Digest Week 2 Trinity Term 2023

TT23, Week 2 (30th April - 6th May)

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 Trinity Term 2023

Kelsey Sasaki (University of Oxford): 'Linking Discourse and Clause-Internal Coherence'

Hosted by Víctor Acedo-Matellán and Daniel Altshuler

5:15 pm in Room 2 of the Taylorian Institute


Self-Knowledge and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification

Professor Bill Child, Professor of Philosophy, Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, University College

Hosted by Oxford Philosophy Society

6:30 PM - 7:30 PM on 1st May, 2023

Venue: Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities

A person’s first-person judgements about her own, current mental states are in various ways privileged or authoritative.  Discussion of that point standardly focuses on the predicative component of our first-person judgements: I am normally right about what I am feeling, what I believe, what I want etc..  But a special authority also attaches to the referential component of those judgements: when I judge that I have toothache, I can’t be wrong about who it is who has toothache.  Such judgements are, in the philosophical jargon, immune to error through misidentification. 

Ludwig Wittgenstein is generally taken to have been the first to draw attention to the phenomenon of immunity to error through misidentification – in a passage in the Blue Book that distinguishes ‘two different cases in the use of the word “I” (or “my”)’: ‘the use as object’ and ‘the use as subject’. 

And the phenomenon that Wittgenstein is credited with identifying is widely held to be a crucial feature of self-consciousness. 

But what exactly is immunity to error through misidentification?  What explains it?  Is it actually central to our use of ‘I’?  And does it really have anything to do with Wittgenstein?

Don't forget to come to our post-lecture social, 'Pints and Pondering,' over at the Royal Oak!


Philosophy of Physics Seminar: 'A new spontaneous collapse model for quantum field theory'

Professor David Snoke (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh) will speak on May 2nd, 1pm in the Seminar Room, 3rd floor in the Radcliffe Humanities building.

Spontaneous collapse models for quantum mechanics have the appeal that they do not involve the conceptual gymnastics of many parallel universes, knowledge-based collapse, pilot waves, and so on, but they are widely perceived to either not work (violate experimental results), or to be "ugly." In this talk I present a new model that is explicitly compatible with quantum field theory, reproduces the results of weak measurement theory and quantum trajectories, and just involves a fairly simple change to the Schrödinger equation. I will compare and contrast it to some earlier spontaneous collapse models, and discuss briefly how this type of non-unitary theory compares with a strictly unitary many-worlds approach.

D.W. Snoke, “A model of spontaneous collapse with energy conservation,” Foundations of Physics 51, 100 (2021).
D.W. Snoke, “Mathematical formalism for nonlocal spontaneous collapse in quantum field theory,” Foundations of Physics 53, 34 (2023).

Convenor: Harvey Brown


Derek Parfit: One Man's Mission to Save Morality

David Edmonds -- philosopher, presenter of the Philosophy Bites podcast, and author of a new biography of Derek Parfit -- will speak to students about Parfit's life and work.

Tuesday 2nd May, 18:00, Lecture Room 23, Balliol College.

The event is open to all Oxford students, and tickets are free, but sign-up required via this link.


The First Joseph Raz Memorial Lecture

Professor Yossi Nehushtan: 'The Meaning and Importance of Autonomy in a World in Which We Have no Free Will'

Professor Nehushtan, a former student of Joseph Raz, holds degrees from Striks Law School (LLB), the Hebrew University (LLM) and Oxford University (BCL, MPhil, DPhil). He is currently a Professor of Law and Philosophy at Keele University. In Keele, Yossi is the General Editor of the Keele Law Review, and Co-Director of the MA in Human Rights. Yossi’s areas of research are legal theory, political theory, public law, human rights law, and law and religion. Yossi was Visiting Research Fellow at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Oxford University (2022); and held the HLA Hart Visiting Research Fellowship at the Oxford Centre for Ethics and Philosophy of Law (CEPL), University College, Oxford (2013). Yossi had the privilege of having Joseph Raz as his supervisor for his BCL dissertation, MPhil, and DPhil at Oxford.

Tuesday 2 May, 8pm, at the Slager Jewish student centre, 61 George St, Oxford, OX1 2BQ

Buffet reception 7pm. RSVP for buffet reception: info@oxfordchabad.org

All are welcome!


