Dan Weijers

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The 4th Annual Australasian Experimental Philosophy Conference

6-7 December 2019, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Schedule Summary

Friday 6th December (all in I.2.22)

9:00-9:20     Check in

9:20-9:30     Welcome

9:30-10:30   Simpsonbeck & Sytsma: Simulating Metaethics

10:30-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-12:00 Danielson: Condemning and backing it up: The effect of evidence on judgments of moral violations

12:00-1:00   Lunch: Sushi

1:00-2:00     Wood: Moralistics and Psychomoralitics: extending the linguistics analogy in moral psychology

2:00-2:30     Coffee break

2:30-3:30     Ӧzdemir: The Role of Intuitions in Justifying Phenomenal Realism, Dualism and Illusionism

3:30-4:00     Refreshment break

4:00-5:00     Munn: Maturity, knowledge and competence: What matters for enfranchisement?

Saturday 7th December (all in I.2.22)

9:00-10:30   Sytsma (Keynote): Structure and Norms: Investigating the Pattern of Effects for Causal Attributions

10:30-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-12:00 Vekony: Constraining Intention: An Experimental Study

12:00-1:00   Lunch: Pizza

1:00-2:00     Vonasch: Deconstructing the side-effect effect: Separate processes enable judging intentions to harm and to help

2:00-2:30     Coffee break

2:30-3:30     Chen: Free will survey in China

3:30-4:00     Refreshment break

4:00-5:00     Weijers: What's driving Parfit's surgery cases?

How to register

Due to catering restrictions, spaces are strictly limited and will be filled on a first-register first-served basis.

Email Dan Weijers: dan.weijers[at]waikato.ac.nz with your: name, dietary restrictions, which sessions you wish to attend

How to get there
From overseas: Fly to Auckland
From Auckland: Take the bus with this company or use Google Maps to get to central Hamilton
From Wellington or the South Island: fly to Hamilton Airport and taxi to your hotel or bus to central Hamilton
From other areas in the North island: drive or bus
From central Hamilton: Walk (1hr), bus (30mins), or taxi (15 mins) to the university
Map of where to park
                  and where to enter the University

Enter the IJ Stairwell block. Turn right through the double doors. Look for a lift on your right. Take the lift to the second floor. Then turn right out of the lift, take the first right, and then straight through the door in front of you.

Map of where the room
              is in I Block


The New Experimental Philosophy Blog

The Experimental Philosophy Research Group
The Philosophy Programme at the University of Waikato

Events in Hamilton

What to do in Hamilton and the surrounding areas

Chronological list of abstracts – Friday 6th December

Title: Simulating Metaethics

Authors: Dan Simpsonbeck (presenting; Victoria University of Wellington) & Justin Sytsma (presenting; Victoria University of Wellington)

When: 9:30-10:30am Friday 6th December

Abstract: In a series of recent articles, Shaun Nichols (2019a, 2019b; Ayars & Nichols forthcoming) has called on statistical learning to offer a process vindication argument for lay metaethical beliefs. His argument proposes that people are sensitive to consensus information in forming metaethical beliefs and contends that calling on consensus information in this way is at least locally computationally rational. This vindication of lay metaethical beliefs hinges on a number of substantive assumptions, however, including that people’s first-order beliefs are to a large extent independent. In this paper, we begin by raising concerns about this assumption. We argue that if people do call on consensus information in forming second-order beliefs, and if they maintain consistency between their first-order beliefs and their second-order beliefs, then independence will be threatened by the use of the very process at issue. This is illustrated through a series of computer simulations. We then extend these results to show how variation in metaethical beliefs in a population can serve to either drive convergence or to maintain diversity in first-order beliefs.

