Digest Week 3 Hilary Term 2023

HT23, Week 3 (29th January-4th February)

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

Hosted by Víctor Acedo-Matellán and Daniel Altshuler

Title: Orderly suppletion

Speaker: Xavier Bach (University of Oxford)

The seminar will take place at 5:15pm in Room 2 of the Taylorian Institute


Philosophy of Mathematics Reading Group

Our focus will be on the paper: Linnebo, Ø. and Shapiro, S. (2019), Actual and Potential Infinity. Noûs, 53: 160-191. https://doi-org.ezproxyprd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/10.1111/nous.12208. Boaz Laan will be leading the discussion. 

Please click here to join virtually. The Meeting ID is 325 086 914 943 and the Passcode is NaFsHX.

Everyone is welcome. Reading the paper would be strongly encouraged but people are welcome even if not. All questions thoughts and contributions are invited as we work together to enrich our understanding of the work at the cutting edge of the philosophy of mathematics. No question is a stupid question.

The group will meet on Monday 30th of January, 4.30-6pm in the Ryle Room


Oxford Forum Book Launch Event

Pandemic Response and the Cost of Lockdowns: Global Debates from Humanities and Social Sciences (Routledge 2022)

Edited by Peter Sutoris (University of York), Sinead Murphy (Newcastle University), Aleida Mendes Borges (King’s College London), and Yossi Nehushtan (Keele University)

Monday 30 January, 16:30-18:30, Stanford University Centre, 65 High Street, Oxford 

Themes from the book

Dr Peter Sutoris: ‘The Role of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Time of Crisis’.

Professor Yossi Nehushtan: ‘Lockdowns as Unjust Discrimination Against Younger Generations’.


Dr Paula Satne (the Centre for Inter-Disciplinary Applied Ethics, University of Leeds)

Dr Indrajit Roy (Department of Politics, University of York)

ChairDr Roxana Baiasu, (University of Oxford, Stanford University in Oxford and University of Birmingham)

Pandemic Response and the Cost of Lockdowns brings the vast analytical apparatus of the humanities and social sciences to the task of critically analysing the political decisions taken in 2020–21.The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic left little time for critical debate about the impact of lockdowns. Across the world, governments claimed to "follow the science", but they rarely paid attention to the humanities and social sciences. This book exposes the tragic consequences of this omission in 2020–21 and demonstrates the potential for a different path in the future – a path in which we pay attention to power, complexity, and our biases. In the event, themes from the book will be presented. That will be followed by comments from discussants and an open discussion.

For more details please contact: Dr Roxana Baiasu, Roxana.Baiasu@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

Oxford Forum Conveners: Dr Roxana Baiasu and Professor Stephen Mulhall


Hegel Reading Group

We shall be meeting on Tuesdays 6-7.30 pm on Skype; please email louise.braddock@philosophy.ox.ac.uk for the Skype link.

This term and the next we are reading 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). We are starting (in 1st Week) from para 377, eventually getting to the end at para 412 (we will not read the Zuzatse in the sessions).

The reading is posted each week on hegelinoxford.wordpress.com


Gadfly Reading Group

focusing on the writings of Plato

Meet on Tuesdays during term time, 7:30pm at St John’s College

Reading: TBC

“I am the gadfly of the Athenian people” - Socrates, in Plato’s Apology 

The Gadfly Club was founded because we believe that dialogue is the principal and most effective method of understanding ourselves and the world around us. We thus read Plato’s dialogue not just as a model of dialogue, nor only for his philosophical insights; we use his dialogues as a springboard to discuss the real and living problems they present. This is why, after an hour or more of live-reading, we head to the only place friends and philosophers must go – the pub!

We encourage all – especially those who don’t consider themselves ‘students of philosophy’ – to come and join us, hoping to remain true to the main desire of the OSM – that of stimulating inter-disciplinary engagement. 


Rationality/Decision-Making and the Brain

Tuesday 31st January 2023, 5:00-7:15pm

Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, St Hilda's College

The St Hilda's Brain and Mind Series continues this term with Rationality/Decision-Making and the Brain.

