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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

Samuel D. Taylor (University of Kent) - Talk

January 24, 2022 - 4-5.30pm Online

Cognitive Instrumentalism about Mental Representations

Representationalists and anti-representationalists disagree about whether a naturalisation of mental content is possible and, hence, whether positing mental representations in cognitive science is justified. Here, I develop a novel way to think about mental representations based on a philosophical description of (cognitive) science inspired by cognitive instrumentalism. On this view, our acceptance of theories positing mental representations and our beliefs in (something like) mental representations do not depend on the naturalisation of content. Thus, I conclude that if we endorse cognitive instrumentalism about mental representations, then we can finally leave the dispute between representationalism and anti-representationalism behind.

Raamy Majeed (University of Auckland)

February 7, 2022 - 4-5.30pm

Thinking Developmentally About Emotional Architecture


Are our emotions triggered by emotion-specific mechanisms, i.e., “modules”, or are they constructed from domain-general “core systems” with the aid of our folk concepts? Modular theories of emotion struggle to accommodate the growing body of evidence against emotional modularity, whereas non-modular theories, such as various forms of constructionism, typically ignore some of the main reasons why modules were posited in the first place. This paper takes as its point of departure the observation that both modular and non-modular theories of emotion make certain assumptions about the cognitive architecture of emotion without paying adequate attention to the various ways such an architecture itself can be transformed during ontogenetic development. By way of remedying this omission, I argue both the evidence for and against emotional modularity can be accommodated by treating emotions as the products of “developmental modules”: non-innate systems which behave like modules but form due to a myriad of developmental factors. 

Harriet Fagerberg (KCL and Humboldt)

February 14, 2022 - 4-5.30pm

Disorder, Dysfunction and the Brain

This paper outlines a theory of pathology as a particular kind of biological dysfunction: I call them ‘domino dysfunctions’. Domino dysfunctions are dysfunctions of biological traits which other traits in the body depend on for their normal function. Because of these biological dependence relations, when these traits fail, the dependant traits also fail either by becoming dysfunctional themselves or by becoming as I term it, ‘somatically mismatched’ relative to their environment within the body. I contend that this ‘compounding’ feature of pathological conditions has been overlooked in the philosophy of medicine. I proceed to apply this account to brain, showing how it yields a fresh take on the nature of psychiatric disorders, distinguishes brain disorders and brain dysfunctions, and also provides a view on what it means to ‘healthy’ with brain damage.    

Patrick Butlin (University of Oxford)

March 14, 2022 - 4-5.30pm

Title and Abstract TBA

 

Our Past Events

 

Galen Strawson (UTexas)

November 22, 2021

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Location

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