ראש 2

Archive seminars

ספר צרפתית

Winter semester 2023

Dr. Jonathan Najenson, Technion

Title

Long-Term Potentiation (LTP) Revisited: Reconsidering the Explanatory Power of Synaptic Efficacy

Abstract:

Changes in synaptic strength are described as a unifying hypothesis for memory formation and storage, leading philosophers to consider the “synaptic efficacy hypothesis” as a paradigmatic explanation in neuroscience. However, in Craver’s mosaic view, while synaptic efficacy plays a unifying role by integrating diverse fields within a hierarchical mechanism, it does not have explanatory power across distinct memory types. In this talk, I will show how the mechanistic approach can accommodate the explanatory power of this hypothesis by examining its role across different mechanistic hierarchies, which in turn supports the idea of unification.


Dr. Oren Bader, Technion; Heidelberg University Hospital.

Title:

Neurophenomenology as a research program – Bridging the gap between philosophy and neuroscience (Abstract below).

Abstract:

Francisco Varela coined the term Neurophenomenology (NP) to suggest a research area that combines phenomenology – the philosophical study of the structures of subjective experiences with scientific investigations into their underlying neurocognitive mechanisms. Although Varela introduced the concept of NP over 20 years ago, only a  few attempts were made to implement this unique approach in concrete studies. In this talk, I’ll discuss the benefits and limitations of an integrated philosophical and scientific research program for studying subjective experiences by reviewing results from a recent NP study on intergroup empathy. Specifically, I’ll ask can naturalizing phenomenology help bridge the gap between empirical investigations and philosophical approaches and what can be achieved when designing hybrid research.


Prof. Emmanuel Farjoun  Hebrew University

Title:

Exponential economic growth: Causes and Costs (Abstract below).

The talk is based on his recently published book “How Labour powers the global economy – a labor theory of capitalism” (coauthored by M. Machover and D. Zachariah).

Abstract: In this talk, the basic drive of the Capitalist economy to grow will be reduced to basic labor consideration, conservation and measures. The limits of this growth will be explained: Both lower and upper bounds are explored.

Real monetary prices do not faithfully reflect social-economic causes and costs. A deeper analysis is needed. Its main tool is a probabilistic reduction of the apparent, easy-to-observe money costs, capital costs, and natural resources cost to labor inputs. These are measured simply by hours of work and are somewhat harder to trace. Labor inputs, in turn, reflect much deeper social-economic realities. The implications, under the present system, to the ecological and the human-social future are shown to be grave. Ways to overcome these grave and inevitable implications will be discussed.


Prof.  Elay Shech

Title:
Scientific Understanding, Modal Reasoning, and (Infinite) Idealization

Abstract:

One of the main goals of science is to provide understanding. Yet, the use of idealizations and abstraction in science, which are falsehoods of sorts, is ubiquitous. How can science afford understanding in light of idealizations? How can falsity allow us to understand that truth? In this talk, I attempt to make some headway in answering such questions.

Specifically, by appealing to resources found in the scientific understanding literature, I identify in what senses idealizations afford understanding in the context of the (magnetic) Aharonov-Bohm effect. Using this example, which appeals to infinite idealizations, I will suggest that idealizations facilitate modal reasoning in a manner that is essential for understanding both scientific theory and what some phenomenon is supposed to be in the first place.


Prof . Aviram Rosochotsky (Tel Aviv University)

Title

Relationism in Shape Dynamics

Abstract:

Relationism is a philosophical view according to which motion consists solely in changes to position relations between material bodies. Consequently, it rules out absolute motions – those that take place with respect to space and time which (supposedly) exist independently of matter. In my talk I’ll show how Barbour and Bertotti (1982) were able to create a modification of Newton’s theory of gravity which is compatible with the relationist view of motion using a theoretical device called best-matching. I will then review the treatment of motion in Shape Dynamics, which is the generalization of Barbour and Bertotti’s approach in a relativistic context. The comparison between the revisions of Newtonian gravity and General Relativity will show interesting differences.


Winter + Spring semester 2022

Prof.  Omer Einav (Molad).

Title

Defending the Goal: Football and the Relations between Jews and Arab in Mandatory Palestine, 1917-1948

Abstract:

My research uses the periodization of the Mandate in analyzing relations between the Zionist and Palestinian national movements, in the socio-cultural context. As a research tool, that context with its diverse aspects has been used in recent years as a field for exploring the dynamic created in Mandatory Palestine, between the two societies that lived there, and as a reflection of nationalist aspects at the heart of existing historiography. The focus is the game of football, through which a distinctive angle an attempt is made to examine the development and traits of relations between Jews and Arabs


Dr. Lotem Elber-Dorozko (Technion) and Arnon Levy (Hebrew University).

