Contact John Drummond for more information.
Reading and discussing The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt
“Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Ethics and Religion” is an exciting one-day conference to be held on January 30, 2020, at Union Theological Seminary (UTS) in New York, in conjunction with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS), the Riverside Church and the Greater Good Initiative.
New technologies are transforming our world every day, and the pace of change is only accelerating. In coming years, human beings will create machines capable of out-thinking us and potentially taking on such uniquely-human traits as empathy, ethical reasoning, perhaps even consciousness. This will have profound implications for virtually every human activity, as well as the meaning we impart to life and creation themselves. This conference will provide an introduction for non-specialists to Artificial Intelligence (AI):
What is it? What can it do and be used for? And what will be its implications for choice and free will; economics and worklife; surveillance economies and surveillance states; the changing nature of facts and truth; and the comparative intelligence and capabilities of humans and machines in the future?
Leading practitioners, ethicists and theologians will provide cross-disciplinary and cross-denominational perspectives on such challenges as technology addiction, inherent biases and resulting inequalities, the ethics of creating destructive technologies and of turning decision-making over to machines from self-driving cars to “autonomous weapons” systems in warfare, and how we should treat the suffering of “feeling” machines. The conference ultimately will address how we think about our place in the universe and what this means for both religious thought and theological institutions themselves.
UTS is the oldest independent seminary in the United States and has long been known as a bastion of progressive Christian scholarship. JTS is one of the academic and spiritual centers of Conservative Judaism and a major center for academic scholarship in Jewish studies. The Riverside Church is an interdenominational, interracial, international, open, welcoming, and affirming church and congregation that has served as a focal point of global and national activism for peace and social justice since its inception and continues to serve God through word and public witness. The annual Greater Good Gathering, the following week at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs, focuses on how technology is changing society, politics and the economy – part of a growing nationwide effort to advance conversations promoting the “greater good.”
Introduction to AI: 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.
Mark C. Taylor (Moderator)
Chair, Department of Religion, Columbia University. A leading figure in debates about post-modernism, Taylor has written on topics ranging from philosophy, religion, literature, art and architecture to education, media, science, technology and economics.
Consultant and advisor to companies within tech industry, focusing on innovation, public policy, and business strategy, chairs annual conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society for Commonground Publishing.
Professor in the Computer and Information Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania, where he holds the National Center Chair, as well as the departments of Economics, Statistics, and Operations, Information and Decisions (OID) in the Wharton School; Founding Director of the Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences; faculty founder and former director of Penn Engineering’s Networked and Social Systems Engineering (NETS) Program, external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute; author, The Ethical Algorithm.
Founder of Pi Square AI – a decision design company specializing in AI based systems & algorithms, IoT, Augmented Reality & Robotic Process Automation; founder of The Good AI org to drive awareness and consciousness towards transparency in AI.
Ethical Implications: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Serene Jones (Moderator)
A highly respected scholar and public intellectual, the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones is the 16th President of the historic Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. The first woman to head the 182-year-old institution, Jones occupies the Johnston Family Chair for Religion and Democracy. She is a Past President of the American Academy of Religion, which annually hosts the world’s largest gathering of scholars of religion. She is the author of several books including Trauma and Grace and, most recently, her memoir Call It Grace: Finding Meaning in a Fractured World. Jones, a popular public speaker, is sought by media to comment on major issues impacting society because of her deep grounding in theology, politics, women’s studies, economics, race studies, history, and ethics.
Researcher at Tufts University Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory (HRILab) working on AI ethics and human-robot interaction while drawing upon background in philosophy of religion and theology. Lecturer, Tufts University Department of Computer Science; PhD. ABD Committee on the Study of Religion, Harvard University; Co-author, “Ethics for Psychologists: A Casebook Approach,” (Sage, 2011); Member, IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems.
Director of technology ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara Univ. His work is focused on the ethics of technology, including such topics as AI and ethics, the ethics of technological manipulation of humans, the ethics of mitigation of and adaptation towards risky emerging technologies, and various aspects of the impact of technology and engineering on human life and society, including the relationship of technology and religion (particularly the Catholic Church). Green teaches AI ethics in the Graduate School of Engineering and formerly taught several other engineering ethics courses. He is co-author of the Ethics in Technology Practice corporate technology ethics resources.
Michael J. Quinn
Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Seattle University. In the early 2000s his focus shifted to computer ethics, and in 2004 he published a textbook, Ethics for the Information Age, that explores moral problems related to modern uses of information technology, such as privacy, intellectual property rights, computer security, software reliability, and the relationship between automation and unemployment. The book, now in its eighth edition, has been adopted by more than 125 colleges and universities in the United States and many more internationally.
