Workshop: Optimism: Its Nature, Causes, and Effects


Registration is now open for an interdisciplinary workshop, entitled “Optimism: Its Nature, Causes, and Effects”, which will be held on 25th and 26th February 2016 in Senate House, London. 

The workshop is part of a one-year project on the Costs and Benefits of Optimism at the University of Birmingham, run by Lisa Bortolotti and Anneli Jefferson, and supported by the Hope and Optimism funding initiative at the Universities of Cornell and Notre Dame.

Speakers include:
  • Tali Sharot (University College London), How the Human Brain forms Optimistic Beliefs
  • Bojana Kuzmanovic (Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research, Cologne), The Subjective Value of Optimistically Biased Belief Updating
  • Anneli Jefferson (University of Birmingham), Is the Optimism Bias an Adaptation?
  • Costantine Sedikides (University of Southampton), The Unbearable Lightness of Being Wonderful
  • James Shepperd (University of Florida), Consequences of Unrealistic Optimism
  • Miriam McCormick (University of Richmond), Rational Hope
  • Fernando Blanco (University of Deusto), Sadder but Safer: Optimistic Causal Illusions can Affect our Health
  • Lisa Bortolotti (University of Birmingham), Optimism Bias and Engaged Agency
For more information about the workshop, please visit our project website or email Anneli Jefferson.
To secure a place, you can register here.
Registration is £30 (£20 for students and unemployed) and covers lunch and refreshments on both days of the workshop. Delegates will have to make their own arrangements for dinner and accommodation.
If you want to keep up-to-date with project news, you can follow us on Twitter.

11th Mind Network Meeting – Warwick

11th Mind Network Meeting: Warwick

Tuesday 29 September 2015

The 11th Mind Network workshop will take place at the University of Warwick.

The speakers are:

Anya Farennikova: Unexpected Perception

According to Bayesian approaches to perception, presence of bias optimizes perception. This raises a question about the status of perception of the unexpected. Perception of the unexpected occur when we encounter novel or atypical events. Because this form of perception is a result of invalid expectations, it might be treated as suboptimal: it decreases accuracy and amplifies uncertainty. I argue that we need to rethink the notion of optimality for experiences of unexpected. Focusing on two forms of perception of the unexpected – experiences of change (noticing a new building on the way to work) and of absence (seeing an elephant vanish in a circus trick) – I show that both can be understood as involving optimal decisions. I then explain why optimization is harder to achieve for perception of absence than it is for the perception of change.

Giovanna Colombetti: The scaffolded affective mind

According to Sterelny (2010), cognition is deeply environmentally supported or “scaffolded”. In my talk I will illustrate various ways in which not only cognition, but affectivity as well is scaffolded. I will focus in particular on its material scaffolds, and show how they can come to be “incorporated” into our affective episodes. In doing so I will draw on existing phenomenological accounts of incorporation into the sensorimotor domain (as in the case of the blind person’s cane), and argue that material items can be incorporated also in the affective domain, in a variety of ways.

Olle Blomberg: Common knowledge and reductionism about shared agency

What is it for several agents to intentionally act together? Put differently, what is it for them to have a “shared intention”? According to reductionist accounts, intentional joint action can be understood by exclusive appeal to conceptual resources that are needed anyway for understanding singular action in a social context. In this talk, I will discuss epistemic/doxastic conditions on intentional joint action given such a reductionist approach. Most reductionist accounts include a condition that it must be common knowledge between participants that they have certain intentions and beliefs that causes and coordinates their joint action. By rejecting three arguments that could potentially support such a condition, I argue that reductionists should get rid of the condition as a condition on intentional joint action as such. On the other hand, many reductionist accounts lack a condition which ensures that each participant believes that his or her intended end is a single end intended by each. Without such a doxastic single end condition, the accounts fail to distinguish intentional joint action from mutual exploitation and unintentional joint action.


The workshop will take place in room: MS0.02 in the Maths Building, University of Warwick, CV4 7AL.

This is building 38 on this map.


The last (or only) part of your journey is likely to be by train. Please get a train to Coventry Station (not Warwick!). From there you can take a bus or taxi to Warwick University. The bus is slow but inexpensive. The taxi journey typically takes under 15 minutes and should cost well under £20.

The nearest airport is Birmingham International, which has a good train connection and is close to Warwick University. (If you can fly direct to Birmingham, it’s worth paying extra, because it’s a nice airport and you could save this much in train fares compared to flying to a London airport.) If you aren’t flying to Birmingham, it’s best to fly to Heathrow, Gatwick, City or Luton.


