Digest Week 6 Trinity Term 2019

TT19, Week 6 (2nd - 8th June) 

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. 

Unless otherwise stated, all events will take place in the Radcliffe Humanities Building on Woodstock Road, OX2 6GG.


Notices - Events taking place elsewhere in the university and beyond

Two-day conference | Curing Through Questioning: Philosophy as Therapy Across Ancient Traditions and Modern Applications | 1st - 2nd June | Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, Worcester College

The Conference is organized with the generous support of the Hinton Clarendon Fellowship, Worcester College; the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford; the Davis Fund Grant, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford; the Marc Sanders Foundation; Minorities and Philosophy (MAP); the Balliol College Interdisciplinary Institute; and the All Souls Academic Purpose Committee. The conference is organised by Robin Brons, Lea Cantor, Sihao Chew, Sybilla Pereira and Alesia Preite.

The conference includes speakers from worldwide universities, including Jessica Frazier and Elisabeth Huh from Oxford University. For the full programme and conference abstracts, see: https://curingthroughquestioning.weebly.com/programme.html

Further information on the conference here. The registration fee will include coffee & tea, light refreshments and lunch on both days.

Gender, Women, and Culture Seminar | 12.00 - 13.30 | Colin Matthew Room, History Faculty

Alice Billington: 'Educational leaflets concerning menstruation for adolescent girls in twentieth century Britain: Knowledge, stigma and etiquette'

Anna Dobrowlska: 'Sexual (r)evolutions in Central and Eastern Europe: the case of Poland'

All staff, early career researchers, graduate students, undergraduate students and visitors are welcome. You are welcome to bring your lunch or to join the speaker & convenors for an inexpensive meal after the seminar.


Mereology Reading Group | 17.00 - 19.00 | Meeting Room 4, Radcliffe Humanities

This reading group will focus on some recent work on mereology. Our focus will be on how the notion of parthood and other mereological principles can be extended to apply beyond the realm of material objects. The group will meet each Tuesday from 17.00 - 19.00. Please e-mail sabine.bot@philosophy.ox.ac.uk if you would like to attend. 


Roots of Responsibility ERC Project | 'Free Will in a World of Process' | 17.00 - 19.00 | UCL - Room 246, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London

Speaker: John Dupré (Exeter). 

For many years I have defended the view that, contrary to a very widely shared assumption, a radically indeterministic metaphysics does provide a way of understanding human freedom as a real and important feature of the world. I have also defended such a radically indeterministic metaphysics. However, my articulation of these views has developed in two significant respects. First, whereas I used to think of this as a solution to the free will problem within the tradition of radical voluntarism, I now prefer to present it under the rubric of indeterminist compatibilism. Second, the metaphysics in which I embed this view is now a fully processual one, and I view the human as a powerful continuant process. This metaphysical context provides a novel and satisfying home for such a view of free will.

After the lecture and Q&A session, we will have drinks and dinner with the speaker. A limited number of places is available for the dinner. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Yuuki Ohta at y.ohta@ucl.ac.uk. Full details are available on the Roots of Responsibility website. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Institute of Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study (SAS) at the University of London, which is co-hosting these events.


CANCELLED: Set Theory Reading Group | 19.00 - 21.00 | Ryle Room, Radcliffe Humanities

Our reading group welcomes anyone interested in Set Theory. We shall discuss topics such as large cardinals, forcing, and inner models. No prerequisites are required. Organised by Wojciech Woloszyn.


Oxford University Philosophy Society | 'Language with Aristotle' | 19.00 - 20.00 | Seminar Room West, Manfield College

Speaker: Simona Aimar

How do we get to utter meaningful things? We will ask this question to Aristotle. We will see  how he offers arguably the first systematic account of compositionality – an account of how words interact with one another to give us meaningful sentences. Compositionality remains a crucial assumption for current philosophers of language and linguists. But Aristotle’s overall answers to our initial question – especially in connection with quantifiers and modals – will prove to be importantly different from contemporary ones. We will then discuss together whether and why Aristotle’s account remains of philosophical interest today (does it?).


Philosophy and Literature Reading Group | 14.30-16.00 | Seminar Room B, English Faculty

Session 2:

· Goethe’s Faust, Part 2 (1832) translated by David Luke in the Oxford World Classics edition
· Pierre Hadot, ‘The Value of the Present Instant in Goethe and in Ancient Philosophy' (1985)

For PDFs of the shorter pieces, please email harry.daniels@ball.ox.ac.uk


Seminar on Boethius’ De Consolatione Philosophiae | TBC | 17.00 - 18.30 | Seminar Room, Corpus Christi College

Speaker: Peter Heather (King’s College London)

Website: http://www.power-structuralism.ox.ac.uk/weekly_seminars/invited_speakers.html


Governance of Artificial Intelligence: Seminar Series | When Speed Kills: Autonomous Weapon Systems, Deterrence, and Stability | 17.30 - 19.00 | Seminar Room A, Department of Politics and International Relations

Speaker: Michael Horowitz (Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania).

Autonomy on the battlefield represents one possible usage of narrow AI by militaries around the world. Research and development on autonomous weapon systems (AWS) by major powers, middle powers, and non-state actors makes exploring the consequences for the security environment a crucial task.

