IACAP 2011


Latest news:

  • June 29: The program has now (hopefully) been finalized
  • June 26: Updated information about conference dinner and pre-conference reception
  • June 22: Information about local transportation added
  • June 20: General (tourist) information about IACAP and Aarhus added
  • June 10: Detailed, tentative program posted (update June 22)
  • May 12: Final recipients of travel bursaries: Israel Belfer, Richard Heersmink, Steve McKinlay, Naveen Sundar, Andreas Weich

First International Conference of IACAP
Celebrating 25 years of Computing and Philosophy (CAP) conferences

“The Computational Turn: Past, Presents, Futures?”, Aarhus University – July 4-6, 2011

In the West, philosophical attention to computation and computational devices is at least as old as Leibniz. But since the early 1940s, electronic computers have evolved from a few machines filling several rooms to widely diffused – indeed, ubiquitous – devices, ranging from networked desktops, laptops, smartphones and “the internet of things.” Along the way, initial philosophical attention – in particular, to the ethical and social implications of these devices (so Norbert Wiener, 1950) – became sufficiently broad and influential as to justify the phrase “the computational turn” by the 1980s. In part, the computational turn referred to the multiple ways in which the increasing availability and usability of computers allowed philosophers to explore a range of traditional philosophical interests – e.g., in logic, artificial intelligence, philosophical mathematics, ethics, political philosophy, epistemology, ontology, to name a few – in new ways, often shedding significant new light on traditional issues and arguments. Simultaneously, computer scientists, mathematicians, and others whose work focused on computation and computational devices often found their work to evoke (if not force) reflection and debate precisely on the philosophical assumptions and potential implications of their research. These two large streams of development – especially as calling for necessary interdisciplinary dialogues that crossed what were otherwise often hard disciplinary boundaries – inspired what became the first of the Computing and Philosophy (CAP) conferences in 1986 (devoted to Computer-Assisted Instruction in philosophy).
Since 1986, CAP conferences have grown in scope and range, to include a bewildering array of intersections between computation and philosophy as explored across a global range of cultures and traditions. In keeping with what has now become a significant tradition, IACAP‟11 will accept presentations across this array and range. At the same time, in order to recognize and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the CAP conferences, we specifically encourage submissions that include attention to the past, present(s), and possible future(s) of their foci as expressions of this computational turn.

Presentation Information and Guidelines

Each presenter will have 20 minutes for presentation, followed by 10 minutes of discussion. Data projectors will be available – we ask presenters to bring any electronic materials (e.g., Powerpoint or the like) on a USB memory stick, rather than planning on using their own computers.

Presenters are encouraged to use their time to highlight what they believe to be the most significant / interesting / provocative (etc.) insights / findings / arguments (etc.) in their papers, with a view towards inspiring discussion among an interdisciplinary audience – i.e., one including those outside the presenters’ own primary specializations and disciplines.

More formal reading of papers is certainly in order if that is the presenter’s preference – and especially if difficult or complex arguments are to be presented for careful critique and discussion. But again, we ask presenters to recognize and seek to foster the strong interdisciplinarity that has defined the CAP conferences since their inception.


On-site registration will begin at 8:30 on Monday, July 4, 2011, in the Foyer of the Theology Building (Building 1441). The Conference will be opened at 9:00 by Dr. Anne Marie Pahuus, Vice-President for Research and Talent Development, Aarhus University. The conference ends on Wednesday, July 6, 16:00.

[see bottom of page for keynote abstracts]


Organizing Chair

Program Chair

Program Committee / Comité scientifique

  • Tony Beavers (University of Evansville, USA: President, IACAP)
  • Philip Brey, Department of Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Science, University of Twente, Netherlands
  • Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Sweden
  • Luciano Floridi, University of Hertfordshire and University of Oxford, UK
  • Jean-Gabriel Ganascia (Paris VI, Director of Laboratoired’informatique de Paris)
  • SorajHongladarom (Philosophy, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand)
  • Teresa Numerico (Computer Science, University of Rome)
  • Carson Reynolds (Information Science and Technology, University of Tokyo)
  • Jean Sallantin, Directeur des Recherche au Laboratoired’Informatique, de Robotiqueet de Microélectronique de Montpellier (LIRMM) (LIRMM), France
  • Johnny Søraker (Philosophy, Twente, Netherlands)
  • Mariarosaria Taddeo (Philosophy, Hertfordshire, UK)
  • Jordi Vallverdú, UniversitatAutònoma de Barcelona, Philosophy Department, Spain
  • Jan van Leeuwen,Center for Philosophy of Computer Science, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Jutta Weber (Institute of Media Studies, University of Paderborn, Germany)

Committee: best PhD /post-doc paper awards (including bursaries)

Conference venue:

  • Map of Aarhus University Campus: [PDF]

The conference will take place in Building 1441 on the Aarhus University campus. Building 1441 is located at the intersection of Nordre Ringgade and Nørrebroggade, conveniently close to bus stops, including buses headed downtown as well as the airport bus (look for the red cloud outline in the upper right-hand corner of the map). For those staying at the University Guest House: at the bottom of the map is an inset of Nobel Park: the red cloud indicates the location of the Guest House, and the red oval locates Building 1441.

