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LSE PhD Student Session: Chloé de Canson & Nicolas Cote
11 December 2019, 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Chloé de Canson: “The Nature of Awareness Growth”
Abstract: An agent considers that the book she is about to receive could be a novel or a book of poems. Then, she comes to entertain the proposition that it could also be a book of short stories. She undergoes what I call lateral awareness growth. How should the Bayesian model this event? Two proposals have been argued for in the literature: that it should be modelled as a refinement, or as an expansion of the algebra. In this paper, I argue for the refinement account. I argue that the inclusion of a catch-all proposition in the algebra of less-than-fully-aware agents is mandated by a foundational assumption of Bayesian epistemology, namely that agents have two means of inquiry: reason and observation. I show that this constitutes an argument in favour of the refinement account and a refutation of the expansion account. I then show that my argument can be extended to argue against two widespread objections to the inclusion of a catch-all proposition: that its content is somehow defective, and that it is impossible to determine which epistemic attitude to adopt towards it.
Nicolas Cote: “Measuring Modal Conceptions of Freedom”
Abstract: So-called republican or independence models of freedom have emerged in recent years as strong rivals to the classical liberal conceptions of freedom. The primary difference between them is that while liberal conceptions assert that individuals are free to X just in case no one has in fact imposed constraints on them which prevent them from X-ing, republican models assert that for someone to be free, it must be the case that no one could have imposed such constraints. However, unlike the liberal conception of freedom, for which numerous different measures have been proposed by various authors, no attempt has yet been made at defining a measure of republican freedom. I propose to do just that, by relying on David Lewis’s analysis of counterfactuals to develop a cardinal measure of distance between possible worlds, and then applying the framework of fuzzy set theory to incorporate this measure of distance into a rule for ranking individuals with respect to how free they are. The ranking rule that we reach is one that is sensitive to the modal concerns that motivate republican/independence models of freedom.