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

 

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

The Search for Invertebrate Consciousness

There is no agreement on whether any invertebrates (e.g. insects, spiders, worms, octopuses, crabs) are conscious and no agreement on a methodology that could settle the issue. How can the debate move forward? I distinguish three broad types of approach: theory-heavy, theory-neutral and theory-light. I argue that the theory-heavy and theory-neutral approaches face serious problems, motivating a middle path: the theory-light approach. At the core of the theory-light approach is a minimal theoretical commitment about the relation between consciousness and cognition that is compatible with many specific theories of consciousness: the hypothesis that conscious perception of a stimulus facilitates, relative to unconscious perception, a cluster of cognitive abilities in relation to that stimulus. This “facilitation hypothesis” can productively guide inquiry into invertebrate consciousness. What's needed? At this stage, not more theory, and not more undirected data gathering. What's needed is a systematic search for consciousness-linked cognitive abilities, their relationships to each other, and their sensitivity to masking. I illustrate the "theory-light" approach using the example of bees.

Dan Williams (Cambridge)

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

TBA

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

'Moral Individuality'

The paper begins with the assumption that moral individuality is a centre piece of our moral thinking. But what constitutes moral individuality? My aim in this paper is to make progress in answering this question. I do so by assessing how far we can take Bernard Williams’ criticism of Kantian-inspired, characterless conceptions of moral individuality.

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

TBA

Mike Martin (Oxford/Berkeley)

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

TBA

David Jenkins (Tel Aviv)

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

TBA

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

TBA

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

TBA

Our Past Events

 

James Openshaw (Edinburgh)

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

For any ordinary object, what must one do, at a general level, in order to acquire the capacity for singular thought about it? In particular, what are the necessary conditions on singular thought which do the aboutness-fixing work—whose fulfilment determines that one’s thought is about that thing? Imogen Dickie’s Fixing Reference (2015) pioneers a new epistemic theory of aboutness-fixing for singular thought. If successful, it would capture the attractions of both descriptivist and causal theories, and it would explain the intuitive verdicts for paradigm cases of singular thought. Unfortunately, her official picture leads to either unsavoury claims about rationality or unsavoury restrictions on singular thought (§2). But there is an alternative in the vicinity. I present this in §3 and defend it from objection in §4. I hope to convince the reader that this is the most plausible theory on the market. However, the broader upshot is that there is a positive research programme here—that of clarifying in what sense singular thought is an epistemic achievement—which adds new fuel to a longstanding debate about singular thought.

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Location

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

 

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