Digest Week 3 Trinity Term 2023

TT23, Week 3 (7th-13th 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


Philosophy of Mathematics Reading Group

The reading will be from Justin Clarke-Doane’s forthcoming paper: ‘Platonism, Nominalism and Semantic Appearances

The session will be lead by Robin Solberg.

The group will meet between 4.30-6pm in the Ryle Room.

Everyone is welcome. Reading the paper would be strongly encouraged but people are welcome even if not. 

There will be a virtual option for those who cannot attend in person. Please email daniel.rowe@philosophy.ox.ac.uk for details of how to join virtually.


Online Event: A collaboration with The Philosopher 1923

Mariana Allesandri in conversation with Kieran Setiya on her new book Night Vision: Seeing Ourselves Through Dark Woods

The event takes place on Monday 8th May at 7pm.

For more details about the event please email: oxfordpublicphilosophy@gmail.com.


'Genealogy and Essence' by Dr Alex Prescott-Couch, Associate Professor Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, Lincoln College

Hosted by Oxford Philosophy Society

6:30 PM - 7:30 PM on Monday 8 May 2023

Venue: Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities

A number of thinkers have held that genealogies can undermine essentialist claims in some manner. For instance, a genealogy of gender might show that there is no essence of gender, or a genealogy of the nation might indicate that there is no national essence. However, it is puzzling how historical information can undermine such claims. I will suggest that genealogy’s target is often not the metaphysical doctrine of essentialism but specific hypotheses about essences. In particular, I argue that paradigmatic genealogies aim to show that something has what I call a “bricolage historical essence.” Appreciating this point enables us to better understand a certain style of genealogical critique employed in social and political contexts.

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



A conversation with Professor Leonard Harris on the Ethos of Insurrectionist Ethics organised with The Oxford Philosophy Society

The event will take place in the Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building on Tuesday 9th May between 5.30-7.30pm.

For more details about the event please email: oxfordpublicphilosophy@gmail.com.


Hegel Reading Group

We shall be meeting 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 aiming to get to the end at para 412 so we will not read the Zusätze in the sessions (these can be read on your own). The reading is posted each week on hegelinoxford.wordpress.com.

Delusion and the Brain

The St Hilda's Brain and Mind Series continues this term with Delusion and the Brain.

Guest speakers will be Will Koller (Yale University School of Medicine, USA) for neuroscience, Dr. Rick Adams (University College London) for psychology and Dr. Matthew Parrott (University of Oxford) for philosophy.

Please join us on Tuesday 9th May 2023 - 5.00 until 7.15 pm in the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, St Hilda's College.

Delusion and the Brain is a free, joint, hybrid event with the Medical School Hamburg (MSH). Book Tickets by clicking here.



Oxford Maimonides Seminar

Sarah Stroumsa (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): 'A Guide – Leading Where? On the Genre and Purpose of Maimonides’s Guide for the Perplexed'

5pm, Corpus Christi College, Oxford (Rainolds Room)

In several places in his Guide of the Perplexed Maimonides delineates the profile of the perplexed for whom this book is addressed, and indicates some of the perplexities which he aims to dissolve. On the basis of these indications and of the book’s structure, scholars have attempted to categorize this book as primarily philosophic, esoteric, polemical or exegetical. Indeed, the Guide draws on different literary corpora, but it departs from all of them; and, meandering through different topics, it is exclusively dedicated to none of them. This lecture will examine the Guide on the backdrop of the contemporary intellectual and literary map, and argue that this book was primarily conceived of as a guide to reasoned thinking.

The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception. All welcome!

Online participation is also possible, email us to ask for the zoom link and for any further information: anna.marmodoro@philosophy.ox.ac.uk.


Seminar in Indian Philosophy and Religion followed by Drinks

This series of regular seminars brings together scholars and students working on Indic philosophies and religions. It focuses on topics of current research: in each session, two people will present a context they are investigating for 20min, and then open it for discussion on key questions. All researchers, graduates and finalists in all areas are welcome to join.

Dr Szilvia Szanyi: ‘Is Shap Real? A contested Category of Perception in Abhidharma Philosophy’

Shree Nahata: ‘Eat Curd, Not Camel! Dharmakīrti and Akalaṅka on anekāntavāda'

Wednesday 10th May at 4.30pm in the OCHS Library.

This presentation examines the Buddhist philosopher Dharmakīrti's (c. 600-660 CE) objections to the Jaina theory of many-sidedness (anekāntavāda) and the Jaina philosopher Akalaṅka's (c. 720-780 CE) response to these objections. Besides discussing the relevant philosophical ideas, this presentation highlights the role of misunderstanding, humour, narrative biography, and pointed moral critique in this entertaining philosophical vignette.

For further information regarding the event please email: alice.winham@lmh.ox.ac.uk



Joseph Butler Society

John Schellenberg (Mount St Vincent): 'Christian Hiddenness'

Thursday, 8:30 to 10 pm, Oriel College.

For further details please see: josephbutlersociety.weebly.com


The Oxford University Student Conference on Spinoza

Pembroke College is hosting the inaugural Oxford University Student Conference on Spinoza in association with the Oxford University Philosophy Society and the British Society for the History of Philosophy – a conference to honour and explore the myriad ways in which Spinoza has contributed to, and continues to contribute to, the history of philosophy. 

Professor Clare Carlisle (KCL) is delivering a keynote address entitled 'Why Spinoza? And why now?' and Professor Susan James (Birkbeck) will discuss 'Spinoza on Poetry and Imagination'

This will take place on Thursday of Week 3 (11th May) in the Harold Lee Room at Pembroke from 9am-5pm. 

There will be a number of student speakers from far and wide presenting papers, as well as a roundtable discussion. The conference is open to all, and registration is not required. More information about the conference can be found here. A free lunch is also included for those who fill in this form.


John Coggon (Chair in Law, University of Bristol Law School): 'When the Health of the People was the Highest Law: Have Coronavirus Restrictions Damaged the Authority of Laws for the Public’s Health?'

Respondent: Alberto Giubilini

Thursday 11 May 2023 between 3pm to 4.30pm

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Suite 1, Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbe’s Street, Oxford, OX1 1PT, (Buzzer no. 1)

Cicero’s maxim salus populi suprema lex est—the health of the people is the highest law—has long held a fascinating and influential place within law and politics, not least given its prominence within John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government. It is also a maxim, sometimes a mantra, that is frequently found within works in public health ethics; a necessarily political field of applied philosophy. The maxim itself contains various points of inherent contestability. These include questions regarding the proper, or best, meaning of ‘salus’. And they include questions regarding the basis and scope of legitimate state action; amongst others, in relation to government intervention that is not based on a positive legal power, or that involves a breach of the law. In this paper, I explore the ideas that emanate from debates on the meaning and legitimate scope of salus populi suprema lex est both against normative and practical understandings of authority. Recognising and relating the discussion to critical discourses regarding the UK government’s legal and policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic, my central concern is to look at the nature of authority of public health laws outside of emergency situations. This includes analysis of approaches to public health law scholarship and practice leading up to the time of the pandemic, as well as appraisals of how the (implied) use of law in response to coronavirus demands open appraisals of the authority claimed then and since of public health laws. The situation demands attention, as the literature well shows, to basic trust in government and fundamental legal principles, such as legality and the rule of law. But it also invites consideration of the merits (or otherwise) of sector-based legislation for questions that reach fundamentally across policies, and of the place of health against devolution arrangements. Legal scholars working in public health must face head on the challenge of addressing where basic legal principles sit within broader structures of principle and power, with open understanding of the consequences of this for the very idea and authority of law itself. 



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).