Showing posts from August, 2007

30th International Wittgenstein Symposium: pictures

Some pictures are available here .

30th International Wittgenstein Symposium: Saturday

Closing day, yesterday, more rain, less people. I hoped my paper "Understanding Epistemic Relevance" went well. The topic was how we might understand the concept of relevant (semantic) information. The discussion was extremely enjoyable and fruitful, at least on this side of the dialogue. We managed to avoid the " veridicality " issue (should x be true in order to count as semantic information?) and concentrated on a number of interesting aspects of relevance and semantic information. One of the best questions was asked by Fred Dretske . It addressed a crucial assumption in the paper, namely that in order to understand what relevance means, if one relies on an analysis in terms of questions+answers, then one has to assume that the agents involved are fully rational. Fred's concern was that this leaves out concrete applications to cases in which the agent is either unable (a child, a mentally handicapped person) or unwilling (e.g. for moral, religious or psycho

30th International Wittgenstein Symposium: Friday

Friday, penultimate day at the Wittgenstein Symposium. It's raining. Several people have already left. First corrigendum : I failed to mention that I missed some talks at the beginning of the meeting. In particular, I was told by reliable sources that two were very interesting: Fred Dretske 's and Allen Renear 's. I cannot comment on either, but I heard that the audience was apparently unable to accept Fred's point that something may count as semantic information only if it is true. It must be people who also think that whales are fish, since they live in water. Intuitions can be a great point of departure, but they are certainly an awful point of arrival. We had a similar difficulty today, during the pannel session (see below). Second corrigendum : I was wrong, yesterday (see previous post below). There was another poor (I'm being kind) talk today, on ethical challenges posed by the internet . I've seen this done so many times. Someone wakes up and bang, he

30th International Wittgenstein Symposium: Thursday

A flight from San Francisco to LA + a flight from LA to London + 24 hours in Oxford + another flight to Vienna (Austrian Airlines are excellent, I fully recommend them) + one hour car drive later (that is, after the Google meeting, see previous post), and here I'm, a bit jet-lagged, attending and speaking at the 30th In. Wittgenstein Symposium in Kirchberg am Wechsel. This is not California, or Silicon Valley, or Google Headquarters. At the meeting, you pay 1 euro for your coffee (sic) and there is no wireless, but half a dozen, arthritic PCs, which are so sluggish that the 10cents per minute you are charged to check your email (airport business model?) become a fortune. Luckily, the staff is helpful, the weather is fine, and the close Mamas restaurant offers a very nice refuge: free WiFi, decent food (pizza/coke being your nerdy blogger's unimaginative usual food; but I am trying to switch to salads, thinking of the next squash season and the team back in College) and co

SciFoo 2007

I seem to be the only philosopher among the ca. 200 people invited to this year SciFoo . Flattering, certainly, but perhaps also evidence of the marginal nature of philosophy? I wonder. I arrived with great expectations. This is a unconference or, as they say, the wiki of all conferences. Free thinking, free association, chatting and discussing about anything, sodas and food anytime you wish, great facilities at Google place. The program takes shape by having invitees volunteering to chair or organise sessions on the spot, or giving presentations on anything they would like to talk and get a discussion about. It sounded too good to miss it. I accepted and took the flight from Chicago , where I was for NACAP anyway. Getting here is not easy, the nearest truly international airport being LA, but, with some effort, I found the hotel. Nice place. On Friday (yesterday) I had the disconcerting experience of realising I did not know anyone, if not by name, fame, or wiki profile.