Birth: Perspectives in Feminist Philosophy

Intersectional Humanities Programme

Tuesday 2 May 2023, 2pm -4pm

Online and In-person, Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG, U.K.

Stella Villarmea and Sara Cohen Shabot, will be presenting papers, followed by discussion moderated by Katherine Morris.

The Intersectional Humanities Programme has a close affinity with the community of the interdisciplinary MSt in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, which has a 25-year history (until 2021 as Women’s Studies) of intersectional critical engagement in which theory and practice have cross-fertilised.  The interplay of activism within and outside the academy speaks to the politics of naming – conspicuously to that of ‘woman’ - and to the understanding of all terminological descriptors in their most capacious sense.


Prof. Stella Villarmea, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Complutense University of Madrid

Prof. Sara Cohen Shabot, The Women's and Gender Studies Graduate Program, University of Haifa

Dr Katherine Morris, Supernumerary Fellow in Philosophy, Harrassment Officer, Mansfield College, University of Oxford

All welcome. Register here to watch online. 

For more information email intersectionalhumanities@torch.ox.ac.uk.



Film Night with Oxford Philosophy Society

Film: TBD (Follow our socials to keep updated!)

8pm on 3rd May, 2023

Venue: O'Reilly Theatre, Keble College (society executives will be at Keble's Porters' Lodge ten to fifteen minutes to the start of the event)


Joshua R. Farris (University of Bochum): 'Personal Identity and the Creation of Self'

Wednesday, 3 May, 5:00pm-6:30pm

Faculty of Theology & Religion, Gibson Building, Radcliffe Humanities, Oxford

A seminar presented by the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion and the Humane Philosophy Project

The fact that you cannot be generalized means that your personal identity is not fully captured by the common analytic options from: the body view, the brain view, or the memory continuity view. The answer is found in what analytic philosophers call the simple (or soul) view of personal identity. But, assuming the simple/soul view of personal identity demands that it is the particular rather than the body, the properties, or the generables of human existence that make you you. This means that you are an irreducible subject of consciousness. By exploring different notions of the soul view and irreducible subjectivity, Dr. Farris will argue that you are something of a primitive thisness, which likely yields the view that you are a created being (hence creationist-dualism in the Plato-Augustine-Descartes tradition). This gives a taste of Dr. Farris's work, The Creation of Self: A Case for the Soul (forthcoming July 1, 2023).

JOSHUA R. FARRIS is Humboldt Experienced Researcher Fellow and Visiting Researcher at the University of Bochum. He is also Visiting Professor at Missional University and London School of Theology. Previously, he was the Chester and Margaret Paluch Professor at Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake and The Creation Project, and Fellow at Heythrop College. He has taught at several universities in philosophy, theology, and Great Books. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles in a variety of journals in philosophy, philosophy of religion, analytic theology, systematic theology, historical theology, and interdisciplinary studies. He is also published in The Imaginative Conservative, The Christian Post, The American Mind, Mere Orthodoxy, and Essentia Foundation among others. He has recently completed a new monograph entitled The Creation of Self.

This talk is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.



Title: Not for me: On the external function of guilt

Speaker: Professor Shaun Nichols (Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell University)

Date: Thursday, 4 May 2023, 17:30 – 19:00

The New St Cross Special Ethics Seminars are jointly organised by the Oxford Uehiro Centre and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities

Abstract: The standard way of thinking about emotions in cognitive science starts with their function. The function of the fear program, for instance, is to help the individual evade imminent dangers. This functionalist proposal illuminates the character of the fear program, e.g., the kinds of things that elicit fear, and the kinds of responses that fear produces. The functionalist approach has been extremely productive, but it faces a puzzle with the emotion of guilt, for it’s unclear what function the guilt program serves for the individual. As Deem & Ramsey put it: “It seems that it is good for you that others are guilt-prone…, it is less clear that being guilt-prone is good for the individuals themselves” (2016, 571). Extant functionalist attempts to solve this puzzle (e.g., Frank 1988) have important shortcomings. To resolve the puzzle, we argue that the functional approach has been overly restrictive. Some cognitive systems need to be understood in terms of the functions those systems serve, not for the individual himself, but for others. That is, some cognitive systems have functions that are external to the individual. Just as the function of an artifact needs to be understood in terms of the interests of the artisan, so too the function of some cognitive systems needs to be understood in terms of the interests of those (e.g., parents, partners, or teachers) who crafted or shaped the cognitive system. This provides an alternative way of thinking about the function of the guilt program. On the external approach, we need to consider the function of guilt from the perspective of those who installed or edited the guilt program in the individual. From that perspective, it’s plausible that a primary function of the guilt program is precisely to protect the individual(s) who stand to be harmed by the agent’s action.

