New Event! Ethics of AI in Context: Hector Levesque, Rethinking the Place of Thinking in Intelligent Behaviour

Ethics of AI in Context: Hector Levesque, Rethinking the Place of Thinking in Intelligent Behaviour

It seems clear that in people, ordinary commonsense thinking is an essential part of acting intelligently.  Yet the most popular current approach to Artificial Intelligence downplays this thinking aspect and emphasizes learning from massive amounts of data instead.  This talk goes over these notions and attempts to make the case that computers systems based even on extensive learning alone might have serious dangers that are not immediately obvious.

Hector Levesque
Computer Science
University of Toronto

Tue, Nov 7, 2017
04:00 PM – 06:00 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
Rm 200, Larkin Building

Just Added! Ethics of AI in Context: Mark Kingwell on Respect and the Artificial Other

What role do personhood, respect, tolerance, and sympathy play in our relations to future AI developments? Do other concepts familiar from political-theoretic likewise apply, and if so, how? In this talk I will sketch some ideas for how to think productively about human-AI relations as their complexity advances in both the short- and long-term.

Mark Kingwell
Department of Philosophy
University of Toronto

Mon, Sep 25, 2017
04:00 PM – 06:00 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
Rm 200, Larkin Building

Meet the New C4E Visitors & Fellows!

Presenting the members of the C4E Class of 2017-18Visiting Scholars, Postdoctoral Fellows, Doctoral Fellows, and Undergraduate Fellows.

Stop by the Centre to say hi, meet them at one of our events, or–if you fancy a bit of the bubbly–join us for the reception following Sheila Jasanoff’s C4E Public Lecture on Ethical Futures: Imagination and Governance in an Unequal World, Sept, 29, 3-5pm (reception 5-6pm), at Munk’s Campbell Conference Facility.

C4E’s Ethics & Film Fall 2017 Schedule Is Up!

Join us Tuesdays for … Movies, Ethics, Refreshments!

Peggy Kohn Wins Two Book Awards for The Death and Life of the Urban Commonwealth

Peggy Kohn has won two awards for her recent book, The Death and Life of the Urban Commonwealth (Oxford 2016), the American Political Science Association’s David Easton Award of the Section on Foundations of Political Thought “for a book that broadens the horizons of contemporary political science by engaging issues of philosophical significance in political life through any of a variety of approaches in the social sciences and humanities” and the Dennis Judd Best Book Award of the APSA’s Section on Urban and Local Politics for “the best book on urban politics.”

Here’s the citation for the David Easton Award:

Margaret Kohn’s important new book focuses our gaze on the city as the location of key struggles over the meaning of democracy and social justice in the 21st century.  The theoretical core of her rich and multilayered argument is the idea of the city as a common-wealth – a collectively and historically produced social good whose benefits should be enjoyed on a basis of equality by all who live in it and contribute to its vibrancy.  Drawing on the widely overlooked tradition of solidarism that was developed by French republicans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Kohn reconstructs a theoretical justification of “the right to the city.”  She presents the idea of “urban commonwealth” as an alternative to both the neoliberal model of privatizing and commodifying civic space, on the one hand, and the model of welfare state capitalism, in which the city is an afterthought, on the other.  In contrast to these familiar frames, solidarism recognizes the “unearned increment” of value that accrues to property holders as a consequence of contemporary public investments and it both considers and values the contributions of past generations in producing the social good of city life.  Kohn’s compelling account of solidarism offers us a new lens through which to see the injustices of dispossession, displacement, and marginalization that proceed through gentrification, the commodification of housing, the privatization of public space, and the emergence of “transit deserts.”

At almost every turn of the page, and certainly in each and every chapter, the reader of Kohn’s book encounters innovative conceptual clarifications that powerfully illuminate the normative dimensions of urban life and, more generally, invite a new way of imagining the complex relations of interdependence and interconnection that are characteristic of our age. Kohn moves seamlessly between re-readings of classic texts in the history of modern Western thought (from Locke to Marx to Hayek); she draws on rich empirical examples (from a diverse array of cities in India, Europe, and North America), and she develops thought-provoking engagements with a wide range of contemporary political theory. Her approach is admirable, as well, for its subtlety and indirectness. Rather than foreground or “sell” her (genuinely important) conceptual innovations to her readers, Kohn proceeds more humbly, putting her concepts to work to analyze concrete, social, cultural and geographic issues and events. She makes visible the political stakes of the city and traces the fault lines of past and future conflicts. The “urban commonwealth” is therefore not merely an example by which Kohn illustrates her normative political theory, but rather the site of her theorizing, and of her and our politics.



New Book: Mara Marin, Connected by Commitment (OUP 2017)

Connected by Commitment: Oppression and Our Responsibility to Undermine It (Oxford 2017)

Mara Marin
Postdoctoral Affiliate, Centre for Ethics
University of Toronto

Saying that political and social oppression is a deeply unjust and widespread condition of life is not a terribly controversial statement. Likewise, theorists of justice frequently consider our obligation to not turn a blind eye to oppression. But what is our culpability in the endurance of oppression?

In this book, Mara Marin complicates the primary ways in which we make sense of human and political relationships and our obligations within them. Rather than thinking of relationships in terms of our intentions, Marin thinks of them as open-ended and subject to ongoing commitments. Commitments create open-ended expectations and vulnerabilities on the part of others, and therefore also obligations. By this rationale, our actions sustain oppressive or productive structures in virtue of their cumulative effects, not the intentions of the actors.When we violate our obligations we oppress others.

Join us for an Author Meets Critics event on this book at the Centre for Ethics, February 14, 2018.