Announcing the Contributed Papers for the 2016 Minds Online Conference

Together with Nick Byrd and Cameron Buckner I’m excited to say that the following papers have been selected for the 2016 Minds Online Conference, to be held at the Brains blog this coming September:

  • “Visual Spatial Awareness Probably Requires Visual Awareness of Space”, by Bartek Chomanski (University of Miami)
  • “The multiple localizability thesis: How the mind could extend without multiple realizability or functionalism”, by Karina Vold (McGill University)
  • “Sounds as perceptual mediators”, by Maarten Steenhagen (University of Antwerp)
  • “Miscomputing Individualistically: It’s the Only Way to Do it”, by Chris Tucker (College of William and Mary)
  • “Knowledge-how, Abilities, and Questions”, by Joshua Habgood-Coote (University of St. Andrews)
  • “Joint Mentality and Quasi-Agential Groups”, by Luke Roelofs (Australian National University)
  • “IIT, Russellian Monism and the Combination Problem”, by Hedda Hassel Mørch (NYU / University of Oslo)
  • “Guidance of Visual Attention”, by Denis Buehler (UNAM)
  • “Goal Ascription for the A-rational”, by Sam Clarke (University of Oxford)
  • “Expanding Our Picture of Stereotype Threat”, by Stacey Goguen (Boston University)
  • “Everything is Clear: All Perceptual Experience is Phenomenologically Transparent”, by Laura Gow (University of Antwerp)
  • “Epistemic Closure in Folk Epistemology”, by James R. Beebe (University at Buffalo)
  • “Do we reflect when performing skilful actions? Automaticity, control, and the perils of distraction”, by Juan Pablo Bermudez (Universidad Externado de Colombia)
  • “Cognitive Penetration and top-down modulation in visual perception”, by Dimitria Electra Gatzia (University of Akron)
  • “Attention as Selection for Action: A Challenge”, by Aaron Henry (University of Toronto)

In addition there will be keynote talks by Dorit Bar-On (University of Connecticut), Ellen Fridland (King’s College London), and Bryce Huebner (Georgetown University).

A full program, including the commentators for each paper, should be available soon. Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who submitted their papers, and congratulations to those whose work was accepted. We are looking forward to the conference!


CFP: Naïve Realism and Its Challenges (Warwick)

CFP for BPPA Masterclass on Naïve Realism and Its Challenges

At the University of Warwick, on the 8th of October 2016; Room TBC

The deadline for submitting your work is the 1st of September 2016.

Until recently, the idea that perceptual experiences are representational states was dominant, if not unquestioned. More recently, however, an alternative view has been advanced by Naïve realists (Martin 2002, 2004; Fish 2009; Campbell 2002; Brewer 2011). The central claim of Naïve realism is that perceptual experiences should be construed as constitutively involving relations of awareness or acquaintance to mind-independent objects in the world. While Naïve realism is often put forward as a negative claim–in opposition to the notion of perceptual representational content (Travis 2004)–positive motivations have also been offered. For one, Naïve realism is meant to offer the best explanation of the phenomenal character and transparency of perceptual experience (Martin 1998, 2002), and the role of perceptual experience in grounding demonstrative (Campbell 2002) and conceptual thought (Travis 2013). But is Naïve realism a convincing alternative to more traditional theories of perception? Can the theory satisfactorily account for all the phenomena we want a theory of perception to explain? Our BPPA Masterclass is devoted to articulating some of the explanatory challenges Naïve realism faces and to exploring possible solutions. Continue reading CFP: Naïve Realism and Its Challenges (Warwick)


CFP: Bias in Context (Sheffield)

Bias in Context: Psychological and Structural Explanations
The University of Sheffield, September 5th & 6th.

Deadline: 1st May 2016


What is the relationship between psychological and structural explanations of persistent social injustice? Much empirical and philosophical work focuses on individualistic psychological explanations for ongoing injustice. Such explanations  appeal to phenomena such as prejudice, implicit bias, stereotyping, and stereotype threat, in order to understand persisting inequities in a broad range of contexts, including educational, corporate, and informal social contexts.

A key challenge to this body of work maintains that the focus on individual psychology is at best obfuscatory of, and at worst totally irrelevant to, more fundamental causes of injustice, which are institutional and structural.  Yet structural explanations face difficulties accommodating the extent to which individual agency is implicated in those problematic structures or institutions. Nor are they well placed to articulate how individual agency might be directed towards changing these structures.

The aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to examine the relationship between psychological explanations and structural explanations of injustice. This work will generate more fully worked-out understandings of the interaction between these two kinds of explanation. These understandings can inform both future empirical study, institutional policy, and individual and collective action.

This conference is the second of four anticipated events on this theme (Cal Poly Pomona, May 2016; The University of Sheffield, September 2016; Sheffield, January 2017; The University of Utah, October 2017) in order to develop sustained attention to these questions. Continue reading CFP: Bias in Context (Sheffield)


CFP: Zahavi on Self and Other (Bochum)

Call for Papers and Workshop Announcement

Ruhr-Universität Bochum
June 20-22, 2016

Prof. Dan Zahavi (University of Copenhagen):

Lectures on Self and Other

Dan Zahavi is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen. He is the author of various books on Husserl’s Phenomenology, Subjectivity and Selfhood, Empathy and Social Cognition. His most recent book is called “Self and Other” (OUP) and explores subjectivity, empathy and shame. It is an honor and a pleasure to host Professor Zahavi for this Lecture series, in which he will present the following four lectures:

1. Subjectivity and Selfhood: Is there a difference?
2. Wittgenstein’s child: Phenomenology, Empathy, and Mindreading
3. Shame and Self-Other-Consciousness
4. Phenomenology of the We

Call for Papers
This is accompanied by presentations from Graduate and PhD Students as well as Postdocs.
Several papers will be chosen to be presented. They should be either on Zahavi’s book or on subjectivity and social cognition more generally. Papers will be selected based on a blind review process.
We invite abstract submissions (max. 1000 words), making thesis and argument transparent, to nike dot zohm at rub dot de. Submission deadline: May 1st, 2016.
Further information:  
Participation is free but seats are limited, so please register by email to nike dot zohm at rub dot de.

Continue reading CFP: Zahavi on Self and Other (Bochum)


Three Studies That No Moral Philosopher Should Ignore

Robin Zheng
Newnham College
University of Cambridge

In my chapter, I argue that for cases of implicitly biased action, we should set aside questions of responsibility as attributability in favor of responsibility as accountability. As I interpret the distinction, the former constitute a problem in metaphysics and philosophy of action because we are interested in when and under what conditions an action reflects the exercise of a person’s (moral) agency; the latter, by contrast, represent a moral and political problem because we are interested in what sorts of burdens and duties are appropriate to assign each of us in virtue of membership in a moral community. Continue reading Three Studies That No Moral Philosopher Should Ignore


The Heterogeneity of Implicit Biases

Jules Holroyd, The University of Sheffield

Joseph Sweetman, University of Exeter

Are we responsible for implicit biases? What social environments promulgate implicit bias? What institutional and social contexts can mitigate or eliminate implicit bias? What are the epistemic implications of implicit bias? These are just some of questions about implicit bias that philosophers have taken up. But attempts to answer these questions might go wrong if our thinking about them is premised on false assumptions about the nature of implicit bias. One such assumption concerns whether all implicit biases function in the same way, have the same properties, and stand in the same relation to other mental states and behaviours. On one model of implicit bias, it is a unitary phenomenon about which generalisations can be made, such that we should expect answers to the above questions to remain constant irrespective of the particular bias at issue. On another model, implicit biases are diverse phenomena: different biases may generate different answers to the above questions, and we should be cautious about generalisations across different implicit biases.

Some philosophical engagement with questions about implicit bias seems to tacitly assume the first model. In the contribution to Brownstein & Saul’s volumes, Joseph Sweetman and I have the main aim of motivating the second way of thinking about implicit bias, and to suggest that we should treat implicit biases as a heterogeneous phenomena. This leaves open the possibilities that we may be responsible for some implicit biases, and not others; that the epistemic implications of implicit bias might be varied; that our awareness of implicit biases might vary according to the bias at issue; and that mitigation strategies might differ depending on the particular bias targeted.

