Experts discuss animal and human minds at WFU

What does it mean to be an animal? Philosophers and psychologists will discuss this and related questions at the two-day conference “Being an Animal” at Wake Forest University April 16-17. The conference will be held in DeTamble Auditorium in Tribble Hall. Admission is free.

On April 16 at 4 p.m., Sarah Boysen, a renowned primatologist from Ohio State University, will lecture on “Cultural Hybridization with Chimpanzees: It’s Not Smoke and Mirrors.”

Boysen, recently named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, earned her doctorate from Ohio State and is currently head of the university’s Comparative Cognition Project. In 2002, Discover magazine named Boysen one of the 50 most important women in science.

After Boysen’s presentation, a reception will be held in the lobby of DeTamble Auditorium.

On April 17 at 9 a.m., Colin Allen, philosopher and co-author of “Species of Mind,” will speak on “Jumping the GAP: Animal Cognition Beyond the Great Apes.” Allen, who is a professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, earned his doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He has published extensively on animal cognition and behavior and is the author of a short story titled “Star Witness,” which is widely read in introductory philosophy classes. The story, featuring the “testimony” of a parrot, engages issues about animal mentality in a lively and illuminating way.

At 11 a.m., a panel discussion will be held featuring Boysen, Allen and three Wake Forest scientists: Robert Beck, professor of psychology; Karen Roper, assistant professor of psychology; and Carol Shively, professor of pathology and psychology. Hugh LaFollette, professor of philosophy at East Tennessee State University and former host of the public radio show “Ideas and Issues,” will moderate the discussion.

The conference is sponsored by Wake Forest’s philosophy department and is part of Wake Forest’s theme year, “Fostering Dialogue: Civil Discourse in an Academic Community,” which is dedicated to exploring how free people with passionate interests and beliefs can communicate openly without turning dialogue into discord.

For more information, call 336-758-5747.

Conference Schedule

April 16
4 p.m. “Cultural Hybridization with Chimpanzees: It’s Not Smoke and Mirrors” by Sarah Boysen. DeTamble Auditorium.
6 p.m. Reception. DeTamble Auditorium Lobby.

April 17
9 a.m. 
“Jumping the GAP: Animal Cognition Beyond the Great Apes” by Colin Allen. DeTamble Auditorium.
10:30 a.m. Break
11:00 a.m. Panel Discussion. DeTamble Auditorium.

Categories: Events, Speakers