Situated Cognition: Perspectives from Phenomenology and Science

Durham University, UK ( 18th - 20th August 2006 )
  This conference is kindly supported by the British Academy, and organized by the International Association for Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. Local organizer: Matthew Ratcliffe, Department of Philosophy, Durham University.


  • Conference Details
  • Program
  • Travel/Hotel
  • Registration



    Conference Details

    The conference on Situated Cognition: Perspectives from Phenomenology and Science will be held at the Birley Room, Hatfield College, Durham University, UK, 18th - 20th August 2006.

    In recent years, the assumption that cognition can be studied by looking exclusively at what goes on in brains has undergone considerable criticism. In contrast to such a view, a diverse and growing network of researchers now claim that organisms' cognitive abilities are partly constituted by proprioception, action, environmental manipulation and intricate couplings between organisms and structures in their environments (including social and technological environments). Research in this area is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on fields such as philosophy, cognitive science, developmental studies, neuroscience and psychopathology. Much of it is inspired by or complemented by the insights of thinkers in the phenomenological tradition, such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, who emphasise the ways in which experience and thought are structured by background bodily awareness and environmental interaction. However, the relationship between the phenomenology and the science is very complicated and unclear in several respects. The aim of this conference is to explore the ways in which these seemingly very different fields of enquiry do and should relate to each other, taking the topic of 'situated cognition' as a focus. Central questions include: In what ways do phenomenology and science complement each other? How can they inform each other? Can phenomenological descriptions be naturalised? Should they be? What problems are faced when trying to unite phenomenological and scientific approaches?

    Keynote speakers

    Shaun Gallagher, Philosophy, University of Central Florida

    Peter Hobson, Tavistock Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Institute of Child Health, University College London and the Tavistock Clinic, London

    Dan Hutto, Philosophy, University of Hertsfordshire

    Christopher Peacocke, Philosophy, Columbia University, New York

    Michael Wheeler, Department of Philosophy, Stirling University

    For more information, contact: Dr Matthew Ratcliffe, Department of Philosophy, Durham University (


    Travel and accommodations


    Durham is a beautiful Cathedral City, located 250 miles north of London and 15 miles South of Newcastle. A map of the region is available here:

    The nearest airports are Newcastle and Durham Tees Valley. From Newcastle airport, take the Metro to Newcastle railway station (30 minutes) and then the train from Newcastle to Durham (15 minutes). From Durham Tees valley, take the bus to Darlington railway station (30 minutes) and the train to Durham (15 minutes).

    Leeds-Bradford and Edinburgh airports are also a short(ish) journey away. The bus from Leeds-Bradford airport to Leeds railway station takes around an hour and the direct train to Durham takes 90 minutes. There is also a bus from Edinburgh airport to the railway station and trains from Edinburgh take just over 90 minutes to reach Durham.

    If you fly in to London Heathrow, Gatwick of Stansted, you could take a further flight to Newcastle. Alternatively, train routes are as follows:

    Gatwick: Take a train to King’s Cross Thameslink. Walk from there to King’s Cross. The train from King’s Cross to Durham takes three hours.

    Heathrow: Take the London Underground to King’s Cross / St Pancras and then the train to Durham from King’s Cross.

    Stansted: Take a train from Stansted to Peterborough (approximately one hour) and then from Peterborough to Durham (just over 2 hours).

    Trains from London King’s Cross and Peterborough to Durham can be very expensive and even off-peak tickets from London are in excess of £90. Hence it is best to book a cheaper ticket in advance. Trains are run by GNER and tickets can be booked through their user-unfriendly website: . It is usually much cheaper to buy two singles, rather than a return ticket.

    Durham is a small city and it should only be a 10 to 15 minute walk from Durham railway station to where you’ll be staying. Alternatively, there are usually taxis available on the Platform 2 side of the station. Here is a map of Durham City (with a few tourists attractions listed):


    We’re asking participants to arrange their own accommodation. The conference will start at 8:45 on Friday 18th August and finish at approximately 16:30 on Sunday 20th August. So you’ll need accommodation for three or four nights. Durham is a collegiate university and most of the colleges offer reasonably priced accommodation during the Summer months. The cheapest rooms available are standard single student rooms, which start at around £26-£28 per night. However, en suite rooms, twin rooms, double rooms and luxury suites are also available in some of the colleges. You can book college accommodation on-line at:

    However, not everything is listed there and you may be offered a wider choice of rooms if you contact one of the colleges directly. The conference will take place at Hatfield College. So this is probably the most convenient place to stay. If you want to book accommodation at Hatfield, you should contact:

    Anne Ankers
    +44 [0]191 334 2615

    Several other colleges are only a five minute walk from the conference venue. Contact details for accommodation bookings are as follows:

    St Chad’s College
    Carole Miles
    +44 [0]191 334 3358

    College of St Hild and St Bede
    Kay Shields
    +44[0]191 334 8552

    St Cuthbert’s College
    Derrick Mann or Sue Cole
    +44[0]191 334 3384

    St John’s College

    University College / Durham Castle
    Julie Marshall
    +44[0]191 334 4106

    If you would prefer to stay in a hotel or guesthouse, we suggest that you restrict your search to those in Durham City with a DH1 postcode and also check that the accommodation you’re enquiring about is within walking distance of the city centre before you book it. A list of guesthouses can be obtained at: . Just type “DH1” in the postcode box and several options will appear. Of the central hotels, the Durham Marriott and Three Tuns are both expensive but sometimes have special offers. The King’s Lodge Hotel is slightly cheaper. Farnley Tower and 60 Albert Street both offer good quality accommodation at reasonable prices (mainly double rooms). You could also try the Queen Victoria pub. You won’t find it on the above site but you can contact them to book a room on [+44]0191 386 5269.

    If none of the above options suit your needs, the Durham City Tourist Information Centre should be able to give you some further advice:

    +44[0] 191) 384 3720

    If any of the information provided here is insufficient or inaccurate, please email Matthew Ratcliffe (, who will revise the Travel/Hotel section of the site accordingly.



    The conference fee for all participants will be £25 (to cover the cost of teas, coffees and lunches). For those who wish to attend the conference meal on Saturday 19th August, there will be an additional fee of around £20-£25. If you are not presenting a paper but would like to attend the conference, a small number of additional places are available and we advise you to book as soon as possible. Registration forms can be obtained from Matthew Ratcliffe (