Digest Easter Vacation 2022

This page lists all Philosophy-related events taking place throughout the Easter vacation. If you have entries for the Digest, please send information to admin@philosophy.ox.ac.uk by midday, Wednesday the week before the event. 


Notices - other Philosophy events, including those taking place elsewhere in the university and beyond

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OxFOS - Is the future an open book? – Long form research and open access | 3:00-5:00pm | Online via MS Teams

Long form research, including monographs, is starting to feature in research funder policy mandates. UK Research and Innovation have announced a monographs component to their open access policy, starting from 2024. Traditional approaches to publishing can risk limiting open access to those who can afford to pay, and which disproportionately affects scholars from arts, humanities, and social sciences disciplines. 

This session will explore alternative approaches and new revenue models for publishing. Chaired by Professor Chris Wickham, you will hear from a range of speakers who are involved in supporting the transition to open monographs. This session will: 
•    Give a critical overview of the current drivers and broader context behind OA for long form research. 
•    Explore alternatives to OA book fees. 
•    Explain how new initiatives and business models, such as the Open Book Collective and Opening the Future (COPIM) and Direct to Open (MIT Press) can play a role. 
•    Hear from established publishers, including scholarly societies, on how they are adapting to and supporting the changes. 
•    Discuss both the opportunities and the problems associated with OA book publishing.

The speakers will also include Prof Caroline Warman (MML, Jesus), Dr Philip Carter (RHS), and Matthias Kaun (Director, East Asia Department & CrossAsia, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin).

Oxford Talks page | Book your place here.

Oxford Mathematics Public Lecture | 5:00-6:15pm | Online 

Title: 'Deep Maths - machine learning and mathematics'

In December 2021 mathematicians at Oxford and Sydney universities together with their collaborators at DeepMind announced that they had successfully used tools from machine learning to discover new patterns in mathematics. But what exactly had they done and what are its implications for the future of mathematics and mathematicians?

This online event will feature short talks from each of the four collaborators explaining their work followed by a panel discussion addressing its wider implications. If you wish to submit a question, please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

The speakers:

Alex Davies - DeepMind
Andras Juhasz - University of Oxford
Marc Lackenby - University of Oxford
Geordie Williamson - University of Sydney

The panel will be chaired by Jon Keating, Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy in Oxford.

This is an online only lecture which every one is free to watch at the time and afterwards: Oxford Mathematics YouTube

The Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures are generously supported by XTX Markets.

Oxford Literal Festival | 2:00-3:00pm | Sheldonian Theatre

''Technology, Climate, Justice and Rights: Can We Get The Whole World To Agree On Any Of Them?''
 A C Grayling

Philosopher and author Professor A C Grayling asks whether we humans are capable of agreeing on a set of values that will allow us to confront threats faced by the planet including from climate change, new technologies and a lack of social justice.

Grayling says in his new book, For the Good of the World, that solving these issues requires international co-operation and a set of values on which we can all agree. How do we take action to mitigate sea rises, drought, floods, wildfires and disease caused by climate change? What can we do to avoid the threats posed by new technologies including autonomous weapon systems, genetic engineering of foetuses, and new forms of surveillance? And how do we counter the destabilising effect of regional conflict and upheaval and low levels of social justice in many parts of the world?

Grayling is professor of philosophy and founder and principal New College of the Humanities at Northeastern University, London. His books include The God Argumeny, Democracy and Its Crisis, The History of Philosophy, The Good State and The Frontiers of Knowledge.

Book your tickets here

Oxford Literal Festival | 12:00-1:00pm | Oxford Martin School: Seminar Room

''Intact: A Defence of the Unmodified Body''
Clare Chambers Interviewed by Timandra Harkness

Philosopher Clare Chambers argues that it is time for men, women and children to reclaim their bodies and that an unmodified body is a key principle of social and political equality.

Chambers ranges across a variety of areas from bodybuilding to makeup, male circumcision, breast implants, motherhood and childbirth. She argues that social pressure to modify your body sends a message that you are not good enough, and it reinforces inequalities of sex, gender, race, disability, age, and class.

Chambers is professor of political philosophy and a fellow of Jesus College in Cambridge. She is regarded as one of the most original philosophers in the UK today and is a member of the Nuffield Council on bioethics. She is author of Against Marriage and specialises in feminism, bioethics, contemporary liberalism, and theories of social justice. Here she talks to writer, comedian and broadcaster on scientific, mathematical and statistical topics Timandra Harkness.

Book your tickets here.

Oxford Literal Festival | 2:00-3:00pm | Oxford Martin School: Lecture Theatre

''What’s Wrong with Rights?'' 
Nigel Biggar Interviewed by James Orr

Theologian Professor Nigel Biggar calls for a richer dialogue and public discourse about ethics and an abandonment of rights-fundamentalism.

Biggar looks at a range of questions, from whether individual rights should subvert the common good to whether rights are an expression of Western neo-imperial arrogance, whether judges should strive to extend them from civil Europe to anarchical Basra, whether judges or parliaments should pronounce on rights, and whether human rights advocates should have greater sympathy for those trying to govern. And he says much contemporary rights talk obscures the importance of fostering civic virtue, corrodes military effectiveness, subverts the democratic legitimacy of law, proliferates publicly onerous rights, and undermines their authority and credibility. The solution to these problems lies in the abandonment of rights-fundamentalism and the recovery of a richer public discourse about ethics, one that includes talk about the duty and virtue of rights-holders.

Biggar is Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology and director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at the University of Oxford. His books include Between Kin and Cosmopolis: An Ethic of the Nation and In Defence of War. Here he talks to Dr James Orr, assistant professor of philosophy of religion at the University of Cambridge.

Book your tickets here.

Oxford Literal Festival | 4:00-5:00pm | St Cross College

''Enchantment: Wonder in Modern Life''
Patrick Curry

Environmental philosopher Dr Patrick Curry explores how enchantment – a sense of wonder, awe or amazement – is central to a well-lived life and key to the future of the planet.

Curry will discuss the experience of enchantment and its opposite disenchantment. Why does it matter? Is it a frivolous concern given present-day suffering and injustice? What are its implications for the crises we face, such as the ecological one? What about the re-enchantment of the world? And can enchantment become part of a way of life? If so, how?

Curry has written on topics ranging widely from environmental ethics to cosmology and literature and has lectured at the University of Kent and University of Bath Spa. He is author of Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien, Myth and Modernity and Ecological Ethics and editor-in-chief of The Ecological Citizen.

This event was originally scheduled for the 2020 festival. Tickets booked for this event remain valid for the new date. If you exchanged your ticket for a credit and still wish to attend, you will need to rebook using your credit. See how to use and claim credits.

Book your tickets here.


Oxford Literal Festival | 10:00-11:00am | St Cross College

''How to think about Weird Things''
Stephen Law

Philosopher and academic Dr Stephen Law explains how to weigh up the evidence around weird beliefs sceptically without becoming a closed-minded naysayer.

Many people believe in extraordinary hidden beings, including demons, angels, spirits and gods. Plenty also believe in supernatural powers, including faith healing and communication with the dead. Conspiracy theories are also popular, including that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job. And, of course, many trust in alternative medicines such as homeopathy, the effectiveness of which seems to run contrary to our scientific understanding of how the world works.

Such beliefs are widely considered to be at the ‘weird’ end of the spectrum. Most of us really struggle when it comes to assessing such ‘weird’ beliefs. Of course, we have our hunches. But when it comes to pinning down precisely why such beliefs are or aren’t reasonable, even the most intelligent and well educated of us can quickly find ourselves out of our depth. While most would pooh-pooh belief in fairies, Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the quintessentially rational detective Sherlock Holmes, believed in them and wrote a book presenting what he thought was compelling evidence for their existence.

From discs in the sky to faces in toast, Stephen Law explains how to weigh the evidence without becoming a closed-minded naysayer.

Law is a philosopher and academic, author of bestselling introductions to philosophy for adults and children, and editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Journal Think.

Book your tickets here.

