Statement of Protest Regarding Faculty Firings at Mount St. Mary’s University

Many of you know that I taught for several years at Mount St. Mary’s University, where Thane Naberhaus, a (tenured) professor of philosophy, was abruptly fired yesterday afternoon for his role in opposing a plan to dismiss at-risk freshmen in their first semester of college.

For more on the story, you can visit Daily Nous.

To sign a statement of protest from members of the academic community, please visit


Submissions for #MindsOnline2016 are due in one week!

This is a friendly reminder that submissions for the 2016 Minds Online Conference, to be held at the Brains blog during the month of September, are due on Monday, February 15.

minds-online-cfpThe confirmed keynote speakers are Ellen Fridland (King’s College, London) and Bryce Huebner (Georgetown University).

We invite the submission of papers in philosophy of mind (broadly construed), epistemology (especially as it relates to philosophy of mind), philosophy of action, philosophy of cognitive science, moral psychology, and more. Special consideration will be given to papers that engage with research in experimental disciplines such as psychology and neuroscience. For further details, see the call for papers.

To submit your paper of approximately 3,500-7,500 words, together with several keywords and a 500-word abstract, please visit the submissions page. All submitted documents must be prepared for anonymous review. The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2016.

Please contact with questions or concerns.

We look forward to reviewing your submissions!


Several notable CFPs

Below are links to several calls for papers that are likely of interest to our readers. Please follow the links for further details:

Update: Also of note are two summer classes at Central European University — Matter, Mind and Consciousness and Understanding Communication and Understanding Minds: The Role of Metarepresentation.

Remember also that submissions for this year’s Minds Online Conference are due in just two weeks!


CFP: Workshop on Physics and Computation

The 7th International Workshop on Physics and Computation (PC2016)

(A satellite workshop to Unconventional Computation & Natural Computation 2016)

                                             11-15 July 2016

                  Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK


The 7th International Workshop on Physics and Computation (PC2016) will be held as a satellite workshop to the 15th International Conference on Unconventional Computation and Natural Computation (UCNC 2016) in Manchester, UK from the 11-15 July 2016. Continue reading CFP: Workshop on Physics and Computation


A plea for some psychology in public discussions of filicide

Filicide is the murder of a child by a parent. The term covers killings by genetic, step and de facto parents and the more specific crimes of neonaticide (the murder of a child within 24 hours of birth) and infanticide (the killing of a child under 1 year of age and defined in some jurisdictions, e.g. the UK, as necessarily involving a mental impairment) (Bourget, Grace, & Whitehurst, 2006; Browne & Lynch, 1995; Farooque & Ernst, 2003). When Damien Little allegedly shot and drowned his two children and himself this kind of killing came roaring back into public awareness. This kind of death unfortunately cannot be a private death, and I am sorry for heaping on those suffering from these killings. When I write about filicide, the hope is to contribute something to understanding it so it can be prevented. But, this comes at the cost of keeping certain individuals suffering in the public eye, and I am sorry that this is the case. Continue reading A plea for some psychology in public discussions of filicide


Symposium on Boyd Millar’s “Naïve Realism and Illusion”

I’m pleased to introduce our second Ergo symposium, featuring Boyd Millar’s “Naïve Realism and Illusion” with commentaries by Craig French (Cambridge) and James Genone (Rutgers). Thanks to each of the participants for their excellent work and to John Schwenkler for helping me put the symposium together.

Continue reading Symposium on Boyd Millar’s “Naïve Realism and Illusion”


A (Belated) Happy 2016 from the Brains Blog

The past year was a great success at Brains, drawing over 170,000 total visits to the main blog and over 23,000 more to the first annual Minds Online Conference, together more than doubling our record-setting 2014. Brains also passed the mark of 1,000 followers on Facebook and is just about there on Twitter as well.

