. The book will open the way for including causal analysis in the standard curriculum of statistics, artifical intelligence, business, epidemiology, social science and economics. Students in these areas will find natural models, simple identification procedures, and precise mathematical definitions of causal concepts that traditional texts have tended to evade or make unduly complicated. This book will be of interest to professionals and students in a wide variety of fields.
Judea Pearl (born 1936) is an Israeli American computer scientist and philosopher, best known for championing the probabilistic approach to artificial intelligence and the development of Bayesian networks (see the article on belief propagation). He is also credited for developing a theory of causal and counterfactual inference based on structural models (see article on causality). He is the 2011 winner of the ACM Turing Award, the highest distinction in computer science, "for fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence through the development of a calculus for probabilistic and causal reasoning".
Judea Pearl is the father of journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by militants in Pakistan connected with Al-Qaeda and the International Islamic Front in 2002 for his being American and Jewish.
In the final book of his astonishing career, Carl Sagan brilliantly examines the burning questions of our lives, our world, and the universe around us. These luminous, entertaining essays travel both the vastness of the cosmos and the intimacy of the human mind, posing such fascinating questions as how did the universe originate and how will it end, and how can we meld science and compassion to meet the challenges of the coming century? Here, too, is a rare, private glimpse of Sagan's thoughts about love, death, and God as he struggled with fatal disease. Ever forward-looking and vibrant with the sparkle of his unquenchable curiosity, Billions & Billions is a testament to one of the great scientific minds of our day.
very two years PLM organises a conference in the philosophy of language and philosophy mind area. The first PLM conference took place in Stockholm, September 2011, organised by CLLAM. The second PLM conference will take place in Budapest, 13-15 September 2013, organised by the Department of Philosophy , CEU . A special issue of Synthese with papers from the first conference, by Craig French, Peter Fritz, Marie Guillot, Nat Hansen, Elisabeth Pacherie and Francois Recanati is forthcoming. A similar special issue of Synthese with papers from the second conference will be considered, to which a selected number of speakers will be asked to contribute. The conference fee is 50 EUR.