The seminar is held in hybrid format, in person (Múzeum krt. 4/i Room 224) and online.


7 October (Friday) 4:15 PM  Room 224 + ONLINE
Frank Zenker
Department of Philosophy, Boğaziçi University, Bebek/Istanbul
Theoretical knowledge and behavioral science

Behavioral science broadly lacks theoretical knowledge today. Some 50 years of experimental/observational research have not resulted in empirically adequate theories that allow to explain and predict human behavior, and to intervene on it (e.g., in public policy making). In explaining this “state-of-the-art,” I raise three related issues. First, a strong focus on induction suggests a lack of understanding among behavioral scientists what theoretical knowledge is, why it is important, and why it requires a deductive approach. Second, the primary aim of “making discoveries” (by testing against chance) leads applications of the best statistical inference strategies generally, and particularly of a Bayesian hypothesis support-threshold, that typically ignore the minimum sample size—leading to underpowered studies the results of which are unlikely to replicate. Third, since observed behavioral responses typically translate into either small effects that are quasi-unobservable or into medium to larger effects the observation of which remains diffuse, the point-effect that an empirically adequate theoretical construct would have to predict is typically unknown, partly explaining why theoretical knowledge cannot easily arise. For each issue, I present possible remedies.

Long Abstract (pdf)
Slides of presentation (pdf)

14 October (Friday) 4:15 PM  Room 224 + ONLINE
Zoltán Jakab
Institute for the Psychology of Special Needs
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Concept acquisition: innateness, learning, and the role of language
Concept learning is a notoriously difficult topic in cognitive science. Fodor's famous arguments for radical nativism were followed by powerful responses, still some of the problems surrounding learning theories remain. Somewhat relatedly, concept nativism continues to be an influential view in infant research. I will discus two important learning proposals, with an inclination to defend certain versions of concept learning. The focus will be on the theoretical possibility of concept learning rather than on recent empirical evidence for nativism, although the latter will also be touched upon.

21 October (Friday) 4:15 PM  Room 224 + ONLINE
Tomasz Szubart
Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University, Cracow
Musical meaning as a problem in the philosophy of cognitive science
Musical meaning has been considered a problem within the philosophy of music since Pythagoras. Over the centuries, several theories have been proposed, and the discussion reached an impasse at the end of the XX century. Recent developments in the cognitive sciences of music suggest that musical meaning could be understood in terms of syntax and semantics, similar to linguistic meaning. The aim of this paper is to (1) shortly describe basic philosophical theories of musical meaning, (2) critically review selected studies in the cognitive neuroscience of musical meaning, and (3) identify some problems in the field of philosophy of cognitive science that might need a resolution first, in order to provide an integrated naturalistic theory of musical meaning.