Time -
10.30 Tea & Coffee
11.00 Anya Farennikova
12.30 Round Table Session
13.00 Lunch
14.30 Olle Blomberg
16.00 Tea & Coffee
16.30 Giovanna Colombetti
18.00 [end]

The local organiser is:


We would like to invite you to participate in the second edition of the international conference in Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies, entitled “Situating Cognition: Agency, Affect, and Extension”, that will take place on October 15-18, 2015, in Warsaw (Poland), at the University of Warsaw and the Polish Academy of Sciences. The conference website
The focus of the conference is on cognition in the context of agency, affect, and its extensions. The event includes lectures, symposia, workshops, discussions, and posters covering a broad range of topics related to the main theme.
Key speakers and special guests of the conference symposia: Kenneth Aizawa (Rutgers University), Mark H. Bickhard (Lehigh University), Giovanna Colombetti (University of Exeter), Shaun Gallagher (University of Memphis), Frederique de Vignemont (Institut Jean-Nicod), Andrew Wilson & Sabrina Golonka (Leeds Beckett University), and others.

Registration is now open.

If you would like more information regarding conference, or have general questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

2nd International Conference on the topic of Socially Extended Knowledge, University of Edinburgh, October 8-9, 2015

Registration for the 2nd international conference on the topic of Socially Extended Knowledge is now open.

Socially Extended Knowledge is the second of two international conferences on the topic of ‘Extended Knowledge.’ The aim of the first ‘Extended Knowledge Conference’ was to bring together leading scholars from around the world in order to critically examine the ramifications of the extended cognition programme (and related views) for contemporary epistemology, and for the theory of knowledge in particular. In this second conference on the topic of ‘Socially Extended Knowledge’, leading epistemologists, cyberneticists, philosophers of mind, psychologists, computer and Web scientists will move further to explore the impact of the distributed cognition programme on analytic epistemology.

The main event will take place on Thursday and Friday, October 8 and 9 and it will close with a public lecture by Prof Michael Lynch .


Holly Arrow (Psychology, University of Oregon, USA)
Harry Halpin (Infrormatics, World Wide Web Consortium, USA)
Francis Heylighen (Cybernetics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)
Michael Lynch (Philosophy, University of Connecticut, USA)
Joelle Proust (Philosophy, Institut Jean Nicod, France)
Sabine Roeser (Philosophy, Deft University, Netherlands)
Ernest Sosa (Philosophy, Rutgers university, USA)
Alessandra Tanesini (Cardiff University, UK)
Deborah Tollefsen (Philosophy, University of Memphis, USA)
Brad Wray (Philosophy, State University of New York, USA)

For more details you can visit the conference website.

PERFECT 2016: False but Useful Beliefs

As part of project PERFECT we want to promote further investigation into whether false beliefs can be advantageous by being biologically adaptive, enhancing wellbeing, being conducive to the satisfaction of epistemic goals, or promoting some other form of agential success. In the existing psychological literature, self-deception, positive illusions, delusions, confabulatory explanations, and other instances of false belief have been shown to be beneficial in one or more ways. However, in the philosophical literature, there has not been yet a systematic study of the role of false beliefs in supporting different aspects of human agency. The workshop aims to fill this gap.

Some beliefs seem to have an important role in supporting human agency: they make us feel better about ourselves and even enhance our health prospects (e.g., positive illusions); they provide some explanation for very unusual experiences (e.g., clinical delusions); they protect us from undesirable truths (e.g., self-deception); they can help us fill existing gaps in our memory (e.g., confabulation); they support a sense of community that improves social integration (e.g., religious beliefs); and so on. The workshop will encourage a reflection on the relationship among the different types of benefits that such beliefs can have and on the different aims and functions of beliefs.

Registration is now open for PERFECT 2016, a workshop on False but Useful Beliefs to be held at Regent’s Conferences in central London on 4th and 5th February 2016. Keynote speakers include Anandi Hattiangadi, David Papineau, Neil Van Leeuwen, and myself.

Please go the University of Birmingham online shop to register as places are limited.


The Ontology of Conscious Experience

University of Leeds, 8th-9th July 2015

Venue: Baines Wing SR 2.08


Work on consciousness has tended to overlook the ontological status and structure of experiences, focusing instead on whether they can be explained by reference to non-experiential processes or events. The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers interested in the ontology of conscious experience, to establish which topics might be most fruitful as regards further research, and to outline an agenda for further work in this area.

Registration for this event is now open:

The deadline for registration is Friday July 3rd.

