Digest Week 7 Hilary Term 2019

HT19, Week 7 (25th February - 3rd March)

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

ERC Research Seminar on Responsibility | Agential abilities/Abilities and dispositions  | 10.00 - 12.00 | Department of Philosophy, University College London

Led by John Hyman (UCL). The target readings are:

- Anthony Kenny. 1975. Will, Freedom and Power. Blackwell. Ch. 7 “Spontaneity, Indifference, and Ability.”
- Maria Alvarez. Forthcoming. “Agency, Ability and Control.” To be circulated to the participants.


Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics seminar | Internal Double WiP Seminar | 11.00 - 12.30 | Colin Matthew Room, Radcliffe Humanities 

Oxford University members only. Booking not required. 

Seminar 1 - Speaker: Kanako Takae (Seijo University). Title: Can We Obligate Animals?

Some animal rights theorists, such as Tom Regan and Gary Francione, argue that we should end domestication. They claim that we have no moral justification to bring animals into existence for human use. Their position is called ‘abolitionism.’ Although what grounds animal rights differ among scholars, they share the view that animal right is violated by the status of property. From which abolitionism advocates what Christine Korsgaard calls ‘apartheid’: humans and animals should be equal, but must be separate completely. 
Abolitionists’ claim is strong in a sense that it is not a matter of social structure that animals have been wronged in our society. Even if we consider animal welfare seriously, we cannot avoid violating their rights. That is, it is by nature impossible to live together with animals without making them subjects to our wills. 
I will start my talk by pointing out the fact that both abolitionists and those who don’t accept animal rights regard animals as passive entities, meaning that we cannot jointly construct and share a social world. Incorporating animals into our society therefore is to subordinate them to humans. The two opposing positions just differ in its permissibility. In this talk, I will explore a possibility of reciprocal relationships with animals. In particular, I will question abolitionists’ view, examining whether or not we can stand in a position to obligate animals. In other words, is there a case in which we can legitimately make animals conform to our society? If so, then we would be able to show that incorporating animals in our society doesn’t always lead us to violate animal rights.

Seminar 2 - Speaker: Masanori Kataoka (University of Tokyo). Title: Tool-using, Nudge, and Autonomy

Abstract: Tools are often thought to be instrumental. They seem only to help given desires to be satisfied by providing better means to them. In fact, however, tools can affect or alter our desires themselves both through deliberative and unconscious processes. This fact may be morally problematic because, by changing desires, tools can undermine autonomy of agents. The situation, I will point out, is essentially the same with that of Nudge. In recent debates on Nudge, arranging things to affect our desires is often regarded too paternalistic. In both cases, autonomous agency is threatened by ordinary things. But when and in which sense is still controversial. I claim that the effects of things to our desires are morally problematic when the resultant choice is not corresponding to what the agent would choose deliberatively. Further question concerns blame. When things deprive autonomy of agents, are they blameworthy as people doing the same thing? It depends, I suggest, on whether things are designed to do so or not. If designed, things are blameworthy. This means either that people who design or produce them are blameworthy, or that things themselves are blameworthy.


Oxford Forum | Wisdom, Failure and Living Well | 16.00 | Stanford University Centre, Stanford House (65 High Street)

Speaker: Beverley Clack, Professor in the Philosophy of Religion, Oxford Brookes University
Chair: Roxana Baiasu, Tutorial Fellow, Stanford University Centre in Oxford; Member of the Philosophy Faculty, University of Oxford

In this lecture, Professor Clack explores the relationship between failure and the development of wisdom. Drawing upon the relationship between psychoanalytic psychotherapy and philosophy, she suggests  that both can be understood as forms of practice which, at their best encourage the work of integration. Wisdom is, as a result, something which informs and emanates from the well-lived life, and accommodating failure is a vital part of this process.

This event is free to attend and open to all; there is no need to register. For more information, contact: roxana.baiasu@philosophy.ox.ac.uk 


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

Please note that there has been a change of venue to Radcliffe Humanities. 

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 

Graduate student training | Advice session: Publishing journal articles | 17.00 - 18.30 | Ryle Room, Radcliffe Humanities

Publish or perish? This session offers some insight and advise for publishing one’s work in top philosophy journals, and offers the opportunity to ask questions. With Bernhard Salow, and Matthew Mandelkern. 


