Philosophy of Psychedelics
Chris Letheby (University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide), Chris Letheby (University of Adelaide)

Today, 9:30am - 11:00am
Department of Philosophy , Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University

1151 Richmond Street North
London N6A 5B7
Canada

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(unaffiliated)
University of Western Ontario

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In this talk I give an overview of the arguments in my forthcoming book, Philosophy of Psychedelics. The book is motivated by recent evidence that “classic” (serotonergic) psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin can be administered safely in controlled environments, and can cause lasting psychotherapeutic benefits with just one or two administrations. These benefits seem to be predicted by the occurrence of a specific type of experience during the drug action: a “mystical-type” experience of oneness, self-transcendence, or cosmic consciousness. This fact gives rise to what I call the Comforting Delusion Objection to psychedelic therapy: the concern that this novel and promising treatment modality works by the induction of implausible metaphysical beliefs, and ought therefore to be avoided. In response to the Objection, I assume the truth of a naturalistic worldview and show, within this constraint, that the overall epistemic profile of psychedelic therapy is better than it initially appears. Psychedelic therapy does not work centrally by changing metaphysical beliefs, but by altering the sense of self; moreover, it has myriad epistemic benefits consistent with a naturalistic worldview. The positive side of my project is an attempt to reconcile naturalism and an “Entheogenic Conception” of psychedelics as effective agents of knowledge acquisition and spiritual growth.

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University of Western Australia
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