  • IACAP’11/Aarhus – Information for foreign travelers: [PDF]
  • List of local restaurants w/ descriptions and links to map: [PDF]
  • List of local bakeries w/ links to map: [PDF]
  • List of local grocery stores w/ links to map: [PDF]

Local transportation

  • Aarhus Bus Timetables [PDF]
  • Bus 121 – CabInn to Conference [PDF]
  • Bus 14 – CabInn to Conference [PDF]
  • Bus 3 – Ritz to Conference [PDF]
  • Bus 3 – Scandic to Conference [PDF]
  • Bus 53 – Ritz to Conference [PDF]
  • Bus 53 – Scandic to Conference.pdf [PDF]
  • Bus 56 – CabInn to Conference.pdf [PDF]
  • Bus 56 – Ritz to Conference.pdf [PDF]
  • Bus 56 – Scandic to Conference.pdf [PDF]

See also Visit Aarhus for more information about things to do and see in Aarhus (We will also add more specific information as we get closer to the conference dates)

Pre-conference reception

There will be a pre-conference reception (including early registration) at the Radisson Blu in Aarhus on Sunday, the 3rd of July from 17:00 to 19:00.  This will be a cash bar at La Pyramid in the Radisson’s lobby.

Conference dinner

The conference dinner will take place at Nordens Folkekøkken (map), providing “good food and wine at a reasonable price. Here theatre guests, the well-to-do, lawyers, pick-pockets, poets, lovers, and students can be together. Here the only “class” applies to the food and the wine – all brought together on the basis of the best local ingredients we can find”.


Scandic Plaza Aarhus
Banegårdspladsen 14
8000 Århus
Phone: +45 87320100


Use the booking code HUM030711 by 3 June 2011 to get one of our pre-booked rooms at dkr. 840,00 per night. Book at plaza.aarhus@scandichotels.com
- Only 40 rooms available.

Cabinn Aarhus
Kannikegade 14
8000 Århus
Phone: +45 86757000


Use the booking code 900204 by 30 May 2011 to get one of our pre-booked rooms at dkr. 545,00 per night.
- Only 30 rooms available.


There are also 8 rooms reserved at the Studenterhusfonden, a University guesthouse that is both economical and very conveniently located near the conference venue.

Studenterhusfonden af 1991
Fredrik Nielsens Vej 2-4
8000 Århus C

Please contact Ulla Rasmussen [kultur@hum.au.dk] for enquiries/reservations (include arrival and departure date)

A good place to start if you want to make your own hotel booking in Aarhus http://www.hotels-in-denmark.dk/aarhus-hotels-denmark.asp


(see full Call for Papers for track descriptions)

I. Philosophy of Computer Science
Chair: Raymond Turner (School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex: <turnr@essex.ac.uk>)
Chair: Rainhard Z. Bengez (Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Engineering Department and Carl von Linde-Akademie, TU München: <bengez@tum.de>)

II. Philosophy of Information and Cognition
Chair: OrlinVakarelov (University of Arizona: <okv@u.arizona.edu>)

III. Autonomous Robots and Artificial Cognitive Systems
Chair: Matthias Scheutz (Tufts University: <mscheutz@cs.tufts.edu>)
Chair: Mark Bishop (University of London: <m.bishop@gold.ac.uk>)

IV. Technosecurity: from Everyday Surveillance to Digital Warfare
Chair: Jutta Weber (TechnischeUniversitätBraunschweig: <jutta.weber@tu-bs.de>)
Chair: Doris Allhutter (Institut fürTechnikfolgen-Abschätzung, ÖsterreichischeAkademie der Wissenschaften: <doris.allhutter@oeaw.ac.at>)

V. Information Ethics / Robot Ethics
Chair: John Sullins (Sonoma State University, CA: <john.sullins@sonoma.edu>)
Chair: Mark Coeckelbergh (Twente, the Netherlands: <m.j.k.coeckelbergh@utwente.nl>)

