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We are a University of London group aimed at fostering intercollegiate research in the Philosophy of Mind. We host both talks and read-ahead discussions where postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty can share their work.

In the Autumn of 2021 our meetings will return to Senate House and will be open to any current graduate/postgraduate students, postdoctoral students, and faculty members from London and beyond.

 

Upcoming Talks

Becky Millar (York)

May 23, 2022 - 4-5.30pm, Senate House Room 243 & Online

Can animals grieve?

 
Abstract

Research into non-human animals has found behaviours that look very much like manifestations of grief. Many species—including primates, elephants, coyotes, whales, domestic animals, and some types of birds—seem to experience distress at the loss of a companion or relative, and some even appear to engage in ‘mourning rituals’. However, various philosophical accounts of the nature of grief are at odds with this apparent evidence, suggesting that such animals cannot be truly grieving, but rather experiencing something more rudimentary, such as sadness or separation anxiety. This is because grief over the death of another is often taken to require high-level abilities, such as grasping the fact or the finality of a loved one’s death, and it might be held that central features of grief’s phenomenology are specific to the human case.

 
In this talk, I aim to resolve the conflict between striking examples of animal loss and philosophical accounts of grief. I consider two features taken to be necessary for grief, and which seem especially challenging for the non-human animal case: (1) understanding of the loss; and (2) the particularity of grief—the fact that it seems directed towards a specific individual who has died. I argue that we have good reason to think that both features apply to at least some cases of non-human animal loss responses. However, to see this, it is important to clarify that the principal kind of ‘understanding’ involved in grief is not to be construed in overly intellectual terms, and to highlight various ways that animal behaviours can implicate specific other creatures.

Sam Coleman (Hertfordshire)

June 13, 2022 - 4-5.30pm, Senate House Room G7 & Online

'Emotional Experience and Unconscious Emotions: Towards a new Feeling Theory of the Emotions'

Rory Madden (UCL)

June 27, 2022 - 4-5.30pm, Senate House Room G11 & Online

'What is it to be a thinker?  A teleo-functionalist proposal with applications to "split brains" and other metaphysical puzzles'

 

Our Past Events

 

Patrick Butlin (University of Oxford)

March 14, 2022 - 4-5.30pm, Senate House Room G37 & Online

'Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Agency'

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Location

Senate House, University of London, Malet St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HU, UK