Digest Week 4 Hilary Term 2019

HT19, Week 4 (4th February - 10th February)

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

Note that unless otherwise stated, the event will take place in the Radcliffe Humanities Building on Woodstock Rd, OX2 6GG.

Notices - Events taking place elsewhere in the university and beyond

Normative Ethics Reading Group | 14.00 - 16.00 | Ryle Room

During this group a paper within this topic is usually read and discussed, and occasionally the group has contributions from Faculty members. Organised by Tomi Francis. 


Critical Theory | Solidarity as critical methodology in mapping a multi-layered colonial present | 17.00 - 18.30 | Old Library, All Souls College

Please note the change of day for Week 4.

Speaker: Goldie Osuri (Warwick). 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.


The Oxford Kant Colloquium | 17.00 - 19.00 | Ryle Room, Radcliffe Humanities 

Please note a change of venue: this event will no longer take place in 4.2B, at Alban's Quad, Merton College

During weeks 4-8: There is an option to present a paper on Kantian topics. Those interested in participating should email christopher.benzenberg@stx.ox.ac.uk


Interdisciplinary seminars in psychoanalysis | What is ‘psychoanalytic sociology’? | 20.15 | Lecture Room, St John’s College Research Centre (45 St Giles')

Speaker: Michael Rustin, University of East London. 

What is ‘psychoanalytic sociology’? Does it exist as a recognised field of study, either as a sub-field of sociology, or as a sub-field of psychoanalysis? Referencing the Brexit-Trump phenomenon and Fintan O’Toole’s recent book, ‘Heroic Failure’, I will argue the need for psychoanalytic sociology to become established on a more resilient basis. Despite the undoubted importance of Freud for some major figures and schools of thought in sociology, the place of psychoanalysis in the sociological field has seemed to be an elusive and tenuous one. From time to time, there have indeed been fruitful interactions between these two powerful paradigms, describing and explaining phenomena that neither could fully grasp alone. But then, each of these ‘fields’ has largely withdrawn to its own primary area of study, avoiding the other as beyond its grasp and concern. In this paper I will seek to explain how this situation has come about, and ask what might have to happen for this situation to change. Please visit http://oxfordpsychoanalysis.blogspot.co.uk 

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

Cumulative emissions of carbon - a path to halting climate change? | 17.00 - 18.15 | Oxford Martin School

Joint event with Oxford Energy Colloquia. Speaker: Joeri Rogelj, Oxford Martin Visiting Fellow

In this talk, Dr Joeri Rogelj will explore and discuss the latest developments in estimation the remaining carbon budget as well as its usefulness for guiding policy and climate change mitigation action. The talk will be followed by a drinks reception, to which all are welcome. For further details and registration, please visit https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/event/2660

ERC Research Seminar on Responsibility | Responsiveness to reasons  | 10.00 - 12.00 | University College London

Led by Yuuki Ohta. The target readings are:

- Wolf, Susan. 1987. “Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility.” In Responsibility, Character, and the Emotions: New Essays in Moral Psychology (ed. Ferdinand Schoeman; CambridgeUP), 46–62.
- Raz, Joseph. 2011. From Normativity to Responsibility. Oxford UP. Ch. 12 “Being in the World.”

Please visit https://rootsofresponsibility.co.uk/ for further details and venue. 


WEH/Ethox seminars | Chronic Illness: A Systems Approach | 11.00 - 12.30 | Meeting Room Level 1 AX, Big Data Institute

Speaker: Tom Walker, Senior Lecturer in Ethics, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen's University Belfast. (If you don’t have swipe access to the BDI and would like to attend this seminar, please email admin@ethox.ox.ac.uk)

Much of the treatment for people with long term chronic illness aims at counteracting, as far as possible, their illness’ negative effects on their ability to live life on their own terms. If we focus solely on the healthcare professionals involved, we necessarily have to treat as fixed much of the environment within which this treatment takes place. Those healthcare professionals cannot directly affect that environment. But others can. Making those alterations can affect, sometimes considerably, the treatment’s effectiveness. That raises two questions: 1. Do those outside the health service have any moral obligations to bring about such changes?, and 2. Are there good moral reasons why they should, or should not, be required to do so? This paper addresses these questions. In doing so it sidesteps debates about paternalism (the most common framing for interventions of this type) because the cases I am concerned with here are not, on standard accounts of paternalism, paternalistic.


Internal WiP | Demandingness and Public Health Ethics (based on paper co-authored with Julian Savulescu)| 14.30 - 15.30 | Seminar Room 2, Oxford Martin School 

Speaker: Alberto Giubilini (Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Oxford Martin Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease).

Public health policies often require individuals to make certain personal sacrifices for the sake of protecting other individuals or the community at large. Such requirements can be more or less demanding . This paper examines the implications of demandingness for public health ethics and policy. We argue that the demandingness of different requirements as well as the urgency of different policies determine whether public health policies should be based on incentives, disincentives, or compensation. We focus on three public health policies that pose requirements that are differently demanding: vaccination policies, certain policies to contain antimicrobial resistance, and quarantine and isolation policies. Assuming the validity of the ‘demandingness objection” in ethics (roughly, the idea that if a requirement is too demanding, it can’t constitute a moral obligation), we argue that states should try to pose requirements that individuals would have an independent moral obligation to fulfil, and therefore that are not too demanding: in such cases, coercive measures are ethically justified or even ethically required; this is, for example, the case of vaccination policies. However, public health policies sometimes need to require individuals to do something that is too demanding to constitute an independent moral obligation. In such cases, states have an obligation to either provide incentives to give individuals non-moral reasons to fulfil a certain requirement – as in the case of certain types of policies that limit antibiotic prescriptions – or to compensate individuals for being forced to do something that is too demanding to constitute an independent moral obligation – as in the case of quarantine and isolation policies. Booking not required. This event is only open to members of Oxford University. 