Philosophical Asceticism, Social Justice, and Slavery in Late Antique Christianity: Sources and Connections | 17.00 | Lecture Room, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Gibson Building
Speaker: Ilaria Ramelli (Fowler Hamilton Visiting Fellow, Christ Church) has authored numerous books, articles, and reviews on ancient philosophy, especially Platonism and Stoicism, patristic theology and philosophy, early Christianity (Greek and Latin, but also in part Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian), the New Testament, the reception of Scripture, imperial and late antiquity, ancient religions, classics, and the reception of classical culture in Christianity. She views patristic philosophy (esp. Platonism) as part and parcel of ancient and late antique philosophy, and endeavours to bridge the Philosophy-Theology-Classics divide. Her works promote an integrative, but in-depth, study of antiquity and late antiquity, as well as of Philosophy and Theology and their interrelation, both in the past and in contemporary thought.

WEH/Ethox seminars | The Basic Structure Model of Research Stakeholder Obligations | 11.00 - 12.30 | Seminar Room 1, Big Data Institute (Please note the change in room)

Speaker: Danielle M. Wenner, Department of Philosophy, Associate Director, Center for Ethics and Policy, Carnegie Mellon University (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 debate about the so-called “social value requirement” for clinical research is predicated on a model of research stakeholder obligations that conceives research as primarily a private transaction between individuals. I argue that in fact clinical research is one component of an institutional structure governing the health systems in which individuals participate – an institutional structure from which they cannot opt out and which will have deep and lasting impacts on their life prospects.  As such, stakeholders in the research enterprise have obligations not only to those with whom they directly interact as sponsors, investigators, and participants, but also to all of those who are governed by the institutional structure of which clinical research is a central part and whose lives it aims to fundamentally impact.  Importantly, those obligations are grounded in obligations of justice and not in the ethics of free and fair transactions, implying that members of society have a claim to health research priority-setting motivated (primarily?) by the demands of justice.  I go on to explore some of the implications of this view.

For further details please visit https://www.weh.ox.ac.uk/upcoming-events/the-basic-structure-model-of-research-stakeholder-obligations


Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics Internal WiP Seminar | Moving from outsider to insider through metrics: The inclusion of Neglected Tropical Diseases into the Sustainable Development Goals | 14.30 - 15.30 | Oxford Martin School, Seminar Room 2

Oxford University members only. No booking required. 

Speaker: Samantha Vanderslott (Oxford Martin Fellow, Oxford Martin Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease) 

"Neglected Tropical Diseases" (NTDs) are lesser-known diseases, existing in the poorest communities in the shadow of the high-profile and well-funded "Big Three" (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria). Blame for neglect is pointed towards a number of protagonists: pharmaceutical companies for not investing in diseases of the poor but also donor governments and NGOs for directing attention at high mortality diseases. Yet other sites of neglect tend to be ignored, such as global governance priorities. Exclusion of NTDs from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 started the ball rolling for an advocacy campaign to raise these diseases up the global health agenda. The MDG omission was used as a frame by advocates to highlight neglect and led to subsequent inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, set out in 2015, now specifically include NTDs alongside AIDs, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis, water-borne diseases, and other communicable diseases, in a goal to end epidemics by 2030. However, a reframing based on a concept of neglect was not sufficient to ensure a place on the top of global health priorities. The NTD problem also needed to be made measurable, with metrics to provide a rationale for intervention set in evidence-based logic and to track progress towards success in quantifiable terms.


The globotics upheaval: globalization, robotics, and the future of work | 17.00 - 18.15 | Oxford Martin School 

Speaker: Professor Richard Baldwin, Professor of International Economics, Graduate Institute, Geneva.

Automation, AI and robotics are changing our lives quickly - but digital disruption goes much further than we realise.
In this talk, Richard Baldwin, one of the world's leading globalisation experts, will explain that exponential growth in computing, transmission and storage capacities is also creating a new form of 'virtual' globalisation that could undermine the foundations of middle-class prosperity in the West. 

This event will be followed by a drinks reception and book signing. Further details & registration: https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/event/2628


Security Ethics Seminar Series | The Ethics of the Chemical Weapons Taboo | 17.30 | All Souls College

In conjunction with the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and the Changing Character of War Programme. Oxford University members only - booking not required.

Speaker: Michelle Bentley, University of London.
For more information, please visit Oxford Talks: https://talks.ox.ac.uk/talks/id/9f1c7072-7f01-4a39-b722-006881dff636/


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.