Consultant, ethicist, and scholar at Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, where he has chaired the Center’s working research group on Technology and Ethics. Senior advisor to The Hastings Center, fellow at the Center for Law, Science & Innovation at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law (Arizona State University), fellow at the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technology. Author, A Dangerous Master: How to keep technology from slipping beyond our control and Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong.
Ethical/religious implications: 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
John Thatamanil (Moderator)
Associate Professor of Theology & World Religions, John eaches a wide variety of courses in the areas of comparative theology, theologies of religious diversity, Hindu-Christian dialogue, the theology of Paul Tillich, theory of religion, and process theology. He is committed to the work of comparative theology—theology that learns from and with a variety of traditions. Professor Thatamanil’s first book is an exercise in constructive comparative theology. The Immanent Divine: God, Creation, and the Human Predicament. An East-West Conversation provides the foundation for a nondualist Christian theology worked out through a conversation between Paul Tillich and Sankara, the master teacher of the Hindu tradition of Advaita Vedanta.
Adjunct professor at Holy Names University, PhD in ethics with focus on theological and technological issues.
Orthodox Rabbi, fellow at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, working on a book with Yeshiva University on robots in the law tentatively titled “Almost Human.”
Distinguished Research Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics, Graduate TheologicalUniversity; His systematic theology, God – The World’s Future, now in its 3rd edition, has been used as a text book in numerous seminaries around the world. For more than a decade he edited Dialog, A Journal of Theology. Along with Robert John Russell he is the co-founder and co-editor of the journal, Theology and Science, at the GTU’s Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Associate Research Fellow and Creative Director at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is also the author of The Age of AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity. He writes and speaks on various topics including human dignity, ethics, technology, and artificial intelligence. His writing has been featured at Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, Providence Journal, Light Magazine, and many more.
religious and theological implications: 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Arnold M. Eisen (Moderator)
Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Since taking office in 2007, Chancellor Eisen has transformed the education of religious, pedagogical, professional, and lay leaders for North American Jewry, with a focus on graduating highly skilled, innovative leaders who bring Judaism alive in ways that speak authentically to Jews at a time of rapid and far-reaching change.
Associate Professor of Theology and Director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Professor Bacote‘s areas of teaching and research include theology and culture, theological anthropology, and faith and work. His numerous published works include The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life and Erasing Race: Racial Identity and Theological Anthropology – Black Scholars in White Space. Professor Bacote is a graduate of the Citadel, holds a master’s degrees in divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a master’s degree in philosophy and PhD in theological and religious studies from Drew University.
Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College and author of Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics (Oxford University Press, 2010), Virtually Sacred: Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life (Oxford University Press, 2014), and Temples of Modernity: Nationalism, Hinduism, and Transhumanism in South Indian Science (Lexington 2018).
Reuter Professor of Science and Religion at St. John’s University and The College of St. Benedict where she teaches Computer Ethics and Doing Ministry in a Technological Age. She is the author of In Our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit; Technology and Religion: Remaining Human in a Co-Created Age; andThe Limits of Perfection; and editor of Religion and the New Technologies.
Associate Professor of Reformed Theology Princeton Theological Seminary. She holds degrees in divinity and economics. Interests and work includes poststructuralist theory, scriptural hermeneutics, political theology, surveillance studies, feminist and queer theologies.
The notion of an occurrence of a proposition in discourse is the subject of the following observation:
(O) A proposition may occur in discourse, now asserted, now unasserted, and yetbe recognizably the same proposition.
I shall argue that the true significance of this observation is utterly distorted by Geach’s manner of construing of it — a construal widely known today as “the Frege-Geach point”. Though it serves as a basis for a contemporary understanding of logical form, strictly thought through, this way of construing (O) can be shown to lead to absurdity. I will further argue that a straightforward, undistorted, acceptance of (O) is the key to a genuine philosophical logic.
— Irad Kimhi (The Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago)
Reception to follow.
“Being dragged into the orbit of Webster’s mind is like entering the Magic Mountain: you go in as a visitor, and stay as a patient”
— Tom Mcarthy, author of Remainder and Satin Island
“Jamieson Webster’s new work reflects upon that aspect of hysteria—or conversion disorder—that has eluded the attention of most commentators: the indifference of the subject at the very moment that the symptom is most clearly enacted. This point of departure allows Webster to think about what the body contains but also what traverses the body at a level that is prior to speech, that is perhaps the condition of speech itself. This incisive and unsettling meditation gives us a form of psychoanalytic writing that tracks the transference as bodily transformation and impasse. It is written in and for our times, when the courage and difficulty of the slow labor of psychoanalysis provides a perspective that eludes the certitudes of dogma and the exhilarations of false promises. Webster’s book asks us to stay within the domain of difficult exchange where what registers and shifts at the level of the body lets us know more about what we can expect of life and what our own living carries of the lives of others. Beautifully written, theoretically brave, and disturbing in all the best ways”.
— Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature and Critical Theory, University of California, Berkeley
From the book:
Conversion disorder—a psychiatric term that names the enigmatic transformation of psychic energy into bodily manifestations—offers a way to rethink the present. With so many people suffering from unexplained bodily symptoms; with so many seeking recourse to pharmacological treatments or bodily modification; with young men and women seemingly willing to direct violence toward anybody, including themselves—a radical disordering in culture insists on the level of the body.
Part memoir, part clinical case, part theoretical investigation, this book searches for the body. Is it a psychopathological entity; a crossroads for the cultural, political, and biological in the form of care; or the foundation of psychoanalytic work on the question of sexuality? Jamieson Webster traces conversion’s shifting meanings—in religious, economic, and even chemical processes—revisiting the work of thinkers as diverse as Benjamin, Foucault, Agamben, and Lacan. She provides an intimate account of her own conversion from patient to psychoanalyst, as well as her continuing struggle to apprehend the complexities of the patient’s body. When listening to dreams, symptoms, worries, or sexual impasses, the body becomes a defining trope that belies a vulnerable and urgent wish for transformation. Conversion Disorder names what is singular about the entanglement of the fractured body and the social world in order to imagine what kind of cure is possible.
A Night of Philosophy & Ideas, at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, is an all-night marathon of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, readings, music, and virtual reality experiences takes over the entirety of the iconic Central Library.
This year’s participants will consider humanity’s relationship to the world, to nature, to other living beings and species, and to technology. They will ask: What is the meaning of life? How do we live our lives from beginning to end, be it striving or barely surviving? How do we define that experience and how do we situate ourselves in this world?
French-American economist Esther Duflo, winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics, will kick off the evening with a keynote address. The lineup also features a French anthropologist, sociologist, and physician Didier Fassin, professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies and Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales; Catherine Malabou, Professor of Philosophy at Kingston University (UK) and UCI; Maïa Mazaurette, a Brooklyn-based French author, columnist, and illustrator whose work deals with contemporary sexuality and the body’s place in society; and Barbara Stiegler, professor of philosophy at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne and a member of the Institut Universitaire de France.
Performances will include Unnamed, from Jérôme Thomas, a French juggler whose work integrates contemporary dance and theatre, and Armenian-Syrian artist Hratch Arbach’s MAWTINI: lost homelands, in a site-specific installation. The event will also feature a late-night screening of Jacques Rivette’s landmark 1971 film Out 1, and an exhibition of work by New York-based visual artist Mary Mattingly, whose “sculptural ecosystems” in urban spaces include Swale and Pull, and who founded the Waterpod Project (2009), a barge-based public space and self-sufficient habitat that hosted over 200,000 visitors in New York.
Where does this sneaking, yet ever more oppressive and widely experienced sense of a generalized lagging behind come from? A feeling which is only strengthened by the perpetual decree that evolution must be preceded by adaptation. In her talk, Barbara Steigler will explore the genealogy of this new imperative which takes us back to the 1930s, to the sources of a new and very powerful political thought—since baptized as “neoliberalism”—which told a great story about the maladjustment of the human race to its new environment. By drawing two completely different meanings from the Darwinian revolution, Walter Lippmann and John Dewey proposed two radically opposed visions of the new liberalism and democracy. But they also provided two powerful and competing accounts of the future of life and the sense of evolution, an old debate forgotten for many decades which now demands renewed attention in the context of the ecological crisis.
Barbara Stiegler is Associate Professor of Political Philosophy and the director of the Soin, éthique et santé (“Care, Ethics, and Health”) master’s program at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne. She is also a member of the Institut universitaire de France, a service of the French Ministry of Higher Education that honors professors for their research excellence. Stiegler is a specialist in German philosophy and has authored three books: Nietzsche et la biologie (Presses universitaires de France, 2001), Nietzsche et la critique de la chair (Presses universitaires de France, 2005) and “Il faut s’adapter”: Sur un nouvel impératif politique (Gallimard, 2019).
Event co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the CCCCT.
