Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Sense of Commitment Events

Ongoing Events

Bi-monthly Cognitive Science Reading Group

Description: We will discuss papers addressing mutually agreed upon topics in cognitive science, especially pertaining to social cognition, development, communication and skilled action. For more information, please contact John Michael.

Place and Time: S2.40, 12:00-13:00, Thursdays (every other week, starting on October 12th 2017)

Current events

Mini-workshop: Sam Clarke (Oxford) and Olle Blomberg (Copenhagen)

As part of the sense of commitment project, we welcome Sam Clarke (doctoral candidate, Oxford) and Olle Blomberg (Copenhagen) who will give talks as part of a mini-workshop within the WMA Research Centre (May 17th, 16-17.30pm, Room TBA). Titles and abstracts for the talks can be found below.

The workshop will be followed by drinks and snacks in the department.

Olle Blomberg (Copenhagen): Joint action and acting with others as if part of a single agent

According to team reasoning-based accounts of shared intention---where this is what makes a joint action jointly intentional---individuals engage in joint intentional action partly in virtue of the following: they each conceive of themselves and the other participants as parts of a single agent or body. Similarly, on Margaret Gilbert's account, parties to a shared intention are jointly committed to intending as a single agent or body to perform an action. The accounts exemplify what I call the notional singularization strategy. This is promising strategy that seems to allow us to provide a relatively simple and cognitively undemanding account of joint intentional action. However, I argue that this is mistaken. This is because participants who act to bring about the goal of an additional agent, of which they think of themselves and the others as parts, are not barred from intentionally coercing the others in ways that are incompatible with joint intentional action. Several accounts that exemplify the notional singularization strategy therefore fail to provide sufficient conditions for shared intention. Fixing the accounts arguably bring back the complexity and cognitive demands that the strategy at first seemed to allow us to avoid.

Sam Clarke (Oxford): 'Five Obstacles to Core Cognition of Goals'

There is a broad consensus that infants perform complex goal ascriptions within the first eighteen months of life. While relatively little is known about the cognitive processes that facilitate these, various independently motivated accounts of socio-cognitive architecture presuppose modular underpinnings. Unfortunately, proponents have failed to show how this is possible and critics have grown increasingly sceptical that it is. In the present treatment, I show how one or more modular systems might plausibly be responsible for all of the goal ascriptions performed in early infancy. I do this by drawing analogies with the operations of paradigmatic modules involved in speech and sensory perception and core cognition, showing that these systems overcome analogous problems without sacrificing their encapsulation.

Previous Events:

Tate Modern Event

Along with a dozen other research groups from around Europe, we will be exhibiting some of our new experiments at Tate Modern! Come along, participate and discuss our latest findings with us. Taking place 27 and 28 April 2017. See link to book tickets: Tate Tickets

Cognitive Control and Belief Formation

As part of the sense of commitment project, we will be holding a mini-workshop on cognitive control and belief formation. This will take place on April 26, from 4-7pm, in the Cowling Room (S2.77).


4:00 - 4:15 Welcome & Introduction.
4:15 - 5:00 Till Vierkant (Edinburgh) 'System 2 and Doxastic Involuntarism'
5:00 - 5:30 Response by Wayne Christensen, followed by discussion.
5:45 - 6:30 Neil Sinhababu (Singapore) 'Epistemic Akrasia for the Rational Pragmatist'
6:30 - 7:00 Response by Steve Butterfill, followed by discussion.


Till Vierkant (University of Edinburgh), 'System 2 and Doxastic Involuntarism':

Many philosophers endorse doxastic involuntarism. They accept that we can never intentionally choose what to believe. However, if doxastic involuntarism is correct this seems to have disturbing consequences for our thinking in the philosophy of cognitive science. Both, the notion of cognitive control and system 2 processing more generally, are standardly characterised as intentional. If one holds that all system 2 processing is intentional then it seems to follow that we never acquire beliefs by means of system 2 processing. But if one holds that not all system 2 processing is intentional, then it becomes unclear whether or not there is something like a genuinely different system 2 or controlled way to acquire beliefs. In both cases it seems important to re-evaluate our thinking about doxastic attitude acquisition in system 2.

Neil Sinhababu (National University of Singapore), Epistemic Akrasia for the Rational Pragmatist:

It's possible to rationally believe that p while also believing that it's irrational to believe that p. Such cases of rational epistemic akrasia are elusive among those who accept evidentialist norms. But pragmatists about epistemic rationality can find themselves in such a condition. Such cases suggest a unified and insignificant role for normative judgments in theoretical and practical reasoning.

Sense of Commitment Project talk by Clément Letesson on 2 February 2017

Abstract for talk:

Clément Letesson (Central European University, Budapest)

Where: Warwick Philosophy Dept, Cowling Room, Social Sciences Building

When: Thursday 2 Feb 2, 2:30-4:00

Title: Towards an integrative approach to action prediction processes

Abstract: During goal-directed interactive behaviors with another individual, observers typically display predictive eye movements - orientating gaze direction and attention towards the goal of the observed action ahead of time (i.e., before the actor’s hand comes into contact with the goal object). Humans are experts at observing, predicting and understanding actions. To do so, they learn to extract meaningful and predictable information from the observed behaviors of others. A classical view of action observation postulates a major role for motor information through motor simulation, but successful predictions of the to-be-grasped object can also be derived from the observation of others’ gaze, of objects or from contextual information. Each individual source of information is uncertain in nature, and only provides an approximation of the observed action goal. Here, we aimed to test the general hypothesis that action prediction processes would benefit from the integration of multiple cross-checked sources of information when they were available. In the present work, we investigated the potential contribution/integration of these different sources of predictive information indicative of others’ action goals. This approach helped us to reposition the involvement of motor resources in action prediction processes, broadening our view of action prediction towards a more integrative account.