Xabier Barandiaran

About Xabier Barandiaran

I consider myself a situated and embodied philosopher, which means that I situate my philosophical practice in close interaction with scientific environments and embodied in the conceptual apparatus that emerges from this interplay. The sciences on which I feel embedded are those meeting in the multidisciplinary crossroad of cognitive sciences and artificial life: particularly the origins of agency, simulation of adaptive behaviour (evolutionary robotics and computational neuroethology), and large scale neuroscience.

IAS-Research Talk by Carl Sachs (Marymont University), “Strongly Embodied Functionalism: Between Enaction and Functionalism”

On Nov 17th, 2022, at 16:00
To participate, please contact andrea.gambarotto@uclouvain.be
On this occasion, Carl Sachs will present a novel view of functionalism (“strongly embodied functionalism”) in a talk that intersects organizational and enactive approaches, and engages with work by IAS-Research members..

Bio: Carl Sachs (Marymont University)

PhD Scolarship 2020-2024: expression of interest is now OPEN

We have been awarded a scholarship for a PhD student to develop her/his PhD with us on the topics of the research project entitled “OUTONOMY: fleshing out autonomy beyond the individual”. We are searching for a dedicated, smart, philosophically minded, technically skilled and collaborative person willing to start a research career with us. Deadline to submit your expression of interest is October 10th!

It is an FPI doctoral scholarship for Research project OUTONOMY, at IAS-Research Center for Life, Mind, and Society, UPV/EHU (University of the Basque Country). It would cover a 4 year salary to complete a PhD thesis on the contents of the project starting late 2020. You can know more about the research project OUTONOMY on our blog post, or by reading the project description document.

If you are interested on this scholarship, please follow the link bellow:

Please help us sharing and promoting this scholarship call. Many brilliant and enthusiastic students are searching for funding opportunities, we are searching for brilliant and ethusiastic students.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not the final nor the official call or application, but an expression of interest. The final form will be announced to all selected participants in this pre-call, open to anyone (independently of this expression of interes), and officially managed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. The official call will be open sometime between mid October and November (you can check here last years call to be ready for the paperwork). The goal of this form is to encourage students to move forward towards the final application and for us to know some of the candidates in advance. It is highly recommended that you fill this form if you are planning to submit for the official application (which is run in a less friendly and massive procedure within the public administration). We want to know you better first.

“Learning and Understanding” – IAS-Research Seminar by Mike Beaton

Date and time: 25th November 2013, at 11.00
Location: Carlos Santamaria Building, Room B14.
Speaker: Mike Beaton
Title: Learning and Understanding
Abstract:There is a certain Kantian conception of perceptual experience on which experience can only present those aspects of the world which we already understand (for example, can only present trees qua trees if we understand what a tree is). McDowell has famously argued that it is only by accepting this Kantian conception that we can allow for a highly desirable kind of openness to the world, such that objects in the world can be genuine reasons for our beliefs and actions. Unfortunately this same Kantian conception appears to rule out another very desirable kind of openness: openness to that which we do not yet understand. In this paper, I argue that this problem is only apparent. Even if experience can only present that which we understand, nevertheless we can already understand – from within such a framework, as it were – that the world is not behaving consistently with our expectations. This indicates that something new is required. In any normal case, this lack of coherence with our expectations will never be total, thus we can map out the extent of our lack of understanding. The ‘shape’ of our lack of understanding (which we find by exploring the world) can guide us. In all this, past experience can only ever be a partial guide: luck (in more reductive terms, random exploration) is required, as well as judgment. Using both luck and judgment, we may arrive at some new candidate framework of understanding. At this point no more luck is required, good judgment alone (applied as we interact with the world) can tell us whether or not a new candidate framework is better for our purposes than our old framework. This way of describing things pulls apart what is in reality a fluid process, but nevertheless points to key features of that process. The transitions made in such a process are genuinely rational: they are made by the perceiver, for the perceiver’s own reasons. Thus, it is concluded, we do not need to step outside the framework of practical, engaged rationality in order to analyse perceptual openness to aspects of the world which a perceiver has not yet understood.

