Conference on Molyneux’s Question and more!

We are very pleased to say that (with John Schwenkler from Florida State) we have been awarded some more money from the Templeton-funded New Directions project to hold a two day conference, in York, on the philosophical significance of Molyneux’s Question. More information, including a call for papers, coming soon!

Also this academic year, we’ll be holding two more workshops and a conference as part of our Purpose and Procedure project. The first workshop, to be held in York, will be on naturalism in the philosophy of perception. The second, in Durham, will be on the role of metaphysics in the philosophy of perception. The conference will be in Leeds. We’ll announce speakers and dates nearer the time.

Leeds workshop on Perceptual Phenomenal Character: 27/02/16

The first of our New Directions funded workshops on Purpose and Procedure in the Philosophy of Perception will take place in Leeds on February 27th.

[Registration will initially be open to members of the three SPIN home institutions: Durham, Leeds and York. Any remaining places will be advertised more widely.]



11.15-12.30: Quining Colour Qualia

David MacArthur (Sydney, visiting at Durham)

12.30-1.30: Lunch

1.30-2.45: Neither Phenomenal Internalism nor Phenomenal Externalism: How Combining both can Settle Three Disputes about Phenomenal Character

Louise Moody (York)

2.45-3.15: Tea/coffee

3.15-4.30: Naive-Realism & The Explanatory Gap

Thomas Raleigh (NTNU)

5.00- Drinks and dinner

Abstracts here.

Workshop Description:

This first workshop will be in Leeds, focused on the general topic of perceptual phenomenal character (roughly, “what it is like” to have an experience). Many regard accounting for phenomenal character as one of the primary desiderata on philosophical theories of perceptual experience—for example, in the debate between Naïve Realists and Intentionalists over the metaphysics of perceptual experience (e.g., Fish 2009), and in the debate over experience of “high-level” properties (e.g., Siegel 2011). However, others (e.g., Hacker 2002) have argued that that there is no stable phenomenon here in need of explanation; that the explanatory target is ill-defined or confused. The main aim of this workshop will be to get clearer about the alleged explanandum—a task which is central to the concerns of the New Directions project, insofar as phenomenal character is particularly resistant to physicalist reduction. Questions addressed might include: can we defend the notion of phenomenal character from charges of incoherence or confusion? Is there more to the notion of perceptual phenomenal character than how things appear to the subject (e.g., a distinctive “feel” infusing perceptual appearances)? Must we think of perceptual phenomenal character as entirely “in the head”?

Titles and abstracts for Leeds Workshop (December 17th 2014)

Donnchadh O’Conaill (Leeds)

Temporal Modes of Presentation

There are two main theories of how it is possible to have direct experience of temporally extended events or processes. On the Extensional Theory, in order to have experience of extended events our experiences must themselves be extended through time. Barry Dainton has developed this into the Overlap Theory, where successive extended experiences are related to each other by sharing parts. The second theory, Intentionalism, explains the experience of extended events by appeal to temporal modes of presentation under which an event can be experienced (as ‘occurring now’, as ‘having just happened’, etc). I shall argue these two theories need not be opposed in the way that proponents of each have assumed. The Extensional Theory can incorporate temporal modes of presentation, and Intentionalism can allow that successive experiences overlap. The result is a hybrid account of time-consciousness which promises to inherit the strengths of both the Overlap Theory and Intentionalism.

Helen Yetter-Chappell (York)

Leaving it Open: From Sparse Experiences to Sparse Reality

I argue that both experiences [perceptual and mental imagery] and reality can be a great deal more sparse than you might initially believe. There can be experiences that are determinately phenomenally warm-colored, but not any particular warm shade; there can be experiences of objects standing in spatial relations to one another, but not any particular spatial relations; there can be experiences of triangles that are neither equilateral, isosceles, nor scalene, for the relationships between the lengths of sides and angles are left open. Further, for each such “sparse” experience, there is a corresponding possible world. There are possible worlds in which objects stand in spatial relations to one another, but not any particular spatial relations – e.g. in which one object is determinately above another, but where their horizontal positions are left open. There are possible worlds in which there are triangles that are neither equilateral, isosceles, nor scalene.

17th December 2014: Leeds workshop

We’re pleased to be able to announce the details of our third workshop! The workshop will take place in Leeds (precise venue tba) and is open to staff and graduate students at Durham, Hull, Leeds and York. To register, email Heather Logue:


11.15-12.30: Donnchadh O’Conaill (Leeds)

12.30-1.30: lunch

1.30-2.45: Helen Yetter-Chappell (York)

2.45-3.15: tea/coffee

3.15-4.30: Matthew Nudds (Warwick)
“Auditory Appearances”

5.00- drinks and dinner