Persons, Selves, and Organisms Conference


Personal identity – under what conditions do we persist over time? – is among the perennial questions of metaphysics. In recent years, the question of personal identity gave place to the closely related question of personal ontology: what kinds of things are we most fundamentally? The question of personal identity has often been discussed in tandem with philosophical investigations into the nature of the self: is there a thing we refer to when we say ‘I’? Is the persistence of our selves tied to personal identity? By contrast, the relation between the question of personal ontology and the self has largely been neglected. This conference will explore various issues at the intersection of personal identity, personal ontology, and the topology of the self.

Dates: February 4-5, 2017
Host department: Philosophy, Bilkent University

Organizers: David Kovacs, Rina Tzinman (Bilkent)


Conference Program

Photo Gallery

Keynote speakers:

Eric T. Olson (Sheffield) works in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, with a special emphasis on personal identity theory. He has published two books with Oxford University Press (The Human Animal and What are We?), the former of which has since come to be the canonical defense of animalism about personal identity, the view that persons have the identity conditions of human organisms. He also published numerous articles in top journals, such as The Journal of Philosophy, Nous, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Studies, and Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

Hong Yu Wong (Tübingen) specializes in the philosophy of mind, cognitive neuroscience, and the intersection of the two. He is the leader of the Philosophy of Neuroscience Research Group at the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, a DFG excellence cluster at the University of Tübingen. He is also a faculty member of the Philosophisches Seminar and the Max Planck Neural and Behavioral Graduate School at the University of Tübingen. He is currently finishing a monograph entitled Embodied Agency for Oxford University Press (forthcoming 2016). He also published several papers in leading journals, such as Nous, Philosophy of Science, The Philosophical Quarterly, Journal of Consciousness Studies, and Mind and Language.


Nazım Keven is an assistant professor at Bilkent University specializing in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. He is especially interested in memory, reasoning, emotions, and the self. He has publications in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Synthese, and Hippocampus.

David Mark Kovacs is an assistant professor at Bilkent University with specialties in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. Currently, his main focus is in meta-metaphysics, ontology, and personal identity and the self. He has publications in Mind, Philosophical Studies, Philosophical Quarterly, and Ratio.

Sinem Elkatip Hatipoğlu is an assistant professor at Istanbul Şehir University. Her research interests include philosophy of mind and metaphysics, with a particular interest in consciousness, self-consciousness, the concept of a self and personal identity. Her recent publications include “Consciousness and Peripheral Self-awareness” (Organon F) and “Thinking about Mental States” (ATINER’s conference paper series).

Krisztina Orban is a postdoc at the University of Tübingen; previously, she was a PhD student at the Birbeck, University of London, where she defended her dissertation in 2014 (“Fixing the reference of ‘I’: immunity to error through misidentification as a guide”). Her research is concerned with self-reference, the structure of perspectival experience, self-awareness and knowledge of action.

Zeynep Talay holds part-time lecturer positions at Koç University and Boğaziçi University. She has interests in Nietzsche, aesthetics, and the self in literature. Her publications appeared in the History of European Ideas, The Germany Quarterly, and Philosophy and Literature.

Lucas Thorpe is an assistant professor at Boğaziçi University. He works on Kant and also has interests in epistemology. He currently has a book under contract with Continuum, and also has publications in the Journal of Value Inquiry, the Heytrop Journal, and the British Journal of the History of Philosophy.

Rina Tzinman is an instructor at Bilkent University. Her research interests are in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, with a particular focus on personal identity, situated cognition, and bodily awareness. Her most recent publication is “Against the Brainstem View of the Persistence of Human Animals”, which appeared in a volume on animals along with a response by Eric Olson.

Stephen Voss is a professor at Boğaziçi University. His interests lie in early modern philosophy and the philosophy of mind, and he is especially interested in modern theories of the self. His work has been published in The Leibniz Review, Faith and Philosophy, and Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie. He recently edited a volume on the Leibniz-Arnauld correspondence, which has been published at Yale University Press.


Sandy Berkovski is an assistant professor at Bilkent University with interests in metaphysics, the philosophy of science, ethics, and moral psychology. His publications appeared in Synthese, Philosophy, Ratio, Southern Journal of Philosophy, Philosophia, Theoria, Acta Analytica, and Logique et Analyse.

Nurbay Irmak is an assistant professor at Boğaziçi University; he specializes in metaphysics and the philosophy of language, and also has serious interests in bioethics. His work has been published in Philosophical Studies, Grazer Philosophische Studien, and the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Irem Kurtsal Steen is an assistant professor at Boğaziçi University and currently a visiting scholar at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She specializes in metaphysics and also has interests in epistemology and the philosophy of religion. Her work has been published in Philosophical Studies, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, and an edited volume forthcoming at Cambridge University Press.

Ville Paukkonen is a postdoc at the University of Helsinki and currently a visiting researcher at Boğaziçi University. He has research interests in early modern philosophy and metaphysics, and especially in Berkeley’s theory of the self. He has recently published a paper entitled “Berkeley and Activity in Visual Perception” (in a book titled Active Perception in the History of Philosophy: From Plato to Modern Philosophy).

Lars Vinx is an assistant professor at Bilkent University. He specializes in political philosophy, the philosophy of law, and the history of legal and political philosophy. His current research focuses on popular sovereignty and constitutionalism, the thought of Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt, and early modern political philosophy. He is the author of two books, which have been published at Oxford and Cambridge University Press, and of numerous articles, which appeared in Political Theory, the International Journal of Constitutional Law, and the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, among others.

Jack Woods is a university research fellow at the University of Leeds; until recently, he was assistant professor at Bilkent. He works in the areas of philosophical of logic, philosophy of mathematics, and metaethics. Jack has published in leading journals in the discipline, including Ethics, Nous, Synthese, and Philosophers’ Imprint.


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