Mind Network Meeting
Action: Knowledge, Emotion, and Commitment
University of Sheffield, Friday 21 October 2016
B8 Seminar Room, Geography and Planning Building, Winter Street, Sheffield S3 7ND
Sponsored by the Hang Seng Centre for Cognitive Studies
The Mind Network is a community of UK researchers in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. We meet twice a year. We present papers, exchange ideas, and have a jolly good time. Students and new arrivals to the UK community are particularly welcome.
The next meeting will be in Sheffield on 21 October 2016. The topic of the meeting is "Action: Knowledge, Emotion, and Commitment". Speakers are: John Michael (Warwick), Carolyn Price (Open University), and Joshua Shepherd (Oxford). Attendance is free, but please register.
10.30 Welcome (with coffee and biscuits)
11.00 - 12.30 John Michael (University of Warwick) "The Sense of Commitment"
12.30 - 14.00 Lunch at The Roco Cafe, 342 Glossop Road, Sheffield, S10 2HW
14.00 - 15.30 Carolyn Price (Open University) "Acting out of Emotion and Acting on a Reason"
15.30 - 16.00 Coffee Break
16.00 - 17.30 Joshua Shepherd (University of Oxford) "The Knowledge of Action and the Experience of Agency"
17.30 - 19.00 Drinks at The University Arms, 197 Brook Hill, Sheffield S3 7HG.
19.00 Dinner at Maveli Restaurant, 223 Glossop Road, Sheffield, S10 2GW (if you are planning to participate in the dinner, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and please inform us of your dietary restrictions)
John Michael (University of Warwick) "The Sense of Commitment"
This talk provides a starting point for psychological research on the sense of commitment within the context of joint action. I begin by formulating three desiderata: to illuminate the motivational factors that lead agents to feel and act committed, to pick out the cognitive processes and situational factors that lead agents to sense that implicit commitments are in place, and to illuminate the development of an understanding of commitment in ontogeny. In order to satisfy these three desiderata, I specify a minimal framework, the core of which is an analysis of the minimal structure of situations which can elicit a sense of commitment. I then propose a way of conceptualizing and operationalizing the sense of commitment, and discuss cognitive and motivational processes which may underpin the sense of commitment. Finally, I present results from ongoing experiments testing hypotheses generated by the framework.
Carolyn Price (Open University) "Acting out of Emotion and Acting on a Reason"
To say that an action is done out of emotion implies that it can be explained by the agent’s emotional evaluation of the situation – as offensive or threatening, say. How should we understand this explanation? Does the agent’s emotional evaluation supply one of the reasons on which they act? The question turns on how the evaluation generates the action. Here, I focus on a particular kind of emotional action: voluntary actions aimed at dealing with the situation. (Examples might include damaging something out of anger or checking one’s will out of anxiety.) I argue that, even for this restricted class of emotional actions, we cannot give a single account: two models are needed. Moreover, while one model suggests that emotional evaluations do provide reasons for action, the other suggests that they do not. Hence, the question has no simple answer: it depends on the details of each case.
Joshua Shepherd (University of Oxford) "The Knowledge of Action and the Experience of Agency"
An agent generally knows what she is intentionally doing, and generally experiences herself in various ways as the agent of – the thing actively directing – these intentional actions. In this talk I will reflect upon the relationship between these two phenomena – the knowledge of action and the experience of agency. First, I ask what it is about knowledge of action that has intrigued so many philosophers. I focus on Elizabeth Anscombe’s influential view on which knowledge of action is practical (or active), independent from observation, and located within a sphere over which the agent has unique, first-personal authority. Reflection on how best to understand these features of knowledge of action generates explanatory difficulties that seem to remain in spite of the philosophical effort devoted to their resolution. After isolating certain difficulties, I turn from work on knowledge of action to Tyler Burge’s influential view on knowledge of one’s own attitudes. I elucidate Burge’s argument in order to ask whether a version of it could apply to knowledge of action. Drawing on recent work on the cognitive architecture of action control, and drawing as well on Brian O’Shaughnessy’s work on the rational structure of the stream of consciousness during action, I argue in the affirmative. The view that emerges, I claim, captures the senses in which knowledge of action is practical (or active), independent from observation, and located within a sphere over which the agent has unique, first-personal authority.
How to get here
From the Railway Station and Transport Interchange, the easiest way to travel to the University of Sheffield is by Supertram. There is a stop at the Railway Station (far side of the station from the main entrance, accessed via the overbridge). Trams from the station to the University run on the Blue route (destination "Malin Bridge"). Trams from the city centre to the University run on both the Blue route and the Yellow route (destination "Middlewood"). During the day, trams run every 10 minutes. Buy your tickets on the trams. Alight at the "University of Sheffield" stop. This is a request stop. The Geography and Planning Building is a five-minute walk from the "University of Sheffield" tramstop.
There is a taxi rank outside the railway station. The journey takes around 10 - 15 minutes and should cost no more than £7.50. If the driver doesn't know where the Geography and Planning Building is, ask for the Star & Garter pub on Crookes Valley Road.
Please send any enquiries to the local organiser, Luca Barlassina (email@example.com).