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. 


Symposium on the Williams Committee Report on Obscenity and Film Censorship: 40 Years On | 14.00 | The Dickson Poon School of Law, KCL

The YTL Centre hosts a symposium to mark the 40th anniversary of the Williams Committee report on Obscenity and Film Censorship, which was chaired by the eminent philosopher Bernard Williams. The symposium will consist of two panels. The first will explore the broader historical context of the report, including the role of philosophers as public intellectuals in post-War Britain. The second will focus on the substance of the report, especially its proposal that material may be restricted if it would cause offense to reasonable people. The symposium will be followed, at 6pm, by a lecture by Professor Fred Schauer entitled 'On Liberty: The Case of Pornography', for which separate registration is required.

14.00 - 15.45: Historical Context and Philosophers as Public Intellectuals. Speakers: Teresa Bejan (Politics, University of Oxford), David Cooke (former Director of the British Board of Film Classification).
16.00 - 17.45: Offensiveness to Reasonable People. Speakers: Ned Lebow (War Studies, KCL), Onora O'Neill (Philosophy, University of Cambridge), and Fred Schauer (School of Law, University of Virginia). 

Registration necessary. Seats are allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis. If you find you can no longer attend please cancel your ticket registration, so that someone else can have your place. Register here.


Philosophical Foundations of the Common Law Series | Causation in the Law: Beyond factual causation: intervention and remoteness | 15.00 - 17.00 | Knowles Room, Wadham

Does the requirement of so-called factual causation exhaust the causal aspect of the inquiry? Lawyers are ambivalent. On the one hand they continue to speak of certain intervening events as ‘breaking the chain of causation’ even though they do not negate the ‘but for’ or NESS relationship. American tort lawyers talk unselfconsciously about ‘proximate’ causes as if causes could be more or less proximate qua causes. On the other hand lawyers are cynical about their own use of this causal language, often claiming that the questions at stake in ‘proximate cause’ or ‘broken causal chains’ are moral or policy questions about ‘responsibility’ rather than authentic questions about causation. One of the problems here is that questions of remoteness of damage and questions of novus actus have been clustered together under the ‘proximate cause’ heading. Should they be? Should we instead have a tripartite analysis according to which there is the NESS or but-for question (causal), then the novus actus question (still causal), then the remoteness question (admittedly non-causal)? Anyway, isn’t the contrast between ‘factual’ questions and ‘moral or policy’ questions quite possibly a false contrast of some kind? How about the contrast between causal and non-causal questions? We need to explore the extent to which we should expect our analysis of the very nature of causation to be independent of evaluative assumptions (e.g. about the special role of human beings in the world and the special importance of responsibility). 

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 required readings. 


Lincoln Leads seminar series | How Does Language Evolve? | 17.00 | Oakeshott Room, Lincoln

Panel: Lynn Shepherd (Novelist and alumna), Timothy Michael (Fellow) and Andrzej Stuart-Thompson (MSt, Modern Languages)

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-53908929058


Special Ethics Seminar | The Salvation Agenda: The Politics of Medical Humanitarianism During Zimbabwe’s Cholera Outbreak 2008/09 | 17.30 - 19.00 | Lecture Theatre, St Cross College

Speaker: Simukai Chigudu (Associate Professor of African Politics, Oxford Department of International Development). The New St Cross Special Ethics Seminars are jointly organised by the Oxford Uehiro Centre and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities. 

This paper examines the humanitarian politics of responding to Zimbabwe’s catastrophic cholera outbreak of 2008/09, the worst in African history. It demonstrates how humanitarian relief operations are riven by competing claims to leadership, authority and legitimacy but often converge on the ineluctable logic of saving lives – ‘the salvation agenda’. Nevertheless, the paper contends that the exigency of saving lives in this case did not, and could not, address the background political and socio-economic conditions that led to the epidemic. Thus, the paper explores the possibilities, pitfalls and paradoxes of the salvation agenda and mounts a novel critique of how the humanitarian industrial complex operates in Africa. Booking required: https://bookwhen.com/uehiro

There is a dinner at Al Shami (at your own expense) organised for University members attending this talk. RSVP deadline Tuesday 5 February 2019, rachel.gaminiratne@philosophy.ox.ac.uk 


The Role of Scientific Expertise in Today's World | 17.45 - 19.00 | The Tanner Room, Linacre College

Speaker: Harry Collins, Sociologist of Science at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University.

In today’s world people have realized that the heroic episodes of science – Newton, Einstein, Quantum Theory, Gravitational Waves – do not represent most of the science we encounter in our lives – climate change, econometric modelling, old age. We can no longer rely on justifying the value of science by reaching for its truth and citing the old icons. Instead we must value science for its intrinsic values, which can survive and lead democracy as other professions fold under the pressure of the free market. Science is also a check and balance on the power of governments – a need which, with the growth of populism, has never been more clear. The social studies of science have to accept their role in the transformation of the image of science and consider their position. Refreshments provided. Please RSVP to samantha.vanderslott@paediatrics.ox.ac.uk or jack.rowbotham@chem.ox.ac.uk


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.


Writing good philosophical prose for non-native (and native!) English speakers | 14.00 - 15.00 | Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities

Many graduate students at Oxford are not native English speakers. This session offers advise for writing and improving one's philosophical prose, focusing in particular on challenges and chances for non-native speakers. However, the session is equally open to native speakers who may find that they can improve their prose, too. With Karen Nielsen and Tim Williamson