Signing off

I wanted to thank readers for reading, commenters for commenting, and Kristina Musholt for inviting me to be a guest blogger.  Three cheers for Brains!

The discussions here gave me a chance to think out loud about some questions that are dangling from a book manuscript I’m circulating. It’s called *The Rationality of Perception*. Among other things I defend the idea that perception can result from epistemically evaluable inferences. A big chunk of it is devoted to exploring what sorts of inferences those would be, since they won’t be the kind we engage in when we deliberate explicitly. Comments on the manuscript are very welcome – large or small. Email me if you want a copy.

I’ll be blogging soon at PhilosopHer on related issues about evaluative perception.

Thanks again!


Call for Papers: The 2015 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 first annual Minds Online conference will be held at the Brains blog during the month of September, 2015.

The conference will feature invited talks by Tony Jack (Department of Cognitive Science, Case Western Reserve University), Karen Neander (Departments of Philosophy and Linguistics, Duke University), and Nico Orlandi (Department of Philosophy, University of California, Santa Cruz).

The organizers encourage the submission of papers on topics in the philosophy of mind broadly construed, including related matters in epistemology, the philosophy of action, the philosophy of science, moral psychology, and more. Special consideration will be given to papers that engage with research in experimental disciplines such as psychology and neuroscience.

The conference will comprise several week-long sessions, each organized loosely around some common theme. Each paper will be accompanied by a short audio or audiovisual introduction, two written commentaries, and a reply by the author. There will then be opportunity for further discussion on the blog, in which authors and commentators are expected to participate.

Submitted papers of approximately 3,500-7,500 words should be prepared for anonymous review, and accompanied by several keywords and a substantial abstract of about 500 words.

The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2015. Authors will be notified of decisions by early April.

To submit your work, please visit

Please contact with questions or concerns.

We look forward to your submissions, and hope you will participate in the event!

– The organizers: Cameron Buckner (Houston), Nick Byrd (Florida State), and John Schwenkler (Florida State)

Which posts from the Brains blog should be considered for this year’s 3QD philosophy blogging prize?

You can nominate your favorites until the end of the day on Nov. 17, perhaps choosing from any of our featured posts by Jakob Hohwy, Kristin Andrews, Dan Weiskopf, and Susanna Siegel. Anything published since Nov. 9 of last year is fair game.

However, nominations are limited to the first 100 entries, so get to it!

(PS. My post on Molyneux’s question won second place in 2011.)

Paris Workshop on sensorimotor approach to Consciousness in July 2015

On July 4th and 5th 2015, just before the ASSC conference on Consciousness in Paris, we are organizing a workshop to discuss advances in the sensorimotor approach. All are welcome! See here for the call for papers:

CFP: Toward a Science of Consciousness 2015

Screenshot 2014-11-03 08.23.03

University of Helsinki, Finland, 9-13 June 2015

Pre-conference workshops: 8 June 2015

Submission deadline: 30 November 2014

Toward a Science of Consciousness (TSC) is the largest and longest-running interdisciplinary conference emphasizing broad and rigorous approaches to the study of conscious awareness.  Topical areas include neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, biology, quantum physics, meditation and altered states, machine consciousness, culture and experiential phenomenology. Cutting edge, controversial issues are emphasized. Held annually since 1994, the TSC conferences alternate yearly between Tucson, Arizona (Center for Consciousness Studies, Univ. of Arizona) and various locations around the world.

The University of Helsinki is proud to host TSC 2015 in the Great Hall of its neoclassical main building located in the downtown area. Continue reading

New feature: “Inline Comments”

I’ve just installed a lovely new plug-in that makes it possible to append your comments not just to the bottom of a post, but to the particular paragraph that you’re interested in discussing. To do this, just hover over the paragraph in question, and look for the little “talk” box, like so:

Screenshot 2014-10-30 16.19.02

(If someone has already left a comment on that paragraph, the box will contain a number instead.) Just click on the box, and add your comment — it’s as simple as that!

Please let me know if there are any difficulties with this, or if it turns out not to be that useful.

New Book: The Biological Mind

One of the most neglected perspectives in traditional philosophy of mind/cogsci is that the mind is a biological system, and that therefore philosophy of mind/cogsci is a branch of philosophy of biology.

Fortunately, Justin Garson has just published The Biological Mind (Routledge), an introduction to the philosophy of mind that considers the mind as a biological system and draws insights from the philosophy of biology.

The book is clear, insightful, well written, and goes way beyond a review of the literature to offer a fresh perspective on the philosophy of mind. I’ve already had two paper ideas from reading it and I’m not even done reading it. I highly recommend it.


An excellent profile of Felipe De Brigard

… at Duke Today. An excerpt:

De Brigard believes that our considerations of what actually happened, what could have happened and what might happen are closely linked in our brains because these kinds of mental simulations are likely to allow us to rehearse ways the world could be. He think’s it’s a hedge against future uncertainty.

He maintains that memory is not primarily for remembering, but is rather part of a larger system for playing out hypotheticals. Every time you retrieve a memory it becomes subject to distortion. Research by De Brigard and others suggests this lack of fidelity serves some purpose in affecting the way you think about your future.

Many philosophers, and a handful of neuroscientists, are skeptical that their two fields can bolster one another, De Brigard said.

Philosophers in particular seem resistant to the idea of applying scientific methods and tools, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, to questions they deem traditionally philosophical, he said.

“A lot of philosophers are not convinced that what I do is really philosophy,” De Brigard said, adding that it feels risky to ask such unconventional research questions.

“At this time and age, I see no better way to advance knowledge than to work at the intersection of research disciplines, and I cannot think of a university that is better positioned to do so than Duke,” said De Brigard, who arrived at Duke in July 2013.

Here again is the whole thing, and here again is the site for the Templeton-sponsored Summer Seminars on Neuroscience and Philosophy that De Brigard and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong will be hosting at Duke beginning in May, 2016.

A group blog on topics in the philosophy and science of mind