Continue reading The Heterogeneity of Implicit Biases


Stereotyping, Rationality, & the Cognitive Architecture of Virtue

Alex Madva
Cal Poly Pomona

Tamar Szabó Gendler (2008, 2011), and subsequently Andy Egan (2011), have argued that implicit biases pit our moral and epistemic aims against each other.  They cite research suggesting that the strength of implicit biases correlates with the knowledge individuals have of prevalent stereotypes, even when individuals reflectively disavow those stereotypes (here’s a relatively recent literature review).  In other words, simply knowing what the stereotypes are seems to make individuals more likely to unwittingly act as if they believed those stereotypes were true.

If mere knowledge of stereotypes leads to biased behavior, should we try to erase this knowledge from our minds?  Surely not: being ignorant of stereotypes would prevent us from being able to recognize when someone is wronged by virtue of being perceived in a stereotypical light.  If, then, we retain our knowledge of stereotypes, must we resign ourselves to acting in unwittingly biased ways?  On Gendler and Egan’s interpretation, we’re stuck in a tragic normative dilemma, with epistemic goods (e.g., the value of knowing about pervasive stereotypes) in opposition to ethical goods (e.g., treating people fairly). Continue reading Stereotyping, Rationality, & the Cognitive Architecture of Virtue


How Can A Stereotype You Don’t Believe Affect You?

Stacey Goguen
Boston University

One of the striking aspects of stereotype threat is that it demonstrates ways in which a stereotype that you might not necessarily believe (and perhaps even likely do not believe) can nonetheless significantly affect you cognitively and psychologically.  For instance, math majors who are primed to think about a negative stereotype involving math and a social group they belong to are more likely to perform worse on a math test. But people who do not particularly care about math are less likely to show this dip in performance. That’s weird, right–that the people who are probably less likely to believe the stereotype (i.e. people actually majoring in math) seem more affected by it?

The kicker: performance is only the beginning.
Continue reading How Can A Stereotype You Don’t Believe Affect You?


What are we responsible for?

Josh Glasgow, Sonoma State University

From time to time, I feel alienated from my actions and thoughts.  I wonder why I did or said something that I did not really want to do or say.  I recoil at a rogue thought that drifts through my mind. And of course, many are upset to find themselves harboring an implicit bias grossly at odds with their firm explicit moral commitments.  Are we right to hold ourselves responsible for such biases, thoughts, and behaviors? Continue reading What are we responsible for?


What is an Attitude?

Edouard Machery
University of Pittsburgh

Philosophers have mostly focused on the practical implications of the recent psychological research on biases (racism, sexism, etc.) and, more generally, on attitudes (e.g., political attitudes). As is by now well known, this impressive body of work is based on novel indirect measures such as the implicit association test (one of many indirect measures developed over the last twenty years), and the lesson of this work, we are told, is that indirect measures can identify biases even when direct measures fail to detect any.

However, this body of research raises many other questions. My chapter in the volumes edited by Browstein and Saul, “De-Freuding Implicit Attitudes,” addresses one of them: What is an attitude?

Continue reading What is an Attitude?


Belief, willpower, and implicit bias

Keith Frankish
Visiting Research Fellow, The Open University

Jo sincerely affirms that black people are no less trustworthy than white people. Yet despite this, she consistently behaves in ways that reflect the assumption that black people are less trustworthy — subtly adjusting her behaviour towards black people across a wide range of contexts. Jo is implicitly biased, though not explicitly so. Experimental studies suggest that we all exhibit implicit biases of various kinds, and everyday life throws up many cases of such apparent hypocrisy. Continue reading Belief, willpower, and implicit bias


Final CFP: 4th Annual Philosophers’ Cocoon Philosophy Conference

This is a final call-for-papers for the 4th Annual Philosophers’ Cocoon Philosophy Conference (PCPC), which is provisionally scheduled to be held at University of Tampa from Saturday October 8th to Sunday October 9th, 2016. If you’re curious about what the conference has been like in past years, see here!

As in the past, this year’s conference will be unique in several respects:

  1. Although conference attendance will be open to all members of the profession, paper presenters must be early-career philosophers (i.e. anyone who doesn’t have tenure–grad students, post-docs, Assistant Profs, independent scholars, etc.)
  2. Due to travel-funding challenges that early-career philosophers often face, several sessions will be reserved for Skype presentations in which the author will be projected, and field audience questions, in real time over the internet (note: this has worked very well in past years!).
  3. Although commentators and audience members are encouraged to present objections to papers, the conference theme will be “constructive engagement”, i.e. helping authors to improve their work (e.g. by not only raising objections, but offering and discussing possible solutions).
  4. Because successfully navigating the publishing world is one of the most difficult capacities for early-career philosophers to develop, the conference welcomes submissions of a typical full-length journal article (20-30 pages double-spaced) — the aim being to help early-career philosophers develop full-length papers into publishable quality. As a rule of thumb, the longer the paper, the higher the standards for acceptance to the conference. Extremely long papers are discouraged.
  5. In order to defray costs of attendance (once again out of concern for the needs of early-career scholars), there will only be a small suggested (but non-mandatory) $5 registration “donation” (to help pay for snacks), and consequently no official banquet, etc. (though there will be snack!). Tampa is awesome, and there are many affordable places to meet, eat, and congregate around the university.
  6. Finally, please note that submission to the conference involves an agreement to serve as a commentator on another paper during the conference should your paper be accepted and you accept your invitation to attend.

To submit a paper to present at the PCPC, please email the following to me at by May 1st, 2016:

  1. An anonymized paper,
  2. A separate title page with the author’s name, contract information, and brief paper abstract.
  3. A statement in your email and attached cover page concerning whether you intend to attend the conference in person or only via Skype.

Decision emails indicating whether your paper has been accepted should be sent out around July 1st (yes, papers will undergo peer-review!).  Finally, please bear the following in mind: In order to ensure that the conference is well-attended, there will be relatively few Skype sessions — so the probability that your paper will be accepted is higher should you state in your submission email that you can attend in person.

I look forward to receiving some great submissions, and to another great conference!


CFP: Memory and Subjectivity

Call for posters:
“Memory and Subjectivity”

Grenoble (France), the 9th-10th-11th of June, 2016

We invite participants to submit a poster to the Memory and Subjectivity 2016 conference. Posters can restrict themselves to the philosophical perspective or the psychological one.


Researchers interested in presenting a poster should prepare an overview of their proposed poster in the form of a single word page (no more than 500 words in length).

Please, send your poster proposals or any question about the poster session directly to the following addresses:, , and

(deadline: May, 20 – acceptance notifications will be given as submissions will be received)


Feasibility of starting a specialist x-phi journal?

Helen De Cruz posted the following query to Facebook, and I told her I would share it here:

Would there be a potential niche for a specialist x-phi journal? There’s enough momentum – definitely x-phi should still be published in mainstream journals but then, say, philosophers of biology have benefited very much from a journal such as Biology and Philosophy. I see it as follows:

  1. I think it is a no-brainer that it should be open-access, perhaps along the model of Phil Imprint, with a small submission fee which can be waived for underemployed/unemployed philosophers.
  2. Authors would be encouraged – but not required given the difficulty with some kinds of research, such as qualitative interviews on sensitive issues, to submit their paper along with a link to the raw data – properly anonymised etc, and ethics approved that would be put on a server such as Github. That would set a good standard for replicability and would increase our knowledge base considerably.
  3. The board would of course be populated with excellent experimental philosophers, preferably with a broad reach (ethics, epistemology, meta-philosophy, etc).
  4. Ideally, the journal should be hosted by a wealthy university that can give a long-term commitment to online hosting, etc.

What do people think? (I realize people may have already such a journal in the works, or heaven forbid, there is one I do not know about, or people have already discussed this and dismissed as unviable)

My sense is that the biggest barriers to doing this arise from the costs of hosting and indexing, plus paying for assistance with typesetting and handling referees, and that without doing these things in a first-rate way — along the lines of what’s been done at Ergo and Philosophers’ Imprint — it would be hard for the journal to have enough prestige. There are other models, e.g. the one adopted by the arXiv, that could be far less expensive, but harder to gain prestige for.

We’d be happy to hear other thoughts, questions, suggestions, etc. in the comments.


