Digest Week 8 Trinity Term 2019

TT19, Week 8 (16th - 22nd 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

Governance of Artificial Intelligence: Seminar Series | Securing a World of Physically Capable Computers | 17.30 - 19.00 | Lecture Theatre B, Wolfson Building, Department of Computer Science

Speaker: Bruce Schneier, renowned computer security and cryptography expert.

Computer security is no longer about data; it’s about life and property. This change makes an enormous difference, and will inevitably disrupt technology industries. Firstly – data authentication and integrity will become more important than confidentiality. Secondly – our largely regulation-free Internet will become a thing of the past. Soon we will no longer have a choice between government regulation and no government regulation. Our choice is between smart government regulation and stupid government regulation.

Given this future, Bruce Schneier makes a case for why it is vital that we look back at what we’ve learned from past attempts to secure these systems, and forward at what technologies, laws, regulations, economic incentives, and social norms we need to secure them in the future. Bruce will also discuss how AI could be used to benefit cybersecurity, and how government regulation in the cybersecurity realm could suggest ways forward for government regulation for AI.

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


Mereology Reading Group | 17.00 - 19.00 | Seminar Room, 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. 


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.


WEH/Ethox seminar | Pathways to Cure: care-seeking experiences and perceptions of health and illness of participants enrolled in a clinical trial for hepatitis C treatment in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | 11.00 - 12.30 | Seminar Room 0, Big Data Institute

Speaker: Jennifer Ilo Van Nuil, Medical Anthropologist, Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU).

Direct acting antiviral therapy is a highly effective treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV), yet access remains limited on a global scale. Over the past few years, researchers have started to implement clinical trials in LMICs to test the medication in different contexts and for different durations, thereby providing access to treatment for a segment of the population.

In this talk, I discuss the design and preliminary findings of an ethnographic study taking place alongside an HCV treatment trial at Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In this study, we examine the care and treatment experiences of a subset of the trial participants, as well as their perceptions of health and illness related to HCV. The study started in March 2019 and recruitment, enrollment and data collection are ongoing. We plan to enroll 18-21 trial participants into the study. We will conduct two in-depth interviews with the participants at the study site (i.e. the first on Day 0, the second at the last study visit) and one mobile interview in their community. We will use participant observation at the study site and at the outpatient HCV clinic throughout the trial to engage with both participants and healthcare staff.

This study builds on research that I conducted in Rwanda from 2016-2018 where we collected in-depth interviews with 11 study participants over the course of an HCV treatment study. I will discuss four interconnected themes that we identified during data analysis as a background for the Vietnam study: 1) understanding of diagnosis and use of traditional medicine, 2) access and financial barriers to care-seeking, 3) complex social networks, 4) proactivity in care-seeking.

Finally, I explore preliminary findings from the Vietnam study including community discourse surrounding hepatitis C, individual care seeking experiences, and issues related to participation in clinical trials. To conclude, I discuss the wider implications of integrating ethnographic research in clinical trials, on both local and global levels.


Seminar on Boethius’ De Consolatione Philosophiae | Intimations of the Architext: Boethius and Others of Cassiodorus' Kind | 17.00 - 18.30 | Seminar Room, Corpus Christi College

Speaker: Mark Vessey (The University of British Columbia).

In the hundred years from the accession to power of Diocletian in 284, ‘Latin literature’ (to call it that) brought forth opuscula and Lactantius. In the next three and a half centuries, between the Mosellan consulship of Ausonius in 379 and the death of Bede on Tyneside in 735, it proliferated architectonic works on the grand scale. Factors conditioning this monstrous post-Theodosian, pre-Carolingian productivity included (1) the textuality of the codex, (2) the mainstreaming of Christian theology, (3) the separation of the Greek Roman Empire from the Latin ‘West.’ Taking its cue from the notice on him (minus his Consolatio) in the enigmatic document known as the Ordo generis Cassiodororum, this talk speculates on the relationship between Boethius’ projects as a writer and the collective projection by Latin writers of later late antiquity of a suprageneric literary genus along the lines sketched by a character in Gérard Genette’s Introduction à l’architexte (1979).

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

'Walking on water: from biolocomotion to quantum foundations' | 17.00 | Mathematical Institute

Speaker: John Bush (MIT).

In this lecture John Bush will present seemingly disparate research topics which are in fact united by a common theme and underlaid by a common mathematical framework. 
First there is the ingenuity of the natural world where living creatures use surface tension to support themselves on the water surface and propel themselves along it. Then there is a system discovered by Yves Couder only fifteen years ago, in which a small droplet bounces along the surface of a vibrating liquid bath, guided or 'piloted’ by its own wave field. Its ability to reproduce many features previously thought to be exclusive to quantum systems has launched the field of hydrodynamic quantum analogs, and motivated a critical revisitation of the philosophical foundations of quantum mechanics.

