Mind Network Spring 2016

March 4, 2016
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, University of Cambridge

United Kingdom


  • John Templeton Foundation


Jennifer Corns
University of Glasgow
Alex Grzankowski
Cambridge University
Raamy Majeed
University of Cambridge
University of Miami

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The Mind Network fosters a community of researchers in philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science. The Network has regular mobile meetings which bring together researchers to discuss their work, exchange ideas, and generally have a good time. Students are particularly welcomed.


10.00 Coffee
10.30 Raamy Majeed and Alex Grzankowski: The Theory-ladenness of Recalcitrant Emotions
12.30 Round table discussion (news, events, brainstorm)
1.00 Lunch (own arrangements)
2.00 Helen Yetter-Chappell: Leaving it Open: From Sparse Experiences to Sparse Reality
3.30 Tea
4.00 Jennifer Corns: Pain Eliminativism
5.30 Reception
(Location of reception: Flat 3, no 3 St Peter’s terrace, Trumpington Street)


The Theory-ladenness of Recalcitrant Emotions
Raamy Majeed (Cambridge) and Alex Grzankowski (Cambridge and Texas Tech)

There are familiar cases of recalcitrant emotions, e.g. believing that flying is safe, but fearing it nevertheless. In much of the literature, recalcitrant emotions are wheeled in as puzzling cases for a competing view, though very often the data itself ends up driven by the very theories under question. We believe that there has been insufficient theory-neutral discussion of recalcitrant emotions and that, in fact, it is less than obvious that there is a theory neural puzzle that needs to be dealt with. So, we think, it is worthwhile to look at the data from a theory-neutral perspective. It is worthwhile both in its own right and also because of the light it sheds on the landscape of the emotions. We each offer our own upshot on the basis of this assessment. One of us (Majeed) argues that the recalcitrant nature of recalcitrant emotions has been exaggerated in that they are receptive to top-down cognitive influences. The other (Grzankowski) argues that a richer landscape with respect to recalcitrance also gives way to a richer landscape for theorizing about the intentionality and normative assessability of the emotions which has too often been couched in terms of propositional contents. We end by exploring the consequences of these for the various ways emotion theorists handle recalcitrant emotions.

Leaving it Open: From Sparse Experiences to Sparse Reality
Helen Yetter-Chappell (York)

I argue that both experiences 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 aren't determinately equilateral, isosceles, or 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 not determinately equilateral, isosceles, or scalene.

Pain Eliminativism
Jennifer Corns (Glasgow)

Traditional eliminativism is the view that a term should be eliminated from everyday speech due to failures of reference. Following Edouard Machery, we may distinguish this traditional eliminativism about a kind and its term from a scientific eliminativism according to which a term should be eliminated from scientific discourse due to a lack of referential utility. The distinction matters if any terms are rightly retained for daily life despite being rightly eliminated from scientific inquiry. In this article, I argue that while scientific eliminativism for pain may be plausible, traditional eliminativism for pain is not. I discuss the pain eliminativisms offered by Daniel Dennett and Valerie Hardcastle and argue that both theorists, at best, provide support for scientific eliminativism for pain, but leave the folk-psychological notion of pain unscathed. One might, however, think that scientific eliminativism itself entails traditional eliminativism—for pain and any other kind and corresponding term. I argue that this is not the case. Scientific eliminativism for pain does not entail traditional eliminativism about anything.

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February 29, 2016, 4:00am BST

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Cambridge University
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