Chatbots, Roboter-Kolleg*innen, Messenger-Dienste: Wir interagieren in unserem Alltag schon lange nicht mehr nur mit Menschen. Welche Veränderungen bringt diese Entwicklung mit sich? Wie gestalten wir sie? Und welche Gefahren, aber auch Chancen sind damit verbunden? Mit dieser Thematik befasst sich der Forschungsverbund „INTERACT! Neue Formen der sozialen Interaktion mit intelligenten Systemen“ an der RUB, der durch das Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen mit 2 Millionen Euro gefördert wird. Zum interdisziplinären Team um den Sprecher Prof. Dr. Tobias Schlicht (Philosophie) gehören Prof. Dr. Albert Newen und Prof. Dr. Eva Weber-Guskar (Philosophie), Prof. Dr. Nikol Rummel (Erziehungswissenschaft), Prof. Dr. Anna Tuschling (Medienwissenschaft) und Prof. Dr. Matthias Weiß (Wirtschaftswissenschaft). weitere Informationen
Collaborative Research Project: Prof. Dr. Albert Newen (RUB), Prof. Dr. Nikolai Axmacher (part of the Prof. Dr. Sen Cheng’s research group “FOR 2812 - Constructing Scenarios of the Past”)
The leading questions of this philosophical project are: How is the self-model constituted by episodic memory recall and how is episodic memory recall shaped by the self-model? One general idea is that the self-model is constituted by memory processes. If we had no memories (including short-term memories), then there would be no content in the self-model. In the other direction, the self-model constrains episodic memory recall by demanding coherence with prior background beliefs in the self-model. How can we adequately account for the double role of the self-model, as being constituted by the memory systems and as constraining episodic recall? The answer has to be found within our general framework of a generative view of memory, namely that the recall of an autobiographical episode is based on triggering relevant memory traces which are used to construct a scenario by enrichment or modification through semantic information. The project aims to describe both directions of the interdependence of self-model and memory, focusing on strong influence of the activated content of the self-model on the construction of episodic memory. Thus, a main challenge of this project is the adequate description of the whole Self-Memory System with a detailed description of the influence of the self-model on recall of autobiographic episodes. This theoretical project is realized in close collaboration with an additional empirical fMRI project (guided by Prof. Axmacher in the same Research Group) in which we aim to measure the neural correlates of the influence of the self-model on episodic recall. Thus, an interdisciplinary perspective is essential for the project. further information
Collaborative Research Project: Prof. Dr. Albert Newen (RUB), Prof. Dr. Tobias Schlicht, Speaker (RUB), Prof. Dr. Josef Perner (University of Salzburg), Prof. Dr. Hans-Johann Glock (University of Zurich)
This project aims at a comprehensive theory of the structure and development of how humans, in particular children, understand the actions and reasons of others. It is thus restricted in the sense that only the understanding, not the performance of action is concerned, and that the focus is on understanding the actions and reasons of others, not one’s own. To this end, philosophical and empirical subprojects are interlocked in order to conceptually develop and empirically test a theoretical framework in one and the same collaborative project. This ambitious project makes substantial and original contributions to central debates in the philosophy of mind and action and the cognitive science of social cognition. To pursue this project, experts from Bochum, Salzburg and Zurich will collaborate closely in this unique interdisciplinary constellation which promises to yield a comprehensive, conceptually sound, and empirically supported theory of the structure and development of understanding actions and reasons. further information
Gemeinsames Forschungsprojekt: Prof. Dr. Albert Newen (RUB), Prof. Dr. Tobias Schlicht, Sprecher (RUB), Prof. Dr. Josef Perner (Universität Salzburg), Prof. Dr. Hans-Johann Glock (Universität Zürich)
Das neue Forschungsprojekt zielt auf eine umfassende Theorie der Struktur und Entwicklung des Verstehens von Handlungen und Gründen ab. Es beschränkt sich auf die Untersuchung unseres Verstehens, nicht der Ausführung, von Handlungen anderer Personen, nicht der eigenen. Dazu sind philosophische und empirische Forschung eng verzahnt, um innerhalb eines interdisziplinären Projekts eine adäquate philosophische Theorie zu entwickeln und empirisch zu testen. Dieses ambitionierte Projekt liefert substanzielle und originelle Beiträge zu zentralen Debatten in der Philosophie des Geistes, Handlungstheorie und Kognitionswissenschaft der sozialen Kognition. Experten aus Bochum, Salzburg und Zürich arbeiten eng zusammen in einer einzigartigen interdisziplinären Konstellation, aus der eine umfassende, begrifflich kohärente und empirisch bestätigte Theorie der Struktur und Entwicklung unseres Verstehens von Handlungen und Gründen gewonnen wird.