VI. Multidisciplinary Perspectives
Chair: Jan van Leeuwen (Utrecht University, The Netherlands:<j.vanleeuwen@cs.uu.nl>)

VII. Social Computing
Chair: Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic (Mälardalen University, Sweden: <gordana.dodig-crnkovic@mdh.se>)
Chair: Judith Simon (Institut Jean Nicod (ENS), Paris: <judith.simon@ens.fr>)

VIII. IT, Culture and Globalization
Chair:SorajHongladarom (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok: <s.hongladarom@gmail.com>)
Chair: Philip Brey (Twente: <P.A.E.Brey@utwente.nl>)

IX.  Surveillance, sousveillance …
Chair: Jean-Gabriel Ganascia (University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris: <Jean-Gabriel@Ganascia.name>)
Chair: Anders Albrechtslund (Aarhus: <alb@hum.au.dk>)

X: SIG Track –Machines and Mentality
Chair: Marcello Guarini (University of Windsor, Canada: <mguarini@uwindsor.ca>)
Chair: Paul Bello (Office of Naval Research: <paul.bello@navy.mil>)

Keynote speaker abstracts

Katja Franko Aas
(In)secure identities: ICTs, trust and ‘bio-political tattoos’

The globalising world is marked by anonymity, mass mobility and mass consumerism. These conditions create a distinct set of challenges for social identification practices, first and foremost, the challenge of creating reliable and “trustworthy” identities. The paper addresses in particular the growing reliance on biometrics and biometric databases and examines how these forms of bodily control function as border controls. While revealing specific notions of subjectivity, the paper also explores how these technologies function as mechanisms of social sorting and global governance and have markedly different effects on the citizen of the global North and the global South.

Anthony F. Beavers
Is Ethics Computable, Or What Other than Can Does Ought Imply?

In 2007, Anderson and Anderson wrote, “As Daniel Dennett (2006) recently stated, AI ‘makes philosophy honest.’ Ethics must be made computable in order to make it clear exactly how agents ought to behave in ethical dilemmas” (16). To rephrase, a computable system or theory of ethics makes ethics honest. But at what cost? Might Turing’s 1950 prophecy that “at the end of the century the use of words … will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted” (1950, 442) soon take on normative dimensions due to research in artificial morality. Will attempts to make ethics computable lead us to redefine the term “moral” to fit the case of machines and thus change its meaning for humans also? I call this the threat of “moral nihilism … the doctrine that states that morality needs no internal sanctions, that ethics can get by without moral “weight,” i.e., without some type of psychological force that restrains the satisfaction of our desire and that makes us care about our moral condition in the first place” (Beavers, 2011a).

Analyzing this possibility requires inspection of the meaning of the term “ought” and what it implies. In 2009, I argued that, following Kant, ought not only implies can, but also might not, in which case it would be morally wrong to create artificial Kantian agents, since doing so would require designing them in such a way that they could act immorally, but would not do so. Only on such a condition would it make sense to hold a machine responsible for its actions and praise or blame it for its behavior. In 2011, I argued that if ought implies can, then it also implies implementability. If a machine or human can act morally, this can only be because the mechanisms (whether in software or wetware) have the requisite components to allow for it. Thus, any theory of morality must be implementable in real working agents to qualify as a viable moral theory. Given the conclusions of 2009, I argued in 2011 that designing machines in such a way that they behaved morally but were not able to act immorally would require redefining the term “morality” in such a way that full moral agency with internal sanctions was not intrinsic to ethics, but “merely a sufficient, and no longer necessary, condition for being ethical.” In this case, internal states such as conscience, responsibility (as felt affective weight) and thus moral accountability are, ex hypothesi, not necessary for ethics either. Thus, if we build machines capable of being described by the term “moral” we can only do so by redefining the term. So, if a time is coming when we can speak of a machine as moral without expecting to be contradicted, we will have succeeded in turning ethics into a strictly extrinsic, behavioral affair in which internals are irrelevant.

Since on the surface, an ethics without an ought is as empty as thinking without insight or wisdom, it is necessary to explore what else ought implies in order to form an adequate conception of a metaphysics of morals that will fit the information age. While other research for a working conception of ethics has already been done (e.g., Floridi and Sanders, 2004), a careful exploration of this foundational concept still appears lacking. I hope to fill this gap to explore whether ethics can get by without its cherished ought and, if so, what that implies for ethics more generally. The concern guiding this talk is whether the information age is issuing in a post-ethical age or whether it is leading to a redefinition of ethics that is both long overdue and needed.

