Friday, February 29, 2008

Undergraduate Call for Papers

West Virginia University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
April 4-5, 2008
Keynote Speaker: Hud Hudson
Professor of Philosophy, Western Washington University

West Virginia University’s Philosophy Department will be hosting its second annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference on Saturday, April 5, 2008. Any undergraduate student is invited to submit a paper on any topic in philosophy.

Requirements: Each submission should include a 100 to 150 word abstract. Papers should be no more than 10 pages double-spaced. Please include a cover page with the paper’s title, author’s name, mailing address, e-mail, phone number, school affiliation, and word count. Please do not put any self-identifying information in the body of the paper because the papers will be sorted for blind review.

Deadline: Please submit papers electronically to by Friday, February 15, 2008 (still open for submission).

Papers should be sent as attachments in Word or pdf format. A $100 stipend will be awarded to each participant to help cover travel costs. Up to two nights hotel accommodations provided for conference participants. Please e-mail if you have any questions.

Sapere Aude, the College of Wooster Philosophical Journal, invites undergraduate students to submit philosophical papers in all areas of philosophy.

Papers must adhere to the following:

1. Each entry should be prepared for blind review and must have a title page containing the author’s name, college, and year. (No other identifier should be present within the paper.)
2. All entries should be no longer than 15 pages and may include footnotes as a supplement to the text.
3. Paper format: one-inch margins, double-spaced, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman, and should include Chicago-style citations.
4. All pages, except the title page, should be numbered.
5. All entries should be submitted as an electronic copy (doc. only, please) to sapere_aude@wooster. Edu.

Please send any questions to:
Deadline: March 20, 2008

Announcing the first annual Undergraduate
Philosophy Conference - May 9 and 10th 2008 at the Ohio State University.

Seeking papers of 10-15 pages (15-20 minute presentations)

Deadline: March 11, 2008

For more information:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

World Congress of Philosophy to be hosted in Seoul, South Korea in 2008

The World Congress of Philosophy is organized every five years by the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP), in collaboration with one of its member societies, which assumes responsibility for the organization of the Congress.

The XXII World Congress of Philosophy will be held in Seoul, Korea from July 30 through August 5, 2008 under the auspices of the Korean Philosophical Association. It has several aims, which are to be understood as complementary.

To call attention to the importance of philosophical reflection on philosophy itself, especially critical reflection on the diverse forms taken by contemporary philosophy and the history of philosophy.

To reflect on the tasks and functions of philosophy in the contemporary world, taking account of the contributions, expectations, and gaps in philosophical awareness that are associated with other disciplines such as the natural and humane sciences, with political, religious, social, economic, financial, technological, etc, activities, as well as with diverse cultures and traditions.

The first World Congress to be held in Asia, the Seoul Congress presents a clear invitation to rethink the nature, roles, and responsibilities of philosophy and of philosophers in the age of globalization. It is committed to paying heed to the problems, conflicts, inequalities, and injustices connected with the development of a planetary civilization that is at once multicultural and techno-scientific.

Philosophy Lecture Series at ULL

The Philosophy Club at ULL announced their spring lecture series:

"The Meaning of Life" with Dr. Rick Swanson, March 8, 2007.

"Can You Be Mistaken About What You Are Thinking?" with Dr. Jonathan Trigg, March 22, 2007.

"Astounding Evidence for a Young Earth?" with Dr. Carl
, April 5, 2007.

Philosophy Club, HLG 563, 141 Rex St., Lafayette, LA 70504,
For specific information on venue, call (337) 482-6806 or email:

Monday, February 25, 2008

Creationists launch peer-reviewed journal

Answers in Genesis, an apologetics ministry dedicated to enabling Christians to defend their faith and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively, recently launched a technical journal entitled, Answers Research Journal. The purpose is to provide an outlet for interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework.

From the ABOUT section:

Answers in Genesis is excited to announce the launch of its online technical journal, Answers Research Journal. ARJ is a professional, peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework. All published papers may be freely copied, downloaded, quoted, and distributed for non-commercial and non-sale purposes (as long as the author of each publication is clearly identified, Answers Research Journal is acknowledged as the publication, and the integrity of the work is not compromised).

Addressing the need to disseminate the vast fields of research conducted by creationist experts in theology, history, archaeology, anthropology, biology, geology, astronomy, and other disciplines of science, Answers Research Journal will provide scientists and students the results of cutting-edge research that demonstrates the validity of the young-earth model, the global Flood, the non-evolutionary origin of “created kinds,” and other evidences that are consistent with the biblical account of origins. The newly expanded research effort at Answers in Genesis, with the establishment of its Research Department, will facilitate this further venue for publication and dissemination of the results of creationist research.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Will Spiritual Robots Replace Humanity by 2100?

In April 2000, Douglas Hofstadter (author of Godel, Escher, Bach) organized a conference at Stanford University to discuss the question; “Will Spiritual Robots Replace Humanity by 2100?” Among the participants were Bill Joy, Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, John Holland, and Kevin Kelly.

Kevin Kelly chose to answer the question by examining each word in the question, starting at the end.


