About MIRA

MIRA (Mind-like Intelligence, Research, and Analysis) Group, is an integrated research and training group that incorporates aspects of a typical philosophy dissertation workshop group with those of a scientific lab group. Our focus is on embodied, non-reductive approaches to the study of the mind, with special interest in artificial intelligence. Topics of interest range across issues in philosophy of mind and language, cognitive science, and epistemology. We also study epistemic and normative issues concerning these topics, especially as they relate to diversity, wellness, and social justice.

MIRA provides weekly training, mentorship, and peer support for advanced undergraduates and graduate students working on these topics. Together, we collaborate on projects, workshop individual members’ papers, and acquire the philosophical and interdisciplinary skills that are important to our work. All students are encouraged to pursue their own ideas and projects, even when they explicitly disagree with or criticize the PI’s work. MIRA’s inherent breadth helps students develop competence in areas outside of their thesis topics. 

MIRA additionally has both a practical focus on diversity, wellness, and social justice. We work to create a holistically supportive academic environment, and to develop tools and resources for other academic groups to support all students and faculty. 

 

MIRA OPEN MEETINGS

MIRA works to foster intellectual community across Penn and surrounding philosophical, cognitive science, and robotics communities by hosting visiting speakers and reading groups open to the Penn and Philadelphia academic communities.

MIRA-Open meetings promote community and creative thinking centered around issues in philosophy of mind, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, epistemology, and related normative issues. The MIRA-Open program is designed to cultivate diverse perspectives and openness of thought, while stimulating fruitful discussions and collaborations among researchers at every stage of their careers, within Penn, Philadelphia, and academia more generally.

Accordingly, our guest lecture series features a diverse list of researchers in every respect: ranging from world-renowned scholars to Ph.D. candidates, women, LGBTQ, and POC scholars, roboticists, experimental philosophers, and ethicists. MIRA-Open seeks to create a supportive environment for all thinkers to pursue questions and discover connections among the diverse topics that MIRA Group studies.

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 If you're interested in joining MIRA for our Open meetings, you can subscribe here or email me at miracchi@sas.upenn.edu.

These meetings are supported by MindCORE

UPCOMING SPEAKERS

Spring 2019

February 6, 2019, 4:30-6 pm: Prof. John Krakauer, John C. Malone Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience, & Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, ,Claudia Cohen 402

“What does Neuroscience want to know?”

“What does it mean to ask “How does the brain work?”  or “What is the neural basis for cognition?”  The argument I will make is that mind answers and brain answers are complementary and non-collapsible.

 

April 16, 2019, 4:30-6 pm: Dr. Adriana Renero, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at NYU. Title TBD, Claudia Cohen 203.

UPCOMING READING GROUP MEETINGS

Stay tuned...

PAST SPEAKERS

October 29, 2018, 5-6:30 pm: Prof. Shaun Nichols, Professor of Philosophy, University of Arizona. “Unspoken Rules: Resolving underdetermination with closure principles”. Claudia Cohen Hall, Room 237.

November 1, 2018, 4-5:30 pm: Matthew Rachar, Ph.D. Candidate, CUNY. “How We Act Together.” Claudia Cohen Hall, Philosophy Department Library.

November 5, 2018, 5-6:30 pm: Prof. Rebecca Kukla, Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown. "I really didn’t say everything I said: The Linguistic Pragmatics of Retraction.” Claudia Cohen Hall, Room 237.

December 10, 2018, 5-6:30pm: Dr. Derek Anderson, Lecturer, Boston University Philosophy Department. “Can we always choose which concepts to deploy in thought and language?” Claudia Cohen Hall, Room 237.

January 29, 2018: Daniel E. Koditschek, Alfred Fitler Moore Professor, Electrical and Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania.

December 14, 2017: Justin D'Ambrosio, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australia National University.  "A New Perceptual Adverbialism"

July 19, 2017: Paul Reverdy, Postdoctoral Fellow at Kod*Lab, GRASP, University of Pennsylvania. 

October 9, 2017: Melissa Jacquart, Postdoctoral Fellow with Michael Weisberg, University of Pennsylvania. "Observing the Invisible: The Hunt for Dark Matter with Computer Simulations."

PAST READING GROUP MEETINGS

February 26, 2018: Reading: John Symons (2008) "Computational Models of Emergent Properties," Minds and Machines 18 (4):475-491.

March 26, 2018: Reading: Yoshua Bengio and Yann LeCun (2007) Scaling Learning Algorithms towards AI

April 23, 2018: Reading: Guttenberg, Biehl, Kanai (2017) Learning Body Affordances to Simplify Action Spaces, Guttenberg, Yu, and Kanai (2017) Counterfactual Control for free from Generative Models.

October 30, 2017: The Embodied Mind, Chs 1-2 (The Departing Ground). 

November 20, 2017: The Embodied Mind, Chs 3-4 (Varieties of Cognitivism). 

November 27, 2017: The Embodied Mind, Chs 5-6 (Varieties of Emergence).

 

 

MIRA MEMBERS

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Dr. Lisa Miracchi

Lisa Miracchi is the leader and organizer of MIRA. She is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research is mainly in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and philosophy of cognitive science. She is currently working on a project on the foundations of Artificial Intelligence that combines her achievement-first, competence-based approach to mental states with dynamical and embodied approaches. 

