Workshop on Intelligence and Abilities

Intelligence is typically thought to refer to certain kinds of abilities that people have, such as language comprehension, abstract reasoning, and complex problem-solving. However, the exact relations between intelligence and abilities still remain unclear. Is intelligence itself a kind of ability? Or the manifestation of one? What are abilities? And which kinds of abilities, if any, are relevant to intelligence in humans, non-human animals, and artificial systems?


To answer these questions, Science of Intelligence and the Human Abilities Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (HU Berlin) will be bringing together six philosophers and cognitive scientists for a two-day digital workshop called “Intelligence and Abilities,” taking place on 22 and 23 March from 2–6:30pm (CET).

Each afternoon will feature three talks, followed by a roundtable discussion with all the speakers, who will be investigating abilities and intelligence both philosophically and scientifically. “There is currently lots of research trying to figure out what intelligence is, and the same goes for abilities, but not that much dialogue between these areas of research,” said SCIoI member Dimitri Coelho Mollo, who organized the workshop together with Sanja Dembic (Human Abilities, HU Berlin). “In this workshop we want to encourage a closer interaction between the people working on these questions so that they can help shed light on each other and help us better understand what both intelligence and abilities are”.

The speakers are Ellen Fridland (London), Romy Jaster (Berlin), Dimitri Coelho Mollo (Berlin), Carlotta Pavese (Cornell), Martin Rolfs (Berlin), Barbara Vetter (Berlin).

***Register here by March 19, 4pm (CET) or write to


Programme (all times in CET):

March 22 (Monday)

14:00-15:00: Dimitri Coelho Mollo: Unifying the sciences of intelligence: abilities and representation

15:00-15:15: Break

15:15-16:15: Martin Rolfs: Delineating abilities of an active visual system

16:15-16:30: Break

16:30-17:30: Barbara Vetter: The epistemology of ability

17:30-17:45: Break

17:45-18:30: Roundtable with all workshop speakers

March 23 (Tuesday)

14:00-15:00: Romy Jaster: A Challenge for Ability Accounts of Practical Intelligence

15:00-15:15: Break

15:15-16:15: Ellen Fridland: Practical Intentions, Action Schemas, and Strategic Control in Skill

16:15-16:30: Break

16:30-17:30: Carlotta Pavese: Intelligence, Regress, and Novelty.

17:30-17:45: Break

17:45-18:30: Roundtable with all workshop speakers

Full programme with abstracts can be downloaded here.


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