Title: Condemning and backing it up: The effect of evidence on judgments of moral violations

Author: Scott Danielson (presenting; University of Canterbury)

When: 11:00-12:00noon Friday 6th December

Abstract: Making a moral judgment is a complex phenomenon that involves more than just a simple calculation of outcomes. Social pressures from third parties can often influence the way moral judgments are made. In the current study, we test the hypothesis that having a strong case (e.g. having evidence versus not) to condemn a wrongdoer will lead people to make harsher judgments of the wrongdoer’s moral violation, even when in both cases the judge is certain of the moral violation. Across two studies, we presented participants with a vignette containing a moral violation and either a strong or a weak case to condemn the wrongdoer, and collected measures of the participant’s judgments. Overall, our findings demonstrated that the strength of the case a condemner has to recruit third parties will affect not only the likelihood they will condemn, but also their judgment of the violation they are condemning. Initial data showed this effect holds even when people with strong and weak cases are equally certain that a violation took place, but follow up studies failed to replicate this effect. These results add to the growing literature that suggests moral judgments are not made objectively, but are shaped by social settings.

Title: Moralistics and Psychomoralitics: Extending the linguistics analogy in moral psychology

Author: Graham Wood (presenting; University of Tasmania)

When: 1:00-2:00pm Friday 6th December

Abstract: Several philosophers and psychologists have recently attempted to gain insight into the human capacity for morality by comparing that capacity with the human capacity for natural language. This is the application of the so-called ‘linguistic analogy in moral psychology’. To date the analogy has been applied in a limited way with some success. This paper suggests a significant extension of the scope of the application of the analogy. Linguistics and Psycholinguistics are fields that study the human capacity for natural language. Equivalent fields that study the human capacity for morality might analogously be identified as Moralistics and Psychomoralistics. This paper explores this possibility.

Title: The Role of Intuitions in Justifying Phenomenal Realism, Dualism and Illusionism

Author: Eyuphan Ӧzdemir (presenting; Victoria University of Wellington)

When: 2:30-3:30pm Friday 6th December

Abstract: The classical anti-physicalist reasoning involves three metaphysical theses regarding phenomenal consciousness: phenomenal consciousness exists, the hard problem/epistemic gap exists, and there is an ontological gap between the phenomenal and the physical. Arguments for these theses heavily rely on not only some intuitions but also empirical claims about the prevalence of these intuitions. These empirical claims are employed to make the metaphysical theses more plausible. Some of these empirical claims are also shared by phenomenal realists and a posteriori/ Type B materialists in the physicalist camp. Moreover, David Chalmers’ Meta-problem of Consciousness and illusionism take off from the assumption that phenomenal intuitions are wide-spread. With this talk, I aim to show how classical phenomenal arguments, the meta-problem and Illusionism turn on these empirical claims, present some experimental data casting doubt on the reliability of these claims and discuss the implications of empirical evidence on phenomenal theses mentioned above, the meta-problem and Illusionism.

Title: Maturity, knowledge and competence: what matters for enfranchisement?

Author: Nick Munn (presenting; University of Waikato)

When: 4:00-5:00pm Friday 6th December

Abstract: The issue of lowering the voting age is not yet popular, but has entered the public consciousness. I have undertaken a research project designed to examine the positions of political candidates regarding voting for younger citizens, and to determine whether and/or how well these align with theoretically defensible positions on the reasons for exclusion of young citizens from the franchise. In this presentation I present some initial results and consider the implications of these results. I have argued previously that the only defensible grounds of disenfranchisement of young citizens is a lack of competence. The survey responses show that politicians in New Zealand take a range of other considerations to be reasons for disenfranchisement.

Chronological list of abstracts – Saturday 7th December

Title: Structure and Norms: Investigating the Pattern of Effects for Causal Attributions (KEYNOTE)

Author: Justin Sytsma (presenting; Victoria University of Wellington)

When: 9:00-10:30am Saturday 7th December

Abstract: Research indicates that norms matter for ordinary causal attributions. Across a range of cases in which two agents jointly bring about an outcome by performing symmetric actions, but with one violating a norm while the other does not, causal ratings are higher for the norm-violating agent. A number of competing explanations of this effect have been offered in the literature. In a pair of recent papers, Kominsky et al. (2015) and Icard et al. (2017) make a strong case for one of these accounts—the counterfactual view—making novel predictions about the pattern of effects seen when the original type of case is expanded to included a contrast case without norms or when the causal structure is changed. They argue that while the counterfactual view is able to explain each of the predicted effects, the alternative accounts are only able to explain some of them. In this paper, I argue that this undersells the competing accounts. Further, I present new evidence suggesting that the expanded pattern of effects is quite different than predicted, and that it in fact coheres better with prominent alternative accounts in the literature than the counterfactual view.

