(2012) Freedom is for the Dogs

Alice Crary


Lecture in Bergen 2012, Dec. 3. This talk is about freedom and dogs. It is also part of a larger project dedicated to demonstrating the availability of a tenable conceptualism, where conceptualism is understood as the view that our modes of awareness are conceptual all the way down. Champions and critics of conceptualist views tend to represent them as obliging us to deny that animals possess any significant capacities of mind. Yet I claim that, far from being a hindrance, a thoughtful conceptualism can give us the resources to describe the rich range of capacities of mind possessed by animals of different kinds. A conceptualist outlook can equip us to recognize that many non-human animals are neither mere stimulus and response mechanisms nor mere systems of exploitable instincts but rather creatures that are in an important sense free. This talk's treatment of these topics focuses on the case of dogs. But its argument - which includes references to the writings of authors who work with dogs - has a direct bearing on our resources for thinking not only about other non-human animals but also about the kinds of free and rational animals that we human beings are.


philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; 20th century philosophy; McDowell John; Cavell Stanley; conceptualism; animal; naturalism

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