Centre for Advanced Study

at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

Towards a New Understanding of the Mental


Former 2003/2004 Humanities - Theology

End Report

Key themes for the group were: (i) the relationship between common knowledge of mental phenomena and various special sciences involving or approaching the mind (psychology, biology, neurology, sociology, economics) and (ii) the relationship between philosophical theories of mind and agency, on the one hand, and scientific approaches to the mind on the other.

In that context, our project functioned as an umbrella for a number of specific individual research projects, all in the general field of philosophy of mind and related areas. The synergy effects provided by informal cooperation on the hospitable CAS premises were significant. However, the group also had regularly scheduled meetings throughout the year. These meetings had the form of colloquia where we discussed work in progress by members of the group. Many such sessions were attended by graduate students in philosophy from the UiO.

During their stay at the CAS, the four members of the group from foreign universities all presented papers to the Philosophy Department at the UiO, as well as to other Scandinavian universities. In March, the group went to Røros for an intensive three-day workshop on the central themes of our work. From June 23rd to 25th, we held a concluding conference at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters under the title, Truth, Norms and Agency. In addition to the members of the group, the following scholars attended the conference by invitation; Brian Loar (Rutgers), Helen Steward (Balliol College, University of Oxford), Tim Crane (University College, London), Hartry Field (New York University) John Dupré (University of Exeter).

All members of the group have worked throughout the year on philosophical research intended for publication. While there will be no joint publication of the works of the group, the time at the CAS has provided a tremendous stimulus to the work of all of us who have had the privilege of spending research time there.

As a group, we found the facilities – not to mention the human support provided – for serious research at the CAS to be exceptional. A stay at the Centre, accordingly, represents a rare opportunity to focus and qualitatively advance research projects requiring both a sustained effort and a cooperative intellectual environment. Certainly, from the point of view of the philosophy group, the interdisciplinary interaction with the other groups (biology and psychology) was a rare and welcome element. The inter-group dynamic, clearly a priority of the management at the CAS, is an important aspect of the open and extraordinarily stimulating intellectual atmosphere that has been fostered at CAS.

We end the year regretting that it is over, but with renewed vigour and a firm resolve to make the most of the advantage that the stay at the CAS has provided.


  • Alnes, Jan Harald
    Associate Professor UiT The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) 2003/2004
  • Dybvig, Magne
    Professor Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) 2003/2004
  • Engel, Pascal
    Professor Paris-Sorbonne University 2003/2004
  • Føllesdal, Dagfinn
    Professor Em. University of Oslo (UiO) 1995/1996, 2003/2004, 2015/2016
  • Hansen, Carsten
    Associate Professor University of Oslo (UiO) 2003/2004
  • Hornsby, Jennifer
    Professor Birkbeck College, University of London 2003/2004
  • Knowles, Jonathan Lewis
    Professor Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) 2003/2004
  • Perry, John R.
    Professor Stanford University 2003/2004
  • Tiercelin, Claudine
    Professor University of Paris 2003/2004
  • Williamson, Timothy
    Professor University of Oxford 2003/2004


Group leader

  • Olav Gjelsvik

    Title Professor Institution University of Oslo (UiO) Year at CAS 2003/2004
  • Bjørn T. Ramberg

    Title Professor Institution University of Oslo (UiO) Year at CAS 2003/2004