Digest Week 2 Hilary Term 2019

HT19, Week 2 (21st January - 27th January)

If you have entries for the weekly Digest, they must be received by Wednesday, midday of the week before the event. Please send information to admin@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

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

Interdisciplinary seminars in psychoanalysis series | 20.15 | Lecture Room, St John's College Research Centre

First speaker: David Taylor - British Psychoanalytical Society and UCL: 'Sentience and Sensitivity: Innate and human environment factors generating mindlessness and anxiety'

My main focus will be justified doubts about the premature resort to the explanation of an individual subject's mind attacking itself. While according to psychoanalysis this can occur, there are many other routes leading to the same mental outcome. I will give a perspective on what I have observed as a psychoanalytic clinician.

Second speaker: Louise Braddock - Philosophy Faculty, Oxford: 'Annihilation Anxiety and Bion’s Theory of Thinking: what we (don’t) need the Death Drive for'.


In post-Kleinian thought a ‘deathly state of mind’, one depicting a state or enactment of mindlessness, is commonly interpreted in terms of the activity of the Death drive where a (primary) destructive force is directed at the thinking capacities of the mind. I critically consider the theoretical basis for this interpretation in Bion’s theory of thinking, and suggest another explanation. 


The seminar is open free of charge to members of the University and to mental health professionals but space is limited. To attend it is helpful (but not essential) to e-mail paul.tod@sjc.ox.ac.uk



Priming intuition decreases endorsement of instrumental harm but not impartial beneficence | 15.00 | Oxford Martin School

Speaker: Dr Valerio Capraro, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Middlesex University London.

Understanding the cognitive underpinnings of moral judgment is one of most pressing problems in psychological science. Classic studies suggest that intuition decreases utilitarian (expected welfare maximizing) judgments in sacrificial moral dilemmas, in which one has to decide whether to instrumentally harm (IH) one person to save a greater number of people. However, recent work suggests that such dilemmas are not fit for purpose as they fail to capture the defining core of utilitarianism, that is, commitment to impartial beneficence (IB). Accordingly, a new, two-dimensional model of utilitarian judgment has been proposed that distinguishes IH and IB. The role of intuition on this new model has not been studied. Does intuition disfavor utilitarian choices only along the dimension of instrumental harm or does it also do so along the dimension of impartial beneficence? To answer this question, we conducted three studies (total N = 970, two preregistered) using conceptual priming of intuition versus deliberation on moral judgments. Our evidence converges on an interaction effect, with intuition decreasing utilitarian judgments in IH—as suggested by previous work—but failing to do so in IB. These findings provide additional support to the recently proposed two-dimensional model of utilitarian moral judgment among ordinary people, and open up new avenues for future research.


Philosophy Faculty Placement Scheme job talks | The Jellyfish's Pleasures in Plato's Philebus | 16.00 | Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities

Speaker: Katharine O'Reilly

We especially encourage attendance to talks on topics that don't fit squarely in your area of expertise, since job candidates should expect a mixed audience. Our graduate students depend on support in preparing for their on-campus interviews. If you are a graduate student, this is an excellent opportunity to support your peers and to start thinking about your own job talks. 


Model Theory and Philosophy Reading Group | 18.00 - 20.00 | Ryle Room, Philosophy Faculty

If you would like to attend and you are not a member of the Facebook group, please email dominik.ehrenfels@stx.ox.ac.uk  

The goal is to come to understand both the proofs of central results in model theory and the philosophical discussions that are shaped by these results. Readings will be taken from Button and Walsh (2018), 'Philosophy and Model Theory', CUP. 


Tackling the illegal wildlife trade from China's epicentre | 12.30 | Oxford Martin School

Joint event with Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

The illegal wildlife trade undermines our global commitment to protect threatened biodiversity. During this talk Ming will discuss ongoing projects that his team are working on from Guangzhou, where they are based, which is widely considered as the epicentre of illegal wildlife trade in Mainland China. 

