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Coffee Talks are meetings between faculty and graduate students from different academic departments within the University of Colorado, Boulder. At each meeting, one researcher presents his or her recent work in progress in an informal, constructive atmosphere that allows the speaker to receive critical feedback from faculty in other fields. In addition, the audience is provided an opportunity to learn about critical research being done in other departments.

Recent Coffee Talk topics have included climate change, models in historical science, origin of life, science and religion, and biology education.

Fall 2016 - Spring 2017 Talks:
Coffee Talks are usually held in HLMS 269 Morris Reading Room at 3:30pm.

Sept 13, 2016: Zach Weber (University of Otago), "The Case for Non-classical Logic"
3:305:00pm, Hellems 269
In this introductory level talk, I lay out the main motivations for adopting non-classical logics, from the 'naive' theory of truth: such logics promise to let us keep Tarski's unrestricted truth schema. Pros and cons are considered, for example weighing the gain in expressive power against the (apparent) loss of inferential power. Symmetries between theories with truth value gaps and truth value gluts are considered. I then survey some recent developments in substructural logic, and point to ongoing challenges and prospects for these projects.

Jan 31, 2017: Marie Banich (Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder), "Executive Function: Theories and Taxonomies -- Where Do They Lead Us?"
In this talk I will provide a historical perspective on different ideas regarding executive function, which have drawn heavily from two quite disparate sources: observations of patients with frontal lobe damage, and theories of control processes drawn from artificial intelligence. The first perspective has been intertwined with discussions about what it means to be human and to have free will, while the other is about as devoid of such considerations as possible, focused mainly on the ways in which operations must be sequenced to reach an outcome. Since these initial ideas, researchers have attempted to map operations required for executive function onto brain regions and to integrate these two perspectives, but with limited success. Part of this difficulty may be that executive function is indeed an emergent property of brain function or it may be that our taxonomy of executive processes needs to be re-structured or re-conceptualized. Some examples relevant to both of these perspectives will be provided.

Mar 7, 2017: Katie McShane (Colorado State University), "Ecosystems, Organisms, and Eliminativist Reductionism about Interests"
Biocentrism is the view that living things, in virtue of being alive, are bearers of morally significant interests. Most biocentrists take the view that individual organisms, but not larger the wholes they make up (e.g., ecosystems), should be counted as bearers of such interests. This paper evaluates the two main rationales that have been offered in support of such individualism: (1) that a thing cannot have interests if it does not have inherited traits, and (2) that a thing cannot have interests if what is good for it is simply a matter of what is good for its constituent parts. The problems with these rationales, I argue, undermine the two most commonly offered reasons for thinking that biocentrists ought to be individualists rather than holists.


For more information, please email rchps@colorado.edu


     
   
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