Publications and Conferences

Publications (peer reviewed)

Ransom, M. (forthcoming) “Frauds, Posers and Sheep: A virtue theoretic solution to the acquaintance debate”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Abstract:  The acquaintance debate in aesthetics has been traditionally divided between pessimists, who argue that testimony does not provide others with aesthetic knowledge of artworks, and optimists, who hold that acquaintance with an artwork is not a necessary precondition for acquiring aesthetic knowledge. In this paper I propose a reconciliationist solution to the acquaintance debate: while aesthetic knowledge can be had via testimony, aesthetic judgment requires acquaintance with the artwork. I develop this solution by situating it within a virtue aesthetics framework based on Ernest Sosa’s virtue epistemology. I go on to apply the solution to the debates on moral testimony and expert testimony. An interesting variant on Gettier cases emerges: cases in which subjects have knowledge, but it has been formed by the wrong competence.

Ransom, M., Fazelpour, S., & Mole, C. (2017) “Attention in the Predictive Mind”Consciousness and Cognition, Vol. 47: 99-112.

AbstractIt has recently become popular to suggest that cognition can be explained as a process of Bayesian prediction error minimization. Some advocates of this view propose that attention should be understood as the optimization of expected precisions in the prediction-error signal (Clark, 2013, 2016; Feldman & Friston, 2010; Hohwy, 2012, 2013). This proposal successfully accounts for several attention-related phenomena. We claim that it cannot account for all of them, since there are certain forms of voluntaryattention that it cannot accommodate. We therefore suggest that, although the theory of Bayesian prediction error minimization introduces some powerful tools for the explanation of mental phenomena, its advocates have been wrong to claim that Bayesian prediction error minimization is ‘all the brain ever does’.

Ransom, M. (2016) Why Emotions Do Not Solve the Frame Problem” in V. C. Müller (Ed.), Fundamental Issues of Artificial Intelligence (Synthese Library). Berlin: Springer. 

AbstractAttempts to engineer a generally intelligent artificial agent have yet to meet with success, largely due to the (intercontext) frame problem. Given that humans are able to solve this problem on a daily basis, one strategy for making progress in AI is to look for disanalogies between humans and computers that might account for the difference. It has become popular to appeal to the emotions as the means by which the frame problem is solved in human agents. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the tenability of this proposal, with a primary focus on Dylan Evans’ search hypothesis and Antonio Damasio’s somatic marker hypothesis. I will argue that while the emotions plausibly help solve the intracontext frame problem, they do not function to solve or help solve the intercontext frame problem, as they are themselves subject to contextual variability.

Conference Presentations (peer reviewed)

2017

(upcoming) “How to argue for aesthetic perception without relying on intuitions” at the British Society of Aesthetics. Oxford, United Kingdom.

(upcoming) “Is there a change in perceptual experience between novice and expert?” at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology annual meeting. Baltimore, Maryland.

2016

“Aesthetic expertise, high-level perceptual content and non-inferential justification” at the British Society of Aesthetics. Oxford, United Kingdom. *winner of the Postgraduate Prize in Aesthetics*

“Aesthetic expertise, high-level perceptual content and non-inferential justification” at the Central Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Chicago, Illinois.

“Are Perceptions and Emotions Responses to Reasons? A Defense of Affective Perception” at the Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Washington, DC.

2015

“Aesthetic expertise, high-level perceptual content and non-inferential justification” at the American Society for Aesthetics annual meeting. Savannah, Georgia.

“Three Problems for the Predictive Coding Theory of Attention” at the Minds Online Conference. Online the month of September at: http://philosophyofbrains.com/. With co-author Sina Fazelpour.

“Frauds, Posers and Sheep: a virtue aesthetics solution to the acquaintance debate” at the British Society of Aesthetics. Cambridge, United Kingdom. *winner of the Postgraduate Prize in Aesthetics*

“Three Problems for the Predictive Coding Theory of Attention” at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology annual meeting. Durham, North Carolina. With co-author Sina Fazelpour. *paper awarded the William James Prize honorable mention*

“Frauds, Posers and Sheep: a virtue aesthetics solution to the acquaintance debate” at the Pacific APA. Vancouver, Canada.

2014

“How the Emotions Justify Evaluative Beliefs” at the Networking and Mentoring Workshop for Graduate Student Women in Philosophy. Princeton, New Jersey.

“How the Emotions Justify Evaluative Beliefs” at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology 40th annual meeting. Vancouver, Canada.

“Frauds, Posers and Sheep: A virtue aesthetics solution to the acquaintance debate” at the American Society for Aesthetics Pacific Division Meeting. Monterrey, California.

2013

“Why Emotions Do Not Solve the Frame Problem” at the Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence conference. Oxford, United Kingdom.

2012

“Searching for the Prototypical Square Circle: a new argument against identifying prototypes with concepts” at the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology. London, England.

“Extensional and Intensional Intuitions in Philosophical Theory Construction” at the Buffalo Experimental Philosophy Conference. Buffalo, New York.

Conference Panels

2015

“Is the brain a prediction machine? Exploring the Bayesian revolution in neuroscience” at the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology. Montreal, Canada. 

2014 

“How to Naturalize Logic: a Case Study of the Argumentum Ad Hominem” author-meets-critics panel with John Woods (2013) Errors of Reasoning: Naturalizing the Logic of Inference, at the Western Canadian Philosophical Association. Vancouver, Canada.

Other

Comments on “Do We Have Pogonotrophic Obligations?” at the American Society for Aesthetics Annual Meeting, October 2014. San Antonio, Texas.

Comments on “Appreciating Bad Art” at the American Society for Aesthetics Pacific Division Meeting, April 2013. Monterrey, California.