Please register for this event at https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/event/2662


Philosophical Foundations of the Common Law Series | Causation in the Law: But-for and other counterfactuals | 15.00 | Knowles Room, Wadham

When liability in criminal law or private law depends on the damage that D did to P, we need to identify what will count as D’s doing damage to P in the relevant sense. What is the relevant test of causality? Tort lawyers in the common law countries have traditionally divided up this enquiry into the elements of ‘factual’ and ‘legal’ (a.k.a. ‘proximate’) causation. We follow this tradition: in this first seminar we focus exclusively on so-called factual causation. As a test of factual causation lawyers have often used the famous ‘but for’ or ‘sine qua non’ test. But is this test sound? Even if it is, is it any more than a test? Does it capture the very nature of causality or does it just track something else called causality? If the latter then what exactly is a causal relationship?

Organised by Sandy Steel and Alex Kaiserman. Please contact sandy.steel@law.ox.ac.uk or alexander.kaiserman@philosophy.ox.ac.uk for details and suggested readings.  


Brain and Mind Workshop | Criminality and the Brain | 17.00 | Jacqueline du Pre Building, St Hilda's

Daniel Whiting (University of Oxford), Lucy Bowes (University of Oxford) and Peter Hacker (University of Oxford) will address this topic from the point of views of psychiatry, psychology and philosophy, respectively. Val McDermid, the crime writer, will be a guest speaker. 

During the workshop there will be a break for refreshments. Entry is free but tickets have to be booked: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/criminality-and-the-brain-tickets-53458687373


Evolving Economic Thought lecture series | Wealth inequality in political perspective | 17.00 | Oxford Martin School 

Speaker: Ben Ansell, Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions (Oxford)

For further details, please visit https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/event/2664 


Critical Theory | War beyond the human: robots, race, and reproduction | 17.00 | Old Library, All Souls College

Speaker: Lauren Wilcox (Cambridge).

Invited speakers to this series include both Critical Theorists working within the Frankfurt School tradition and researchers who take a critical approach towards social hierarchies. Speakers will give a paper for about 45 minutes before we open to questions. Graduate and undergraduate students from all disciplinary backgrounds are welcome.


Lincoln Leads seminar series | Should religion be modernised? | 17.00 | Oakeshott Room, Lincoln

Panel: Melanie Marshall, Tony Price and Grace Heaton. Chair: Benjamin Musachio. 

Following a free wine reception from 17.00, each seminar will start at 17.45, culminating in a lively audience Q&A session that ends at 19.00. We have a fantastic group of panellists scheduled for the series. We therefore hope that you are eager to join them in conversation, and learn more about the diverse research conducted at Lincoln.

Tickets are free, but must be booked in advance. Spaces are limited and going fast, so make sure you sign up by clicking here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lincoln-leads-2019-tickets-53908931064


Work in Progress seminar | The unity of things | 17.00 | Morelli Room, Corpus Christi 

Speaker: John Pemberton (LSE)

Only some things have Aristotelian substantial forms, we may suppose – perhaps only organisms. What underwrites the (lesser-degree) unity of other things such as bundles and perhaps artefacts? I suggest such things may be viewed as the acting together of parts, where this acting together survives through time in the prevailing context. For example, a hydrogen atom as a proton and an electron acting together; an iron bar as many iron atoms acting together; and a pendulum as a bob, a string and a fixed pivot acting together. Acting may be understood as the manifesting of a power such as attracting, repelling, pushing, heating, etc, which manifests through time and survives through this period of manifesting (like Aristotle’s agent-patient powers). I explore the nature of the unity underwritten by such acting together, contrasting it with substantial unity, and considering the sense in which it does (and does not) provide an answer to van Inwagen’s Special Composition Question. If simpler things are acting together unities, where is the cut-off with substances? I note the possibility that all things are acting-together unities (i.e. that there are no substances) and the parsimonious ontology which results. 

Website: https://www.power-parts.website/


Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley and Iris Murdoch reading group | 20.00 - 21.30 | Ryle Room, Radcliffe Humanities

Organised by Elisabeth Huh and Sasha Lawson-Frost