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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Mona-Marie Wandrey,


  History and Philosophy of Science, Magdalene College

  PhD thesis title: Ascribing consciousness to others – Strategies for managing and reducing uncertainty

  Research interests:
  1. Philosophy of Cognitive Science
  2. Philosophy of Mind
                                       3. Neuroscience
                                       4. Medical Ethics

My PhD focuses on how to attribute consciousness to others with more certainty. Due to its subjective character, we have to infer consciousness in others using indirect methods, such as behavioral markers and neural correlates of consciousness. However, all of these methods are fraught with uncertainty. This is especially problematic in contexts where the capacity for consciousness plays a significant role for our moral decision making, such as in the case of brain-injured patients and non-human animals. In my PhD project, I plan on developing strategies for managing and reducing the uncertainty involved in these cases.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?
I was inspired to pursue my research interests by a long-standing desire to understand how the brain gives rise to conscious experience. My fascination with consciousness inspired me to study medicine and specialize in neurology. Working with neurological patients as a medical doctor, I experienced that many end-of-life decisions fundamentally hinge on the question of whether patients retain conscious awareness, and that this question often cannot be answered with sufficient certainty. My desire to find a solution for this problem inspired me to specialize in the philosophy of cognitive science.