Patrick Haggard is professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London (UCL) and research group leader at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. His research interests focus on the control of voluntary human actions, and on bodily experience. Since his PhD in 1991, he has developed a significant research presence in both fields, with almost 300 peer-reviewed publications, authoritative review papers, keynote addresses, and major research grants. His research approach is profoundly interdisciplinary. He uses the methods of brain science to investigate fundamental questions about human subjectivity and mental life, such as sense of agency, and sense of self. This approach derives from his conviction that understanding the mechanisms that underlie an experience or a behaviour can contribute to a correct analysis of its significance and function. His work is widely cited and discussed in philosophy and social science. He has collaborated with researchers in philosophy, law, psychiatry, neurology, dance science, computer science and engineering.
In spring 2016, Patrick Haggard’s activities at the Paris IAS will be focused mainly on the organization of an expert workshop on neurobiological knowledge and human nature, as well as and advanced student seminar on the meaning of human volition.
The workshop will deal with how growing knowledge about human neurobiology change our social and cultural concepts of human nature. Could it, and should it be used as a basis for social or political decisions, for instance? A small group of experts, working across neuroscience, medicine, psychology and philosophy, will consider how mechanistic scientific knowledge about the origins of human behaviour might constrain ideas about how humans should live, and how societies might be run.
The seminar for advanced students, and early career researchers from any discipline, will be structured as a set of three ‘aftertalks’, debating the themes raised in Patrick Haggard’s Jean Nicod prize lectures, taking place in May 2016. Each seminar will begin with a short positional debate with a discussant. The theme will then be developed through an open discussion with the students. At the end of each seminar, Patrick Haggard and the discussant will attempt to define three or more key priorities for future research agendas in understanding human voluntary action.