Call: “The Significance of Simulation” (TRANSOR workshop)

Call for Papers: TRANSOR workshop, “The Significance of Simulation”
University of Southern Denmark, Kolding Campus. June 18-19, 2015.

Sponsored by the Research Network TRANSOR (Transdisciplinary Studies in Social Robotics –

Keynote Address: John Sullins (Sonoma State University, California),
“Building Artificial Phronesis: A New Approach?” (provisional title)


As social robots continue their rapid development and deployment, “simulation” has emerged as a key focus in a number of ways. For example, robots are currently incapable of experiencing emotions as conscious and embodied beings: in many examples, however, “artificial emotions” can be emulated and expressed by social robots in diverse ways that suffice to persuade their human interactors that the robot in fact feels a basic emotion such as care. Building in artificial emotions is critical for, e.g., the therapeutic roles of carebots such as Paro; at the same time, however, there are important ethical considerations as to whether or not artificial emotions thereby qualify as an unethical form of simulation or trickery.

We invite papers and presentations from any relevant discipline, including philosophy, anthropology, education, linguistics, cognitive science, computer science, and so on that address the workshop theme of “simulation” in conjunction with the design, development, and deployment of social robots.

Papers and presentations will be organized as follows:

Phronesis and stimulation. Virtue ethics foregrounds phronesis as a reflective form of judgment critical to both ethical decision-making and the larger pursuit of good lives marked by love, friendship, and flourishing. Phronesis, along with analogical reasoning, is argued to be computationally intractable (e.g., Gerdes 2014; Ess 2015). Insofar as this might be true, what strategies might be developed for “artificial phronesis” (Sullins 2014) and what are broader implications of these for social robots and their interactions with human beings? Kick-off paper/presentation: Charles Ess, “What’s Love Got to Do with It? Robots, sexuality, and the arts of being human”

“As-if” and simulation. The Kantian “as-if” has come to the foreground more and more in recent approaches to social robotics; e.g., Seibt 2014: “Varieties of the “As if”: Five Ways to Simulate an Action”. Several studies highlight ways in which humans bond with social robots (Turkle 2010; Dautenhahn 2007; Schärfe et al 2011; Carpenter 2013; Bartneck, 2007). Moreover, In trying to clarify our interactions with social robots, some (e.g. Gunkel 2012; Coeckelbergh 2012) suggests we need to address what is at stake in the relation, per se, rather than framing the discussion around a basic distinction between a person versus a machine. Consequently, it makes good sense to explore, whether, and under which circumstances, human-robot interactions can qualify as instances of social interactions. Kick-off paper/presentation: Anne Gerdes, “Robot Unicorn Attack – Does it Make Sense to Ascribe Morality to Robots?”

Works in Progress. This will be an open session in which participants will offer relatively brief overviews of their current work, including key difficulties, challenges, and (hoped-for) developments and resolutions.

Roundtable discussion: Pressing Directions for Research, Current and Future?


Abstract of 200-500 words must be received by the workshop co-organizers – Charles Ess, University of Oslo: and Anne Gerdes, University of Southern Denmark – no later than Monday, May 18, 2015. In your abstract, be sure to indicate which section the proposed presentation will contribute to [the event].

Abstract authors will be notified of acceptance / rejection no later than Friday, May 22, 2015.


Will be announced soon, and will be primarily to cover catering costs.


University of Southern Denmark, Campus Kolding, Universitetsparken 1, 6000 Kolding in room 31.43

Travel information –


The workshop hotel is First Hotel Kolding –

Booking should be done by email. Please use/refer to the University of Southern Denmark discount code: 16SYDD180615



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