Digest Week 5 Hilary Term 2023

HT23, Week 5 (12th-18th February)

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: Constraints on reciprocal scope

Speaker: Dag Haug (University of Oslo)

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


Philosophy of Mathematics Reading Group

The reading will be from David Builes & Jessica Wilson's 'In Defense of Countabilism', Philsophical Studies 179, 2022. https://philpapers.org/rec/BUIIDO-2. Robin Solberg will be leading the discussion. 

Everyone is welcome. Reading the paper would be strongly encouraged but people are welcome even if not. All questions thoughts and contributions are invited as we work together to enrich our understanding of the work at the cutting edge of the philosophy of mathematics. No question is a stupid question.

The group will meet on Monday 13th February, 4.30-6pm in the Ryle Room


Oxford Philosophy Society Talk

Title: 'The Moral Duty to Vote'

Lecturer: Prof Cécile Fabre, Professor of Political Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, and Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College

Date: 13th February, 2023

Time: 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Venue: Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities

As of 2022, 27 democracies make it compulsory for all or most of their citizens to vote in local or national elections. In the world's two oldest liberal democracies, the United States and the United Kingdom, if we are to believe opinion polls and surveys, a majority of citizens have consistently held the view that they are under a duty to vote, even though turn-out is consistently low. In the US, the figure stands at 90%. In the UK, the independent charity National Centre Social Research, which runs regular surveys on British social attitudes, finds that every decade, support for the moral duty to vote declines; yet in a survey conducted in 2022, the public opinion data company YouGov found that 71% of (1764) respondents believed that citizens are under such a duty. By far the most common justification for the legal and moral duty to vote appeals to citizens' general duty of reciprocity, or fair-play, not to free-ride on the public good of democratic governance from which they all benefit. In this paper, I argue that citizens are under a pro tanto moral duty to vote conditioned on their not voting for flagrantly unjust and/or undemocratic outcomes. I anchor the duty in a more general duty to express support just institutions in general, and democratic institutions in particular. I also provide an account of the scope of that duty - to wit, by whom it is borne, and to whom it is owed. I frame the argument for cases in which the choices on offer to citizens include at least one reasonably just choice with some chance of winning. I end the paper with some thoughts on cases in which citizens must necessarily choose between unjust options, or in which the reasonably just outcome for whatever reason will not prevail." (This is the abstract given to the society by Prof Fabre)

The lecture is followed by our 'Pints and Pondering' session, a social gathering just across the road at the Royal Oak.



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: TBC

“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. 


Ethox Seminar

Title: Feminist-Ethical Perspectives on Digital (Health) Technologies

Speaker: Regina Müller, Institute for Philosophy, University of Bremen and Caroline Miles Visiting Scholar, Ethox Centre

Tuesday 14 February, 11:00 – 12:30

This will be a hybrid seminar in the Big Data Institute, Lower Ground Seminar Room 1. If you will join online, please register here.

Abstract: Fitness coaches, symptom checkers, sleep assistants, period trackers: the digital assistants help us in our everyday lives and promise to enhance our health and autonomy. At the same time, discrimination and sexism can often be found in the applications. Feminist apps want to change that, but how can digital developments, such as apps, be understood as feminist? What are the criteria for a feminist-ethical analysis and what would be the benefits of such a perspective?



Applied Ethics Graduate Discussion Group

Convenor:  Dr Becky Brown

Venue: Oxford Uehiro Centre, Seminar Room, Suite 1 Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbes St. OX1 1PT

Part 1: Methods in Applied Ethics: Dr Rebecca Brown on 'Commodification and Health Incentives'

Required Reading:

Sandel, Michael (1998) ‘What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets’, The Tanner Lectures on Human Values,

Part 2: Work in Progress

Student Presenting: Angelica Cocomá

Student Responding: TBC

Those joining via Zoom should login here using the following Meeting ID: 876 7288 0056 and Passcode: 676270.


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


Campion Hall Research Seminar
Institutions: Understanding and Evaluating Them

Patrick Riordan SJ (Campion Hall, Oxford): Institutional Corruption

3pm - 4.30pm, Campion Hall

Major institutions have failed society. Banks and the Financial Markets have failed us in the 2008 credit crisis. The FA, the BBC, the Churches, British Gymnastics have all failed the victims of sex abuse. The Police and the CPS have failed the victims of sexual violence and rape. The NHS and Care Services continue to fail many patients. The British Government, its regulatory and supervisory bodies, and the building industry have failed the residents of Grenfell Tower, and the residents of similar high-rise blocks, whether social housing or privately owned.

Multiple institutional failure provokes the question whether we have the intellectual resources to understand institutions, to critique them, to repair them, or to construct and operate them appropriately. The hermeneutics of suspicion (Marx, Freud) has trained us to suspect hidden agenda in the exercise of institutional power. People espouse spirituality and reject institutional religion. Voters abandon established political institutions and seek an alternative politics. What prospects are there for a different experience of institutions?

The seminar will explore available analyses of institutions, the intellectual resources for dealing with them, possible remedies, and will test their application in various domains such as the law, the economy, the Church, public administration.

For more information and to register: https://www.campion.ox.ac.uk/events/campion-hall-research-seminar-institutions-understanding-and-evaluating-them


Celebrating the launch of Next Era, a new digital project that asks 'How do you see our future?'

Date: Friday the 17th of February, 5-7pm

Venue: Jesus College Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub

This event is part of the Jesus College Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub events programme.
What will our digital and material lives look like in 2050? What should they look like? Living in a time upended by technological change, climate collapse and social conflict, our economic and political structures are increasingly struggling to find and implement effective answers. And yet this moment of radical uncertainty presents a unique opportunity to reimagine and reconstruct our societies around inclusive, optimistic and democratic values.
Next Era is a new digital publication founded and run by a team of Jesus College postgraduate students that explores alternative future images and the communities working on solutions to crucial 21st century challenges. Through an online magazine and interactive events, we strive to generate a voice of optimism in this period of societal instability - to imagine and narrate pathways towards just and equitable futures.
Join us as we launch our publication with a showcase of our project, a talk by our guest speaker, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt FRS FREng FBCS, Principal of Jesus College and Professorial Research Fellow in Computer Science, and a guided vision-boarding exercise designed to engage participants’ creativity, hope, and imagination in exploring optimistic futures.
Refreshments will be provided. The Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub is fully accessible, with a ground floor entrance and lift to the main event space. Please contact digital.hub@jesus.ox.ac.uk to discuss your requirements.

This is a free event open to the Oxford community. To reserve a place click here.