Wintersemester 2015/16

Programm Wintersemester 2015/2016

3.Dezember 2015:

Angelica Kaufmann (Lichtenbergkolleg, Fellow in the Primate Cognition group)


Joint distal intentions: Who shares what?

The ability to think for cooperating is called Shared Intentionality (Tomasello, 2014, p. 125). Its advocates maintain that this is a distinctively human skill, for humans possess a foundational capacity both to appreciate the content of the intentions of conspecifics, and to share intentions and collaborate on the basis of this appreciation. This equipment provides humans with an over-sophisticated capacity to coordinate joint actions and plans over time. I investigate to what extent such capacity can be observed to emerge in non-human animals as well.

21. Januar 2016:

John Michael (CEU Budapest)


A Teleosemantic perspective on the infant mindreading puzzle

In this talk, I will show how theoretical discussion of recent research on the abilities of infants to represent other agents’ beliefs has been shaped by a descriptivist conception of mental content. The basic idea underlying descriptivism is that the contents of a mental representation are individuated by the set of descriptions with which that representation is associated, and which underpin the role that the representation plays in categorization and in inferential reasoning. It is this idea which underpins the strategy of arguing for the hypothesis that infants are not able to represent beliefs at all by appealing to evidence that they fail to understand some of the ways in which beliefs combine with each other and with other mental states to form other beliefs and/or to guide action. I also show how alternative conceptions of mental content—and in particular Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantic approach—make it possible to endorse the view that infants have the ability to represent beliefs while failing to understand some of the ways in which beliefs combine with each other and with other mental states in contributing to inferences and actions. In articulating this view, I will draw upon Millikan’s recently developed notion of ‘unicepts’. Unicepts, according to Millikan, are the basic representational vehicles that underpin our abilities to (re-) identify objects, properties, relations and kinds. When applied to research on mindreading in infancy and early childhood, Millikan’s approach generates fruitful new questions about the development of belief reasoning, and about the functions of belief reasoning in infancy and at different stages of childhood.

4. Februar 2016:

Laura Di Paolo (Lichtenbergkolleg, Fellow in the Primate Cognition group)


The role of Overimitaiton in producing cultural innovations

The odd and apparently useless overimitative behaviour showed by human children has been clarified as the attempt to build a normative domain, or to understand an apparently not intuitive causal connection. But neither of the two explanations has really answered to the question on the role that overimitation has in the evolution of human-like cumulative cultural. In this paper we try to address this question, claiming that in fact it is pivotal for the construction of the cultural accumulation because of its 'structure', and not simply because it allows to keep stored and to share information faithfully .

11. Februar 2016:

Christina Schulze (MPI for Human Development, Berlin)


Statistical Intuitions: Smart Babies, Stupid Adults?

Research has revealed a puzzling discrepancy between infant and adult statistical cognition. Whereas babies seem to be intuitive statisticians, surprisingly capable of statistical learning and inference, adults’ statistical inferences are often found to be inconsistent with the rules of probability theory and statistics. Drawing on research on the description–experience gap in risky choice, we argue that a key factor in understanding this discrepancy is whether statistical inferences are made on the basis of symbolic, abstract descriptions or on the actual experience of statistical information. We suggest that research on probabilistic reasoning across the lifespan needs to consider that experience and symbolic description of the world may engage systematically distinct cognitive processes and thus produce contradictory conclusions about people’s competences.