Annual Philosophy Conference April 9

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Annual Philosophy Conference April 10: Globalization, motherhood, animals, the brain and more
Cao works at the intersection of philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind, and neuroscience.

Join Webster University philosophy students and others Saturday, April 9, 1:30-5:30 p.m. in the University Center Sunnen Lounge, for the 10th annual Webster University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference.

Papers this year from students in the Philosophy program in the College of Arts & Sciences cover a range of topics, including globalization, motherhood and our relationships with and obligations to non-human animals.

Will intelligent machines take over the world? Can octopuses feel pain? Can people really upload their minds into computers? Keynote speaker Rosa Cao of Indiana University covers these questions in her address, “Multiple Realizability and the Spirit of Functionalism."

As Cao explains: "Multiple realizability says that they can -- that intelligence, experiences ... in short, everything required to have a mind depends on the functional organization of a system, and not on what it's made of.

"Multiple realizability says that silicon chips could do as good a job implementing a mind as the gray matter inside our skulls. But is there really multiple realization in our world? Maybe ... but probably not. I'll talk about why having a biological brain is actually pretty special, and how I learned to stop worrying about the robot apocalypse."

Cao works on issues at the intersection of philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind, and neuroscience, drawing philosophical insights from scientific evidence about the brain. She holds a PhD in brain and cognitive sciences from MIT and a PhD in philosophy from NYU.

She completed post-doctoral work with Daniel Dennett at the Tufts Center for Cognitive Sciences and an NSF fellowship at Harvard University. 

Presentation Schedule

Student presenters for the 10th annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
Student presenters for the 10th annual Webster University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Student presentations begin at 1:30, with the keynote at 4 p.m.. A more detailed schedule and other information are at .

  • 1:30 p.m.: Rosemarie Jones - "Comparing Kristeva’s and Beauvoir’s Views on Motherhood Using the Semiotic and the Symbolic as a Framework”
  • 2 p.m.: Brian Corbett - "Globalization: Who Wins?"
  • [Break]
  • 2:45 p.m.: Maggie McCarthy - "Ethics of Animal Agriculture"
  • 3:15 p.m.: Hailey Kaufman - "Like Us: Anthropomorphism as a Way of Knowing Animals"
  • [Break] 
  • 4 p.m.: Keynote with Rosa Cao - "Multiple Realizability and the Spirit of Functionalism"

This conference is made possible through the efforts of the student Philosophy Club, with support from the Webster University Philosophy Department, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Faculty Speakers Committee.

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