In addition to launching Minds Online we also began our series of symposia on papers from Neuroethics (Focquaert and Schermer, “Moral Enhancement: Do Means Matter Morally?”) and Ergo (Molyneux, “The Logic of Mind-Body Identification”), and continued our series on papers from Mind and Language (Norby, “Uncertainty Without All the Doubt”; Martin and Le Corre, “Sensory Substitution Is Substitution”; and Clatterbuck, “Chimpanzee Mindreading and the Value of Parsimonious Mental Models”). We also held an impromptu symposium with reflections from several philosophers on #dressgate, which was followed up by a pair of detailed posts (1, 2) by Justin Broackes.

Alongside all this, we hosted visits from Maria Botero, Stephen ButterfillBrie Gertler, Neil Levy, and Evan Thompson as featured scholars, plus visits from several authors who discussed their new books: Michael Bishop on The Good Life, Peter Carruthers on The Centered Mind, Mazviita Chirimuuta on Outside Color, Elijah Chudnoff on Cognitive Phenomenology, Andy Clark on Surfing Uncertainty, John Doris on Talking to Our Selves, Matthew Fulkerson on The First Sense, Jonardon Ganeri on The Self, Colin Klein on What the Body Commands, Uriah Kriegel on The Varieties of Consciousness, Carlos Montemayor and Harry Haladjian on Consciousness, Attention, and Conscious Attention, Kristina Musholt on Thinking About Oneself, Gualtiero Piccinini on Physical Computation, Eva Schmidt on Modest Nonconceptualism, Jennifer Windt on Dreaming, and Dan Zahavi on Self and Other.

That’s a lot! And there is more to come this year, including our next Ergo symposium, on Boyd Millar’s “Naïve Realism and Illusion”, with commentaries by James Genone and Craig French, which will begin Monday, January 11. Other events that are now in the works should show up soon on our calendar, and will be publicized as usual in this space. So thanks for reading, following, commenting, and generally making this one of the most consistently interesting philosophy blogs around. Best wishes for the new year!


CFP: Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy

The Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy series, published by Oxford University Press and edited by Tania Lombrozo, Joshua Knobe, and Shaun Nichols, is now calling for papers for its second volume.

The series joins other successful series in the Oxford Studies in … collection, which bring together original articles on all aspects of their respective topics. Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy will publish a volume every two years, featuring outstanding papers at the cutting edge of experimental philosophy as well as papers that engage in critical discussion of the field. Philosophers and scientists alike are invited to contribute.

To submit, please send a completed paper to by March 1, 2016. All submissions should be formatted for anonymous review and include a list of three suggested reviewers.

In addition to research articles under 10,000 words, which can be theoretical or empirical, Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy will now be accepting brief reports. A brief report must report new experimental findings and be no longer than 3500 words.


The Dark Side of the Predictive Mind

I’m an optimist by nature, and so Surfing Uncertainty mostly explores the positives, laying out the surprising reach and potential of the ‘predictive brain picture’ and celebrating its near-perfect interlock with work on the embodied, extended, and enactive mind. But there’s no doubt that the picture still has plenty of holes in it. There is much that is incomplete and unclear, and much that may well be proven false as the science unfolds. To round off this short run of blog posts then, I thought I should visit the three biggest potential ‘accident black-spots’ on our (otherwise quite scenic) route.

Continue reading The Dark Side of the Predictive Mind


Conservative versus Radical Predictive Processing

Thanks to John Schwenkler for the invitation to guest-blog this week about my new book Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind (Oxford University Press NY, 2016).

In the previous post, I spoke about the emerging view of the perceiving brain as a prediction machine. Brains like that are not cognitive couch-potatoes, passively awaiting the next waves of sensory stimulation. Instead, they are pro-active prediction engines constantly trying to anticipate the shape of the incoming sensory signal. I sketched a prominent version of this kind of story (for a fuller sketch try here). Today, I want to contrast two ways of understanding that story.

Continue reading Conservative versus Radical Predictive Processing


Expecting Ourselves

Expecting Ourselves?

What does it take to be a creature that has some sense of itself as a material being, with its own concerns, encountering a structured and meaningful world? Such a being feels (from the inside, as it were) like a sensing, feeling, knowing thing, and a locus of ‘mattering’. In Surfing Uncertainty I describe (see previous posts) an emerging bundle of research programs in cognitive and computational neuroscience that – and I say this with all due caution, and a full measure of dread and trepidation – may begin to suggest a clue. I don’t think the clue replaces or challenges the other clues emerging in contemporary neuroscience. But it may be another step along the road.