Philosophical Foundations of the Common Law Series | Causation in the Law: Why causation matters | 15.00 - 17.00 | Knowles Room, Wadham College

In the preface to the second edition of Causation in the Law, Hart and Honoré ask: ‘Why should we regard [causing] as the central form of legal responsibility for outcomes?’ and they admit that the book makes little direct progress with that question. The question connects their work with puzzles in the theory of action and moral theory, often cast as problems about luck. If how our actions turn out is always ‘up to nature’ (Donald Davidson’s phrase) how can it ever be our doing, let alone our responsibility, let alone our moral responsibility? In this way the law seems to be drawn into the problem that has come to be known as the problem of moral luck. If criminal law or tort law or the law of contract is going to be morally defensible, or even morally intelligible, don’t we need to explain how people can be regarded as agents, in a morally salient way, of the outcomes of their actions? But can so regarding them survive the realisation that one and the same moment of carelessness, or even one and the same intention, could lead (depending on the fates) to no harm or massive harm or anything in between? 

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. 


Critical Theory Seminar | The real political contradiction of Adorno’s Critical Theory | 17.00 - 18.30 | Old Library, All Souls College

Speaker: Gordan Finlayson (Sussex). 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.


Evolving Economic Thought lecture series | Saving labour: automation and its enemies  | 17.00 | Oxford Martin School 

Speaker: Carl Benedikt Frey, Co-Director, Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment.

For further details and registration, please visit https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/event/2659


Ian Ramsey Centre seminar (in collaboration with the Humane Philosophy Project | Evil and the Myths We Live By | 17.00 – 18.15 | Theology Main Lecture Theatre, Gibson Building

Speaker: Mark Hocknull, University of Lincoln. Website: www.ianramseycentre.ox.ac.uk

An historical analysis of the concept of evil reveals a high degree of historical relativism in what has counted as evil at different times. Though the classical tradition understood evil in metaphysical terms, since the Enlightenment evil has been seen as a human, moral phenomenon. Plato, and following him St Augustine, saw evil in terms of a privation of good, which Augustine linked to a moral failure. Enlightenment optimism understood evil as a moral failing which could be overcome through human progress and enlightenment. In the 20th century, the Holocaust stands as the paradigm of evil and stands as a direct challenge to the idea of human (moral) progress overcoming evil. In the early 21st century, suffering and genocide have become paradigmatic symbols of evil. The philosophical tradition has largely embraced the idea of evil as a moral category and sees its relativity as a consequence of moral relativism. In this paper I seek to reconnect metaphysical and moral concepts of evil through the concept of entropy, which I interpret as wastefulness or futility. I reverse Augustine’s scheme, arguing that metaphysical evil is the ground of moral evil.


St Cross Special Ethics Seminar | Is there a Moral Problem with the Gig Economy? | 17.30 - 19.00 | Lecture Theatre, St Cross College

Speaker: Daniel Halliday, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Melbourne.

Recent advances in communication economy have created new ways for consumers to access service labour. Those who own the platforms associated with these services typically do not employ their workers, but treat them as freelance or 'gig' workers. This has led to a popular complaint that gig work is exploitative or otherwise unjust, and that the platforms need to regulated so that their workers qualify as employees. Many people now boycott the platforms using gig work, or feel uncomfortable about using it. But it is not obvious what the connection is between gig work and injustice or exploitation per se. After all, gig work has always been around in many other forms, and much of it compares favourably with employment in firms. This is not to dismiss the concern that many have with particular kinds of gig work, only to observe that the problem is complicated and calls for more detailed moral theorizing. At bottom, what's needed is a proper theory of what the difference between employment and freelance/gig work is supposed to be, and what moral purpose it serves. This talk will aim to make some progress in this direction.

Booking: https://bookwhen.com/uehiro. Dinner: PAYG dinner at Chutney’s for Oxford University members only. RSVP rachel.gaminiratne@philosophy.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.

Dahrendorf Programme, The 2019 Leszek Kołakowski Lecture | Central European philosophy and the search for truth in dark times | 17.00 - 18.45 | Seminar Room, European Studies Centre

Speaker: Marci Shore (Yale University). Chair: Timothy Garton Ash (European Studies Centre, St Antony’s, Oxford).

For the full abstract, please visit the event webpage. Please email european.studies@sant.ox.ac.uk in order to register to attend in advance.