“The Autonomies of Bioethics” – IAS-Research Seminar by Ion Arrieta

Date and time: 25th June 2013, at 11.00
Location: Carlos Santamaria Building, Room B14.
Speaker: Ion Arrieta
Title: The Autonomies of Bioethics
Abstract: This presentation begins with a set of distinctions between differents concepts (or families of concepts) of autonomy that are present in the theory and practice of bioethics. My porpuse is to examine how the principle of autonomy works in two different branches of bioethics, health care ethics on the one hand, characterized by the dependence of patients and users of health services, and research ethics on the other, marked by the vulnerability of the subjects. Although differents fields (health care is not a science but a practice or art, while biomedical research does aspire to be scientific), I transfer some intuitions from the first to the second field, especially those emphasizing the interactive and relational nature of autonomy. The fact that autonomy is always relational is more easily seen in healthcare ethics, but not so much in research ethics. Despite that autonomy in research ethics is more formal and less personal, I defend that it needs integrate certain aspects of healtcare, which mainly affect how we understand the autonomy of the patient or research subject in relation to the clinicians or researchers who are treating them.

“Habits as sensorimotor life-forms” – IAS-Research seminar by Matthew Egbert and Xabier E. Barandiaran

Date and Time: 11am, Tuesday 18th June, Carlos Santamaría Building, B14
Title: Habits as sensorimotor life-forms: modelling self-maintaining behaviour with an iterant deformable sensorimotor medium
Abstract: Artificial Life has not yet explored in depth the analogy between life and mind that is hidden in the nature of habits: their self-sustaining dissipative structure as ecological sensorimotor entities. We present a new dynamical model for habits implementing what we call a node-based “iterant deformable sensorimotor medium” (IDSM). The IDSM has properties designed such that trajectories taken through state space increase the likelihood that in the future, similar trajectories will be taken. We couple the IDSM to sensors and motors of a simulated body in a simulated environment and show that under certain conditions, the IDSM resonates with the other parts of the simulation, forming self-maintaining patterns of activity operating over the IDSM, the body, and the environment. These patterns of activity are similar in many respects to habits, patterns of activity that are self-reinforced. We present various environments and the resulting ‘habits’ that form in them, studying the sensorimotor coordination patterns that stabilize in the process. We discuss how this model and extensions of it can help us understand and model self-sustaining patterns of behaviour as building blocks for a theory of cognition that does no rely on representations

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“Towards a Scientifically Tractable, Direct Realist, Sensorimotor Account of Experience” – IAS-Research Seminar by Mike Beaton

Next Tuesday, May 28th, remember: at 11am, Mike Beaton.

Title: Towards a Scientifically Tractable, Direct Realist, Sensorimotor Account of Experience

Abstract: The sensorimotor account of experience has arguably not lived up to its early promise. I suggest that this is because a full-blown sensorimotor account needs to reject an assumption shared by most consciousness researchers, namely that first person experience corresponds to processes in the head. I argue instead that when we are experiencing an object or property in the world, the experienced object is literally part of the subjective experience. This is a form of direct realism. The sensorimotor account shows us (in ways which can be made highly analytic and mathematical) what objects are, such that we may enact them, and what experience is, such that it may directly, constitutively involve these external objects. This externalist account of experience matches our first-person phenomenology much better than the standard, internalist view; it also makes it much clearer how we can have genuine knowledge of the external world. Action-based views of perception, such as this one, should respond to apparently problematic cases such as locked-in syndrome, not by referring to covert action, but rather by referring to counterfactual links to overt action (this use of counterfactuals is completely normal in science). Direct realist views should respond to arguments from illusion by noting that the detailed flow of subjective experience is different when we are really encountering an object, and when we only seem to be. Brain dynamics remain a crucial enabling part of experience, but not the only part; experience itself is the ongoing, meaningful relationship between subject and world.

The Cognitive Domain of a Glider in the Game of Life – IAS-Research Talk by Randall Beer

Prof. Randall D. Beer (Cognitive Science Program, School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, USA) will be giving an IAS-Research Talk entitled “The Cognitive Domain of a Glider in the Game of Life” on Tuesday the 15th January 2013 at 11.00am at B14 Room at the Carlos Santamaría Building. Continue reading