While non-classical theories of truth that take truth to be transparent have some obvious advantages over any classical theory that evidently must take it as non-transparent, several authors have recently argued that there’s also a big disadvantage of non-classical theories as compared to their “external” classical counterparts: proof-theoretic strength. Some of them have concluded that this gives a decisive advantage to classical logic theories. Williamson has argued this too. While conceding the relevance of proof-theoretic strength to the choice of logic, I will argue that there is a natural way to beef up extant internal theories so as to remove their proof-theoretic disadvantage. Given this, the resulting internal theories should seem preferable to their external counterparts.
Logic and Metaphysics Workshop Spring 2020
Feb 3 Hartry Field, NYU
Feb 10 Melissa Fusco, Columbia
Feb 17 GC CLOSED NO MEETING
Feb 24 Dongwoo Kim, GC
Mar 2 Alex Citikin, Metropolitan Telecommunications
Mar 9 Antonella Mallozzi, Providence
Mar 16 Mircea Dimitru, Bucharest
Mar 23 Jenn McDonald, GC
Mar 30 David Papineau, GC
Apr 6 ? Eoin Moore, GC
Apr 13 SPRING RECESS NO MEETING
Apr 20 Michał Godziszewski, Munich
Apr 27 Michael Glanzberg, Rutgers
May 4 Matteo Zichetti, Bristol
May 11 Lisa Warenski,GC
May 18 PROBABLY NO MEETING
We’re a community of philosophers of language centered in New York City. We have a meeting each week at which a speaker presents a piece of their own work relating to the philosophy of language. Anyone with an interest in philosophy of language is welcome!
Paul Pietroski (Rutgers)
Brian Leahy (Harvard)
Elizabeth Coppock (Boston)
Maria Biezma (UMass)
Jenn McDonald (CUNY)
Liina Pylkannen (NYU)
Bob Beddor (NUS)
Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini (Rutgers Newark)
Masha Esipova (Princeton)
Nate Charlow (Toronto)
Eric Tracy (City College)
Dilip Ninan (Tufts)
Jim Pryor (NYU)
This paper considers Cornelius Castoriadis’s articulation of social imaginary significations with an emphasis on their link to the radical imaginary. Castoriadis wrote on social imaginary significations for more than thirty years, and his understanding of them changed significantly during this time, yet this is not reflected in debates on his work. The paper argues that there are three distinct phases in his reflections. The first phase can be dated 1964-1970. This early phase is characterized by Castoriadis’s break from Marx and subsequent settling of accounts with Marxism. Central to Castoriadis’s critique of Marx was the recognition of history (or: the social-historical) as the domain of meaning and unmotivated creation as the work of the radical imaginary. Importantly, Castoriadis also considered the intertwining of the imaginary with the symbolic, on the one hand, and with social doing, on the other. Castoriadis’s approach in this early phase can be considered phenomenological in the broad sense that Merleau-Ponty gave it in the Phenomenology of Perception. The second phase is dated 1970-1975; that is, the period in which Castoriadis wrote the second part of The Imaginary Institution of Society wherein he announced his turn to ontology. This is his most self-contained and systematic articulation of social imaginary significations. Castoriadis extends and develops his notion of magma in relation to social imaginary significations and emphasizes the social imaginary creation of a world ex nihilo as an ontological creation, whilst the radical imaginary is presented as a part of his emergent general ontology of à-être. The third ‘kaleidoscopic’ phase is dated 1976-1997 and may be understood as a period of consolidation and expansion. Although his basic understanding of social imaginary significations did not dramatically alter (although further developments are visible), his thought went in a myriad of different directions and patterns – hence kaleidoscopic — that nonetheless shaped a wider background against which his elucidation of social imaginaries were configured. His reconsideration of the sacred, the ‘ground power’ of institutions, and the development of a poly-regional ontology of the for-itself were key to this changing background. The paper will conclude with a critical engagement with the implications of the changing permutations of the imaginary element for Castoriadis’s thought.
Dr. Suzi Adams is Senior Lecturer in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Flinders University and permanent External Fellow at the East-Central European Institute for Philosophy, Charles University (Prague). She is a founding co-ordinating editor of the Social Imaginaries refereed journal and book series, and from October-December 2019, was an inaugural Senior Research Fellow at the Humanities Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Hamburg. She has published widely in the social imaginaries field, including most recently Social Imaginaries: Critical Interventions (Eds. Suzi Adams and Jeremy Smith), 2019, Rowman and Littlefield International, London. She is currently writing a monograph entitled Castoriadis and the Imaginary Element (forthcoming with Rowman and Littlefield International).