 

 
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Ben Baker

Ben is a PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and received a JD from Yale University and a bachelors degree in philosophy and economics from Brown University. He is mainly interested in philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and neuroscience. He is working on a dissertation about dynamical approaches to cognition, especially on the role that learning plays in shaping one's cognitive abilities. 

 
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Shereen Chang

Shereen Chang is a PhD candidate in Philosophy investigating how we reason about cognition and what we can learn about cognition from studying animals with brains that are quite different from ours. Shereen’s research emphasizes avian cognition, especially parrots, who share many social and behavioural traits with humans and other primates.  One of her current research projects investigates how to justify analogical inferences about the cognitive capacities of nonhuman animals who exhibit complex behaviours similar to that of humans.

 
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Dr. Javier Gomez-Lavin

Javier is a Provost Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy working with Professor Miracchi and the MIRA group. He received his PhD from The Graduate Center, CUNY in 2018. Javier's dissertation, The Fragmented Mind: Working memory cannot implement consciousness, rejects the standard, homuncular, model of central cognition and instead argues, using recent findings in neuroscience, for a more distributed model of  cognition and its core functions, with a focus on first-order theories of consciousness. At Penn, Javier is detailing a non-homuncular architecture of cognition and its related functions. His work also overlaps with issues in social ontology, experimental philosophy, and aesthetics. (Website)

 
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Max Lewis

Max is a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to Penn, he received an M.A. in philosophy from Brandeis University and an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School. His main philosophical interests are in metaethics, epistemology, and philosophy of action—as well as their intersection. He has secondary interests in bioethics and philosophy of religion. His current research concerns the epistemic and moral dimensions of moral testimony.

 
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Artemis Panagopoulou 

Artemis is a student in the Dual Degree Program in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a candidate for a B.A.S. and M.S.E. in Computer and Information Science, and a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. She is mainly interested in computational linguistics, philosophy of mind, ethics of artificial intelligence, and cognitive neuroscience.

 
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Sonia Roberts

I am a Electrical and Systems Engineering PhD student in Kod*lab, which is part of the GRASP lab at the University of Pennsylvania. I am studying legged locomotion in fragile environments such as sand, rubble piles, or dense vegetation.

I graduated from Vassar College in 2010 with a B.A. in Cognitive Science where I worked under Prof. John Long building and experimenting with biologically inspired robots to test hypotheses about biomechanics and evolutionary biology.

Prior to coming to UPenn, I worked as a research technician on the Fly Olympiad Project at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus attempting to create a functional map of the Drosophila melanogaster brain.

https://kodlab.seas.upenn.edu/research/lldr/locomotiononcompliantsurfaces/

 
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Tiina Rosenqvist

Tiina is a PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to Penn, she received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Finland, and studied Tibetan language in India. Her primary interests are in philosophy of mind, psychology and cognitive science. Her secondary interests relate to cross-cultural approaches to metaphysics and epistemology. 

 
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Dr. Katia Schwerzmann

Katia completed her Ph.D. in philosophy in 2016 with a joint degree between the Freie Universität of Berlin and the Université de Lausanne. She is currently a visiting postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania, working on the way in which technological mediation affects the relation between bodies, and how it shapes the community and the political. In the context of the MIRA research group, she is interested in the use of algorithms for decision-making processes in the U.S. justice system.

 
 
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Eugene Vaynberg

Eugene Vaynberg is a PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and received bachelor's degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Rochester. He is primarily interested in questions typically rooted in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science.

 
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Yosef Washington

Yosef is a PhD student in the Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests concern the intersection between Metaphysics and Epistemology and how concepts within these respective philosophical disciplines contribute to knowledge production, both at the individual and social level.  

 
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Steph Wesson

Steph is a PhD student in philosophy at Penn. Her primary interests are in normative issues in epistemology and philosophy of language, and in political philosophy and its history. Uniting these areas is an interest in how we think and talk about possible beliefs, the ethics of education, and the mind’s ability to change. 

 
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Originally from Ridgewood, NJ, Youngbin is a PhD Candidate in Philosophy at Penn. He previously studied math and philosophy at NYU. His primary areas of interest are normative ethics, metaethics, and political philosophy. He is particularly interested in topics like love, friendship, pride, shame, and forgiveness. His other areas of interest include social epistemology, aesthetics, philosophy of race, feminist philosophy, and ancient philosophy.

 
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Mingjun Zhang

Mingjun is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to arriving at Penn, he received an M.A. degree in philosophy and a B.S. degree in chemistry from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. He is mainly interested in the philosophy of biology, the philosophy of ecology, and public understanding of evolution. He also eagers to develop his competence in the philosophy of mind.

 

MIRA Alums

Sonia Pearson, BA University of Pennsylvania (in progress)

Ramathi Bandarayake, BA University of Pennsylvania 2018

Isabel Gwara, Ramathi Bandarayake, BA University of Pennsylvania 2018

Katia Schwerzmann, Postdoctoral

Jordan Taylor, Ph.D. in Philosophy 2018