Full information: https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/node/31961

This talk will be streamed live on https://facebook.com/OxfordMathematics and https://livestream.com/oxuni/bush


Appeals to Nature Seminar | 'Seeing Animal Suffering: why we need a wider ethical naturalism' | 17.00 | Hovenden Room, All Souls College

Speaker: Alice Crary (Regent’s Park College). 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 

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.


Mandarin Forum | ‘The Moral Map of Chinese University Students and the Cultivation of Their Positive Outlook on Life’ | 13.00 - 14.00 | Lucina Ho Room, Dickson Poon University of Oxford China Centre

Speaker: Min Wu (Sichuan University and current Academic Visitor at the Faculty of Philosophy). 

The Millennials, the generation born around 2000, are gradually entering universities. The Chinese Millennials find themselves living in a society of more diverse values, as China’s national strength has increased considerably, compared with those born in the 1980s and 1990s. Under the influence of pluralism the Millennials’ values tend to be more fragmented. They have higher respect for individuality, freedom, independence and equality, which can result in an exclusion of mainstream society and the alienation of others. This study draws a moral map of the Millennials through empirical research, in which surveys and interviews are carried out to analyse students’ moral judgment and moral motivation. This study points out that the current ‘learning-centred’ teaching method should be changed into a ‘students-centred’ approach in order to make moral education appealing to the students. Taking a student perspective, teachers need to understand the values of the Millennials and their moral predicament in order to improve the effectiveness of moral education at Chinese universities. 

The presentation is in Mandarin with English PowerPoint. The Q&A will be bilingual. Convenor: Annie Hongping Nie.

MSt Women's Studies project | 'Les bouches inutiles' | 22nd - 23rd June, 20.00 | New College Cloisters 

Simone de Beauvoir's play is being produced as part of a MSt Women's Studies dissertation by Antonia Mappin-Kasirer, exploring feminist thought in the wider context of Beauvoir's philosophical work. 

Please note that the play is performed in French, but an English translation will be provided.

For more information (including venue access) and tickets: https://fixr.co/event/603729882




One Day Conference | Pluralising Philosophy: Learning from the Case of Chinese Thought | 09.30 | Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities

There are increasing calls to pluralise philosophy: to look beyond the parochial, the colonial, the exclusive. This one-day symposium jointly organised by Minorities and Philosophy Oxford and Philiminality Oxford brings together three leading philosophers to explore the tensions within 'canonical'/'Western' philosophy regarding the status of 'non-Western' philosophies, with a particular focus on the case of Chinese thought. Our speakers will address a number of questions – drawing on meta-philosophical, methodological, as well as historical considerations – to shed light on some of these tensions, and identify ways of moving forward. For instance, in what sense might 'Western' philosophy be deemed parochial, and how recent is this phenomenon? What forms do attempts to pluralise philosophy take, and what are their payoffs and pitfalls? Moreover, how do philosophers pluralise philosophy in ways that do not further contribute to the marginalisation of both the traditions they draw upon and other traditions which they do not engage with? What are the assumptions made or rejected by those who debate the 'legitimacy' of Chinese Philosophy? What are some of the concrete ways in which Chinese thought can shed new light on problems in contemporary 'Western' philosophy?
The morning session will consist of three lectures (with time for questions) by our invited speakers:
- Robert Bernasconi (Pennsylvania State University): 'Narrowing the Philosophical Canon around 1800: The Exclusion of Chinese Philosophy in Context'
- Carine Defoort (University of Leuven): 'The Exclusion of Chinese Philosophy: 'Ten Don’ts', 'Three Represents,' and 'Eight Musts”
- Bryan Van Norden (Yale-NUS College; Vassar College; Wuhan University): 'Learning from Chinese Philosophy'
The afternoon session will bring together our three speakers in a moderated panel discussion, with plenty of time for Q&A.

Lunch and coffee/tea will be provided free of charge, but registration is required. Please register here. Follow the event on Facebook for updates.

Full speaker abstracts can also be consulted on the Philiminality Oxford website: https://philiminalityoxford.wordpress.com/events/

The Symposium is organised with the generous support of All Souls College, University of Oxford and Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. Organisers: Maya Krishnan, Chong-Ming Lim, Lea Cantor and Sihao Chew.


MSt Women's Studies project | 'Les bouches inutiles' | 22nd - 23rd June, 20.00 | New College Cloisters 

Simone de Beauvoir's play is being produced as part of a MSt Women's Studies dissertation by Antonia Mappin-Kasirer, exploring feminist thought in the wider context of Beauvoir's philosophical work. 

Please note that the play is performed in French, but an English translation will be provided.

For more information (including venue access) and tickets: https://fixr.co/event/603729882