Guest speakers will be Dr Richard Pettigrew (University of Bristol) for philosophy, Dr Nick Chater (University of Warwick) for psychology, and Dr Jan Beucke (Medical School Hamburg) for neuroscience.

Please join us on Tuesday 31st January 2022 - 5.00 until 7.15 pm in the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, St Hilda's College.

Rationality/Decision-Making and the Brain is a free, live and in-person event where all are welcome.

Book Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/brain-and-mind-workshop-rationalitydecision-making-and-the-brain-tickets-514786238497?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete&keep_tld=1




Maternal Request Caesarean Sections and Medical Necessity

Speaker: Rebecca Brown (Oxford Uehiro Centre)

Date: Wednesday 1 February 2023, 1.30 – 2.30pm

Venue: Oxford Uehiro Centre, Suite 1 Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbe’s Street, Oxford OX1 1PT (buzzer 1)

Currently, many women who are expecting to give birth have no option but to attempt vaginal delivery, since access to planned or elective caesarean sections in the absence of what is deemed to constitute ‘clinical need’ is variable. In this paper, we argue that maternal request caesarean sections (MRCS) – those performed at the request of the woman, in the absence of clinical indication – should be routinely offered to pregnant women. We argue that MRCS is a medically reasonable option, and this should suffice to make it appropriate to offer it to women with low risk pregnancies. We further argue that medical necessity is not a particularly helpful concept here, since it fails to identify cases where caesarean section should and should not happen. Given that all forms of childbirth are associated with some form of injury, we argue that birthing women should be given the opportunity to choose which injury they (expect to) suffer during delivery. We consider a number of objections, such as the argument that patients have a right to refuse, but never to demand treatment, and that routinely offering MRCS would be unaffordable for healthcare systems. We do not find that these objections provide compelling reasons not to routinely offer MRCS as a birth option for pregnant women.

Booking: not required (Zoom link available on request).


Sciences and the Future of Religion

Speaker: Agnieszka Lekka-Kowalik

Date: Wednesday 1 February, 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Venue: Main Lecture Room, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Gibson Building, Radcliffe Humanities, Oxford

A seminar presented by the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion and the Humane Philosophy Project

A popular thesis suggests that religion can and should be replaced by science. This thesis is formulated in the name of human rationality and cognitive aspirations to describe, explain, and control the world. Since the title terms denote many referents, I analyse the project as the idea of replacing Christianity with natural and social sciences. From the point of view of that project, religion may play important roles in culture but has nothing to do with the truth and understanding of reality. Yet, precisely from the point of view of human rationality, such a project is neither feasible nor desirable. To argue for this thesis, I first explain what "replacing” means and describe the project and its intellectual origins. Then I develop three arguments: a) the project is based on a priori presuppositions and therefore it is dogmatic, which is against the spirit of science; b) if the project is carried out, there would be no answers to fundamental human questions; c) sciences themselves formulate questions which they are not able to answer (trans-scientific questions), but for which religion may provide rational solutions. Religion considered in the light of the above arguments turns out to be a defender of reason. Thus, evaluating the project from the point of view of human rationality and cognitive aspirations, one must claim that sciences cannot replace religion and attempts to do so bring unwelcome consequences.

AGNIESZKA LEKKA-KOWALIK is Professor of Philosophy at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL). She has an MSc in chemistry, a PhD and habilitation in philosophy. From 1993 to 1996 she was associate researcher at the Université de Neuchâtel. She joined the KUL, Faculty of Philosophy in 1997. Since 2011 she has served as the Chair of the Department of the Methodology of Sciences, she was Vice Dean in 2009-2012, Vice Rector in 2012-2013. Since 2021 she has been vice-president of the Polish Association for Technology Assessment and since May 2021 a member of the working group for fundamental values of the Bologna Follow-up Group (BFUG). Her research areas include philosophy and methodology of science, research ethics, philosophy and ethics of technology, AI and computer ethics, and practical logic. She has published seven books (author or editor), over 120 papers, and 72 entries. Her recent works in English include: Morality in the AI World, Law and Business 1 (2021) 44-49; Technology Analysis and the Need of a Value Framework, in P. Hąbek (ed.), Multidisciplinary Aspects of Production Engineering, Warszawa 2021, 421-430; Academia in the Grip of the Wolf and Its Utopia, Minerva 60 (2022) 139-158. She has contributed 59 talks at international conferences, 48 invited lectures in the USA and Europe, and has made research visits at the University of Buffalo (USA); the University of Leeds (UK); the University of Navarra (Spain); and St Thomas University (USA).

