John Locke Lecture 2012
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John Locke Lectures

The John Locke Lectures are among the world's most distinguished lecture series in philosophy. This list of past lecturers shows that most of the greatest philosophers of the last half century have been Locke Lecturers. The series began in 1950, funded from the generous bequest of Henry Wilde.

Trinity Term 2015

Professor Rae Langton (Cambridge)

'Accommodating Injustice'

The Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Oxford is pleased to announce the 2015 John Locke Lectures, to be given by Professor Rae Langton. The lectures will take place at 5pm on Wednesdays in weeks 1 to 6 of Trinity Term, or 29th April to 3rd June inclusive, and will be given at the Grove Auditorium in Magdalen College, Oxford. (Please note: admissions to the Auditorium will be strictly limited to the seating capacity, without exception.) There will be a drinks reception after the first lecture.

Rae Langton


What we do with words can help or hinder justice in ways that exploit rules of accommodation: a process of adjustment that tends to make speech acts count as 'correct play'. Accommodation can enable speakers and hearers to build unjust norms and distributions of authority, sexual subordination, and racial hatred. Of special interest are ‘back-door’ speech acts, which work in subtle ways via presupposition and its relatives, generics, or thick concepts and epithets. Accommodation can undermine knowledge, by disguising injustice, altering standards and stakes, and destroying credibility. In placing limits on ‘correct play’, it can silence.

Attending to these dangers makes visible certain solutions. Accommodation reveals speech acts as something we do together with words: the acts and omissions of hearers, as well as speakers, contribute to what is done. Free speech itself looks different, demanding richer resources: state and individual action, not just inaction, could be needed to make it real.

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Lecture 1 (29th April) 'Accommodating Authority' [Handout] [MP3]

Lecture 2 (6th May) 'Accommodating Norms' [Handout] [MP3]

Lecture 3 (13th May) 'Accommodating Knowledge' [Handout] [MP3]  

Lecture 4 (20th May) 'Silence as Accommodation Failure' [Handout] [MP3]

Lecture 5 (27th May) 'Accommodating Attitudes' [Handout] [MP3]

Lecture 6 (3rd June) 'How to undo things with words' [Handout] [MP3]


John Locke Lecture TT15


The Faculty acknowledges the generous support of these lectures by Oxford University Press and All Souls College.

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