Implicit Bias and Philosophy: A Brief Introduction

Michael Brownstein, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, John Jay College/CUNY,

Jennifer Saul, Professor of Philosophy, University of Sheffield, and Director of the Society for Women in Philosophy UK,


Vol 1 coverMany thanks to John for inviting us and the contributors to post here at the Brains Blog about Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volumes 1&2.  In this post, we’ll briefly describe how the volumes came to exist and their contents.  Then, over the next two weeks, the Brains Blog will feature a series of posts from some of the contributors to the volumes. Continue reading Implicit Bias and Philosophy: A Brief Introduction


Neuroethics Symposium on Tobia’s “Personal Identity, Direction of Change, and Neuroethics”

Welcome to our second Brains Blog symposium on papers published in the journal Neuroethics. Our target paper for this symposium is Kevin Tobia’s (Yale University) “Personal Identity, Direction of Change, and Neuroethics.” Below you will find an introduction to the symposium and brief précis of the paper, followed by commentaries written by William Hirstein (Elmhurst College), Jesse Summers (Duke University), Sarah Molouki (University of Chicago), and Jennifer Rowe (independent scholar). Kevin has also provided responses to the comments and a list of recent papers on experimental philosophy of the self and personal identity.


The central finding of Tobia’s paper is that ascriptions of personal identity – whether a person is the same person over time – are not just sensitive to how large the change in a person is, but also the direction in which the change occurs. Tobia’s data seem to show that even very large changes to a person’s personality or character may be identity-preserving if deemed positive (e.g. if they result in a better or more virtuous person), whereas relatively smaller negative changes may erode ascriptions of personal identity (e.g. if they result in a worse or vicious person). Continue reading Neuroethics Symposium on Tobia’s “Personal Identity, Direction of Change, and Neuroethics”


CFP: Owning Our Emotions

Owning our emotions: Emotion, authenticity and the self

21st to 22nd September 2016
The Senate House, London

Keynote speakers include:

  • Professor Kristján Kristjánsson, University of Birmingham
  • Professor Denis McManus, University of Southampton
  • Professor Monika Betzler, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich
  • Dr Jonathan Webber, University of Cardiff
  • Professor Fabrice Teroni, University of Geneva

How do emotions relate to the self?  On one possible view, emotions stand outside the self: they reflect biological drives or cultural demands independent of – perhaps even inimical to – the subject’s own interests or values; when we act out of emotion, we are driven to act by psychological forces external to ourselves. But on another view, our emotional dispositions help to constitute who we are; words and deeds that come ‘from the heart’ are judged to have a special kind of worth, arising from their authenticity. In everyday contexts, people seem to think about emotion in both these ways, depending on the situation. But can these two views be reconciled? And if not, which view comes closer to the truth? Continue reading CFP: Owning Our Emotions


CFP: Pathologies of Self-Awareness

Special issue of the Review of Philosophy and Psychology

Guest Editors
Alexandre Billon (Université de Lille Nord de France)
Francesca Garbarini (Università degli Studi di Torino)

Invited Contributors
José Luis Bermudez (Texas A&M University)
Philip Gerrans (University of Adelaide)
Daniele Romano (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca)

Submission Deadline: September 1st 2016

Self-awareness is the kind of awareness of ourselves that underlies our standard, first-personal attributions of conscious states and actions. It displays various epistemic, semantic and psychological features that have drawn the attention of philosophers at least since Descartes.  Continue reading CFP: Pathologies of Self-Awareness


Open Access: Tobia’s “Personal Identity, Direction of Change, and Neuroethics”

In advance of this week’s online symposium, our second on papers published in the journal Neuroethics, Springer has kindly agreed to make our target paper “Personal Identity, Direction of Change, and Neuroethics” open access.  The paper presents an experiment suggesting that not just magnitude of change but also direction of change (improvement or deterioration of character) affects ascriptions of personal identity, and discusses the possible implications of this finding for neuroethical judgments. You can find the paper, by Kevin Tobia (Yale), here.

William Hirstein (Elmhurst), Jesse Summers (Duke), Sarah Molouki (University of Chicago), and Jennifer Rowe (independent scholar) have written fantastic comments on Kevin’s paper. The symposium, which will also include Kevin’s responses to the comments, should be posted late Wednesday evening.

A special thank you to Neil Levy, editor of Neuroethics, for his help and support.



Setting the Stage: What Are Emotions and Why Are They So Hard to Explain?

Many thanks to John who invited me to blog about my book Embodied Emotions this week.

The book explores emotions as embodied, action-oriented representations, providing a non-cognitivist theory of emotions that aims to account for their normative dimensions within a naturalist framework. I will come back to what that all means in the next post. For now, let me start with some more general remarks about the phenomenon and the philosophy about it. Continue reading Setting the Stage: What Are Emotions and Why Are They So Hard to Explain?


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