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Rewley House Weekend Events

Future Events Programme

Phlsoc members are entitled to a 10% discount on weekend courses listed below
(not applicable to the unacredited lecture series).

September 16 (one day): Free Speech
Richard Sorabji (Tawney Room)
In this day school we will be examining Free Speech. We shall start by examining the development of the idea of Free Speech starting in the fifth century BC and including ancient Greece, India, Persia, medieval Arabic-speaking countries and medieval Christianity. We shall then consider some of the difficulties inherent in Free Speech. We will consider the USA’s legal requirement on Free Speech, which allows few boundaries, and also John Stuart Mill’s emphasis on the benefits of Free Speech, as opposed to our right to it. We’ll examine the question of what happens when someone exercises their right when that frustrates the benefits of Free Speech, by closing down discussion and understanding. Should lovers of Free Speech voluntarily refrain from indulging their right, or encouraging others to do so, in such cases? Finally we shall look at the difficulties of framing legal boundaries to free speech. Should abuse of religion, class, or race be legally outlawed, if intended to cause offence, or if likely to do so? Did the Brexit campaign uncover further legal difficulties? For example did the law permit too much speech hostile to foreigners, or allow too much mendacity? How should we deal with lies in the newspapers, or abuse on the internet? There will be plenty of opportunity to socialise with other participants and with the speaker.
October 9 - November 13, 14:00 - 15:30: Knowledge (unaccredited lecture series)
Marianne Talbot (Lecture Theatre)
The claim that knowledge cannot be false always attracts objections. “Surely people used to know that the Earth was flat?”, people will say “But that was false”. But no, people once falsely believed they knew the Earth was flat. They didn’t, and couldn’t, KNOW it – and that is because if a belief counts as knowledge it must be true. This course will introduce you to Epistemology – the Theory of Knowledge. What is knowledge? Why is knowledge important? What different kinds of knowledge are there? Can we achieve knowledge? If we can achieve knowledge how can we achieve it? Knowledge is one of the most important goods that human beings can achieve – come to these lectures and discover why this is the case.
October 21-22: Wagner and Philosophy
Meade McLoughan and John Deathridge (Lecture Theatre)
Richard Wagner (1813-1883) has long been considered one of the most obviously philosophical of the great artists in the European tradition. This is in recognition both of the way in which his work was particularly open to philosophical influences and of the extent to which it has in turn stimulated significant philosophical responses. We will start by evaluating the importance of Schopenhauer’s philosophy for Wagner, before considering the extent to which the music dramas can be understood as presenting their own distinctive philosophical ideas. There will be then be two different takes on philosophical approaches to Wagner, focusing on the most important and sustained instance of this in the work of Wagner’s one-time friend and colleague, Nietzsche, but also taking in twentieth-century responses from Adorno and others.
November 25-26: The Rationality of Animals
Alex Kecelnic and Marianne Talbot (Lecture Theatre)
Aristotle called humans ‘the only rational animal’. But was he right? What exactly is it to be rational? Are there really no animals (birds, plants…) that are rational? Surely animals, birds and plants might be rational in a different way from human beings? Maybe there are degrees of rationality? We know for sure that different disciplines make use of different accounts of rationality – perhaps the idea of what it is to be rational must be relativized to different disciplines. Perhaps, even within a discipline, it should be relativized to different species? During this weekend a philosopher and a zoologist will be addressing these questions and more.

January 13-14: Equality, Opportunity and Difference
Jo Wollf and Emily McTernan (Lecture Theatre)
If we were asked which principles we’d like to see govern our society, many if not most people in the West would refer to equality. Yet our society is currently more unequal that ever (on one measurement of equality). Few would advocate strict equality, according to which resources would be divided equally amongst everyone. Such a distribution seems guaranteed to ensure inequality. But if this is not what we mean, what do we mean? And what resources do we want to distribute equally – material goods, or goods such as well-being or happiness? Or is it that we want to ensure equality of opportunity, so that equality of outcome is not something that we aim for? During this weekend we will look at these difficult questions, and others.
February 17-18: Kantian Metaphysics
Anil Gomes and Adrian Moore (Tawney Room)
Kant’s transcendental idealism consisted in his claim that both our experience of the empirical world and the empirical world itself have a structure that we ourselves impose (where this structure includes space, time, and causation). But he also denied that this structure is a feature of things as they are in themselves, quite independent of our experience of them. By combining these two theses Kant rejected both the ‘tabula rasa’ (blank slate) favoured by the empiricists, and the a priori knowledge of the world favoured by the rationalists. Kant also held that there are two aspects to reason, and this has important consequences for freedom. Practical reason (particularly morality) presupposes freewill, but theoretical reason cannot demonstrate that we are free. During this weekend we will discuss the thought of this hugely important philosopher.
March 10-11: Realism and Emergence in the Philosophy of Science
James Ladyman and Naomi Thompson (Tawney Room)
During this weekend school we will consider metaphysics and its relation to science. We will be considering whether we need metaphysics at all, and if so why. One view is that the two types of enquiry are needed to guide and constrain each other – the two are components of a complete understanding of the world. We will also look at the notions of ‘dependence’ and ‘emergence’. One area of philosophy where such notions might do important work is in accounting for the relationship between the mental and the physical. We will consider different accounts of metaphysical dependence and emergence, and how they might be used to clarify the debate.
April 07-08: Where is the Mind?
Marianne Talbot (Tawney Room)
There are all sorts of reasons for thinking that the mind is in the head. It is not, after all, events in the environment that make you do what you do, it is your beliefs about such events. Beliefs, surely, are in your head? If you think the mind is the brain, of course, you will certainly think that the mind is in the head. But in recent years many philosophers have turned their back on this obvious thought and embraced externalism in the philosophy of mind. In doing this they claim that mental states are not in the head. During this weekend we shall be considering the arguments for (and against) this claim, and the ramifications for its truth.
May 19-20: Beyond the Nature/Nurture Controversy: Moral Autonomy and Social Change
Ellen Fridland and Peter Railton (Sadler Room)
It is often asked of morality, "Is it nature or nurture?" Virtually everyone today agrees that the correct answer is "Both". But that answer opens new questions, not simply questions about the relative contribution of "nature" or "nurture" (or whether these can even be meaningfully separated), but also about whether there is something more to moral development that this debate usually presupposes. 'Nature' and 'nurture' as these terms are traditionally used cast the individual in a passive role in moral development – either by genetic inheritance or by inculcation of the norms of his society by socialization. We'd like to emphasize how that humans are equipped not just to receive such shaping forces, but also for active, original moral learning that can carry us beyond the moral world we inherit, and help explain how morality can be a domain of independent thinking, and vibrant innovation and change.
October 08 - November 12, 14:00 - 15:30: TBA (unaccredited lecture series)

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October 20 - 21: TBA

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November 24-25: TBA

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January 12-13: TBA

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February 16-17: TBA

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March 09-10: TBA

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April 06-07: TBA

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May 18-19: TBA

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