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


Upcoming Talks


14 October 2019: 4-6pm in Senate House 234

'A Theory of Skilled Action Control'

In this talk, I will sketch a theory of skill. First, I present a definition of skill that I hope integrates several essential features of skill that are often ignored or sidelined on other theories. In the second section, I spell out how we should think of the intentions involved in skilled actions and in the third section, I discuss why deliberate practice and not just experience, repetition, or exposure is required for skill development. In the fourth section, I claim that practice produces control and go on to spell out the notion of control relevant for a theory of skill.  In the final section, I briefly outline three kinds of control that develop as a result of practice and which manifest the skillfulness of skilled action. They are strategic control, attention control, and motor control.

28 October 2019: 4-6pm in Senate House 234

'Why (and how) should Psychiatry go "4E"?'

Various authors have made the suggestion that Psychiatry would have a lot to gain by embracing ‘4E’ approaches to cognition and mind (e.g. Drayson 2009; Sprevak 2011; Kyselo 2016). The basic idea is that we would learn a lot about the nature of mental disorders if we were to fully appreciate the ways in which they are determined by disturbances to processes/properties/etc that are external to an individual’s neurology (henceforth ‘external features’).

This proposal seems to me to put the cart before the horse; such an embrace of a 4E framework can only teach us about the nature of mental disorder if (some) mental disorders are in fact embodied, enactive, embedded, or extended. Call a reason to believe this a 4E Motivating Reason. Moreover, a pre-condition of offering this sort of independent reason is answering the following question; exactly how would mental disorders need to be determined by external features to warrant 4E explanations? Call the answer to this question the 4E Explanatory Requirement. My goal in this paper is twofold; articulate both the 4E Explanatory Requirement (4E-ER), and a relatively general strategy for giving arguments for 4E Motivating Reasons (4E-MR).

I argue that horizontal determination of mental disorder by external features (i.e. external features bringing about occurrences of mental disorder) is insufficient to warrant 4E explanations of mental disorder. Instead, I argue that 4E explanations are warranted just in case (some properties of) mental disorders are vertically determined by external features (i.e. just in case external features, at least in part, fix the character of mental disorder). Then I move on to offering a general strategy for arguing for 4E-MRs. I suggest that theorists should aim to challenge proposed reductions of psychological-level theories of mental disorder to neurological-level theories, by demonstrating that the character of the properties, processes, events, capacities, etc, invoked at the psychological-level exhibit vertical dependence on external features.

11 November 2019: 4-6pm in Senate House 234

Blameworthiness and Epistemic Capacities: How Normative Ignorance (Only) Sometimes Excuses.

I argue that false beliefs about what one ought to do can sometimes, but only sometimes, excuse. Whether or not they can excuse, I argue, depends heavily on the agent’s epistemic capacities. I defend a view on whether false normative belief can excuse that disagrees both with views that hold that false normative belief can never excuse, and with those that hold that it always excuses. I argue here that how both these positions are too strong, and instead false normative belief can sometimes excuse, specifically when it is the case that the agent has responded as the reasons that she has the (epistemic) capacity to appreciate demand. One consequence of this view is that many of our ordinary blaming practices need revision – they blame some agents too much, and others too little.

Madeleine Hyde (Stockholm)

25 November 2019: 4-6pm in Senate House 234

'Aim, Set and Match: Imagining with Success'

James Openshaw (Edinburgh)

9 December 2019: 4-6pm in Senate House 234


27 January 2020: 4-6pm in Senate House 234


Dan Williams (Cambridge)

10 February 2020: 4-6pm in Senate House 234


24 February 2020: 4-6pm in Senate House 234

'The Mind of a Genius: Eighteenth Century Theories of Creating and Judging’

Daniel Vanello (Dublin)

9 March 2020: 4-6pm in Senate House 234


Jonathan Mitchell (Manchester)

23 March 2020: 4-6pm in Senate House 234

‘The Phenomenology of Self Awareness’

4 May 2020: 4-6pm in Senate House 234


Mike Martin (Oxford/Berkeley)

25 May 2020: 4-6pm in Senate House 234


David Jenkins (Tel Aviv)

8 June 2020: 2-4pm in Senate House 234


22 June 2020: 4-6pm in Senate House 234


29 June 2020: 4-6pm in Senate House 234


Our Past Events


Jo Ahlberg (Hertfordshire)

6 June 2019: 4-6pm in Senate House 246

'The Propositional Aspect of Sensory Imagination'

The central claim in this paper is that visual mental images are propositionally contentful. By getting a handle on the metaphysics of propositionalism, and separating propositionality from representation, I demonstrate that propositions are versatile enough to use a variety of representational forms. An important upshot of my thesis is that if visual mental images have propositional content, then the idea that so-called sensory imagination – imagination which features the attitude of imagination with a visual mental image as its content – is a purely phenomenal mental state without propositional content, is false. The sensory/propositional imagination distinction is thus undermined. 

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