This event is free and open to the public. Regular HPP attendees should take note that it will take place in the Main Lecture Room, Faculty of Theology and Religion, not Blackfriars Hall.



The Collège de France in Oxford: 'Thinking through Language' by François Recanati

The inaugural lecture of the Collège de France / Maison Française d’Oxford / Pembroke College Lecture Series

It is a truism that language expresses thought, but there are also reasons to believe that — to some extent at least — thought depends upon language. Two forms of dependence of thought upon language will be distinguished, one of which gives rise to the phenomenon of verbal thought. It will be argued that, contrary to what David Kaplan has suggested, we can account for that phenomenon without giving up (what he calls) ‘subjectivism’ in semantics.


For further information please see the MFO website here: The Collège de France in Oxford: 'Thinking through Language' by François Recanati | Maison Française d'Oxford


This event will be in person only. Please sign up via Eventbrite here:

The Collège de France in Oxford: François Recanati Tickets, Thu 2 Feb 2023 at 17:00 | Eventbrite  



Applied Ethics Graduate Discussion Group

Convenor:  Dr Becky Brown

Venue: Oxford Uehiro Centre, Seminar Room, Suite 1 Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbes St. OX1 1PT

Part 1: Methods in Applied Ethics: Dr Benjamin Davies on 'Intergenerational Justice in Healthcare'

Required reading:

  1. Nancy Jecker. Age-related inequalities in health and healthcare: the life stages approach. 2018. Developing World Bioethics 18: 144-155.
  2. Andreas Albertsen. Covid-19 and age discrimination: benefit maximisation, fairness, and justified age-based rationing. Forthcoming (available online). Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy.

Part 2: Work in Progress

Student Presenting: TBC

Student Responding: Edward Feldman

Those joining via Zoom should login here using the following Meeting ID: 876 7288 0056 and Passcode: 676270.


Jaeggi Reading Group

Text: Rahel Jaeggi, Alienation, trans Neuhouser/Smith (Columbia UP, 2014). German editions 2005/2016: Entfremdung.

The English text is available electronically via SOLO.

Friday 1.30-3.00pm HT 2023 Weeks 1 to 8

Venue: Worcester College, Le May Seminar Room


Campion Hall Research Seminar
Institutions: Understanding and Evaluating Them

Mathias Nebel (Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla): Institutions of Local Government and their Common Good

3pm - 4.30pm, Campion Hall

Major institutions have failed society. Banks and the Financial Markets have failed us in the 2008 credit crisis. The FA, the BBC, the Churches, British Gymnastics have all failed the victims of sex abuse. The Police and the CPS have failed the victims of sexual violence and rape. The NHS and Care Services continue to fail many patients. The British Government, its regulatory and supervisory bodies, and the building industry have failed the residents of Grenfell Tower, and the residents of similar high-rise blocks, whether social housing or privately owned.

Multiple institutional failure provokes the question whether we have the intellectual resources to understand institutions, to critique them, to repair them, or to construct and operate them appropriately. The hermeneutics of suspicion (Marx, Freud) has trained us to suspect hidden agenda in the exercise of institutional power. People espouse spirituality and reject institutional religion. Voters abandon established political institutions and seek an alternative politics. What prospects are there for a different experience of institutions?

The seminar will explore available analyses of institutions, the intellectual resources for dealing with them, possible remedies, and will test their application in various domains such as the law, the economy, the Church, public administration.

For more information and to register: https://www.campion.ox.ac.uk/events/campion-hall-research-seminar-institutions-understanding-and-evaluating-them


Uehiro Practical Ethics and Law Lecture

Customary rules, values, and principles

Speaker: Timothy Endicott

Respondent: Roger Crisp

3 February 2023, 3pm to 4.30pm

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics

Suite 1, Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbe’s Street, Oxford, OX1 1PT (Buzzer no. 1)