Venue: IAN SKIPPER ROOM, St Cross College (61 St Giles’, Oxford)

IN-PERSON registration: Register to attend in person here https://bookwhen.com/uehiro/e/ev-sj88-20230504173000 

– OR –

ONLINE Zoom registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_JOu7UnPYQeuBsNx617M2hQ


Reading Group with Oxford Philosophy Society

Reading: 'Modern Moral Philosophy' by Elizabeth Anscombe (available on JSTOR)

7-8pm on 4th May, 2023

Venue: Stafford Crane Room, Keble College (society executives will be at Keble's Porters' Lodge ten to fifteen minutes to the start of the event)


Oxford Work in Progress Political Theory Seminar

Kendall Gardner: 'Unstable Geography: Challenging Liberal Theories of Land in the Age of Anthropocene' Comments by Sam Holcroft

Jasper Friedrich: 'The Bellwether of Oppression: On the Political Value of Anger' Comments by Theo Hickfang

The seminar will take place on Thursday, 4-6pm in the Butler Room at Nuffield College.

This is a hybrid session. If you cannot participate in person, please let us know (theo.hickfang@wolfson.ox.ac.uk) and we will ensure you can join online.


Out of the Question, Community: A Reading Seminar on Maurice Blanchot

At once everywhere and nowhere, the question of community insists today more than ever. Drawing out Blanchot's perspective will be our goal.

How to pose the question of community today? That is: how to pose it in a world globalized yet characterized by a tendency to increase the protection of borders? How to pose it on a continent whose union some of its members have recently “exited”, and whose territory was, for the first time since WWII, recently invaded and has been a battleground ever since? How to pose the question of community in a cultural context that (finally) deems diversity and inclusion of vital importance but struggles to realize “inclusive” communities?

Impossible and necessary, community then seems to be everywhere and nowhere to be found. But was community ever anywhere to be found? Or does something within its very idea defy the possibility of a locus?

In this reading seminar, we will make a joint attempt at evaluating if and how Maurice Blanchot’s pathbreaking The Unavowable Community can help us pose the question of community today. The text, published in 1983 and consisting of the essays “The Negative Community” and “The Community of Lovers”, formed a direct response to a text on the same topic by Jean-Luc Nancy, itself a reading of Blanchot’s work, and theorizes community as exposure to loss. As the backflap of the English translation has it, The Unavowable Community “is an inquiry into the nature and possibility of community, asking whether there can be a community of individuals that is truly ‘communal.’ The problem, for Blanchot, is that the very terms of an ideal community make an ‘avowal’ of membership in it a violation of the terms themselves.”

Rhythmed by the progression of The Unavowable Community, of which we will close-read small portions each session, as well as context-providing readings and filmic excursions, we hope to come to an understanding of community as exposure to loss. Along the way, we will, too, problematize the idea’s articulation in the work’s structure: how to posit a loss without betraying it? If community is exposure to loss, how, indeed, are we to come together and read it? Picking up yet another of Blanchot’s gloves, we will continue some of the discussions on the self-loss of the One in relation to the Other initiated during last term’s Autofiction & Blanchot reading group. If my relation to the Other can only emerge as a relation without relation, would our community not be a matter of holding the hands that never hold?

The event takes place on Thursday 4 May 2023 between 4:30 and 6:30pm at Worcester College

To register please click here.



The Critical Theory Reading Group

This term we will be reading Capitalism: A conversation in critical theory, by Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi Cambridge.

Meetings will be 1.30–3.00pm on Fridays in the Le May Room, Worcester College.

For more details, please email either Rachel Fraser (Philosophy) or Ben Morgan (German).