[SydPhil] Dr Katharina Helming: Mentalizing and the problem of coordination

Kristie Miller kristie.miller at sydney.edu.au
Fri Mar 10 10:47:17 AEDT 2023

Dear all,
Please join us on Wednesday 15 March at 12:00pm for Dr Katharina Helming (Department of Philosophy at Leipzig University) <https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/7FmKCYW8Noc3yrokrS0j2Bk?domain=lfe.uni-leipzig.de> speaking on Mentalizing and the problem of coordination.
Location: F11 - Chemistry Building Lecture Theatre 2 (144)
There is no remote option because we want to encourage in-person attendance, so please make a plan to be there.
Note: we can enter the room at 12:00, presentation starts 12:05.
Then please join us for light refreshments at 1pm in the Psychology School Common Room 428, Brennan MacCallum Building.
For information on the weekly colloquia see: School of Psychology Events <https://psychology-events.sydney.edu.au/>
See you there on Wednesday! 
Common knowledge, that is the ability to know things together, underlies uniquely human forms of coordination. However, there is a puzzle in the existing literature about how to characterize this kind of knowledge. Traditionally philosophers propose that common knowledge requires the ability to compute higher-orders of embedded knowledge states (i.e. I know that you know that I know that you know and so forth ad infinitum that X). However, more empirically oriented accounts suggest that recursive mindreading is cognitively too demanding and thus not a plausible basis for human coordination. Instead, common knowledge is said to be achieved either on the basis of short-cuts or an arbitrary cut-off within the spiral of embedded knowledge states. But on such accounts, it remains an open question if and when (after how many steps) certainty about knowing things together can be achieved. The aim of this talk is to propose a new solution to this debate. By drawing on empirical literature across fields such as developmental, social and comparative psychology as well as linguistics I will investigate how people actually solve coordination tasks. A review of the literature shows that there is a reoccurring structure of embedded knowledge states that people use to cooperate successfully in different areas. More specifically, empirical data suggests that people actively generate three levels of embedded knowledge coordinate. Such tertiary structures are known as a “three way handshake” in computer science and can be redescribed as a mutual acknowledgment about content in social interactions. It is concluded that certainty about knowing things together in coordination is achieved based on a non-arbitrary cut-off within embedded knowledge states. The broader implications for the evolution of social cognition are discussed on this basis.

Professor Kristie Miller
Chair of Discipline,
Joint Director, the Centre for Time
School of Humanities,
The Centre for Time
The University of Sydney
Sydney Australia
Room S213, A 14 Main Quad

kristie.miller at sydney.edu.au
kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Ph: +612 9036 9663

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