Designed Mind Symposium 2017 Conference Programme


Exploring the Function, Evolution & Implementation of Consciousness

Informatics Forum,University of Edinburgh Edinburgh, Scotland

8-9 November 2017



Daniel C. Dennett, Tufts University

Michael Graziano, Princeton University



Daniel C. Dennett, author of Consciousness Explained (Little, Brown and Co., 1991), Freedom Evolves (Viking Penguin, 2003) and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Simon & Schuster, 1995), is University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University.

Michael Graziano, author of Consciousness and the Social Brain (Oxford University Press, 2013) is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University.



 We invite you to join us in Edinburgh for this two-day event bringing together researchers working on all aspects of consciousness science.

Our intuition tells us that consciousness is a special non-physical realm, inhabited by thoughts and feelings. An emerging scientific picture reveals consciousness as a powerful reflective capability, designed by evolution to give us a level of agency and self-monitoring that non-conscious beings lack. A rich internal narrative underwrites that capability: a virtual world which ascribes phenomenal properties — colours, tastes, feelings — to things and to ourselves.

Over the two days, we will elaborate, discuss and critique this emerging scientific picture of consciousness as a form of reflective self-representation. We will consider perspectives from philosophy of mind, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and machine consciousness.



In addition to our two keynotes, 12 research papers will be presented on related topics:

What do zombies lack?

James Blackmon, San Francisco State University)

Self-consciousness from within — A developmental approach

Anna Ciaunica (Universidade do Porto/University College London)

Laura Crucianelli (University College London)

The Radical Plasticity Thesis: Consciousness is something that the brain learns to do

Axel Cleeremans (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Attending to the illusion of consciousness

Krzysztof Dolega (Ruhr Universität Bochum)

Joe Dewhurst (University of Edinburgh)

How rich is the illusion of consciousness?

François Kammerer (ENS, Institut Jean Nicod)

Modelling opportunities for mental action

Tom McClelland (University of Warwick)

Being somewhere: A situated account of minimal phenomenal selfhood

Raphaël Millière (University of Oxford)

Real seemings: Representing ourselves representing the world

Roly Perera (University of Edinburgh/University of Glasgow)

Import Theory: The social making of consciousness

Wolfgang Prinz (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences)

Why do we doubt that elephants are giant, extremely conservative persons?

Don Ross (University College Cork)

Predictive coding, perceptual content, and the experiencing subject

Tobias Schlicht (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Elmarie Venter (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Explaining substantiality: The phenomenal self as an abstract salience object

Wanja Wiese (Johannes Gutenberg University)

The list of contributed papers, with abstracts, is available at A full programme will follow shortly. The original call is at



Early registration deadline: 15 October 2017

Student/non-salaried: £90

Full registration: £150

Registration includes lunch on both days.



Registration also includes a drinks reception on Wed 8, and a show on Thu 9 by Canadian rap artist Baba Brinkman of his much acclaimed Rap Guide to Consciousness, as performed at the Edinburgh Fringe:



We acknowledge the generous support of the AI Research Theme of the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA).



Roly Perera (University of Edinburgh/University of Glasgow)

Takuya Nikawa (Chiba University)

Max Jones (University of Leeds)

Aïda Elamrani Raoult (ENS, Institut Jean Nicod)

For general enquiries email:



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