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Forum for European Philosophy

LSE European Institute Heart of Europe Series

During the forthcoming academic year the Forum for European Philosophy in collaboration with the European Institute at the LSE will be hosting a public programme of special events under the title The Heart of Europe. The recent upheavals and tensions in the EU and the uncertainty over the EU's final frontier are posing fundamental questions at the intersection of philosophy, politics, sociology, economics, literature and intellectual history. The EU plays an ever-larger role in the lives of citizens of the EU member states. And yet many of those citizens do not feel strong ties to the European idea. Indeed, the European project seems to have lost its direction and impetus. Is there a beating heart to Europe today? In this series we seek to engage in a deliberately multidisciplinary way with questions concerning the Heart of Europe.

Michaelmas Term

Monday 22 October, 18.30, New Theatre
Forum for European Philosophy - LSE European Institute Heart of Europe series 
Michael Maclay (Chairman, Citizenship Foundation)
'European Citizenship: practical vision or empty vessel?'
Chair: Maurice Fraser

European citizenship was first proclaimed in the Maastricht Treaty. But little of substance has followed. How far will Europeans ever think of their continent as a shared public space? Does it matter if they don't? Does the nation state provide the only real context for citizenship?

Lent Term

Tuesday 19 February, 18.30-20:00, U8, Tower One, LSE
Forum for European Philosophy - LSE European Institute Heart of Europe series 
Damian Chalmers (Professor in European Law, European Institute and Law Department, LSE)
The Shrivelling of European Citizenship

If the institutionalisation of European citizenship by the Treaty on European Union heralded a new era of political community and membership rights beyond the nation State, a paradox seems to undermine it. Whilst the behaviour of institutional actors and the practice of migrants challenges and devalues many of the membership rights offered by EU citizenship, the heterogeneity and intensity of associational rights and practices enjoyed by non-nationals has, in many ways, increased. This lecture will consider whether this paradox rests in the concept of citizenship being over-extended and treated in an unduly monolithic manner. It then asks whether other more differentiated forms of membership might not be both more normative appealing and better capture the sense of place that many non-nationals wish to create for themselves in their host societies.

>> listen to this lecture as audio file (MP3; 89mins)


An hour and a half of lively discussion at the LSE during lunchtime, this series offers a unique mix of insights into both the biographical and intellectual development of our most distinguished thinkers.

Summer Term

Thursday 5 June, 12:30-2:00pm, Room J116 (Cowdray House, LSE)
Forum for European Philosophy - Dialogues
Elisabeth Schellekens (Lecturer in Philosophy, Durham University)
Peter Lamarque (Professor of Philosophy, University of York)
'The Legacy of Frank Sibley'

This dialogue will centre around the work and legacy of the late Frank Sibley, arguably the first philosopher to bring the methodology of analytic philosophy to Aesthetics. Sibley shaped many of the questions and set the agenda that analytic philosophers working in Aesthetics are still pursuing today. Themes for discussion in this dialogue include the way in which one can and/or should distinguish between aesthetic and non-aesthetic experiences and properties; what aesthetic taste and sensibility really amounts to and what role they play in aesthetic experience; and the possibility of justifying aesthetic judgements. The role of Frank Sibley's work in contemporary Analytic Aesthetics will also be assessed.  

European Identity in Question

In an effort to achieve a clearer view of what it means to be European today, four cultural and academic centres in London, the Institute of Philosophy (University of London School of Advanced Study), the Forum for European Philosophy (London School of Economics), the Goethe Institute and the Institut Français, have come together to host a special series of discussions on European identity.

Summer Term

Wednesday 7 May, 6:30-8:00pm, U8, Tower One
Forum for European Philosophy - European Identity in Question
Richard Bellamy (Professor of Political Science and Director of the School of Public Policy, University College London)
Commentator: JF Jungclaussen

The formation of the European Union has raised new questions about European identity and new problems about citizenship. Can the idea of 'European citizenship' really be applied to the inhabitants of the diverse collection of nation states grouped in the EU? Can the EU really be a democratic institution? Is more democracy good for the EU, and is it effective for its 'citizens'?

