Skip to main content

Albert Wolters Public Lecture 2019 – University of Reading

Show access keys

Albert Wolters Public Lecture 2019

Consciousness, Autonomy and Responsibility

Professor Daniel Dennett has been awarded the Albert Wolters Visiting Distinguished Professorship by the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences.

This event is now fully booked. Please email if you would like to be added to a waiting list

Autonomy is a fancy word for self-control. It comes in degrees, and while some varieties can be largely the achievement of unconscious control—for instance, the abilities to stand, walk, run and avoid obstacles—the morally important varieties require consciousness: you can’t make a promise or be “moved by reasons” without the ability to entertain alternatives, think about both the past and the future, and make informed decisions under uncertainty. We are not born with these abilities and achieving the level of autonomy of a morally responsible agent takes years of experience and maturation. This self-control is the only variety of free will worth wanting, and it has nothing to do with whether physics is deterministic or not. A thought experiment about emancipating a drone, making it more and more autonomous, reveals the outlines of the role of language and consciousness in making us the sorts of things that can be trusted to keep a promise.

Admission free, booking essential.

Event information


09 May 2019




G11, Henley Business School, Whiteknights Campus


0118 378 6718

Connect with the University

We use Javascript to improve your experience on, but it looks like yours is turned off. Everything will still work, but it is even more beautiful with Javascript in action. Find out more about why and how to turn it back on here.
We also use cookies to improve your time on the site, for more information please see our cookie policy.