Highlights from the Royal College of Psychiatrists conference on philosophy and psychedelics

Last week I participated, and gave a talk, at a conference organized by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London. The theme of the conference was Philosophical Issues in Psychedelic Drug Use. The theme was just narrow enough to make this a perfectly focused conference.

The keynote addresses were given by Robin Carhart-Harris and Roland Griffiths, who brought everyone up to speed on their respective work on psychedelics at Imperial College and Johns Hopkins.

obligatoryApart from the keynotes, these were the conference highlights for me: One was a talk by philosopher Chris Letheby (Univ of Adelaide) who has written a remarkable paper, “The Philosophy of Psychedelic Transformation,” published in Journal of Consciousness Studies. In the talk he elaborated on the arguments that he makes in the paper. You should follow him on Twitter.

The other highlight was a refreshingly provocative talk by philosopher Maura Priest (Radford Univ/Columbia Univ) titled “Obligatory Drug Use” (see picture), in which she discussed whether there are cases where not using psychedelics (or other drugs) is morally wrong. She has not yet published on this issue, but I really recommend having a look at her other work. 

I also gave a talk at the conference, titled “The Epistemic Argument Against Psychedelics.” Below you can see my flip chart from the talk and the abstract. As some of you know, I´m currently writing a more extensive paper on psychedelics (and MDMA) that I hope to finish soon. I will keep my readers posted.


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Art Curators versus Philosophers

I went to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford today, together with Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubilini. On the plaque below this Roman bust it reads: The subject has a light beard and a long thick hair. It falls to his shoulders at the back but ends in a few straggling locks on the brow. The unfashionable long hairstyle suggests an intellectual figure – a philosopher or a sophist. Well, thank you, art curators at the Ashmolean!


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My paper has been translated into Chinese!

I wrote a paper back in 2015 titled “The Ethics of Pedophilia.”  It just got translated into Chinese! It´s called: 文献快递——论恋童癖的伦理道德 (No, I don´t read Chinese.)

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Our office toys that guests can play with



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Should we care about wild animals?

I recently debated Norwegian philosopher Morten Tønnesen (right) on the topic of wild animal suffering. Though we´re both concerned with animal welfare, and we´re both vegetarians for ethical reasons, we had diverging opinions on suffering that is not caused by humans. The debate was in Norwegian, but if you´re interested in my take on the issue, I´ve written a paper on it: “The Ethics of Wild Animal Suffering.” 


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I played the role of an Ancient Greek philosopher in a Norwegian popular science TV show today called “Brille.” Selfie from the changing room:


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