Secularity and Value

The recent revival of religion around the globe has raised fundamental questions not only about its role in both national and international politics, but also concerning its claim to serve as a principle of identity indispensable to the continuing survival of communities and peoples across the generations. There are many who would argue strenuously that the sense of belonging to a community is seriously weakened in the absence of a shared religious commitment. Others would insist just as strenuously that social and public life should be both conceived and organised in essentially secular terms. Our lecture series, to be held at the LSE in the summer term 2008, aims to bring together leading thinkers and scholars to encourage discussion and debate on this crucial contemporary theme.

Tuesday 27 May, 6:30-8:00pm, Room E171, New Theatre
Forum for European Philosophy - Secularity and Value
Mona Siddiqui (Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of Centre for the Study of Islam, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow)
'Does Faith Matter for Human Morality?'

Tuesday 3 June, 6:30-8pm, Room E171, New Theatre
Forum for European Philosophy - Secularity and Value
Richard Norman (Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University of Kent)
'Secularism and Shared Values'

Tuesday 10 June, 6:30-8:00pm, Room E171, New Theatre
Forum for European Philosophy - Secularity and Value
Cecile Laborde (Reader in Political Theory, Department of Political Science, University College London)
'A Critical Defense of Secularism'

Tuesday 17 June, 6:30-8:00pm, Room E171, New Theatre
Forum for European Philosophy - Secularity and Value
Cristina Lafont (Professor of Philosophy)
Northwestern University

Thinking in Public - Panel Discussion

The idea that philosophy might have a special role in the public life of a culture, that it might even be tied or allied in its own discipline to the virtue of public space, to the res publica, to public-ness, typically goes without saying in continental Europe. The philosopher should always be more than a mere reader and spectator of human thinking and doing, and should contribute to its public formation: the philosopher should be engagé

In Britain, by contrast, even if there is some appetite to be informed about philosophy, there are, it seems, few calls for our culture and our public space to be informed by it. Moreover, when philosophers do 'take to the streets' themselves they are often derided as mere 'popularisers' by their peers. In short, the 'engagé' philosopher in Britain is neither embraced by society nor applauded by the professional discipline. 

In this special event we will reflect on this 'European exception', and ask whether society or the philosophical profession in Britain would, in our time, benefit from efforts to make a distinctively philosophical contribution to thinking in public.

Thursday 26 June, 6:00-8:00pm, Old Theatre
Forum for European Philosophy - Thinking in Public
'The European Exception? The Public Intellectual in Britain'
Chair: Melvyn Bragg
Panel: A.C. Grayling (Professor of Philosophy, Birkbeck), Julian Baggini (Editor of The Philosopher's Magazine), and Kate Soper (Professor of Philosophy, London Metropolitan University)

Re-Visions - on Richard Rorty

Thursdays, 6:30-8:00pm, Room J116 (Cowdray House, LSE)
Noel Gascoigne (Principal Lecturer in Philosophy, Roehampton University)

In these talks, Neil Gascoigne explores the development and implications of Richard Rorty's neo-pragmatism. The first talk uses Rorty's autobiographical fragment "Trotsky and the Wild Orchids" to introduce his conception of the relationship between philosophy and politics, and what he takes to be the consequent task for the contemporary intellectual. The second talk turns to Rorty's earliest work in the philosophy of mind and shows how his subsequent 'turn' against materialism leads to his non-Realist views on truth and objectivity, views he regarded as important for the renewal of the enlightenment project. The final talk looks at how much pragmatism, as a philosophical movement, constitutes a self-conscious break with the 'authority' of the European tradition. The issue this raises is the extent to which it is tied to a specifically American conception of democracy, thus raising the question:  'of what use is pragmatism to we Europeans?'

Thursday 15 May
'No Single Vision: Autobiography, Politics, and Philosophy'

Thursday 29 May
'Out of Mind Talk'

Thursday 12 June
'Philosophy and the Idea of America'