Home & News


Non-UK Members

Joining the Society

Membership Renewal


Events Programme

The Review

Members' Weekend

International Members' Weekend

Away Day

Discussion Forum

Chadwick Prize

Philsoc Student Prize


Links & Portraits



Rewley House Weekend Events

Future Events Programme

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

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: Explanation (unaccredited lecture series)
Marianne Talbot (Lecture Theatre)
For human beings the intelligibility of our world is hugely important. We want – perhaps need – explanations for phenomenon that interests us. We want, that is, explanations to everything. But what is an explanation? And what is the process of explaining? Some people believe that all explanations are causal. But if so are there different types of causal explanation? Are reason explanations of our own behaviour, for example, a particular type of causal explanation? Will science ever explain everything? Or are there limits to scientific explanation? Recently it has been suggested that it is not the case that all explanations are causal. This is a live debate with some philosophers arguing that all apparent non-causal explanations are in fact causal, and others insisting that they are wrong.
October 20 - 21: TBA

Details TBA
November 24-25: TBA

Details TBA

January 12-13: Wittgenstein: Religion and Nonsense
Mikel Burley and Stephen Mulhall
Wittgenstein's ideas about religion have been much more influential than is sometimes thought. The first two lectures will consider this influence, concentrating on Wittgenstein's remarks on James Frazer's The Golden Bough and Wittgenstein's proposal that we overcome the temptation to view certain religious practices as simply confused or nonsensical. We shall look at this through the lens of D.Z.Phillips' 'contemplative conception of philosophy', the purpose of which is to disclose 'possibilities of sense' within religious forms of life. In lectures three and four we shall consider the connections between Wittgenstein's views on ethics and his treatment of value in the Tractatus, and so to his early conception of sense and nonsense in language. It will be suggested that Wittgenstein's treatment of absolute value in his 'Lecture on Ethics', taken together with his comparison of mathematical conjectures with riddles, provides a fruitful way of understanding a range of religious uses of language. It will be claimed that Wittgensteinian sense can be made of the thought that religious language is necessarily nonsensical, but none the worse for that; indeed, if it were not nonsensical, it could not have the significance that religious believers attribute to it, and to the faith it expresses.
February 16-17: TBA

Details TBA
March 09-10: TBA

Details TBA
April 06-07: TBA

Details TBA
May 18-19: TBA

Details TBA