Philip Goff • Sophie Allen • John Cottingham • James Tartaglia • Keith Frankish • Christopher Norris
The term ‘scientism’ has traditionally been used by philosophers to denote an uncritical, excessively deferential attitude towards the (usually natural) sciences, along with an indifference or even hostility towards philosophy and, frequently, the humanities and social sciences. As such, it is most often used by philosophers with misgivings towards what they perceive as the encroachment of the methods and assumptions common to natural science into traditionally philosophical territory.
However, over the past decade, some philosophers have begun to identify their own positions as scientistic, in spite of its negative connotations – See, e.g. Rosenberg (2011) and Ladyman & Ross (2010). In so branding themselves, they seek to reclaim intellectual enquiry from what they regard as unconstrained speculations about the nature of reality. They point to science’s striking success at answering the questions it poses, and its (relative) resistance to the influence of fads and psychological bias which, they argue, afflict other areas of thought.
The aim to provide a satisfactory explanation of consciousness has become a key battleground in debates over the limits of scientific enquiry. Experience, a subject matter that could not be closer to home, seems to provide a solid basis for doing a priori metaphysics and ethics, the kind of work philosophers have typically specialized in. If science promises to put those old philosophers out of a job, it will no doubt also change how we understand ourselves.
As such, we want to ask: What are the stakes for philosophy and culture with regards to naturalising the mind? How has our self-understanding already been affected by this project? What would a resurgence of traditional philosophy look like, with respect to the problem of consciousness? We grant that ‘scientism’ is just impolite naturalism, but feel this term’s resurgence as a badge of honour highlights the importance of the debate about consciousness, for philosophy and society at large, and the polarisation it often leads to.
The conference will start at 9:00am on June 27. The conference dinner will be held the same day, and will be free for all speakers. Accommodation for the night of the 27th will also be covered for speakers. All papers presented will be published in a “Scientism and Consciousness” volume after the conference has been concluded.
The conference will be immediately followed by a summer school (June 29-July 2nd) on Idealism and the Autonomy of the Human Sciences. For details of the programme and how to apply for a bursary please visit the idealism and the Philosophy of Mind website: https://idealismsite.wordpress.com/summer-school/
Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted to either: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, no later than April 30. All abstracts should be prepared for double blind review. Please include, in a separate document, a cover containing your name, affiliation, email address, and the title of your paper. From these, ten applications will be selected, provided with accommodation and the conference dinner, and their papers will be published in a “Scientism and Consciousness” volume after the conference has been concluded. The venue is wheelchair accessible, and any further requirements for students will be taken into account following the acceptance of proposals.
We offer to reimburse one night’s stay in the area for all non-keynote speakers, at up to £38 per head.
Keele University hosts its own bed and breakfast on campus, at the Keele Management Centre, which is 10 minutes walk away from the conference. Spaces are limited, so guests are advised to book early.
Further afield, there are a range of options available in the Newcastle and Stoke area. Buses run regularly, taking approximately 25 minutes to reach Keele campus from Newcastle bus station, and around 45 minutes from Stoke-On-Trent Station.
Taxi Contact Numbers:
ABC Supreme – 01782 632222
Roseville – 01782 613456