Digest Week 7 Michaelmas Term 2023

MT23, Week 7 (19th-25th November)

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

'How priming research can inform formal semantics and pragmatics'

Speaker: Richard Breheny (University College London)

Hosted by Víctor Acedo-Matellán and Daniel Altshuler

Date/Time: Monday 20 November at 4.15pm

Venue: Room 2, Taylorian Institute


New Work in Early Modern Philosophy and Science

A symposium on Experimental philosophy and the origins of empiricism (Cambridge University Press, 2023) by Peter Anstey and Alberto Vanzo and Kant and the naturalistic turn of 18th Century philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2022) by Catherine Wilson.


Professor Peter Anstey (University of Sydney / Christ Church)

Professor Catherine Wilson (emeritus, University of York)

Dr Kirsten Walsh (University of Exeter)

Dr Mogens Lærke (CNRS / ENS de Lyon / Maison Française d'Oxford)

Dr Clara Carus (University of Oxford)

Dr John Callanan (King's College, London)

Ms Ingrid Schreiber (University of Oxford)

Date/Time: Monday 20 November 2023 between 2 - 6pm

Location: John Roberts Room (Fitzjames I), Merton College

The session on Anstey and Vanzo's book will take place from 2 to 4pm, the session on Wilson's book from 4 to 6pm. Each session will consist of a précis by the author, commentaries, a response, and Q&A. You are welcome to attend either or both sessions.

Anstey and Vanzo’s Experimental philosophy and the origins of empiricism is a history of experimental philosophy, one of the most important developments in early modern European intellectual history. The fruit of a research programme pursued over many years, the book follows the experimental philosophy movement (in England, Scotland, France, Germany and beyond) from its early history in the early Royal Society in the seventeenth century, through its heyday, to its eclipse in historiography in the age of Kant and considers moral as well as natural philosophy. Challenging the received rationalism–empiricism distinction, the book aims to provide a new framework for understanding early modern philosophy and science.

Wilson’s Kant and the naturalistic turn of 18th Century philosophy applies a contextualist method to Kant's philosophy, more commonly studied as a self-contained system or in relation to a few earlier rationalist and empiricist philosophers. Ranging widely in Enlightenment psychology, anthropology, biology, natural history and cosmology, Wilson’s account aims to show how many of the major themes of Kant’s theoretical and practical philosophy are motivated by disquiet about trends towards naturalism and pessimistic hedonism in 18th-century thought. Topics include Kant’s transcendental idealism and his views on matter and mind, life, freedom, moral motivation, human nature and diversity, and war and human extinction.



The Idea of an A Priori Law 

Speaker: Ralph Walker, Magdalen College, Oxford

Date/Time: Tuesday 21 November between 4:00pm-5:30pm

Venue: Pusey House Chapel, St. Giles, Oxford

Kant believes in a moral law that is not given by God, or by anything else we are familiar with: it is something in its own right. It is not without parallels. The truths of logic and arithmetic also seem to have a similar status, as do all the truths we commonly call a priori. These things cannot simply be human habits of thought. In the case of morals, of course, it is often held that they have their source in the will of God, though Aquinas – aware of the Euthyphro Dilemma – is clear that they have their source in the nature of God, not His will. It is not at all clear what that really means, but it presents an idea worth exploring. This talk  develops this strange but familiar concept of an a priori law.

Ralph Walker is Emeritus Fellow in Philosophy at Magdalen College Oxford. An expert on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, he was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, before becoming a fellow of Merton College in 1968. He moved to Magdalen in 1972 and has worked there ever since. Apart from focusing on Kant, he has also published widely on epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion, including a book on the coherence theory of truth. His books have been translated into numerous languages.

A seminar presented by the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, the Humane Philosophy Project, and the Centre for Theology, Law, and Culture

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

This event is organised by the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion in collaboration with the Humane Philosophy Project and the Centre for Theology, Law, and Culture, with sponsorship from the John Templeton Foundation and the University of Warsaw.


