Digest Week 7 Trinity Term 2024

TT24, Week 7 (2 June - 8 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. 

Notices - other Philosophy events, including those taking place elsewhere in the university and beyond

Expand All

Senior Seminars in Indian Philosophy

When: Wednesday 5 June (Week 7), 4:30pm

Where: Library of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, 15 Magdalen Street, Oxford OX1 3AE

These seminars explore different topics in philosophy through Indian material. We will discuss two short presentations on a question, source or idea/argument in Indian Philosophy. 

Professor Monima Chadha: How we should think of Responsibility without a Self

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms: “A Slight Error”? Vedānta, Mādhyamaka, and the eternality of consciousness

In his Tattva-saṅgraha (330), the Buddhist thinker Śāntarakṣita evaluates Vedānta views, and writes that he find these ideas rather reasonable, except that they make the “slight error” in asserting that consciousness is eternal. This session will examine this claim, to see whether the difference between Vedānta and Mādhyamaka thought really is only so slight.

Eric Schwitzgebel: The Washout Argument Against Longtermism

When: Thursday 6 June 3pm – 4:30pm

Where: Seminar Room on the 1st floor at Trajan House

Abstract: We cannot be justified in believing that any actions currently available to us will have a non-negligible positive influence on the billion-plus-year future.  I offer three arguments for this thesis.  According to the Infinite Washout Argument, standard decision-theoretic calculation schemes fail if there is no temporal discounting of the consequences we are willing to consider.  Given the non-zero chance that the effects of your actions will produce infinitely many unpredictable bad and good effects, any finite effects will be washed out in expectation by those infinitudes.  According to the Cluelessness Argument, we cannot justifiably guess what actions, among those currently available to us, are relatively more or less likely to have positive effects after a billion years.  We cannot be justified, for example, in thinking that nuclear war or human extinction would be more likely to have bad than good consequences in a billion years.  According to the Negligibility Argument, even if we could justifiably guess that some particular action is likelier to have good than bad consequences in a billion years, the odds of good consequences would be negligibly tiny due to the compounding of probabilities over time.