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Mads Hansen - New PhD at the Department of Philosophy and History of Ideas

Mads will be working on the project: Constructing a Theory of Sentience Using Gradualism, Process Ontology, and Organisational Constraints.

24.09.2020 | Camilla Dimke

My name is Mads Hansen and I am a new PhD student in philosophy. Throughout my education, I have mainly worked in philosophy of biology especially on the problem of determining biological individuals, that is, how do we determine which entities in nature can play a role in natural selection. I hold a BA in Applied Philosophy from Aalborg University, a MScR in Philosophy at The University of Edinburgh, and a MA in Philosophy at Aarhus University.

My PhD project Constructing a Theory of Sentience Using Gradualism, Process Ontology, and Organisational Constraints focuses on how we are to understand sentience and which entities we can justifiably claim are sentient. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is no consensus on which entities are sentient in the scientific and philosophical community. This means, for example, that there are disagreements about which entities feel pain. Some argue that fish, insects, and plants are unable to feel pain and therefore should not be considered in ethical matters, while others argue the opposite. It is clear that the definition of sentience one adopts has large ethical consequences for the entities that are outside the definition. For ethical reasons it is therefore important to construct a theory of sentience that does not leave out entities which are, in fact, sentient.

In my project, I take an evolutionary, gradualist approach to sentience, viewing sentience as a process produced by a system’s organisational constraints. By taking this approach, the project will attempt to solve conceptual and methodological issues in both philosophy and science surrounding sentience. Johanna Seibt is my supervisor.

I look forward to meeting you all face-to-face or online (for the time being).


Mads Hansen
Institut for Kultur og Samfund - Afdeling for Filosofi og Idéhistorie
Jens Chr. Skous Vej 7
bygning 1467, 221
8000 Aarhus C

Filosofi og Idéhistorie