The University of Alabama

UA’s Philosophy Today Lecturer Revisits “The Problem of Consciousness”

Dr. Frank JacksonTUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Frank Jackson, the second speaker in the 2012-2013 Philosophy Today Lecture Series, will discuss “The Problem of Consciousness Revisited” on Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in room 205 of Smith Hall on The University of Alabama campus.

His lecture will review his evolving research on consciousness that has been influential in the philosophy community.

Jackson is a renowned philosopher of the mind who wrote the article “Epiphenomenal Qualia,” in a 1982 edition of Philosophical Quarterly that was remarkably influential.

It focused on whether science can explain consciousness, a subject that has long been debated in philosophy. For many years, the dominant view in philosophy was that there was no reason to doubt that science can explain consciousness, but Jackson proposed a new way of thinking about the subject and his thought experiment (and the surrounding theoretical work) convinced many that science cannot fully explain consciousness.

He later surprised the philosophical community by announcing that he changed his mind, and he concluded that science can fully explain consciousness. In his public lecture, he will revisit this subject and explain how he came to reverse his stance.

A native of Australia, Jackson studied mathematics and philosophy at the University of Melbourne and received his doctorate in philosophy from La Trobe University. Jackson received the Order of Australia Award in 2006 for his service to philosophy as an academic and researcher.

Jackson has written more than 60 publications, including “Mind, Morality, and Explanation” and “From Metaphysics to Ethics.”

Jackson is a research professor at Princeton University, were he teaches each fall; at LaTrobe University in Melbourne Australia; and at the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University.

Lectures in the Philosophy Today series are geared toward a general audience and are of interest to those in any profession or academic discipline. Sponsored by the UA College of Arts and Sciences’ philosophy department, a grant from Louis W. Perry and other alumni, and friends of the department, the presentations are free and open to the public.

UA’s department of philosophy is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Kelli Wright, communications specialist, College of Arts & Sciences, 205/348-8539, khwright@as.ua.edu
  • SOURCE: Dr. Torin Alter, professor of philosophy, 205/348-1908, talter@ua.edu