Digest Week 6 Hilary Term 2024

HT24, Week 6 (18th-24th 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


Interdisciplinary Psychoanalysis Seminar and the Wollheim Centenary Project

Conveners: Professor KP Tod, Dr L Braddock, Dr N Gildea

'Starting with Wollheim'

Speaker: Niall Gildea, University of Lancaster

Date/Time: Monday 19 February between 6-7pm 

Location: St John's College

This introductory talk will give an outline of Richard Wollheim’s work aimed at a non-specialist audience and those coming to it for the first time. I will adumbrate some of the ways in which Wollheim explores what it means, and what it is, to live the life of a person. Wollheim’s ‘critical existentialism’ unites (if it doesn’t necessarily unify) his fictional and philosophical texts. 



'The Vagueness of Demandingness Objections'

Speaker: Professor Marcel van Ackeren (Oxford Uehiro Centre Research Associate; Senior Lecturer for Ethics at the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy at Wuerzburg University)

The New St Cross Special Ethics Seminars are jointly arranged by the Oxford Uehiro Centre and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities.  The talks are open to the public, and all are welcome (registration required, please see links below).

Date/Time: 22 February 5pm to 6pm

Hybrid: Lecture Theatre, St Cross College, 61 St Giles’, Oxford and online via Zoom

Demandingness objections have become a stock argument in ethics claiming that single moral demands or entire moral theories must be given up or altered if they ask too much of agents. But can we clearly distinguish an acceptable level of demandingness from one that is too high? I argue that demandingness objections inevitably fail to make that distinction without borderline cases because they are sorites-susceptible.

First, I show that the heap paradox applies to demandingness objections and the expression “overdemanding” because two conditions are met. There is an ordering of values on one dimension decisive for the expression’s application: the cost to the agent. Also, the expression “overdemanding” is tolerant, because the difference between two neighbouring levels of demandingness is so small that it does not allow us to say that this is the difference between an acceptable level of demandingness and critical overdemandingness.

Second, I discuss attempts to overcome or bypass the vagueness of demandingness objections. I will argue that these strategies are not very promising and that we should rather embrace the vagueness.

Registration: Please register to attend either in-person (Bookwhen) or to join the webinar (Zoom).


Joseph Butler Society

'Psychopathology and religious experience: a both-and account?'

Speaker: Tasia Scrutton, University of Leeds

Date/Time: Thursday 22 February between 8:30 to 10pm

Venue: Large Senior Common Room, Oriel College

Further details here.


Oxford Jurisprudence Discussion Group

'Sorites and the Power of Arbitrariness'

Speaker: Diana Raffman (Toronto)

Diana Raffman (Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto), presents the sixth paper of Hilary Term 2024: "Sorites and the Power of Arbitrariness".

Date/Time: Thursday 22 February 5-7pm

Venue: Arthur Goodhart Seminar Room, University College. The Room is located in Logic Lane and can be accessed from High St. or Merton St. without having to go through the main entrance to University College.

Pre-reading is desirable and strongly suggested, but not a requirement to attend.

If you want to receive the papers we discuss in our seminars join our mailing list by sending a blank email at jurisprudence-discussion-group-subscribe[at]maillist.ox.ac.uk.

This event is open to anyone. No registration needed.



Graduate Discussion Group

We welcome all University of Oxford Graduate Students to the return of this seminar series led by Dr Rebecca Brown. The aim of this seminar is to provide an opportunity for graduate students, from all departments, whose work has an applied ethics dimension, to present their works in progress to fellow students as well as OUC research staff. The seminars also provide teaching on practical ethics topics, taught by researchers from the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

The seminars will be held during weeks 2, 4, 6 & 7 on Fridays from 2pm-4pm with the opportunity to join OUC staff at The Royal Blenheim Hotel afterwards.

Seminar format: This seminar will be run both in person, and on zoom for those unable to attend physically. Each week, for the first hour of the seminar, one of the researchers from the OUC will introduce a key topic in Practical or Medical Ethics. During the second hour of the seminar students will be given the opportunity to present a work/idea in progress, draft papers or thesis chapters for constructive comments and discussion with other graduate students, led by Dr Rebecca Brown.

Part 1: Methods in Applied Ethics: Joseph Moore: 'Personal well-being and positive mental health with application to life in grad school/academia'

Part 2: 'Work in Progress'

Student Presenting: Theo Naylor: 'Persons, Authority, and Advance Directives'

Student Responding: Katherine Gvozdenko

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

Please email rocci.wilkinson@philosophy.ox.ac.uk now to sign up for this seminar, to be placed on the mailing list and/or to sign up for a presentation or response slot in Hilary Term.


Interdisciplinary Psychoanalysis Seminar and the Wollheim Centenary Project

Conveners: Professor KP Tod, Dr L Braddock, Dr N Gildea

'Wollheim on Pictorial Expression'

Speaker: Elisa Galgut, University of Cape Town

Date/Time: Friday 23 February between 6-7pm 

Location: St John's College

One of the reasons we are moved to look at paintings is that they are expressive of deep and often complex emotions. But philosophers have found this puzzling – works of art do not, literally, possess psychologies, so how do they acquire their expressive properties? Richard Wollheim’s answer to this puzzle is to posit that the artist projects her mental states on to her artwork, and we, the spectator, in turn ‘read off’ the projected mental states from the painting.  In this talk, I’ll explore Wollheim’s account of expressiveness in art, with a nod to the ways in which physicality can capture some of our deepest feelings that we may struggle to express in language.




HAPP Conference

'Physics and the Science of Living Things'

Time and Date: Saturday 24 February from 10.30am until 5pm GMT

Venue: University Museum of Natural History

The event will review how physics has contributed to the science of living things from antiquity to the present day through a survey of the milestones in how this knowledge has been gained.

Confirmed speakers are:
Professor Stephen Keevil (King's College London) - Physics and Medicine from Antiquity to the Medieval Period
Professor Kim Hardie (University of Nottingham) - Microscopy and Microbiology: Moving Forward Together
Professor Graham Machin (National Physical Laboratory) - Evolution of Temperature Measurement - Beginnings, Progress and Prospects
Professor Martin Graves (University of Cambridge) - Shadows and Signals: A Brief History of Medical Imaging
Professor Alexandra Olaya-Castro (University College London) - Bridging Quantum Science and Biology
Summary of the Day's Proceedings - Dr Francis Duck (University of Bath)

Registration to attend this conference is free but booking is required as below with two separate booking weblinks, one to attend in person and one to join online.



The full programme is available here.