Title

What is so good about being optimal? On appeals to optimality in the cognitive sciences

Abstract:

Models in cognitive science often describe people’s behavior as optimal. What are the motivations for such descriptions? We discuss three – empirical, methodological, and conceptual. The first involves a claim about the power of natural selection, namely that it can be expected to lead many cognitive capacities to be performed optimally, in the sense that they maximize fitness. On this view, appeals to optimality have explanatory value in virtue of background assumptions about evolution. However, we present several interrelated reasons to question the claim that cognitive capacities maximize fitness.

Alternatively, optimal models may serve as a good first approximation for the behavior. We suggest that it is more accurate to consider optimal models as idealizations, because ‘approximation’ suggests that the model can be brought closer (often, arbitrarily closer) to reality, and this does not hold for most cognitive models. It is an open question what can be learned from optimality-based models, construed as idealizations.

Finally, we consider a conceptual motivation for viewing people as optimal. Here, the idea is that optimality is part of an attempt to “make sense of the organism”, to rationalize its behavior. We accept that such a perspective is important, perhaps indispensable in studying minds. But we urge caution about tying it to the notion of optimality or to strong notions of rationality.


Dr. Sharon Bassan

Title

A Proportionality-Based Framework for Government Regulation of Digital Tracing Apps in Times of Emergency

Abstract:

Times of emergency present an inherent conflict between the public interest and the preservation of individual rights. Such times require granting emergency powers to the government on behalf of the public interest and relaxing safeguards against government actions that infringe rights. The lack of theoretical framework to assess governmental decisions in times of emergency leads to a polarized and politicized discourse about potential policies, and often, to public distrust and lack of compliance.

Such a discourse was evident regarding Digital Tracing Apps (“DTAs”), which are apps installed on cellular phones to alert users that they were exposed to people who tested positive for COVID-19. DTAs collect the most sensitive types of information, such as health-related and location or proximity information, which violates the right to privacy and the right to be free of surveillance. This sensitive information is normally legally protected. But in emergencies there are no legal restrictions limiting the collection of such data. The common privacy-law approach supports DTA implementation under the condition that the technology preserves the privacy of users. But this Article suggests that the privacy approach focuses on micro considerations and under-addresses the implications of DTA-based policy. Instead, this Article suggests rethinking DTA implementation during COVID-19 through the doctrine of proportionality. Often used by European Union courts in areas where decisions entail meaningful implications to individual rights, the doctrine offers a clear and workable normative evaluation of tradeoffs in a more nuanced, explicable, and transparent way. Highlighting macro considerations, the doctrine of proportionality suggests that 1) DTA-based policy is less proportionate compared to traditional contact-tracing methods; 2) policies created while relying on smartphones are inequitable and biased; and 3) the sharing of sensitive personal information with private companies will have irreversible social surveillance implications. Additionally, the proportionality method not only provides a flexible methodological tool to evaluate government decisions in times of emergency but also offers an opportunity to examine how governments achieve and justify the acceptance and assimilation of new technological policy measures, which may take societies in new directions.


Dr. Paula Reichert (LMU München)

Title
Why does time have a direction?

Abstract

This talk discusses the physical origin of time directionality. In nature we observe irreversible (i.e. time-directed) processes, like the breaking of an egg, diffusion through cell membranes, and so on, despite the fact that all the fundamental laws of physics are time-symmetric. How can this apparent paradox be resolved? We discuss how macroscopic time asymmetry can be grounded on time-symmetric microscopic laws by means of a typicality argument based on special initial conditions. This demand for a special initial condition thrusts the origin of time asymmetry back in time towards the beginning of the universe. In this context, we discuss how modern cosmology seeks to explain the origin of time directionality via a time-symmetric one past – two futures scenario where the Big Bang provides merely a special instant, a Janus point, in an otherwise eternal universe.


Professor Omri Barak (Technion)

Title

Understanding the brain with models we don’t understand

Abstract

I will present the common manner in which computational models are used in neuroscience, and then an alternative that combines machine learning, reverse engineering and dynamical systems. The talk will touch upon questions such as “What defines a good model?”, “How should we compare models to data?” and more.


Dr. Alik Pelman (Technion), Dr.Alon Shepon (TAU), Dr.Jerke de Vries (Van Hall Larenstein), Dr.Sigal Teper (Tel-Hai)

Title

What is the Most Environmental (Healthy) Nutrition? Comparing a case study of self-sufficient farming to common industrial alternatives

Abstract

Providing food security to feed a growing population with reduced environmental impacts and resilient to climate change is an ongoing challenge. Here, we detail a low-input subsistence Mediterranean agroforestry system that is based on traditional annual crop rotation and perennial shrubs and trees and provides adequate nutritional supply with limited labor and using reduced land and on-site water resources. Our records span a 9 year time period in which 0.1 of hectare provided a balanced diet to the producing farmer, in effect closing a full farm-table-farm cycle, with no synthetic fertilizers or herbicides and with zero waste. Situated within a semi-arid region that is a climate change ‘hotspot’ this food system serves as a case study to further examine food production systems that provide healthy diets with lower environmental impacts and greater agrobiodiversity and resilience than conventional industrial farming practices and even organic ones.