Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory

Spring Semester 2024 – Cross-Sectional Course: Law 210.2B, Political Science 211, & Philosophy 290-9

All sessions for Spring 2024 will be held in person in room 141 Law Building on Fridays from 12:10 pm-2:00 pm (until 3:00 pm for enrolled students only). Papers for upcoming talks are available to download in the table below.  Alternatively, copies of papers may be requested by contacting Jennifer McBride at

The full Spring 2024 workshop schedule is available for download here.

Course Description:

A workshop for presenting and discussing work in progress in moral, political, and legal theory. The central aim is to provide an opportunity for students to engage with philosophers, political theorists, and legal scholars working on normative questions. Another aim is to bring together people from different disciplines who have strong normative interests or who speak to issues of potential interest to philosophers and political theorists.

The theme for the Spring 2024 workshop is “Intelligence: Human, Animal, Artificial,” and we will host scholars working in Philosophy, Biology, Psychology, Law, and Engineering. Our underlying concern will be the normative implications of different ideas of what intelligence is and can do.

This semester the workshop is co-taught by Christopher Kutz and Josh Cohen.

Format: for the first two hours, a student will lead off with a 15-minute comment on the presenter’s paper and the presenter will have 5-10 minutes to respond before we open up the discussion to the group. The first two hours will be open to non-enrolled students and faculty. For the third hour, the guest presenter will continue the discussion with students enrolled in the course. Enrolled students must serve as a discussant for at least one presenter’s work in progress and write three short response papers as well as a final paper of 15-20 pages.

The course is cross-listed with the Philosophy and Political Science Departments.

Zoom is available for those who cannot attend in person.

Zoom link to join:

Jan. 12


(Enrolled Students Only)

Professor Christopher Kutz

Professor Josh Cohen

Jan. 19 Ruth Chang, Philosophy, Oxford University, Weinstein Fellow

Does AI Design Rest on a Mistake?

Jan. 26 Jessica Riskin, History of Science, Stanford University & Marcus Feldman, Biology, Stanford University

Intelligence versus Reductionism:

Why Biology is Not Destiny  

A Sort of Buzzing Inside My Head

Feb. 2 Melanie Mitchell, Cognitive Science, Santa Fe Institute

The Debate Over Understanding in AI’s Large Language Models

Why AI is Harder Than We Think

Feb. 9 Alison Gopnik, Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

Transmission Versus Truth, Imitation Versus Innovation: What Children Can Do That Large Language and Language-and-Vision Models Cannot (Yet)

Feb. 16 Josh Tenenbaum, Cognitive Science, MIT

Reverse-Engineering the Self

Background Reading: From Word Models to World Models (suggested pages 1-18)

Feb. 23 Michael Tomasello, Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University

How to Build a Normative Creature

Mar. 1

Yoshua Bengio, Cognitive Science, Université de Montréal

(Please note Professor Bengio will be participating via Zoom)

Discussion Title:

Subjective Experience as a Side Effect and Implications for AI Rights and AI Safety


Subjective Experience, AI Consciousness and Associated Risks

Sources of Richness and Ineffability for Phenomenally Conscious States

Mar. 8 Sydney Levine, Psychology, Research Scientist, Allen Institute

Resource-Rational Contractualism: A Triple Theory of Moral Cognition

Mar. 15 Deborah Hellman, Law, University of Virginia

Algorithmic Fairness

Suggested Background Reading:

The Algorithmic Leviathan: Arbitrariness, Fairness, and Opportunity in Algorithmic Decision-Making Systems

Mar. 22

Richard Tuck, Government, Harvard University, Weinstein Fellow

Hobbes and Weber on the Jury

Mar. 29

Spring Break – No Workshop

Apr. 5 Terrence Deacon, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley On Human (Symbolic) Nature: How the Word Became Flesh
Apr. 12 Jan Engelmann, Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

The Phylogenetic and Ontogenetic Origins of Evidence-Responsiveness

Apr. 19 Closing Session / Enrolled Students Only / No Guest Speaker