Digest Week 5 Hilary Term 2024

HT24, Week 5 (11th-17th 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


Oxford University Philosophy Society Event

Hybrid Q&A with Professor Sally Haslanger

Date/Time: Monday 12 February between 6:30-7:30pm

Join OPS for a hybrid Q&A with Professor Sally Haslanger on gender, social construction, and structural constraints in social systems. This discussion will focus on two of Professor Haslanger’s articles, ‘The Sex/Gender Distinction and the Social Construction of Reality’, and ‘Agency Under Structural Constraints in Social Systems’ (the latter piece is a chapter in Brown and McKeown’s 2024 collection, ‘What is Structural Injustice?’).

Professor Sally Haslanger is Ford Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an affiliate in the MIT Women's and Gender Studies Program. Her work has spanned a range of philosophical interests, from analytic metaphysics and epistemology, to social and political philosophy, feminist theory and critical race theory.

For this hybrid Q&A, Professor Haslanger will be attending remotely via Zoom. For the first half hour, the PhilSoc Co-President will ask Professor Haslanger a few questions that get at the core ideas and insights of these two articles. The remaining half hour will be dedicated to audience questions.

Venue: Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities

This event is free for members and £3 for non-members, or non-members can purchase a membership in advance here.



Oxford Jurisprudence Discussion Group

'The Point of Exclusionary Reasons'

Speaker: Dr Ulrike Heuer (UCL)

Dr Ulrike Heuer, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University College, London, presents the fifth paper of Hilary Term 2024: "The Point of Exclusionary Reasons".

Date/Time: Thursday 15 February 5-7pm

Having an obligation to do something is different from having an ordinary reason to act. When a person is under an obligation, she is required to act accordingly, and perhaps also constrained in pursuing other goals. But what explains the normative difference an obligation makes? There are obligations of very different stripes, and with different historical backgrounds: voluntary obligations (e.g. promissory obligations); obligations that arise from relationships such as being someone’s friend, lover or relative; obligations that are part and parcel of being a member of a social group; role obligations, such as professional obligations, and obligations we have to everyone, strangers and close relations alike, such as obligations to respect their rights. Is there anything shared between the members of this motley crew?

I want to explore the possibility of explaining obligations as ‘protected reasons’, i.e. as combinations of first- and second-order reasons. According to this suggestion, a protected reason to φ is a first-order reason to φ, combined with an exclusionary reason not to be guided by some reasons, R1-Rn, which are excluded from guiding the agent. Does that suggestion help with understanding the special normative role of obligations? It raises many questions of its own which I will explain and try to answer. 

Venue: Arthur Goodhart Seminar Room, University College. The Room is located in Logic Lane and can be accessed from High St. or Merton St. without having to go through the main entrance to University College.

Pre-reading is desirable and strongly suggested, but not a requirement to attend.

If you want to receive the papers we discuss in our seminars join our mailing list by sending a blank email at jurisprudence-discussion-group-subscribe[at]maillist.ox.ac.uk.

This event is open to anyone. No registration needed.



Practical Ethics and Law Lectures

'The rule of law after the Anthropocene'

Speaker: Professor Vincent Chiao (University of Toronto)

Date/Time: Friday 16 February 15:00 – 16:30

The value of governing human conduct by law depends upon very general facts about what people are like. Those facts include that people have limited abilities to retain and process information; are prone to bias, favoritism, and arbitrariness; and find it difficult to spontaneously coordinate behavior at scale. Ordering human behavior around rules helps us work around these limitations. Agents who do not share those limitations have less reason to value the rule of law. Advanced AI systems do not share the same epistemic and practical limitations as humans. Such systems may allow us to overcome our limitations without reliance on general rules. As a social technology, the rule of law’s value may diminish as other technologies arise to fulfill its principal functions.

Respondent: Dr Leah Trueblood (Faculty of Law, University of Oxford)

Venue: The lecture will take place in Suite 1, Oxford Uehiro Centre, Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbe’s Street, Oxford OX1 1PT (buzzer 1).

Booking not required and attendance is open to all members of the University and wider academic community.