Royal Institute of Philosophy @ Keele

Another busy start of the academic year, but with two excellent Royal Institute of Philosophy Invited Lectures and two more to come. In addition, we will have a Special Lecture organised by the Forum for Philosophical Research on 22 November (concluding with an improvised duet by the speaker, Steve Tormans, and Keele Philosophy Lecturer, James Tartaglia). The Special Lecture will follow shortly after the UNESCO World Philosophy Day (on 17 November 2011). So, we will take this opportunity to celebrate also this special day. The next RIP Lecture will be on 29 November 2011.

I paste below details of the first two RIP lectures, more information about the next one and the Forum Special Lecture, as well as a letter from the General Director of UNESCO on the occasion of the World Philosophy Day.

(All events take place on Tuesdays, 6-7.30pm in Room CBA0.060, Chancellors Building)

11 October 2011

Dr Stephen Boulter, Oxford Brookes University (Stephen Boulter is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford Brookes University. He is the author of The Rediscovery of Common Sense Philosophy [2007, Palgrave Macmillan], and co-editor of Palgrave’s Philosopher’s in Depth series. His main interests are in philosophical methodology and metaphysics)

Can Consequences Be Right-makers?

Abstract: This talk sets out a novel challenge to consequentialism as a theory in normative ethics. The challenge is rooted in the ontological claim that consequences of actions do not exist at the time required to be that in virtue of which actions are right or wrong, and so consequences cannot play the role attributed to them by consequentialists. The challenge takes the form of an aporia. The consequentialist is confronted with a set of propositions she will find individually plausible but incompossible if taken in conjunction with consequentialism. The task is to restore consistency. The most plausible route to this end, I suggest, is to reject consequentialism. There are other ways of restoring consistency, but they come at the cost of endorsing highly implausible and unattractive theses. I begin by setting out the aporia itself, and then canvass the various options available to the consequentialist. What emerges from these reflections is that the cost of remaining faithful to consequentialism is very high indeed.

8 November 2011

Dr Nils Kurbis, University of Sheffield (Nils Kurbis completed his PhD at King’s College, London, and has worked at the UCL, Canterbury and Sheffield, where he is currently based. He has research interests in Philosophicqal and Formal Logic, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mathematics and Metaphysics.)

On Tortoises and Vegetables

Abstract: In Lewis Carroll’s paper “What the Tortoise said to Achilles”, the Tortoise asks Achilles to force him to accept a simple logical inference from two premises to a conclusion. Achilles attempts to do that by asking the Tortoise to accept that if the premises of the inference are true, then the conclusion must be true. The Tortoise complies, but points out that this adds another premise to the inference. So now Achilles has to force the Tortoise to accept a longer inference, an inference from three premises to the conclusion. So Achilles asks the Tortoise to accept that if these three premises are true, the conclusion is true. Again, the Tortoise complies, but once more points out that this adds another premise to the inference, so Achilles now has to convince the Tortoise to accept an even longer inference from four premises to a conclusion. Achilles strategy leads to an infinite regress. I’ll discuss some standard solutions to Carroll’s puzzle, and use a passage from Aristotle’s Metaphysics (Gamma book 3 and 4) to try to illuminate what Carroll’s paper might show.

22 November 2011

Steve Tromans (Middlesex University)
Relating with the Non-human: A Deleuzian Ethological Model of Improvised Music-making in Events of Performance

Abstract: As an improvising pianist, I approach working with the piano in much the same way as I would working with another, human, music-maker by attending to the affective potential of our working relationship, as it emerges in events of performance. In my lecture, I will propose a purposeful disregarding of the categorisation of the human and the non-human, by relating aspects of a deleuzian spinozan ethology. The constitutive ethological nature of creative practice in performance will be brought to full attention, revealing it to be far from simply a human creative practice, with implications for the ways in which we not only model, but also live our lives.

*The lecture will conclude with an improvised duet by Steve Tromans and James Tartaglia*

29 November 2011

Dr Danièle Moyale-Sharrock, University of Hertfordshire

Universal Grammar: Wittgenstein Vs Chomsky


Message from Ms Irina Bokova,

Director-General of UNESCO,

on the occasion of World Philosophy Day

17 November 2011

Philosophy, the exercise of critical thought and freedom of expression are vital in the collective search for lasting responses to the challenges of peace and development. This message is central to World Philosophy Day, celebrated by UNESCO since 2002.

In 2011, the extraordinary exuberance of the Arab Spring invites each one of us, whether participants in or spectators of these events, to ponder the meaning of history, social justice, gender equality and fundamental freedoms. Several large-scale disasters – in particular, the earthquake followed by a tsunami and nuclear accident in Fukushima – have emphasized the powerful relevance of questions on the place of humans in nature. All of these events call on us to bolster our efforts to provide everyone, the young and the less young alike, with the means for understanding our rapidly changing societies.

Philosophy is an inexhaustible wellspring of renewal for ideas and societies. This year, the UNESCO Youth Forum once again took stock of young people’s thirst for reflective thinking and intellectual innovation. In response, UNESCO wishes to rally the whole human sciences community to whet their appetite for philosophy, even among the very young. Initiatives for children’s philosophical practice are very promising and offer real opportunities for educational progress. They deserve our full attention.

On 17 November, UNESCO and its partners in many Member States are holding hundreds of symposia, conferences and debates. The International Network of Women Philosophers, founded in 2007 under the auspices of UNESCO, will host its Third Assembly in Paris. The event is one of the main platforms for international exchange enabling women philosophers to play an influential role in contemporary debates.

The practice of philosophy is a process benefitting the whole of society. It helps to build bridges between peoples and cultures and heightens demand for quality education for all. Philosophy encourages respect for cultural diversity, exchanging opinions and sharing the benefits of science, which are the conditions for genuine debate. This 17 November, let us rally together to harness the incredibly transformative potential of philosophy.

Irina Bokova