The group is led by Dr. Joachim Horvath and is located at the Center for Mind, Brain and Cognitive Evolution and the Department of Philosophy II of Ruhr-University Bochum. It is generously funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with approximately 1,1 million euros for a period of up to 5 years (beginning in January 2018).
The method of cases is widely regarded as one of the oldest and most central philosophical methods, with clear instances already recognizable in Plato’s early dialogues. Although there is no uncontroversial characterization of this method, the basic idea can be put as follows: intuitive verdicts about particular cases – typically in the form of thought experiments – often play a decisive role in supporting or undermining philosophical theories, depending on how well those theories accommodate the intuitive verdicts in question. Especially in 20th century analytic philosophy, the method of cases has enjoyed a significant upsurge, most notably in areas like epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, or the philosophy of mind.
Despite its venerable age and centrality in philosophy, the method of cases has attracted severe criticism in recent decades, up to the point where some philosophers even doubt that it can be sustained at all. One philosophical movement that was pivotal for this turn of the tide is experimental philosophy, which started its life in the early 2000s by testing intuitive verdicts about famous philosophical cases in psychological experiments. This experimental work gave rise to surprising findings that suggest that intuitions about cases vary with philosophically irrelevant factors, such as order of presentation or cultural background. Since these findings are difficult to reconcile with the trustworthiness of intuitive verdicts about cases, some experimental philosophers have argued that the method of cases should be restricted or even abandoned.
As a result of these developments the method of cases has slipped into a substantial metaphilosophical crisis – not least because its theoretical foundations have turned out to be problematically unclear. One key motivation for the proposed project is thus to provide a unified account of the theoretical foundations of the method of cases. Such an account will also be useful for advancing the unresolved debate about how to respond to the experimentalist challenge to the method of cases, which is another key motivation for the project. A special focus will be on the experimental investigation of central metaphilosophical assumptions in this debate, such as the assumption of intuitive expertise in philosophy¬ – a part of the project that builds on a successful and ongoing interdisciplinary research cooperation. Finally, it also seems vital to develop methodological alternatives to the method of cases, given that it is an open question whether this method can be defended as it stands. The search for viable alternatives to the method of cases is thus another key motivation for the proposed project.
The project will therefore be organized around four core themes: the Theoretical Foundations of the method of cases, the most promising Responses to the experimentalist challenge, the Experimental Metaphilosophy of the method of cases, and Alternatives to this method.
The project is a part of the SPP Experimental Pragmatics by the German Research Association (DFG). Its principal investigator is Prof. Dr. Markus Werning with further investigators Dr. Matthias Unterhuber and Dr. Erica Cosentino. The project addresses the question on how discourse contexts influence the way sentence meaning is composed from lexical meaning and, to this end, conducts EEG experiments. Specifically, predictions from Bayesian pragmatics and semantic similarity views are contrasted and implications for the debate on semantic minimalism and truth pragmatics are investigated. In addition, a model is developed of how discourse context affects the composition of sentence meanings (for more information see here.)
The joint Research Training Group (RTG) is based at Ruhr-University Bochum and Osnabrück University. Methodologically, it connects philosophy of mind and cognition with empirical research in cognitive science. The main goal of the RTG is to identify deficits in traditional conceptions of the human mind and to refine and enhance the existing conceptions by drawing on new developments in cognitive science that have not yet made their way into the prevailing philosophical approaches.
Prof. Bence Nanay, University of Antwerp, has received a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award for his systematic philosophical theory formation in epistemology and philosophy of mind with special focus on perception and imagination. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants about 20 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Awards annually, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, to internationally renowned academics from abroad in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments in research to date and their exceptional promise for the future. (Host: Prof. Dr. A. Newen)
The group is led by Dr. Peter Brössel and is located at the Center for Mind, Brain and Cognitive Evolution and the Department of Philosophy II of the Ruhr-University Bochum. It is generously funded by the German Research Foundation with more than 1,2 million euros for the period from 2017-2020.
Collaborative Research Project: Prof. Dr. A. Newen (Bochum), Prof. Dr. K. Crone (Dortmund) and Prof. Dr. N. Roughley (Duisburg-Essen).
