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OUDCE Philosophy Weekends at Rewley House

Future Events Programme

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

November 27-128: Identifying Future-Proof Science
Philip Goff and Peter Vickers

Is science getting at the truth? Sceptics claim that, given all the ‘scientific revolutions’ in the history of science, we should expect further major changes in scientific thinking in the future. They ask: given the history of science, wouldn’t it be naïve to think that many/most current scientific theories reveal ‘the truth’, and will never be discarded in favour of other theories? After all, previous scientists thought so, and they were wrong.

Philosophers of science have resisted this line of thought by identifying important differences between past science and current science, including differences in the size of the scientific community, and the quantity and quality of the evidence involved. However, very big U-turns in science have been quite recent, including attitudes towards continental drift in the 1960s, and the dramatic revelation, in 1998, that the universe’s expansion is accelerating. It seems reasonable to suppose that very big U-turns will continue, especially when we dare to look 500 years ahead. It is even possible that a revolution going right to the core of the scientific method is required in order to tackle consciousness.

Thus we must ask the question: Is it possible to identify any future-proof science?

February 05-06: Human Nature: Does Evolutionary Explanation Have Limits?
Anthony O'Hear and Friedel Weinert

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection might reasonably be considered one of the most successful theories of all times. But how should we understand it? Are there in fact two theories rather than one (linear and branching evolution)? Can the theory be used both to explain and to predict?

What, furthermore, are the implications of Darwin’s theory for some of the problems that we consider in philosophy? Can Darwin’s theory account for human nature, for example, or is there something about human beings that requires supplementary explanation? Can Darwin’s theory be appealed to in explanation of the emergence, for example, of the human mind? Might Darwin’s theory be applied to our political, social and economic behaviour? Or might it, in such an application, be thought to defeat itself as Marxianism and Freudianism do?

During this weekend we will hear two philosophers discuss what the Theory of Natural Selection can, and can’t explain.

February 26: A Day with the Stoics
Peter Wyss

Stoicism is an ancient school of philosophy that is gaining prominence again. One reason for this revival is the Stoics’ concern with making philosophy relevant as something that ought to be lived, or somehow be connected to our life. Doing philosophy is taking care of oneself, and considering how best to live a life that is also worth living.

In four thematic and interactive sessions we discuss a range of exemplary passages from the works of Seneca (e.g., from On the Happy Life) and Epictetus (e.g., from the Discourses). We focus on the period of the early Roman Empire (roughly 30–180 AC), but occasionally glance at the original Athenian Stoics (roughly 300–50 BC). We explore a variety of central ethical themes, and examine to what extent, and in what ways, Stoic ideas matter for our own lives now. Stoic teaching was public and open to anyone in antiquity: and so beginners in philosophy are most welcome today too.

A course pack with the relevant passages and sources will be available in advance.

May 07-08: Might Ignorance Be Bliss?
Rachel Fraser and Bernhard Salow

Might our judgements or what we take to be evidencebe systematically biased or irrational? To what extent are we able to transcend our current perspectives? How do we handle the potential conflict between past and future versions of ourselves? And how do we resolve the conflicts between the demands of the evidence, the search for truth, and the moral and practical constraints we are subject to?

This weekend will introduce you to philosophical tools for thinking about how to manage and respond to evidence. On the one hand, evidence is usually valuable: the more we know, the better our decisions tend to be. On the other hand, sometimes knowing more makes us worse off---for example, when the evidence we gather is misleading, or we interpret it in a biased way. We will explore how to reason about these trade-offs in a precise way, to determine when (and why) it does (and doesnt) make sense to continue gathering evidence before making a decision.