The Philosophy Program at A&M University - Corpus Christi offers the Minor (18 hrs.) and the Major (30 hrs.) in Philosophy. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions about studying philosophy.

Philosophy Club Meeting: Artificial Intelligence

11/01/2016 7:00 pm
11/01/2016 9:00 pm

It had been a while since I had seen my friend. We went to college together and the last time I saw her she had been working on her own robotics project.

I knock on her door and she opens it, ushering me into her study room. Once inside, I see something with a human form sitting on the table. It's a robot, only it's obvious that this is the most basic robot. Made of all metal, no one would ever assume that it is something organic.

My friend seems to understand that I'm not as impressed as she wanted me to be. Almost as if she's trying to rewire my emotions, she opens a panel on the robot's chest, tweaks a few things, and the robot comes to life, as much as a robot can. Unsurprisingly, all the robot can do is lift its arms. This robot is enslaved to my friend, doing whatever she wants because that's what it has been programmed to do.

I come back to her place a few months later. She's been working on her robot this entire time. At this point I can't deny that I'm curious to see how she could have improved the robot.

I walk into her study room, but do not see her robot, only a person sitting at her table that tells me hello.

As I say hi back I ask my friend where her robot went, and she smiles with glee as she explains that the person on her table is the robot. She tells me she managed to make this robot look exactly like a human and that she also managed to create an artificial intelligence that allows the robot to think for itself.

She reaches towards the panel on the robot's chest, most likely to tweak a few things again. You notice as she's doing this that the robot's expression has changed. Fear is in the eyes of this robot, but that's crazy. It isn't alive. Before she can open the panel, the robot pushes her hand away and says:

"Please. Stop. Every time you do that you're hurting me. You're causing me pain."

What would you do?

Let's talk about this and other aspects of artificial intelligence at the next Philosophy Club meeting! November 1st at 7pm in CS 101. See you there!

Jasmine DeLeon
Philosophy Club President
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

P.S., Here's an article detailing how Germany has succeeded in causing robot's to feel pain.

PPS (Berkich): Um, maybe see also Jackson, Kripke, Chalmers, McGinn, et. al.

Philosophy Club Meeting: Why is there religion?

10/04/2016 7:00 pm
10/04/2016 9:00 pm

Good afternoon!

Tomorrow will be our fourth meeting for the Philosophy Club and we will be discussing the purpose of religion. I want us to discuss multiple religions as well as question why religion was started in the first place. There are so many religions in the world, could any of them have the potential to be right?

During this semester the meetings will continue to be held on Tuesdays in CS 101 at 7pm. Towards the end of the semester I will create another online poll so that we can figure out the most popular meeting time for next semester.

Lastly, I am really looking forward to next week's meeting on October 11th because the Philosophy Club will be getting political for the rest of the month. The first topic will be whether we should build a wall to keep immigrants out.

I look forward to seeing you at the meetings and I hope you have a great week!

Jasmine DeLeon
Philosophy Club President
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Philosophy Club Meeting: Why is there evil? What is evil?

09/27/2016 7:00 pm
09/27/2016 9:00 pm

The Philosophy Club meets tonight (Tuesday, 9/27, 7-9 p.m.) to discuss the nature and existence of evil.

By way of providing examples for further discussion, here is a NY Times article on the use of bunker-buster bombs in Aleppo and the children being killed by them.

Philosophy Club Meeting: Does God Exist?

09/20/2016 7:00 pm
09/20/2016 9:00 pm

I wanted to extend an invitation for you to attend one of the Philosophy Club meetings. Our meetings will be every Tuesday at 7pm and the location has changed to CS 101 because while Hector P. Garcia Plaza is beautiful, south Texas weather is not. For tomorrow's meeting on September 20th we will be discussing the existence of God, so come prepared for a heavy discussion!

See you tomorrow!

Jasmine DeLeon
Philosophy Club President
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Why Lee Se-dol's Defeat by AlphaGo Matters, a Lot

From a clear and mostly correct Times summary,

What changed? The AlphaGo victories vividly illustrate the power of a new approach in which instead of trying to program smart strategies into a computer, we instead build systems that can learn winning strategies almost entirely on their own, by seeing examples of successes and failures.

Hilary Putnam, 1926-2016

The Times obituary is here, a remembrance by Martha Nussbaum here.

Victory for Pastafarians at the Wisconsin DMV

Pastafarians who choose to wear their preferred religious garb (colanders) for their Driver License photos may now do so in Wisconsin. Wisconsin thus joins the likewise enlightened states of Utah, Texas, and Massachusetts.

Study Abroad (Permanently)

Lately, several students have been planning on going to Germany for a year of study abroad. As it turns out, many who do are staying on to complete their degrees, and for very good reason (modestly illuminating reddit discussion here.)

Welcome to the Spring 2016 Semester!

To better facilitate vigorous classroom discussions, your philosophy faculty will employ the following philosophy referee hand signals this semester:

Philosophy Referee Hand Signals

When is Lying Wrong?

Kant explains that lying is absolutely wrong (morally impermissible in every circumstance), but most of us come to terms with balancing the prima facie wrongness of lying against other, frequently utilitarian reasons for lying.

In a recent essay in the NY Times, Gerald Dworkin (UC-Davis) invites discussion about a number of scenarios to test our intuitions about lying. Although the discussions are closed at the times, please feel free to pursue them here. From the article,

Here is a list of lies that I believe to be either permissible, or, in some cases, obligatory. Readers will certainly disagree with me about some, perhaps many, of these cases. But such disagreement should not be the end of the discussion. I invite your reflection on why you disagree. It may be that I am making some implicit assumption about the case that you are challenging. It might be that you think that there are bad consequences of the lie in question, but I do not, either because I do not think the consequences are likely, or because I do not think they are bad...

To participate:

— Read each lie scenario below.

— Beneath each one you may indicate whether you think it is permissible (click on yes) or impermissible (no) to lie in that case.

— At the bottom of the list, choose one or more lies you disapprove of (remember, I approve of all of them), and explain why you disagree as succinctly as you can, then submit your response.

I also welcome additions to my list; particularly if they have justifying features that seem different from those present in my examples.

  1. A man lies to his wife about where they are going in order to get her to a place where a surprise birthday party has been organized.
  2. A young child is rescued from a plane crash in a very weakened state. His parents have been killed in the crash but he is unaware of this. He asks about his parents and the attending physician says they are O.K. He intends to tell the truth once the child is stronger.
  3. Your father suffers from severe dementia and is in a nursing home. When it is time for you to leave he becomes extremely agitated and often has to be restrained. On the occasions when you have said you would be back tomorrow he was quite peaceful about your leaving. You tell him now every time you leave that you will be back tomorrow knowing that in a very short time after you leave he will have forgotten what you said.
  4. A woman’s husband drowned in a car accident when the car plunged off a bridge into a body of water. It was clear from the physical evidence that he desperately tried to get out of the car and died a dreadful death. At the hospital where his body was brought his wife asked the physician in attendance what kind of death her husband suffered. He replied, “He died immediately from the impact of the crash. He did not suffer.”
  5. In an effort to enforce rules against racial discrimination “testers” were sent out to rent a house. First, an African-American couple claiming to be married with two children and an income that was sufficient to pay the rent would try to rent a house. If they were told that the house was not available, a white tester couple with the same family and economic profile would be sent. If they were offered the rental there would be persuasive evidence of racial discrimination.
  6. In November of 1962, during the Cuban Missile crisis, President Kennedy gave a conference. When asked whether he had discussed any matters other than Cuban missiles with the Soviets he absolutely denied it. In fact, he had promised that the United States would remove missiles from Turkey.
  7. A woman interviewing for a job in a small philosophy department is asked if she intends to have children. Believing that if she says (politely) it’s none of their business she will not get the job, she lies and says she does not intend to have a family.
  8. In order to test whether arthroscopic surgery improved the conditions of patients’ knees a study was done in which half the patients were told the procedure was being done but it was not. Little cuts were made in the knees, the doctors talked as if it were being done, sounds were produced as if the operation were being done. The patients were under light anesthesia. It turned out that the same percentage of patients reported pain relief and increased mobility in the real and sham operations. The patients were informed in advance that they either would receive a real or a sham operation.
  9. I am negotiating for a car with a salesperson. He asks me what the maximum I am prepared to pay is. I say $15,000. It is actually $20,000.
  10. We heap exaggerated praise on our children all the time about their earliest attempts to sing or dance or paint or write poems. For some children this encouragement leads to future practice, which in turn promotes the development–in some — of genuine achievement.
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