01.10.2014 - 30.09.2016
Funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung
Questions concerning the mentality of non-human animals have been the subject of philosophical discussions since antiquity. Answers to those questions are obviously relevant to animal ethics, but also to anthropology and philosophy of mind. The goal of this project is to look at the question of animal rationality from these latter perspectives. While anthropologists use the comparison with other species to investigate human nature, philosophers of mind look at animals in order to find out something about the nature of thought in general. Answering these questions requires a truly interdisciplinary approach. First, we need to clarify the semantics of the mental concepts that play a role in this debate: what does it mean to be rational, to have beliefs, to make inferences or decisions or to understand causality or mental states. Secondly, we have to work out behavioral criteria on the basis of which we can test empirically whether the ascription of a mental ability to a given animal is justified. Finally we have to look at the relevant empirical literature of animal behavior (mainly of ethology and animal / comparative psychology) to find out wether there are animals that fulfill those criteria. However, to do justice to the interdisciplinary nature of the project we can´t simply work through the list in this order. Rather it´s a further goal of this project to show how the different questions are intertwined, specifically how empirical findings can (and should) influence traditional philosophical concept formation (on the basis of apriori considerations) and thus enrich philosophical debates.
The notion of situated cognition comprises several ideas that together challenge and force us to reconsider the classical notion of cognition as used in philosophy and cognitive science. While the traditional view conceives of cognition as constituted by formal operations on abstract symbols, i.e. mental representations, taking place in the brain, the situated approach, in contrast, conceives of cognition as an embedded and (sometimes) extended activity carried out by an embodied agent. Cognitive activities are not confined to an individual's brain, but essentially extend into the agent's body, and even into the agent's physical and social environment. Since bodily and environmental factors then partly constitute cognition, explanations of cognitive activities have to go beyond neural activity and take into account the dynamics of brain/mind, body and world. In this project, these ideas shall be investigated and evaluated in closer detail with regard to two cognitive domains, namely (1) perception of the outside world, and (2) understanding of other minds.
The goal of this project is to develop an integrative (interdisciplinary) account of our perception of the world and our capacity to understand other minds on the basis of situated and embodied cognition.
Towards a unifying base Theory - Jun.-Prof. Dr. Christian Strasse
The group is supported by a Sofja Kovalevskaja award in 2014 of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research.
Defeasible reasoning (in short, DR) is indispensable when dealing with a world full of uncertainties: we constantly draw conclusions that we may reject later in view of new information. Examples of DR are numerous: induction, abduction, inferences on the basis of expert opinion, etc. We find DR in everyday reasoning, in expert reasoning (e.g., medical diagnosis), and in scientific reasoning. When reasoning defeasibly, people sometimes make mistakes (they fail to reject conclusions when there are good reasons to do so). Given that DR is central for human reasoning, this urges us to study DR with exact formal methods. Only in this way, are we able to explicate and evaluate reasoning processes in a precise way and to assist and correct people in reasoning. One of the central ideas behind this project is that DR is best studied from an argumentative angle according to which an inference is retracted if and only if it cannot be defended against counterarguments. Besides its technical elegance, it has been argued that the argumentative approach is empirically adequate.
However, there are still many foundational issues and the given tools are still very limited in expressive power. DR has also been intensively studied within the domain of nonmonotonic logic, leading to a plethora of logics for different types of DR. What is lacking though, is a formal base that unifies the modeling of various types of DR and that is sufficiently expressive to handle real-life examples of DR.
The aim of this project is: (i) to provide a unifying theory for the formal study of DR from an argumentative perspective and (ii) to apply this theory to actual cases of DR. For (i), we will integrate techniques from highly unifying nonmonotonic logics (such as Adaptive Logics) into argumentation frameworks. For (ii), we will focus on two domains: normative reasoning and scientific reasoning.
Homepage of the project:http://homepage.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/defeasible-reasoning/index.html
Prof. Dr. Heinrich Wansing 01.12. 2015 – 30.11.2018
The project investigates some important concepts from epistemology, namely doxastic agency and epistemic responsibility. Epistemic subjects, who hold beliefs and possess knowledge, are regarded not only as entertaining certain mental attitudes toward propositions, but as agents capable of making choices. This topics is today a central one in philosophy: on the one hand, contemporary theoretical philosophy has deeply investigated the connection between the practical dimension of responsibility and that of agency and knowledge; on the other hand, contemporary epistemology has developed a number of notions and theories that deal with the two concepts.