Cameron Buckner
Computational Methods for the 21st-Century Philosopher:  Recent Advances and Challenges in Cognitive Science & Metaphilosophy

As evidenced by past CAP conferences, the intersection of computing and philosophy has long been a fertile area of research.  The past ten years in particular have produced a variety of new computational techniques of philosophical import.  These powerful new techniques present philosophers with alluring opportunities, but also pose a number of challenges requiring methodological reforms.  In cognitive science, new computational models of psychological processes are rapidly-increasing our ability to predict behaviors, but the structure of these models seem to make a hash of traditional distinctions in psychology such as that between cognition and association.  In metaphilosophy, new statistical and logical programming methods offer the possibility to address otherwise intractable philosophical questions, but rely upon a variety of assumptions, require input data that can be expensive to collect, and produce results that can be difficult to evaluate.  In this talk, I will review some of these new technologies, recommending new conceptual frameworks and methodologies to understand, evaluate, and utilize their results.  While I will give a brief overview of this latest generation of research, the talk will focus primarily on specific examples from my own work in the areas of comparative psychology and dynamic ontology.

Terrell Ward Bynum
Information and Deep Metaphysics

Scientists working on the cutting edges of their field often engage in thinking that is much like metaphysics. Similarly, in the past, philosophers inspired by major advances in science have made significant additions to metaphysics, as well as other branches of philosophy. On occasion, the scientists and philosophers have been the very same people. For example in ancient times Aristotle created physics, biology and animal psychology, and at the same time he made related contributions to metaphysics, logic, epistemology, and other branches of philosophy.  Again, during the Enlightenment in Europe, influential philosophers like Descartes and Leibniz also were respected scientists and first-class mathematicians. At times, people who were primarily scientists (for example, Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton) inspired thinkers who were primarily philosophers (for example, Hobbes, Locke, and Kant). In more recent times, revolutionary scientific contributions of Darwin, Einstein, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, and others significantly influenced philosophical ideas of people like Spencer, Russell, Whitehead, Popper, and many more.

Today, in the early years of the twenty-first century, developments in cosmology and quantum physics appear likely to alter significantly our scientific understanding of the universe, of life, and of the human mind; and many scientists have become convinced that the universe, ultimately, is made of quantum information. These developments, it seems to me, are very likely to lead to important new contributions to philosophy; and indeed, as illustrated by Luciano Floridi’s writings on informational realism and philosophy of information, significant philosophical contributions already have begun to appear.

Of special interest, in this presentation is the idea that the universe is a vast “ocean” of quantum bits (“qubits”); and thus each object or process in the universe can be seen as a constantly changing data structure comprised of qubits. On this account of the ultimate nature of the universe, the fundamental “stuff” of which our universe is made is quantum information. Unlike traditional “bits”, such as those processed in most of today’s information technology devices, “qubits” have quantum features such as genuine randomness, superposition and entanglement – features that Einstein and other scientists considered “spooky” or “weird”. These nontraditional features of qubits have made it possible to achieve unbreakable encryption, teleportation, and a new kind of computing – “quantum computing”.

In this presentation, a number of quantum topics, such as randomness, superposition, entanglement, collapse of a wave function, teleportation, and quantum computing are briefly described. In light of such quantum features, it seems appropriate for philosophers to re-examine a variety of philosophical concepts, such as possibility and impossibility, potential and actual, cause and effect, being and reality, logic and contradiction, and a number of others. Such concepts are central to the “deep metaphysics” that provides a conceptual foundation for  philosophy. Consequently, this presentation calls upon philosophers to familiarize themselves with current developments in cosmology and quantum physics, especially those developments that see the universe as ultimately an expanding ocean of quantum information. If philosophers take on this challenge – as Luciano Floridi has already begun to do – the deep metaphysical foundations of philosophy are likely to be profoundly transformed. As a small contribution to that effort, this presentation concludes with a brief sketch of a possible new metaphysical theory.

John P. Sullins
The Next Steps in RoboEthics

RoboEthics has now matured from its beginnings as a curious offshoot of computer ethics into a sub-discipline of its own that has a well-defined scope of study. In this paper I will briefly look at the growth of RoboEthics and the important roll it is playing in the development of robotics technology. I will then look at the more pressing open problems in RoboEthics and suggest some ways forward. I will focus primary on the criticism that RoboEthics is impossible given that phronesis is beyond the capacity of machines. To refute this claim I will propose a model system inspired by the architecture of the IBM Watson computer that, I will argue, could achieve an artificial practical wisdom. This would be possible through the use of a context sensitive hybrid of logical and non-logical search methods that could access documents to find comparable exemplar cases similar to the ethical situation the robot is attempting to reason about. Armed with this data, the robot would be able to make more nuanced decisions even without its own innate human equivalent practical wisdom.

© 2012 International Association of Computing And Philosophy Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha