Digest Week 2 Hilary Term 2023

HT23, Week 2 (22nd-28th January)

If you have entries for the weekly 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


General Linguistics Seminar

Hosted by Víctor Acedo-Matellán and Daniel Altshuler

Title: Towards an analysis of the acquaintance inference for predicates of personal taste

Speaker: Hazel Pearson (Queen Mary University of London)

The seminar will take place at 5:15pm in Room 2 of the Taylorian Institute


Polaris Koi: 'Nudges alter decision sets'

Date: Monday 23 January 2023, 1.30 – 2.30pm

Venue: Oxford Uehiro Centre, Suite 1 Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbe’s Street, Oxford OX1 1PT (buzzer 1)

Abstract: Nudges and other behavioural policy instruments are attractive because, according to the received view, they direct agents to make better choices without altering the set of options agents choose from. This is false. One of the mechanisms underlying successful nudges simply is that nudges in fact alter agents’ decision sets. Some nudges influence overt decision sets; however, the more pervasive effect nudges have on decision-making is their effect on agents' subjective decision sets. In rich environments, agents generate their subjective decision sets based on a range of attentional heuristics. Nudges influence which overt options are included in the subjective decision set, thereby modulating the set of options among which the agent in fact chooses. A psychologically realistic account of nudging must concede that nudges alter the set of options agents choose from. This requires that central arguments in favour of nudges be revised.

Speaker: Dr Polaris Koi is a philosopher working at the intersection of ethics, philosophy of action, and the philosophy of behavioral and brain sciences. Their main interest is in self-control, agency, and responsibility; further interests include foundational issues in the biological mind sciences, philosophy of disability and psychopathology, and the application of emerging technologies in healthcare. Since February 2021, Polaris has worked as Senior Researcher in the multidisciplinary Academy of Finland Nudging for Climate research project, where their attention is on the conceptual and ethical aspects of nudge theory and the development of nudge interventions.

Booking: not required (Zoom link available on request – email rachel.gaminiratne@philosophy.ox.ac.uk).



Hegel Reading Group

We shall be meeting on Tuesdays 6-7.30 pm on Skype; please email louise.braddock@philosophy.ox.ac.uk for the Skype link.

This term and the next we are reading Hegel’s Anthropology, in the ‘Philosophy of Mind’ (translation is by Wallace and Miller) but we will work from the Michael Inwood revision (OUP 2007). We are starting (in 1st Week) from para 377, eventually getting to the end at para 412 (we will not read the Zuzatse in the sessions).

The reading is posted each week on hegelinoxford.wordpress.com


Gadfly Reading Group

focusing on the writings of Plato

Meet on Tuesdays during term time, 7:30pm at St John’s College

Reading for the first two weeks: Hippias Major

“I am the gadfly of the Athenian people” - Socrates, in Plato’s Apology 

The Gadfly Club was founded because we believe that dialogue is the principal and most effective method of understanding ourselves and the world around us. We thus read Plato’s dialogue not just as a model of dialogue, nor only for his philosophical insights; we use his dialogues as a springboard to discuss the real and living problems they present. This is why, after an hour or more of live-reading, we head to the only place friends and philosophers must go – the pub!

We encourage all – especially those who don’t consider themselves ‘students of philosophy’ – to come and join us, hoping to remain true to the main desire of the OSM – that of stimulating inter-disciplinary engagement. 


Childhood vaccine mandates: are they tackling the right problem?
Associate Professor Katie Attwell

Visiting Researcher, Vaccines and Society Unit, University of Oxford  

Undervaccination results from both deliberate vaccine refusal and access or logistical problems. These barriers are commonly thought to affect very different social groups. However, popular and political discourse emphasises the vaccine refusing parent as the policy target of new vaccine mandates. Discourses around the need for strict mandatory policies may or may not acknowledge disadvantaged populations facing access problems, and the policies themselves may or may not differentiate between underserved populations and those who deliberately refuse vaccines.
This talk explores how these two distinct categories of under-vaccinated populations are treated within vaccine mandates in Australia, Italy, France, and California, and why it matters.

Tuesday 24 January, 12.15pm - 1.15pm


Full information and register to attend in-person: https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/events/childhood-vaccine-mandates/

Register to watch online: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/childhood-vaccine-mandates



Rachel Auerbach, cultural genocide and a new conception of victims' testimonies

Thursday 26 January, 17:30–19:30, Blavatnik School of Government and online

In this lecture, Professor Leora Bilsky (Tel Aviv University) returns to the forgotten contribution of Rachel Auerbach (1903-1976), a Jewish-Polish writer, historian, and Holocaust survivor, and explores her important contribution to the Eichmann Trial (1961), where she helped shape a new conception of a victim-centered atrocity trial in the wake of World War II. As a former participant in the clandestine ‘Oyneg Shabbes’ archive in the Warsaw Ghetto, Auerbach promoted a novel understanding of the centrality of the crime of Cultural Genocide and of victims’ testimonies as a counter-measure to such crimes. Auerbach’s vision for the trial, as Professor Bilsky shall present in this lecture, has largely been forgotten from collective memory of the Eichmann trial, and the annals of international law. Professor Bilsky argues that in many aspects Auerbach was ahead of her times, and can be understood as an early precursor of later developments in both international criminal law and, more broadly, in the field of transitional justice. The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion and drinks reception.

The Alfred Landecker Memorial Lecture, held each year to mark United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day, is delivered in partnership with the Alfred Landecker Foundation. The lecture is an integral part of the Alfred Landecker Programme at the Blavatnik School of Government, which investigates the rights and interests of minorities and vulnerable groups, exploring, in particular, the values and institutions that underpin democratic society.


Lawrence Lengbeyer (United States Naval Academy; OUC Academic Visitor): 'Shallow Cognizing for Self-Control over Emotion & Desire'

Date: Thursday 26 January, 5.30 – 7.00 pm

In-person registration: The seminar will be held in the St Cross Room, St Cross College (61 St Giles’, Oxford). Registration required – register here https://bookwhen.com/uehiro/e/ev-ssyc-20230126173000 

– OR –

Zoom registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN__4ioEzpUTfihjdKW6iz91w

Abstract: Shallow cognizing is a familiar but overlooked practice of self-control, typically initiated without conscious intention, that enables us to short-circuit potential upwellings of emotion and desire in ourselves.  We will consider the range of contexts in which the practice is manifest, speculate about its roots in the compartmentalized structure of our cognitive systems, ponder its benefits and costs (its uses and misuses), and contemplate its relation to virtue.  We will then continue in this exploratory vein by asking whether taking account of this neglected phenomenon might improve our understanding of issues in practical ethics, such as duties of doctors to obtain informed consent from patients, and how to balance free expression with proper care for others' sensibilities, in the classroom and perhaps elsewhere.



Jaeggi Reading Group

Text: Rahel Jaeggi, Alienation, trans Neuhouser/Smith (Columbia UP, 2014). German editions 2005/2016: Entfremdung.

The English text is available electronically via SOLO.

Friday 1.30-3.00pm HT 2023 Weeks 1 to 8

Venue: Worcester College, Le May Seminar Room


Oxford Public Philosophy Launch

Oxford public philosophy invites you to the launch of its turn 3, opp’s (oxfordpublicphilosophy.com) third annual public philosophy online journal. This launch, co-hosted with Oxford Philosophy Society, marks opp's first in-person launch and its first mini zine version, based on the themes: East Asian philosophies, curating lines, creating spaces and orientation: how to turn.

The launch will be on 27th January 2023, 5:30-7:30pm in the Eccles Room at Pembroke College, Oxford. The evening will feature poetry, live philosophy music, film, panel discussion, mingling, and drinks with refreshments for multi-modal philosophy magic.

At our event, we would like to highlight this year’s exciting launch of ONAP. The Oxford Network for Ancient Philosophy fosters a global approach to ancient philosophy in line with opp’s mission to transform our philosophical understandings through curating resources for engaging with more global philosophies. 

If you cannot attend in-person, we welcome you to tune in for the OPS livestream. Both formats will allow you to ask questions and receive access to the released journal. Please RSVP on Eventbrite & Facebook to help us with catering.