Philosopher’s Question Time – Elisabeth Peterson

Sam Wilkinson and Dr Suilin LavellePhD student, Sam Wilkinson, and Dr Suilin Lavelle. Photo by Louise Spence

As if by kismet, the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences’ “Philosopher’s Question Time” chimed in to the discussion started by the School of Law’s “The Enhancement Spectrum” event that I had posted about the day before. I found these interdisciplinary perspectives on knowledge, the mind, and ethical responsibilities to be particularly complementary as panelists including a master’s student, a PhD student and a teaching fellow contributed their views in a dialogue to ultimately become a radio broadcast on FreshAir FM. In this dialogue, “armchair”, “empirically informed” and “experimental” philosophical perspectives were placed in the contexts of epistemology and sociology, with the considerations of socio-economic and cultural factors.

While “The Enhancement Spectrum” questioned the moral validity of artificial intelligence as an example of enhancement, “Philosopher’s Question Time” probed whether or not a being with such artificial intelligence would believe that it was a real human, and for that matter, by what means we could determine that we don’t in fact have “virtual reality brains”.

It was interesting to consider the concepts of compassion in “The Enhancement Spectrum”, and intuition in “Philosopher’s Question Time” as human capacities that presumably cannot be replicated by a robot in the way that basic maths computations can be.

Later in the day, some of the panel members and attendees reconvened to use Audacity software to hone the recorded conversation into a finished product, which proved to be an interesting way to engage with the content. This process opened my eyes to the advantages of broadcasting a live event (such as the ability to cut out long pauses) as well as the challenges (such as communicating a show of hands in the live audience to the radio audience).

Readers are invited to get in to their armchairs to hear this panel discussing “philosophers getting out of their armchairs” by tuning in to FreshAir.org.uk on Friday, March 1!

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