Inference and Consciousness

July 2, 2015 - July 4, 2015
CSMN, University of Oslo

Universitetet Blindern
Oslo 0315


  • Research Council of Norway

Selected speakers:

Berit Brogaard
University of Miami
Elijah Chudnoff
University of Miami
Fabian Dorsch
University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Anna-Sara Malmgren
Stanford University
Anders Nes
University of Oslo
Nico Orlandi
Christopher Peacocke
Columbia University
Declan Smithies
Ohio State University


Nicholas Allott
University of Oslo
Timothy Chan
University of Oslo
Eline Busck Gundersen
University of Oslo
Anders Nes
University of Oslo

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Keywords: Inference, Consciousness, Reasoning, Reflection, Cognitive
Phenomenology, Dual-Process Theory, Inferential Justification.

The idea that inference can be unconscious was once a bold
innovation,enabling the hypothesis that inference is involved even in
mental processes, e.g. in perception, that seem immediate and where
are typically unaware of making any inferences. These days,
unconscious inference is so widely taken for granted that the question
arises whether consciousness is of any special importance to inference
at all. The conference proposes to address this basic question of how,
if at all, consciousness matters to inference. Under this broad
heading, a number of issues arise. Our ambition is that they
conference will illuminate a subset of the following issues, or
related questions also bearing on the theme of the import of
consciousness for inference.

- What notion, or notions, of consciousness, e.g. access
consciousness, self-consciousness, or phenomenal consciousness, if
any, are of importance to the philosophical understanding of
inference? Conversely, are any of these notions of consciousness
susceptible of illumination through their connection with inference?

- Does consciousness have any place in philosophical account of what
inference is? Does conscious inference have any constitutive or
explanatory priority, or autonomy, with respect to unconscious
inference, or is conscious inference to be understood as inference of
a generic sort that happens also to have a feature of consciousness?

- Does the conscious character of an inference, or its lack thereof,
have any epistemological or normative implications, e.g. for the
capacity of the inference to transmit justification, for its
reliability, for its power to provide inferential justification
meeting epistemicallly internalist requirements, or for the thinker’s
responsibility for what she infers?

- What significance does the distinction(s) between conscious and
unconscious inference have in such domains as linguistic understanding
and perceptual judgement? For example, does such a distinction
correlate with relevantly different notions of meaning or content,
such as, for example, the distinction between what is said vs. what is
implied (in the linguitic case, cf. Recanati's  'availability
criterion'), or that between nonconceptual and conceptual content (in
the perceptual case). If so, what is the significance of such a

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