Professor David Spurrett, academic within the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC), recently spent a month as a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.
During his visit, he attended and presented a paper at the renowned Philosophy of Biology at Dolphin Beach (PBDB) conference, travelled to Wollongong to give an invited talk, and made a presentation on the regular Philosophy Talk series at ANU.
His PBDB talk developed analogies and complementarities between the notion of extended behavioural phenotypes and the literature on extended cognition, arguing that both can learn from each other. The Wollongong invitation was an opportunity to present a talk on ‘Hostile Scaffolding’ which is the subject of an ongoing collaboration with UKZN master’s student in Philosophy, Mr Ryan Timms, who is also being supervised by Spurrett.
The key claim in this work is that external structures can sometimes exploit and manipulate one agent’s cognitive processes for the benefit of another. While at Wollongong, Spurrett was also able to discuss an ongoing collaboration with Dr Nick Brancazio on embodied cognition, clothing and gender. Towards the end of the visit, Spurrett gave a talk entitled: ‘Time and the Decider’ on problems that arise when idealised theories of decision are assumed to apply in detail to what happens in brains over short time-scales.
Spurrett said, ‘It was a tremendous trip, both enjoyable and productive. ANU has one of the best philosophy departments, and I’m grateful to the Research School of Social Sciences there for hosting me, and especially to Professor Kim Sterelny who championed my visit. I hope to visit again.’