Mini Conference

Varieties of Self: A multidisciplinary workshop

Date/Time: Tuesday 21 November between 9am-1pm

Venue: Classroom 2 at the Saïd Business School on Park End Street

The mini-conference will be an informal event at which the following people will give brief presentations, many of them of work-in-progress. The titles below are most likely the right ones, but the speakers are at liberty to change them.

0900-0930: Michael Gill (SBS): “(Re)Conceptualizing the Self: A Phenomenological Framework of Identity Regulation within Organizations”

0930-1000: Nina Strohminger (Wharton School): "There is no experimental evidence about the self"

1000-1030: Sally Maitlis (SBS): “Managing boundaries of the self: A study of leaders with depression and anxiety”

1030-1100: Jacob Mortimer (Philosophy): “Thinking about others without a self: a Buddhist response to the conceptual problem of other minds”

1100-1130: Coffee

1130-1200: Alan Morrison (SBS): “Corporate purpose and the business ethics of ambiguity”

1200-1230: Samuel Mortimer (SBS): “Mopping the floors or putting a man on the moon? Self-narrative and the scope of moral responsibility in organizations”

1230-1300: Asia Sakchatchawan (Philosophy): “A dramaturgical account of authenticity in the workplace”

If you would like to come, please email Hannah Morgan so that we can ensure that the room is big enough and that there is enough lunch to go around.

This event forms part of the larger set of seminar series and events that are organised and convened by the Centre for Corporate Reputation.  



Hegel Reading Group

We shall be meeting Wednesdays 6-7.30 pm on Skype; please email louise.braddock@philosophy.ox.ac.uk or susanne.herrmann-sinai@philosophy.ox.ac.uk for the Skype link. This term we are reading texts by other authors discussing passages and problems of 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). Texts are shared via dropbox link and to be read in advance. Updates are posted on hegelinoxford.wordpress.com.


Panel Discussion

Lived experiences in mental health: a dialogue across disciplines  

Date: Wednesday 22 November between 4:30-5:45

Venue: Stanford University Centre in Oxford, 65 High St, Oxford


Professor  Edward Harcourt (Professor of Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford, Fellow by Special Election, Keble College, Oxford; PPIEP Academic Lead, NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, Academic Director, Royal Institute of Philosophy)

‘‘What is expertise by experience?’ 

It has become standard in the UK to require the involvement of people with lived experience in a variety of health-related projects, including in mental health research. It has also become standard to refer to people with lived experience as ‘experts by experience’. But in what ways, if any, does having a health condition confer an epistemic advantage? The paper addresses this question.

Dr. Francesca Brencio (Associate Researcher at the Research Group: Filosofía Aplicada: Sujeto, Sufrimiento, Sociedad, University of Seville, and The Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice, S. Catherine College, University of Oxford; Director of the PhenoLab)

"Building bridges. From philosophical foundations and clinical categories to people's stories and lived experiences"

The overarching aim of this talk is to highlight the need of a dialogue across disciplines on Mental Health, in which different traditions of thought and lived experiences of mental health users are harbingers of ideas, models and theories for practices of care. 

Dr Roxana Baiasu (Assistant Professor, Institute for Mental Health, the University of Birmingham)

“A contextual approach to lived experience”

This paper uses a critical phenomenological approach to inquire into the situatedness of lived experience as shaped intersectionally by various factors, including gender, race, economic and social status, and correlated power relations.

The event is organised with the support of Stanford University in Oxford and the Oxford Forum

(Conveners: Dr Roxana Baiasu and Professor Stephen Mulhall).

For more information contact theforumatoxford@gmail.com



The Geometrical Architecture of Reality

Speaker: Professor James Read,  Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford  

Time/Date: Thursday 23 November between 17:30-18:30pm

Venue: 'Sir Michael Dummett Lecture Theatre', Christ church College

Cost: Free for all

Abstract: According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, space and time are 'curved', and gravitational effects are a manifestation of that curvature. But it's become increasingly well-known that general relativity is not the only game in town---there are other theories which (a) make the same predictions as general relativity, but (b) do not deploy the notion of spacetime curvature. I'll present such theories and explore some of the conceptual and philosophical significance of their existence.