Keynote Speakers

We are pleased to announce the keynote speakers for APPC 2018 are:


Dr Bronwyn Finnigan (ANU)

Is Consciousness Reflexively Self-Aware? A Buddhist Analysis

This paper examines contemporary Buddhist defences of the idea that consciousness is reflexively aware or self-aware. Call this the Self-Awareness Thesis. A version of this thesis was historically defended by Dignāga but rejected by Prāsaṅgika Mādhyamika Buddhists. Prāsaṅgikas historically advanced four main arguments against this thesis. In this paper I consider whether some contemporary defence of the Self-Awareness Thesis can withstand these Prāsaṅgika objections. A problem is that contemporary defenders of the Self-Awareness Thesis have subtly different accounts with different assessment criteria. I start by providing a fourfold taxonomy of these different views and then progressively show how each can withstand Prāsaṅgika objections. And I conclude by giving reasons to think that even Prāsaṅgikas can accept some version of the Self-Awareness Thesis.


Dr Suzy Killmister (Monash University)

Rethinking the Human

Immense moral significance is attached to the human, both in philosophical discourse and in our day-to-day lives. We talk about the evils of dehumanisation; crimes against humanity; human rights; and so on. Such appeals can, however, appear suspect: how could species membership, a morally irrelevant feature, carry such normative weight? Philosophers have typically responded to this worry by shifting the normative load from the human to the person, arguing that moral status attaches to those who exhibit distinctly human cognitive capacities, rather than to species membership per se. In this paper I propose an alternative means of vindicating the moral import of the human. Taking inspiration from the influential feminist claim that sex and gender are distinct (the former being a biological category, the latter a socially constructed one), I suggest that the human, too, can be understood in terms of both a biological kind and a socially constructed kind. Just as with the sex/gender distinction, I argue, the morally salient category for the human is the socially constructed one. Armed with this distinction, I explore its implications for human dignity, human rights, and who gets to be human.


Dr Anik Waldow (Sydney University)

What is Humean Autonomy?

In this paper, I will investigate the extent to which the capacity to act in a self-determined way depends on well-functioning, low-level affective capacities. I will be particularly concerned with the link between our ability to empathise with the feelings and thoughts of others and the possibility to act in accordance with one’s reflective judgements. To draw out this connection, the paper discusses Hume’s account of sympathy and his conception of reflection as a capacity that grows out of our sensory and affective responsiveness to others. The central claim of the paper is that a Humean account of autonomy recognises that engaging with the feelings and thoughts of others forms an essential part of adopting the kind of reflective stance without which self-determined actions can hardly be achieved


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