This project aims at integrating the basic concepts assumed in the epistemological debate with a formal mechanism that allows for the unambiguous expression of such concepts and the rigorous checking of valid principles and satisfiable statements.
The project approaches epistemic responsibility of agents from the perspective of philosophical logic. In particular, the aim of the project is to provide clarification and new insights on three key issues: (i) the crucial distinction between a passive reception of updates an active search for information; (ii) the connection between the notion that 'we could have formed our beliefs otherwise', and its link with the assessment of our conduct; (iii) the distribution of cognitive labor in cases of testimonial belief?
In order to fulfill its purpose, the project develops and investigates suitable formal languages interpreted in branching-time structures so as to obtain a rigorous formal framework for representing epistemic responsibility. As a result, there emerges a comprehensive and rigorous formal account of the agentive dimension of belief formation.
While the methodology of the project is formal, the problems it deals with are key problems in theoretical philosophy, and they are connected with some of the most important topics in epistemology.
The maximization of true beliefs and the minimization of false beliefs is usually regarded as a crucial epistemic goal, and forming beliefs in a reliable way is one of the key concerns of our epistemic practices. Whereas the reliability of methods and processes obeys objective criteria, which seem to be independent from the epistemic agent involved in a specific situation, there are also features of belief formation that call for a more active role of the epistemic subject. If we take our evidence to be insufficient to form a certain belief, we are able to decide to search for further evidence and we can decide when and where we trace additional information and how careful we scrutinize fresh evidence. If we are in doubt about the quality of our evidence, we are able to reflect upon it and to revise it accordingly.
These forms of doxastic agency contribute to our practice of belief formation and they give us an active role in this enterprise. Doxastic agency, it goes without saying, can prove reliable or unreliable, and in both cases (but more pressingly in the second one), the chance for an alternative belief formation proves crucial in assessing the agent's epistemic performance. In particular, such a chance seems to be crucial in order to assess the epistemic responsibility of the agent. In this project, the notion of a reliable belief formation will be investigated and given formal expression.
The application of formal tools to the topics of doxastic agency and epistemic responsibility looks promising, since formal representations of agency and belief have proved to be both extremely useful and influential over the last decades. In particular, formal studies have resulted in an in-depth investigation of agency operators, an analysis of the notion of responsibility, and new systems of doxastic and epistemic logic, thereby providing the necessary tools for approaching problems within epistemology with previously unavailable rigor. This project aims at bringing this contribution one step further, and further the application of formal tools to phenomena that are at the same time interesting and conceptually complex.
In bringing doxastic agency into the modal logic of agency and modal epistemic logic, the overall aim of this research is a new, conceptually sustained and detailed formal account of epistemic responsibility, which essentially refers to the appropriate exercise of doxastic control.
Marie Curie Project Pirses-GA-2012-318986 funded by EU-FP7 Prof. Dr. Heinrich Wansing Cooperation of Wansing: 01.07.2015 – 31.12.2016
The Fregean-inspired Principle of Compositionality of Meaning (PoC), for formal languages, may be construed as asserting that the meaning of a compound expression is deterministically (and often recursively) analysable in terms of the meaning of its constituents, taking into account the mode in which these constituents are combined so as to form the compound expression. From a logical point of view, this amounts to prescribing a constraint - that may or may not be respected - on the internal mechanisms that build and give meaning to a given formal system. Within the domain of formal semantics and of the structure of logical derivations, PoC is often directly reflected by metaproperties such as truth-functionality and analyticity, characteristic of computationally well-behaved logical systems.
The project GeTFun is dedicated to the study of various well-motivated ways in which the attractive properties and metaproperties of truth-functional logics may be stretched so as to cover more extensive logical grounds. The ubiquity of non-classical logics in the formalization of practical reasoning demands the formulation of more flexible theories of meaning and compositionality that allow for the establishment of coherent and inclusive bases for their understanding. Such investigations presuppose not only the development of adequate frameworks from the perspectives of Model Theory, Proof Theory and Universal Logic, but also the construction of solid bridges between the related approaches based on various generalizations of truth-functionality. Applications of broadly truth-functional logics, in their various guises, are envisaged in several areas of computer science, mathematics, philosophy and linguistics, where the ever increasing complexity of systems continuously raise new and difficult challenges to compositionality.
