University of Delaware

March 17: Intentional agency, free will

Departments set mini-conference on intentional agency, free will, neuroscience


10:57 a.m., March 5, 2012--The University of Delaware departments of Linguistics and Cognitive Science and Philosophy will hold a mini-conference on intentional agency, free will and neuroscience on Saturday, March 17.

The one-day conference, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in 005 Kirkbride Hall on the UD campus in Newark.

Events Stories

June 5: Blue Hen 5K

University of Delaware graduates planning to attend Alumni Weekend are encouraged to register for the annual Blue Hen 5K walk and run, which will be held Sunday morning, June 5.

June 6-9: Food and culture series

The 20th annual June Lecture Series at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UD in Wilmington will be held June 6-9. Titled 'June a la Carte,' this year's program focuses on great political documents, feminism, world politics and a Newark cuisine sampler.

The event is also sponsored by the American Philosophical Association and the UD Class of 1955 Ethics Endowment.

Scheduled speakers are as follows:

• 9-10:30 a.m., Michael Bratman, Stanford University, "Intention and Rationality." Bratman is the U.G. and Abbie Birch Durfee Professor at Stanford University, and also is delivering the David Norton Memorial Lecture at UD on Thursday, March 15.

Bratman has been on the faculty at Stanford University since 1974. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Haverford College in 1967 and a doctorate in philosophy from Rockefeller University in 1974.

He is the author of the books Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason (1987), Faces of Intention: Selected Essays on Intention and Agency (1999), and Structures of Agency: Essays (2007). He is also a co-editor of Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings.

Bratman has been awarded an ACLS Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the Stanford University Humanities Center.

• 10:30-noon, Alfred Mele, Florida State University, "Free Will and Neuroscience."

Mele is the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University and director of the Big Questions in Free Will Project (2010-13). 

He is the author of Irrationality (1987), Springs of Action (1992), Autonomous Agents (1995), Self-Deception Unmasked (2001), Motivation and Agency (2003), Free Will and Luck (2006), Effective Intentions (2009), and Backsliding (2012).  He also is the editor or co-editor of Mental Causation (1993), The Philosophy of Action (1997), The Oxford Handbook of Rationality (2004), Rationality and the Good (2007), and Free Will and Consciousness: How Might They Work? (2010).

For an interesting interview with Mele, click here.

• 1-2:30, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Duke University, "A Contrastivist Account of Freedom."

Sinnott-Armstrong is Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Philosophy Department and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. He is also core faculty in the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. 

He received his bachelor of arts degree from Amherst College in 1977 and his doctorate from Yale University in 1982. He taught at Dartmouth College from 1981 until 2009. 

Sinott-Armstrong has served as vice-chair of the board of officers of the American Philosophical Association and co-director of the MacArthur Project on Law and Neuroscience. He publishes widely in normative moral theory, meta-ethics, applied ethics, moral psychology and neuroscience, philosophy of law, epistemology, informal logic, and philosophy of religion. He has defended atheism, consequentialism, contrastivism, limited moral skepticism, and irresolvable moral dilemmas. 

His current research focuses on empirical moral psychology and neuroscience, including experiments on psychopaths and on the diversity of moral judgments, and on the implications of neuroscience for the legal system and for free will and moral responsibility, including the responsibility of addicts and people with mental illnesses.

For more information on the mini-conference, contact Fred Adams at or Fred Schueler at

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