To confirm registration, or if you have any other queries, please contact Donnchadh O’Conaill ( )


Provisional schedule


Wednesday July 8th



Introductory tea/coffee


Helen Steward (Leeds) – Touching Experiences




Thomas Raleigh (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) – Sensations, Properties, and Predicates




Heather Logue (Leeds) – Are Perceptual Experiences Just Representations?


7.00 – conference dinner


Thursday July 9th



Holger Thiel (Central European University, Budapest) – Towards a Holistic Conception of Phenomenal Consicousness




Matthew Soteriou (Warwick) - Exercising Agency over the Occupation of Conscious Attention




Roundtable discussion featuring each of the speakers


This event is being held thanks to the support of the Centre for Metaphysics and Mind, University of Leeds, the ERC Nature of Representation Project, and a Minor Conference Grant from the Mind Association.

iCog blog

Following on from two hugely successful conferences, the iCog network would like to announce the launch of its new blog. This will act as a forum for new and exciting work happening across the cognitive sciences. In our first blog post, Tom McClelland (Manchester) poses some questions about the admissible contents of visual experience. You can read it here:

We would also like to welcome further submissions from theorists interested in presenting their research to a general readership. Submissions could explain a specific issue or experiment you, the author, has been working on, or they could act as a brief introduction to a topic of research. Alternatively, posts could be used to raise a specific concern, worry or thought you might have had in relation to work in the theoretical or experimental study of the mind.

Papers shouldn’t be too long. Articles around the thousand-word mark are ideal and certainly nothing longer than a couple of thousand of words. We want the blog to be accessible to a general readership so, wherever possible, jargon should be avoided. Harvard style referencing is preferred, and footnotes should be kept to a minimum.

Queries and submissions can be made to our blog editor, Sam Clarke, at

Call for Registrations: ‘The Sensorimotor Theory: Developments and Open Questions’ (ASSC satellite workshop)

ASSC satellite workshop – ‘The Sensorimotor Theory of Perception and Consciousness: Developments and Open Questions’


Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July 2015

Paris Descartes University, Paris, France


Keynote speakers

Anthony Chemero, Alva Noë


Invited speakers

Malika Auvray, Xabier Barandiaran, Andreas Engel, Erik Myin



The sensorimotor theory claims that we can make strides toward dissolving the mysteries of consciousness if we think of experience as a kind of bodily engagement with the environment rather than something that happens only in the brain. Specifically, it claims that perceptual consciousness depends on implicit mastery of sensorimotor contingencies, the pattern-like ways that sense inputs change in line with movement by the agent or object perceived.

Since its first official statement in a 2001 paper by O’Regan and Noë , the theory has been extended and developed in various ways, resulting in a rich set of empirical and philosophical ideas about conscious experience. This workshop will give an overview of the state of the art and discuss key issues that a future sensorimotor theory should tackle.



Registration is free but places are limited. To register, please email Niclette Bukasa Kampata on with your name and any affiliation.

The call for papers is now closed but all are invited to attend and join the discussion.


Further information

For venue information and the full line up of invited and submitted speakers, see:

The workshop is being organised by Kevin O’Regan, Lucia Foglia, David Silverman and Jan Degenaar as part of Kevin O’Regan’s ERC Advanced Project FEEL, based at the Psychology of Perception Laboratory, Paris Descartes University.

Job: Research Fellow on PERFECT

PERFECT logo 1

Project PERFECT is recruiting a post-doctoral research fellow to start on 1st October 2015. The post is full-time, fixed-term for three years.

Please see the ad and the job description for more information.

Deadline for applications is 7th April 2015.

Informal inquiries can be directed to Lisa Bortolotti, Professor of Philosophy, University of Birmingham.

Extended Knowledge – 1st International Conference

The Edinburgh Eidyn Centre is excited to announce that registration for the 1st International Conference (April 22-24) on the topic of Extended Knowledge is now open!

The aim of this 1st International Conference on the topic of ‘Extended Knowledge’ is to bring together leading scholars from around the world in order to critically examine the ramifications of the extended cognition programme (and related views) to contemporary epistemology, and to the theory of knowledge in particular.

The main event will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, April 22 and 23, and it will be followed by two satellite workshops on Friday, April 24. The first satellite (morning session) will be dedicated to the Epistemology of Education, and the second to Group Knowledge.

Registration (including lunches and dinner) is free for all attendants, but it is necessary in order to make appropriate catering arrangements. The deadline is April 15, 2015. To contact us, email Adam Carter at, or Orestis Palermos at

For more details, please visit the conference website.

To register, click here.

To find out more about the Extended Knowledge project, you can visit the project’s website.

Go to Top