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Spindel Conference 2013

"The Lives of Human Animals"

September 26-28, 2013

Fountain View Room, University Center

The problem of personal identity is one of the most bewitching puzzles in all of philosophy. Until very recently, most philosophers subscribed to the view first advocated by the 17th-century British philosopher, John Locke. Locke held that our fundamental nature is given by our status as self-conscious, rational agents ("persons") and that the conditions under which we persist through time and change are thus to be accounted for in terms of psychological continuity. The main topic of the 32nd annual Spindel Conference will be an anti-Lockean view that has recently gained support amongst philosophers. According to this view, known as “animalism,” our fundamental nature is given not by our psychological capacities, but by our biological constitution: we are primates (Homo sapiens), and like all organisms, we persist just in case we continue living.

The overarching aim of this year's conference is to provide a forum in which metaphysicians and philosophers of mind working on animalism are brought together with those who are presently engaged in pertinent debates in other areas of philosophy—including philosophy of biology, metaphysics, ethics, philosophical psychology, and philosophy of religion. So, besides animalism in its own right, among the topics to be explored are the nature of organic life, the metaphysics and ethics of death, issues in animal cognition, the possibility of the afterlife, animal interests, etc.

Essential Information
Conference poster

Conference program

Campus map

For further information, please contact Stephan Blatti at blatti<at>memphis<dot>edu


spindel 2013 - opening night

 spindel 2013 - john dupre

 spindel 2013 - eric olson

spindel 2013 - paul snowdon

spindel 2013 - break

About the Spindel Conference
A successful Memphis businessman, Murray Spindel was a dedicated philosopher who often took courses at the University of Memphis. In 1981, Murray endowed the Spindel Fund which supports both an annual philosophy conference and a dissertation fellowship. Since his death in 1999, Murray’s wife, Chris, has continued the Spindel family’s support of the department.

The Spindel Conference brings to campus each fall the highest caliber of philosophers from around the world, and the proceedings are published annually as the Spindel Supplement to The Southern Journal of Philosophy. The conference has greatly enhanced the intellectual life of the campus by enabling undergraduates to interact with the top scholars in philosophy and by inviting the community to discuss provocative ideas. The Spindel Conference is both a scholarly and social event and has come to define what is best about philosophy in Memphis and what Murray Spindel loved most: the friendly, but lively and engaging pursuit of truth. Information about recent Spindel Conferences can be found here.

* * *

Murray Spindel, who died of cancer on July 7, 1999, was a great friend to the University of Memphis and to the faculty members and students in the Philosophy Department who came to know him. In the fall of 1981, Murray gave an endowment to the University of Memphis that has been used by the Philosophy Department to fund an annual conference on varying philosophical topics. Directed by faculty, the conference is held each fall (usually late September or early October); the proceedings are published as a supplement to The Southern Journal of Philosophy. The Spindel Philosophy Conference has become an internationally renowned event, and the Spindel Supplements offer timely and important contributions to philosophy.

spindel conference poster


Colin Allen (Indiana University)
Sam Baron (University of Sydney)
Kathy Behrendt (Wilfrid Laurier University)
Cameron Buckner (University of Houston)
Remy Debes (University of Memphis)
John Dupré (University of Exeter)
Carl Gillett (Northern Illinois University)
Lori Gruen (Wesleyan University)
Jonathan Jacobs (Saint Louis University)
Steven Luper (Trinity University)
Robert Lurz (Brooklyn College, CUNY)
Neil Manson (University of Mississippi)
Mark Newman (Rhodes College)
Eric Olson (University of Sheffield)
Elizabeth Schechter (Washington University in St. Louis)
Marya Schechtman (University of Illinois, Chicago)
David Shoemaker (Tulane University)
Paul Snowdon (University College London)
Christina van Dyke (Calvin College)
Donovan Wishon (University of Mississippi)

Conference Director
Stephan Blatti
Sponsors and Supporters

President Brad Martin
Chris Spindel and the Murray Spindel Lecture Series Fund
FedEx Institute of Technology

Institute for Intelligent Systems
Wiley-Blackwell Publishers
Public Service Fund
Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence
John Tienson and Nancy Simco

Further Information
Southern Journal of Philosophy
University of Memphis

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