Colloquium Series

Colloquium: Carlotta Pavese (Cornell University)

Date Range
Fri December 1st 2023, 3:30 - 5:30pm
Building 90-92Q

Title: Intelligence Socialism


Abstract: From artistic performances in the visual arts and in music to motor control in gymnastics, from tool use to chess and language, humans excel in a variety of skills. On the plausible assumption that skillful behavior is a visible manifestation of intelligence, a theory of intelligence—whether human or not—should be informed by a theory of skills. More controversial is the question as to whether, in order to theorize about intelligence, we should study certain skills in particular. My target is the view that only a particular class/kind of skill (i.e., ‘theoretical’, or ‘intellectual’ skills, versus ‘practical’, or ‘embodied’ skills) manifests intelligence, or especially does so. I call this view ‘Intelligence Elitism’. Intelligence Elitism is pervasive in popular culture, in academic culture, as well as in psychometrics. It has, arguably, a long pedigree in philosophy (though explicit arguments for it are rare). But it is a substantive view which, if false, can promote unfairness. In this talk, I defend Intelligence Socialism—the claim that intelligent behavior is everywhere skillful behavior is. I go on to isolate the best case for the further Elitist claim that, even if all skillful behavior is intelligent in some modest sense of ‘intelligence’, there is a principled difference in intelligence between theoretical, or intellectual, skills, on one side, and practical, or embodied skills, on the other, and I show it wanting.

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