Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Ropar

HSS Seminar

What are the Facts of the Matter in Our Consideration of Mind?


Prof. Prajit. K Basu

November  14, 2017 (Monday) at  3:00 PM

Venue:  Conference Room  2


In this essay, I set out in a preliminary fashion what is already avaliable in the literature. The nature of technoscience as opposed to science or technology is briefly set out. I relate the nature of technoscience to the discussions set out in Bangalore Communique', a UNESCO effort to chart out a new Science – Society contract. Without making the connections point by point and exhaustive, I draw lessons about some of the values that inform the very nature of modern technoscience. I also enumerate a few examples of scientific practice, taken from the journal Science, which highlight the varieties of values that may and do impinge on scientific practices. In the next section, I highlight one of the moral underpinnings of the modern technoscientific practices. I suggest that this may be seen as a reversal of the deontological framework which suggests that 'ought implies can' to 'can implies permissible'. In the last section, I narrow down further to focus on how the determination of risk with respect to both development and deployment of new forms of techncosciences, the example pursued here is nanotechnology, requires us to consider several values like consent, equity, justice. My specific argument is with respect to the value of consent to be obtained from the technology recipient while deploying a technology. I end by suggesting some further directions that I want to pursue if my earlier suggestions have some plausibiity.

Brief Bio-sketch of the speaker

In our accounts of mind, we consider a varieties of pre-theoretic intuitions as well as empirical experiences. These intuitions and experiences are of various kinds. In this essay we will engage with several such examples and explore what kind of repercussions these have on our understanding of the various aspects of the nature of mind. The attempt will not be to deal with an exhaustive list of such intutions and experiences but to pick out a few and set out in detail whether and how an account of mind is constructed in the light of such empirical results. This exercise is quite relevant in the light of the present debates concerning the role of humans in the midst of AI agents.