Continue reading Expecting Ourselves


Dualism and the Afterlife

Sonya Bahar and I have recently contributed to a large volume collecting arguments against the afterlife, edited by Michael Martin and Keith Augustine. William Hasker just reviewed it for NDPR. IMHO the review is not up to the usual NDPR standards.

Hasker dismisses the portion of the volume where our essay occurs as follows: “Non-specialists will find new and interesting details here, but the overall picture will be familiar to those who have followed the progress of the brain sciences. It is crystal clear that, in normal human life, mental function is dependent in an intimate and fine-grained way on brain function.”

Hasker does not engage in detail with any of the essays in the collection, with the partial exception of the essay by Augustine and Yonatan Fishman. Continue reading Dualism and the Afterlife


2016 NEH Summer Institute on “Presupposition and Perception”

For further details, see the institute’s Web site:

The Topic: To philosophers, one of the most important divisions in the human mind is between perception and reasoning. We reason from information that we take ourselves to have already, and often our reasoning is unconscious. In contrast, perception is a means of taking in new information, and it is typically a mode of conscious experience. These two aspects of the mind become deeply intertwined when beliefs, fears, or desires influence what we see, hear, taste, or smell. Such influences are called top-down effects on perception. Continue reading 2016 NEH Summer Institute on “Presupposition and Perception”


Marcin Milkowski receives the IACAP’s Simon Award

Congratulations are due to long-time Brains blog contributor Marcin Milkowski, who was awarded the 2015 Herbert A. Simon Award for Outstanding Research in Computing and Philosophy by the International Association for Computing and Philosophy.

Marcin is associate professor in the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and a managing editor of Przegląd Filozoficzno-Literacki (Philosophical-Literary Review). From 2005 to 2011, he served on the executive board of the Center for Philosophical Research, a new, independent scientific organization that includes philosophers and scholars in humanities. Continue reading Marcin Milkowski receives the IACAP’s Simon Award


Call for Papers: The Second Annual Minds Online Conference

The editors of the Brains blog, together with the Departments of Philosophy at Florida State University and the University of Houston, are pleased to announce that the second annual Minds Online conference will be held during the month of September, 2016.

The confirmed keynote speakers are Ellen Fridland (King’s College, London) and Bryce Huebner (Georgetown University).

The conference will extend over several weeks, divided into sessions that are each organized around some common theme. Each paper will be accompanied by a short audio or audiovisual introduction, two to three written commentaries, and a reply by the author. There will then be opportunity for open discussion between readers and authors. Continue reading Call for Papers: The Second Annual Minds Online Conference


CFP: Origins of Logical Reasoning

Call for Papers/Abstracts
Workshop: Origins of Logical Reasoning
York University, Toronto
May 5–6, 2016

The ability to reason logically is central to most philosophical conceptions of human thought. But are humans the only ones capable of logical reasoning? What are the phylogenetic and ontogenetic origins of logical reasoning? And how do the answers to these questions bear on our philosophical understanding of human thought? This workshop aims to advance our understanding of these issues by bringing together an interdisciplinary group of researchers to discuss their approaches and findings. Continue reading CFP: Origins of Logical Reasoning


Reminder: SSPP submission deadline approaching

The Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology announces a call for papers for its One Hundred and Eighth Annual Meeting to be held Louisville, KY from March 10-12. SSPP meetings feature concurrent programs in Philosophy and Psychology, as well as plenary sessions jointly sponsored by the Philosophy and Psychology Program Committees. The deadline for all philosophy submissions is December 1, 2015.

(To view the CFP, see here.)


Phenomenal Expectations and the Developmental Origins of Knowledge of Objects

This is a post about a problem. How do largely informationally encapsulated processes ever nonacidentally operate in harmony with thinking? I will suggest that phenomenal expectations provide least part of the solution: phenomenal expectations matter because they tie different bits of the mind together. Continue reading Phenomenal Expectations and the Developmental Origins of Knowledge of Objects


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