Michael will draw on classic research in security studies and examples from military history to assess how AWS could influence two outcome areas: the development and deployment of systems, including arms races, and the stability of deterrence, including strategic stability, the risk of crisis instability, and wartime escalation. He focuses on these questions through the lens of two characteristics of AWS: the potential for increased operational speed and the potential for decreased human control over battlefield choices.

The Center for the Governance of AI is part of the Future of Humanity Institute. For more information and to register, please visit the event webpage.


Oxford University Philosophy Society | ‘The Indefinability of Knowledge’ | 19.30 - 21.00 | Seminar Room East, Mansfield College

Speaker: Nilanjan Das

In his only surviving philosophical work, The Amassed Morsels of Refutation, Śrīharṣa argues that knowledge is indefinable: we cannot offer any adequate characterisation of the conditions that are necessary and sufficient for a mental state or event to be knowledge. Interestingly, he draws a sceptical conclusion from this. He argues that the indefinability of knowledge undermines any epistemological theory that takes the notion of knowledge seriously. In this presentation, Dr. Das will reconstruct Śrīharṣa’s argument.


Two-day conference | Welfare, Preferences, and Risk: Theory, Behavioural Evidence, and Policy | 6th - 7th June | London School of Economics

Organised by Matteo M Galizzi (LSE), Natalie Gold (Oxford), Glenn Harrison (CEAR, Georgia State University) and Don Ross (University College Cork, University of Cape Town, and CEAR).

Please see all details and the schedule here. Interested attendees should email Natalie Gold (natalie.gold@philosophy.ox.ac.uk) as soon as possible. 


UCL Philosophy Leverhulme Lectures | Truthmakers for What We Say, Lecture 3 | 16.00 - 18.00 | University College London

Speaker: Angelika Kratzer (Visiting Leverhulme Professor at UCL Philosophy and Professor of Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst).

This is a set of three lectures. All are welcome. The slides of each lecture will be uploaded here few hours before the lecture.

Any semantic theory worth its money needs to connect (1) to (4): 

(1) A tile from my neighbour’s roof hit my car.
(2) That tile’s hitting my car made a big dent.  
(3) I heard a tile from my neighbour’s roof hit my car. 
(4) Every time a tile from my neighbour’s roof hits my car, her insurance pays me £100. 

Here is one way of making the connection. My saying (1) picks out a set of possible situations, parts of a world, that is. Among those are situations that are small enough to contain nothing that does not contribute to the truth of (1). Those situations may cause dents, may be heard, and may be quantified over. They are truthmakers for (1). The lectures will make a case that it pays to connect (1) to (4) in this way. It may help with understanding counterfactual reasoning, knowledge ascriptions, and the semantics of tense and modality. It may help with explaining mistakes we make with conditionals and quantifiers, and it may help with explaining our preference for exhaustive interpretations.  


Appeals to Nature Seminar | 'Rewilding: Good for Whom?' | 17.00 | Hovenden Room, All Souls College

Speaker: Emily Brady (Texas A&M University). All are welcome. 


InParenthesis Reading Group | 20.00 - 21.30 | Ryle Room, Radcliffe Humanities 

Women in Parenthesis (www.womeninparenthesis.co.uk) is a research collaboration between Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman. The project is dedicated to the study of the lives and friendships of four women philosophers: Iris Murdoch, Phillipa Foot, Elizabeth Anscombe, and Mary Midgley. For questions, please contact sasha.lawson-frost@philosophy.ox.ac.uk 

Two-day conference | Welfare, Preferences, and Risk: Theory, Behavioural Evidence, and Policy | 6th - 7th June | London School of Economics

Organised by Matteo M Galizzi (LSE), Natalie Gold (Oxford), Glenn Harrison (CEAR, Georgia State University) and Don Ross (University College Cork, University of Cape Town, and CEAR).

Please see all details and the schedule here. Interested attendees should email Natalie Gold (natalie.gold@philosophy.ox.ac.uk) as soon as possible. 


The Meaning of Life Reading Group | 11.30 | St Peter’s College  

Organised by Tim Mawson. This small reading group/seminar will be arranged during weeks 1-8 on (mainly recent) contributions to the literature on ‘the meaning of life’, broadly construed, as given by philosophers, theologians, scientists, psychologists and others. Readings will be circulated in advance each week. The seminar is aimed at graduate students and faculty members; anyone wishing to attend should email tim.mawson@philosophy.ox.ac.uk to be included on the circulation list for further information. Suggestions for suitable readings are most welcome.

One-day conference - Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics | Paradigm Shifts Across the Ages | 10.30 - 17.00 | St Cross College and the Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Department of Physics

The history of physics can be viewed as consisting of major paradigm shifts followed by decades and even centuries working through the consequences of the dominating paradigm. As examples, the Copernican revolution overtook the millennium-old Ptolemaic system of astronomy, and likewise Newton's mechanics replaced the ancient Aristotelian system. More recently, the advent of special relativity and quantum mechanics superseded the classical ideas of time, space and matter. This conference will examine how physics has developed from antiquity to the present day through Kuhn's concept of paradigm shifts.

Registration and attendance at the conference are free.

Details of the conference are at https://www.stx.ox.ac.uk/event/paradigm-shifts-across-the-ages-one-day-conference.