Title: Constraining Intention: An Experimental Study

Author: Romy Vekony (presenting; Florida State University)

When: 11:00-12:00noon Saturday 7th December

Abstract: The idea that there are constraints on intentions to act is widely accepted, but there remains a lively debate on what factors constrain intentions. In this paper, we will briefly survey debates related to epistemic and rational constraints on intention, and, by experimentally discovering conditions under which folk attributions of intention are undermined, examine how folk notions of intention bear upon these theoretical debates. With this aim we ran four studies. Two focused on epistemic constraints, and two focused on broader rationality constraints. The epistemic constraint studies aimed to discover whether low confidence or total lack of belief on the agent’s part would undermine intention ascriptions. The studies focused on broader rationality constraints aimed to discover whether the remoteness of the possibility of success for a particular action undermined intention. Our results show that low confidence and lack of belief are not enough to undermine intention ascriptions. However, people are far less likely to ascribe intentions to agents who are gearing up to perform a task with a remote possibility of success. Broader rationality constraints involving near-impossible actions might then be more central to our view of intentions.

Title: Deconstructing the side-effect effect: Separate processes enable judging intentions to harm and to help

Authors: Andrew J. Vonasch (presenting; University of Canterbury), Paul Conway (Florida State University), Stephen Rowe (University of Canterbury)

When: 1:00-2:00pm Saturday 7th December

Abstract: We tested the tradeoff justification model of the side-effect effect (SEE) based on the idea that people use social information to judge the CEO’s intentions. There are two components: judgments of intentions to help and judgments of intentions to harm. People think the CEO intentionally harmed the environment because he made an unjustified tradeoff—choosing to do something with high costs implies you have considered the costs, and incurring those costs for relatively little benefit makes it seem you intended those costs. In contrast, judgments that the CEO did not intentionally help the environment stem from the CEO’s comment indicating lack of care about the environment; Changing this comment eliminates the SEE. A neutral side effect that provides no information about the CEO’s intentions produces uncertainty about the intentions, as does external pressure on the CEO. Cognitive load has no effect on judged intentions. Together, these findings suggest the SEE is produced by rational attributional processes.

Title: Free Will Survey in China

Author: Ju Chen (presenting; Renmin University of China)

When: 2:30-3:30pm Saturday 7th December

Abstract: Experimental surveys on free will have been conducted in the western context for over a decade. Extensive explanatory models have been developed to make sense of folk intuitions about free will cases. But, little research has been done on Chinese people. In this paper, I replicate the bypassing experiments run by Eddy Nahmias (2010) in China, and discuss two puzzles that arise from the results. First, people in Nahmias et al’s scenarios give higher ratings for bypassing than people in Nichols and Knobe’s scenarios, although the data for the Nichols and Knobe scenarios fit the ‘bypassing model’ better. Second, for the majority of Chinese people, compatibilism is more consistent with their intuitions, and the responses are not varied across the four scenarios that are supposed to cause people to change their minds noticeably.
                For the first puzzle, the most plausible explanation is that we should distinguish the data on free will from the moral responsibility cluster, since it does not work with other moral factors in eliciting people’s moral judgments in daily life. The explanation to the second puzzle vibrates between compatibilism and incompatibilism, and of which is supported by fairly compelling evidence due to the elastic view of causality held by Chinese people. I conclude that the majority of Chinese people are compatibilists about moral issues, and more evidence is needed to be sure which position they take when it comes to the compatibility of free will and determinism.

Title: What's driving Parfit's surgery cases?

Author: Dan Weijers (presenting; University of Waikato)

When: 4:00-5:00pm Saturday 7th December

Abstract: TBC

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email: danweijers[at]gmail[dot]com