Ein byzantinischer Kommentar zum Buch x der nikomachischen Ethik des Aristoteles', - Prof. Dr. James Wilberding Period of Validity: 30 Months
The goal of this project is, firstly, to provide the first-ever translation into a modern language of the earliest surviving commentary on Book 10 of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. This commentary was composed by Michael of Ephesus in the 12th century A.D., and it is a commentary that has much to offer but that until very recently has been unjustly neglected. This project aims to correct this by making it accessible to a wider readership. The translation (into English) will be based on text edited by G. Heylbut in the Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca series (volume 20, Berlin: 1892) and is set to be published in the renowned Ancient Commentators on Aristotle series. Our second aim is to produce the definitive account of Michael's ethics of happiness, with a particular focus placed on the roles pleasure and contemplation play in the happy life, as well as on the extent to which Neoplatonism has influenced his ethical thought. This account will be published in a peer-reviewed journal and will inform the introduction and scholarly annotations of the published translation.
Weitere Informationen zu diesem Forschungsprojekt im Rahmen der Mercator-Forschergruppe finden Sie unter: Link
Manchmal scheint es, als könnten wir Gedanken lesen: Wir wissen genau, was unser Gegenüber meint, sogar noch bevor er es geäußert hat. Wie funktioniert das? Müssen wir uns selbst verstehen, um Andere verstehen zu können? Kann man diese Prozesse an der Gehirnaktivität ablesen – und darf man das? Warum funktioniert das Verstehen Anderer bei manchen Krankheiten nicht? Das vom Bundesforschungsministerium (BMBF) mit rund einer Million Euro geförderte Verbundprojekt „Other Minds/Den Anderen verstehen: Neurophilosophie und Neuroethik der Intersubjektivität“ soll diese Fragen beantworten.
Wie verstehen wir andere Personen? Welche Rolle spielen dabei kulturelle Unterschiede? Zu den komplexesten kognitiven Leistungen des Menschen gehört die Verarbeitung sozialer Information, die uns Menschen ein Leben in Gemeinschaften ermöglicht. Dies wird uns durch unsere Fähigkeit ermöglicht, uns in andere Personen „hineinzuversetzen“ und ihre innere Verfassung einzuschätzen und ihr Verhalten vorherzusagen. Eine zentrale Frage des Projekts lautet: Wie sieht eine adäquate Interpretation von Handlungen, Verständigungssignalen und sozialen Rollen in interaktiven Situationen aus, also dann, wenn wir tatsächlich und konkret mit anderen in Beziehung treten? Ein zweiter wichtiger Aspekt wird die kulturelle Dimension sein. Menschliche Kommunikation ist wesentlich in kulturelle Kontexte eingebettet und wird von ihnen geprägt; zugleich aber formt sie den kulturellen Hintergrund, dem die einzelnen Kommunikationspartner angehören. Ein Hauptziel dieses Forschungsverbundes ist es vor diesem Hintergrund, nicht nur die Rolle von kognitiven, sondern auch von kulturellen Faktoren für Selbstverstehen, Fremdverstehen und Kommunikation herauszuarbeiten.
The main question of the research project is: "What is human self-consciousness?"
Until now, the empirical sciences have made relatively little progress in explaining one major subject of human self-conception, which is consciousness in general and especially self-consciousness. Both phenomena continue to pose an unsolved riddle. Generally, self-consciousness is claimed to be a condition for responsible action: Only if a person has consciousness of both her/his own desires and beliefs on the one hand, and the so motivated actions on the other, will she/he be able to consciously influence her/his actions. Hence, self-consciousness is a necessary condition for responsible action. Self-consciousness — as the notion is used here — is to be sharply distinguished from the notion of self-esteem: It signifies consciousness of the subject's own desires and beliefs. The aim of the project is to develop a new theory of self-consciousness so understood. The philosophical theorizing will be developed in accordance with the latest research-results in infant development of self-consiousness as well as pathological cases of adult self-consciousness. The project will be conducted in collaboration of philosophers (Philosophisches Seminar, Universität Tübingen) and neuroscientists (Priv.-Doz. Dr. Kai Vogeley, Universitätsklinik Bonn). The philosophical theory will accordingly be built on empirical insights from psychiatric research. Cases of disorders of self-consciousness such as autism and schizophrenia are especially important here. A new philosophical theory of human self-consciousness will then on the other hand provide a framework for further systematic empirical research in autism and schizophrenia. In this sense, the general aim of the project is to provide new perspectives on the investigation of the human mind through a philosophical theory of human self-consciousness.