Oxford Literal Festival | 6:00-7:00pm | Oxford Martin School: Lecture Theatre

Oxford Debate: Scientism, Religion, and the Limits of Reason
Alister McGrath, David Papineau and Christopher French 
Chaired by Stephen Law

Two scientists and a philosopher, Professor Alister McGrath, Professor David Papineau, and Professor Chris French debate scientism, religion, and the limits of reason.

Critics of religious, New Age, spiritualist, and other popular forms of divine or supernatural belief are often accused of scientism or excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge. Believers in the divine or supernatural argue that scientists are crossing a line or boundary separating those topics or subjects that are the proper province of science and those that are beyond its capacity to adjudicate. They say scientists are guilty of an arrogant failure to recognise that there are ‘more things in heaven and Earth’ than are dreamt of in their philosophy, and of supposing science is best placed to answer questions that can only be answered by employing other disciplines, forms of inquiry, or ‘ways of knowing’. ‘You scientists’, say the believers, ‘may come this far, but no further.’ But is this fair? Can’t science investigate the supernatural, and provide evidence for or against the existence of God? Is it true that many legitimate questions really are off-limits to science?

McGrath is a former molecular biophysicist and now Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford. Papineau is Professor of Philosophy of Science at King’s College London. French is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths, specialising in the psychology of paranormal beliefs and experiences.

Discussions are chaired by Dr Stephen Law, a philosopher and academic, author of bestselling introductions to philosophy for adults and children, and editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Journal Think.

Book your tickets here.

Oxford Literal Festival | 2:00-3:00pm | Lincoln College

Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life
Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman Interviewed by Suzi Feay

Philosophy lecturers Dr Clare Mac Cumhaill and Dr Rachael Wiseman explain how four Second World War Oxford philosophy students – Iris Murdoch, Mary Midgley, Philippa Foot and Elizabeth Anscombe – developed a philosophy that responded to a dark period in history.

Mac Cumhaill and Wiseman explain how the four were taught by refugee scholars, women, and conscientious objectors, and how they devised their philosophy from fragments left by Viennese philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. They show how the four brought philosophy back to everyday life and built a way of ethical thinking out of the despair of war that is still there for us today.

Mac Cumhaill and Wiseman are philosophy lecturers at Durham University and Liverpool University respectively. They are also co-directors of www.womeninparenthesis.co.uk, a project focused on the four women that makes a case for analytic philosophy’s first all-female philosophical school. They were inspired after becoming friends with Mary Midgley in the final years of her life.

Book your ticket here.


Colloquium: Philosophy Throughout Its History, 7-8 April 2022 | University off Notre Dame

The History of Philosophy Forum is proud to present its inaugural colloquium, “Philosophy throughout Its History,” April 7-8.  We have an exciting line-up of presenters to share their expertise on conceptions of philosophy from the Presocratics to the present day: André Laks, Rachana Kamtekar, Gretchen Reydam-Schils, John Marenbon, Stephen Ogden and Therese Cory, Christopher Celenza, Steven Nadler, Paul Franks, and Kris McDaniel.  

Register at our conference page to attend in person or by Zoom.  For in-person attendees, breakfast and lunch is provided both days. 

Erik Olin Wright Prize Announcement

The annual deadline for applications for consideration for award of the Erik Olin Wright Prize is 15 April. More information can be found here.

Call for Papers: Journal of the Oxford Graduate Theological Society (JOGTS)

The Journal of the Oxford Graduate Theological Society (JOGTS) is preparing for publication of its third issue under the theme of ‘Hope and Time in Theology and Religion.’ We have recently released our second issue on the theme of ‘Theology, Religion and Crisis’ and this is available to view here: www.jogts.org   

We are a peer-reviewed journal that publishes scholarly articles in the field of theology and religion and welcome submissions from postgraduate students who specialise in biblical criticism, modern systematic theology, philosophy of religion, patristics studies, ecclesiastical history, study of religions, science and religion, anthropology and sociology of religion. 

Please find here the Call for Papers which includes detailed information about the submission requirements and process. This edition will have featured contributions from Professor Rowan Williams, Professor Celia Deane-Drummond and Dr Ryan Mullins. The deadline for submissions is 24 April 2022. Submissions can be made through the online platform, accessible here.