Symposium Descriptions

The three tracks at this year’s conference will consist not only of paper presentations originating from the open call for papers, but organized symposia as well.  The symposia contain a mix of refereed and invited presentations.  Brief descriptions of these symposia can be found below.

Cognitive Architecture

This session is squarely centered on the philosophy of cognitive architecture with a special emphasis on grounding conscious deliberation in the former. Taking David Marr’s threefold distinction between implementation, algorithmic and computational levels of analysis, the session chairs especially welcome discussions centered on deduction, induction, abduction and decision-making centered on Marr’s implementation and algorithmic levels. Talks addressing novel models of cognitive architecture that substantially differ from physical symbol systems or connectionist systems are also welcome. Along with the former topics, the session welcomes the exploration of issues in machine consciousness: its scope, its limits, and its very possibility. Topics of interest include:

  • Representational foundations of symbolic reasoning
  • Theoretical and computational models of conscious thought
  • Foundations of cognitive architecture
  • Formally characterizing folk concepts
  • Metacognition


Deception and Counter-deception

Kubrick’s landmark _lm 2001 features an at once deceptive and counter-deceptive machine (HAL 9000), and deceptive and (desperately) counter-deceptive humans. Is this volatile mixture our future in a microcosm? Yes, and the mixture is materializing before our very eyes, in no small part because: humans bent on doing great harm can only succeed if they deceive; our best bet for thwarting such humans is probably to enlist the power of counter- deceptive machines; deceptive machines are becoming a crucial part of the Defense arsenal, for PSYOPS and more; and so on.


Can machines really deceive us? Can they deceive each other? What is deception? Can there be both a science and engineering of machine deception and counter-deception? If so, what would it look like? How can we have a science and engineering of trust in a machine-human space if we don’t understand deception and counter-deception? How can we effectively use machines to counter deception perpetrated by machines, and by humans?…

More information.

Technology and the Classroom

This session will include presentations and demonstrations related to teaching and learning philosophy with technology at any educational level. Topics of interest include:

  • Innovative and successful teaching strategies
  • Engaging students outside the classroom
  • Innovative uses of instructional technologies
  • Methods to improve student learning

Speakers include Mara Harrell (Carnegie-Mellon), Tony Beavers (Evansville), Selmer Bringsjord (Rensselaer Polytechnic), Eli Benzaquen (Rishon LeZion), Wilfried Sieg (Carnegie Mellon), Joyce Lazier (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne), and Selmer Bringjord (Rensselaer Polytechnic).

Statistical Analysis of Philosophical Texts

This symposium will introduce participants to several tools for the statistical analysis of texts, including the computational psycholinguistics package word2word and subcorpus topic modeling.

Session 1: Demystifying the “black art” of semantic modeling (Brent Kievit-Kylar, Indiana University)

Algorithmic learning models have allowed computational systems to automatically accumulate vast quantities of relational data that are proxies for the semantics of words. Philosophical corpora that would be too vast for single human consumption can be reduced and relations queried in seconds. This compressed and condensed information can lead to insights that would have been impossible for a human to discover from the full data set. However, with compression comes noise and possible inaccuracies. symposium, we explore how the “black art” of parameter setting in these semantic models effects the outcomes in a comparative study of differences in the outcome spaces generated.

Session 2: Simulating expertise through subcorpus modeling (Jaimie Murdock, Lead Developer, InPhO Project)

As the number of digital philosophy resources expands, the distance between computational models and human expertise grows. However, when working on domain-specific problems, this is not always a good thing. For example, the most relevant documents about free will differ by subject area: a philosopher of mind will examine a different discourse than the metaphysician or ethicist. Through subcorpus topic modeling, we can simulate the discrimination of an expert and provide more focused search tools – moving from query-based search to topic-based search. In this demo, we will show how several different subcorpus topic models respond to documents in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

 Cyber Conflict

In the age of the so-called information revolution, the ability to control, disrupt or manipulate the enemy’s information infrastructure has become as decisive as weapon superiority with respect to determining the outcome of conflicts. So much so that Pentagon’s definition of cyberspace as a new domain in which war is waged, alongside land, sea, air and space, comes as no surprise.

The deployment of cyber conflicts as part of a state’s defensive or offensive strategy is a fast growing phenomenon, which is rapidly changing the dynamics of combat as well as the role that warfare plays in political negotiations and the life of civil societies. Such changes are not the exclusive concern of the military, for they also have a bearing on ethicists and policymakers, since existing ethical theories of war, together with national and international regulations, struggle to address the novelties of this phenomenon.

The issue could not be more pressing and there is a much felt and fast escalating need to share information and coordinate ethical theorising about cyber conflicts. This symposium will address issues concerning the way ICTs are affecting our ethical views of conflicts and warfare, as well as the analysis of just-war principles in the light of the dissemination of cyber conflicts; humanitarian military interventions based on ICTs; whether preventive acts of cyber war may satisfy jus-ad-bellum criteria; challenges of upholding jus-in-bello standards in cyber warfare, especially in asymmetric conflicts; attribution and proportionality of the response to cyber attacks; moral permissibility of automated responses and ethical deployment of military robotic weapons.

Celebrating Thirty years of Computer Ethics

The symposium is devoted to celebrating the (almost) thirty years since the publication of Moor’s seminal paper “What is Computer Ethics?”. The goal is to gather both junior and senior scholars working in the field to discuss both the history and the trends of the research in Computer Ethics, and also to debate its future, such as possible new topics of research, trends, approaches and methods to be endorsed.

In his paper, Moor delineated the scope of Computer Ethics thereby preparing the ground for its establishment as a developing and independent research field. The paper described what he called the computer revolution in two steps, introduction and permeation. As we witness this revolution reaching one of its highest points, it seems that the scenario envisaged in Moor’s paper has come to fruition.

In the span of thirty years, industrialised societies have become information societies and are confronted by the policy vacuum engendered by the information revolution. Computer Ethics as a research field has proved to be crucial for addressing the conceptual muddle underpinning such a vacuum. The research developed in this area provides innovative and insightful analyses on issues such as privacy, anonymity, freedom of speech, cyber warfare, trust and so on.

As the information revolution continues to evolve at a very fast pace, new policy issues, conceptual problems and ethical conundrums are constantly unveiled, and the research on Computer Ethics needs to continue to respond to such problems by developing innovative and effective analyses. The symposium will offer an opportunity to consider old and new problems and possible approaches to address them.