A conference on “Problems of consciousness and free will in analytic philosophy” was held in Greenland from 12 to 19 June.
It was attended by such well-known figures in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science as Daniel Dennett, David Chalmers, Paul and Patricia Churchland, Derk Pereboom, Jesse Prinz, Nicholas Humphrey, Andy Clark, and Keith Frankish, as well as by teachers, students, and graduates of the Faculty of Philosophy of Lomonosov Moscow State University: Anna Kostikova, Robert Howell, Dmitry Volkov, Eugene Loginov, Maria Ananina, Angelina Dmitrieva, Andrew Mertsalov, Mikhail Terekhov, Artem Besedin, and Anton Kuznetsov.
The conference was notable not only for the unique assembly of keynote speakers, but also for its unusual format: it was held on board the sailing schooner Rembrandt van Rijn as that ship cruised along the southeastern coast of Greenland. It was a real philosophical expedition: discussion sessions were followed by landings at remote points in Greenland and by walks and Zodiac boat trips that made the participants familiar with the nature of arctic Greenland. All sessions were held in the wardroom of the ship. A distinctive feature of the conference program was that the speakers did not represent their own views, as is usually done. Instead, they made presentations about their colleagues’ ideas, in the process formulating both main points of disagreement and the arguments of critics. For example, David Chalmers represented Andy Clark and Andy Clark represented Nicholas Humphrey. After the reports, the persons whose work was reported on then took the floor, commenting and clarifying their positions and responding to criticism.
During the week a huge amount of video and photographic material was shot – speeches and interviews that will soon become available on the MCCS website, as well as a more detailed report about this amazing event. In the meantime, we can say that the Greenland conference represents a big step forward in understanding the problems of consciousness and free will, a step towards creating the conditions for further joint philosophical communication.