When thinking in the long term, especially about technology, I find it very helpful to think in terms of human generations. As a rough estimate I reckon 25 years per generation. Civilization began about 10,000 years ago (the oldest city, Jericho, was born in 8000 BC) which makes the civilization now present in Jericho and the rest of the world about 400 generations old. That's 400 reproductive cycles of mother to daughter. Four hundred generations of civilized humans is not very long. We could almost memorize the names of all 400 cycles if we had nothing much else to do. After 400 generations we are different people than when we began. We had the idea of automatons and robots only maybe 8 generations ago, and made the first electronic computers 2 generations ago. The entire World Wide Web less than 2,000 days old! The year 2100 is only four generations away, keeping the same human lifespan. If we morph into robots in 2100, civilized humans will have lasted only 400 generations. That would be the shortest lifespan of a species in the history of life.


The central question, the central issue, of this coming century is not “what is an AI,?” but “what is a human?” What are humans good for? I forecast that variants of the question “What is a human” will be a recurring headline in USA Today-like newspapers in this coming century. Movies, novels, conferences and websites will all grapple with this central question of “Who are we? What is humanity?” Fed by a prosperous long boom, where anything is possible, but nothing is certain, we’ll have more questions about our identity than answers. Who are we? What does it mean to be a male, or female, or a father, an American, or a human being? The next century can be described as a massive, global scale, 100-year identity crisis. By 2100, people will be amazed that we humans back here now, thought we knew what humans were.


Replacement is a very rare position in nature. The reason we have 2 million species now is that most new species don’t replace old species; rather they interweave with the existing organisms, infill between niches, and build upon the success of other species. It is much easier to invent a new niche than it is to displace an occupied one. Most extinctions of species are not caused by usurpers, but by other factors, like climate change, comets, or self inflicted troubles. Replacement or obsoleteness of the human species seems unlikely. Given that we don’t know what humans are, our roles are likely to change; We are far more likely to redefine ourselves than to disappear.


In general, I like Hans Moravec’s formulation that these are our children. How does one raise children? You train them for the inevitable letting go. If our children never left our control, we’d not only be disappointed, but we’d be cruel. To be innovative, imaginative, creative, and free, the child needs to be out of control of its maker. So it will be with our mind’s children, the robots. Is there a parent with a teenager who is not concerned, who does not have a bit of worry? It took us a long time to realize that the power of a technology is proportional to its inherent out-of-controlness, its inherent ability to surprise and be generative. In fact, unless we can worry about a technology, it is not revolutionary enough. Powerful technology demands responsibility. With the generative power of robots, we need heavy duty responsibility. We should be aiming to train our robotic children to be good citizens. That means instilling in them values so they can make responsible decisions when we let them go.


What is the most spiritual event we could imagine? A verifiable contact with an ET would rock the foundations of established religions. It would rekindle the question of God no matter what ET’s answers. I think the movie *Contact* is the only movie where a theologian is a star. But we don’t have to wait for SETI to contact ET. We will do it by making ET; that is by making a robot. In this way ET goes by another name: AI. People worried about AI being an artificial human are way off. AIs will be closer to artificial aliens. Your calculator is already smarter in arithmetic than any person in this room. Why aren’t we threaten by it? Because it is “other.” A different kind of intelligence. One superior to us, but one we aren’t particularly envious of. Most of the minds we make including the smartest AI, will be “other.” Even in the possibility space of types of conscious minds, there are 2 million other possible species of intelligence than the one type we know (humans) -- each one of them unique and different as a calculator and a dolphin. There is no reason to make a clone of human intelligence because making traditional version is so easy. Our endeavor in the coming centuries is to use all minds so far (artificial and natural) to make all possible new minds. Meeting these minds I think will be the most spiritual thing we can imagine right now.


I think technology has its own agenda. The question I am asking myself is what does technology want? If technology is a child, a teenager even, it would really help to know what teenagers want, in general. What are the innate urges, the inherent bias, the internal drives of this system we call technology? Once we know what technology wants, we don’t have to surrender to all of these wants, anymore than you surrender to any and all adolescent urges; but you can’t buck them all either. WILL these things technology wants happen? I believe they want to happen. What we know of technology is that it wants to get smaller (Moore’s Law), it wants to get faster (Kurzweil’s Law), and my guess is that technology wants to do whatever humans do (Kelly’s Law). We humans find tremendous value in other creatures, and increasingly in other minds. I see no reason why robots would not find humans just as valuable. Will robots be able, or even want to, do all the things that humans do? No. We’ll make them mostly to do what we don’t want to do. And what then do we humans do? For the first time robots will give us the power to say: Anything we want to do.

Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He helped launch Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor until January 1999. He is currently editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website, which gets 1 million visitors per month. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hackers' Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. He authored the best-selling New Rules for the New Economy and the classic book on decentralized emergent systems, Out of Control.

reprinted from Kevin Kelly's website (

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An Intelligent Discussion About Intelligent Design

A Lecture by Dr. James F. Sennett
Monday , Mar 10, 2008 7 pm
Parra Ballroom
McNeese State University
Lake Charles, LA
Free Admission

Are the universe and the life found in it best explained by the blind forces of nature or by an intelligent designer? Dr. James F. Sennett explains and defends the contemporary case for intelligent design.

Dr. Sennett, associate professor of philosophy at Brenau University, holds the Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Nebraska and an M.Div. in Old Testament Studies from Lincoln Christian Seminary. Dr. Sennett has penned dozens of philosophical and theological journal articles and is the author of “Modality, Probability, and Rationality: A Critical Examination of Alvin Plantinga's Philosophy.” Most recently, Dr. Sennett is the editor of both “The Analytic Theist” and “In Defense of Natural Theology: A Post-Humean Assessment.”