Kenan Faculty trail-blazes intersection of neuroscience and philosophy through summer seminar

seminar graphic showing intersection of neuroscience and philosophyThis week,  Kenan Faculty Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics) and Felipe De Brigard  (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Duke University and core faculty at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences) are heading the Summer Seminars in Neuroscience and Philosophy. In this multi-year program sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and Duke University, neuroscientists and philosophers come together each summer to collaborate in interdisciplinary teams, design experiments and conduct original research.  “Our goal is to advance knowledge at the intersection of our fields. Together we can apply cutting-edge scientific research to the big questions on free will, morality, human nature, perception, memory, knowledge, consciousness, and more… Philosophers will learn new developments in neuroscience, while neuroscientists will study contemporary philosophy. The most promising projects will receive funding for the next year.”

This summer, the seminar is centered around working sessions to review chapters of a resulting collaborative book and brings together experts from around the world.  Each chapter is co-authored by at least one philosopher and at least one scientist (psychologist or neuroscientist). The final version will be completed in December, along with an extensive introduction by Sinnott-Armstrong and De Brigard. Among the contributors are visiting Kenan Faculty Thomas Nadelhoffer and MAD lab members and alum Laura Niemi, Gus Skorburg, Sam Murray, and Rita Svetlova.

The book that we are writing together is a model of interdisciplinary collaboration. In the process, philosophers learn to talk and work with neuroscientists and vice-versa. Each chapter will provide an introductory overview along with cutting edge research on its topic. The product should become a basic resource for students as well as professors who want to learn about this growing field. Felipe and I are extremely pleased with the way it is all coming together. We could not have done any of this without the generous support of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Duke Institute for Brain Science as well as the John Templeton Foundation. We are grateful to all of these funders. – Sinnott-Armstrong

The seminar concludes with a conference: Friday August 16, 3PM-4:30PM and Saturday, August 17, 9:30AM-5:30PM at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. These distinguished lectures in the fields of neuroscience and philosophy are open to the public.  (more information)

Summer Seminars in Neuroscience and Philosophy website: www.ssnap.net