Philosophy

PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

Speaker: Jonathan Birch (LSE)

Title: Two paths to scepticism about animal consciousness

Abstract: I respond to two high-profile sceptics about animal consciousness: Marian Stamp Dawkins and Peter Carruthers. They have arrived at their scepticism by very different paths. For Dawkins, scepticism is motivated by the alleged insolubility of the "hard problem" of consciousness and the speculative nature of current theories of consciousness. For Carruthers, scepticism is motivated by the fact we are supposedly already closing in on a complete, fully reductive theory of consciousness (namely, the global workspace theory) that dissolves the hard problem and implies there is no fact of the matter about whether non-human animals are conscious. Given the mutually contradictory nature of their arguments, Dawkins and Carruthers can’t both be right, but they can both be wrong. I argue that they are indeed both wrong.

COVID information: Medical School Lecture Theatre G07 has capacity for 50 attendees (taking into account social distancing requirements) - first come, first served. You'll be asked to sign an attendance sheet when you enter the room for track and trace purposes. Face coverings are mandatory for those without exemptions. Please be mindful of the university's recommendations for regular self-testing of staff and students working on campus. For those unable to attend in person, I will make a Zoom link to the seminar available on Monday.

Further information

We are a group of researchers from diverse backgrounds in the above-mentioned groups (and beyond) who aim to gain an interdisciplinary yet deep understanding of the threads that bind the human mind and the world. In particular, this seminar series focuses on the nature of cognition, metacognition and social cognition. We’ll be tackling questions such as, what does it mean to think? What does it mean to think about thinking? And, what does it mean to think about one’s own thinking versus thinking about the thinking of other people? Please come along!

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Contact details

David Ward

Oct 06 2021 -

PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

2021-10-06: Two paths to scepticism about animal consciousness

Medical School Lecture Theatre G07 (Doorway 4), Medical School (Old Medical School), Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG