Based on recent research in the cognitive and social sciences, this unit will examine philosophical problems raised by our capacities to develop social cognition, person identification, and social surveillance. This unit will examine three philosophical problems. First, what are the capacities and techniques that we use to identify individuals who are trustworthy persons and uncover individuals who act as deceivers and impostors? Second, what are the relations between (i) the practices aimed at identifying and monitoring persons and (ii) the strategies of power aimed at controlling individuals and groups? Third, can we find philosophical principles for deciding which surveillance practices are morally right and which practices are morally wrong? To address these questions, students will critically examine classic and contemporary readings about the mechanisms of social cognition, the nature of social power, the history of surveillance, and the theory of privacy and security rights.
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