Normativity is widely seen as being naturalistically problematic. Teleosemantic theories aimed to provide a naturalistic grounding for the normativity of mental representation in biological proper function, but have been subject to a variety of criticisms and would in any case provide only a thin naturalist platform for grounding normativity more generally. In this talk I present a systems-based theory of normativity that is distinct from, though closely connected to, systems theories of functional ascription. It will be argued that the theory can account for certain kinds of prescriptive norms, and provides a better account of the normativity of practical reason than Humean and Kantian approaches. Biographical Note Dr. Rae Silver is the Helene L. and Mark N. Kaplan Professor of Natural and Physical Sciences in the Psychology Department at Barnard College, Professor of Psychology in Columbia University\'s Psychology Department, and Professor of Psychology in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, all in New York, NY. She studied physiological psychology at McGill (BSc Honours, 1966) and biopsychology at the City University of New York (MA, 1970) and at the Institute of Animal Behavior at Rutgers University (PhD, 1972, under Daniel S. Lehrman). Before becoming a Professor at Barnard College and Columbia University in 1982, she held positions at Rutgers (1972-74), Hunter College of the City University of New Yotk (1974-76), the American Museum of Natural History (1974-76) and Barnartd College of Columbia University (1976-82). An expert in medical and biological aspects of the internal body clock, Dr. Silver is the (co-)author of almost 200 scientific publications and holds many awards.
Wayne Christensen is a Senior Research Fellow at the KLI.. He studied philosophy at the University of Newcastle, Australia (PhD, 2000), and worked as a postdoctoral research associate with the Complex Adaptive Systems Group there in 2000-2001. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the KLI (2002-2004) and in the Philosophy Department at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa (2004-2006). More recently (2007-2009) he has been a research fellow in Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Macquarie University, Australia. Dr. Christensen is currently working on a book that investigates the cognitive and biological foundations of personal agency. The objective is to promote a broad-based engagement between philosophical agency theory and empirical cognitive research. Within this larger project he is currently (a) developing an account of the respective roles of automatic and higher cognitive processes in skilled action, and (b) developing a naturalist approach to the foundations of normativity. In recent work he has proposed a theory of the role of hierarchically structured control and model-based representation in the evolution of cognition. Selected publications Christensen WD (2010) The decoupled representation theory of the evolution of cognition — a critical assessment. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49: 1-45. Christensen WD (2007) Volition and cognitive control. In: Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context (Ross D, Spurrett D, Kincaid H, Stephens L, eds.), 255-287. MIT Press. Christensen WD, Tommasi L (2006) Neuroscience in context: The new flagship of the cognitive sciences. Biological Theory 1: 78-83.