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April 2018

Matt Farr (Cambridge): “The C Theory of Time”

30 April, 5:15 pm6:45 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: Does time have a direction? Intuitively, it does. After all, our experiences, our thoughts, even our scientific explanations of phenomena are time-directed: things evolve from earlier to later, and it would seem unnecessary and indeed odd to try to expunge such talk from our philosophical lexicon. Nevertheless, in this talk I will make the case for what I call…

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Shakespeare (the Forum)

30 April, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Old Theatre, Old Building, London School of Economics, Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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For Victor Hugo, "all forms of the multiple reality, actions and ideas, man and humanity" can be found in Shakespeare. Perhaps this is the reason why, over 400 years after his death, we continue to study, perform, and re-read his plays in search of truths about ourselves and the world. Should we think of Shakespeare as a philosopher? Can reading him philosophically add to our understanding of his work, or is it simply another way of trying to contain this "myriad-minded" (Coleridge) thinker?

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May 2018

Tim Button (Cambridge): “Mathematical Internal Realism”

1 May, 2:00 pm3:30 pm

Abstract: In "Models and Reality", Putnam sketched a version of his internal realism as it might arise in the philosophy of mathematics. The sketch was tantalising, but it was only a sketch. Mathematics was not the focus of any of his later writings on internal realism, and Putnam ultimately abandoned internal realism itself. As such, I have often wondered: What might…

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Simon Beard (Cambridge): “Risk, Relevance and the Aggregation of Competing Claims View”

2 May, 5:30 pm7:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: Alex Voorhoeve has developed his Competing Claims view as a way of mediating between, and quantifying, our pro and anti-segregationist leanings concerning the evaluating of consequences, especially in relation to distributive fairness. Voorhoeve however has declined to consider the implications of this view for how we should respond to social risk, ambiguity and different sized populations. In this paper…

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Affirmative Action (the Forum)

9 May, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Old Theatre, Old Building, London School of Economics, Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Women and minority groups are significantly underrepresented in politics and various other walks of life. "Affirmative action" is one response in tackling this enduring issue. But what is it? Who is it for? And why does it generate so much controversy? We discuss these questions and explore the relationship between affirmative action and social justice.

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Animals (the Forum)

15 May, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Humans have always co-existed with animals, using them as tools, resources, and, more recently, companions. More abstractly, animals help us to understand ourselves; they are ‘good to think with’ (Claude Lévi-Strauss). What roles do animals play in our understanding of issues as wide as ethics, art, friendship, and technology? And what does it mean for understanding ourselves if we seriously acknowledge our relationships with other animals? Coinciding with the publication of The Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies, we will consider the relevance of animals to a wide range of contemporary concerns.

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Panel Discussion of the von Neumann and Morgenstern cardinalisation of wellbeing

16 May, 5:30 pm7:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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The von Neumann and Morgenstern framework is frequently adopted to determine a numerical measure of individual wellbeing or goodness, i.e. of how good the realisation of different possible states of affairs would be for an individual. It is also sometimes used to determine a measure of social wellbeing or of the moral (overall) goodness of different states of affairs. The panel will debate the appropriateness of these uses of the von Neumann and Morgenstern framework and in particular whether the measure it determines best represents individual and moral goodness.

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James Read (Oxford): “Geometry and conspiracy in relativity theory”

21 May, 5:15 pm6:45 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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I discuss the debate between advocates of dynamical versus geometrical approaches to spacetime theories, in the context of both special and general relativity. By distinguishing between what I call ‘individual’ versus ‘modal’ constraints, I argue—pace e.g. Brown—that there exists available a perfectly viable form of the geometrical approach.

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Reason (the Forum)

21 May, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Old Theatre, Old Building, London School of Economics, Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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"Reason" and "knowledge", and the relationship between them, were major themes in Enlightenment philosophy, and drew the attention of some of the most respected philosophers of the time, including Decartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza, often referred to as the rationalists, and Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, the so-called empiricists. Since then, the empiricists have tended to have the upper hand in intellectual life, if not always in philosophy. In this event, we discuss what was at stake in these debates, what we might say about these ideas today, and whether we’ve been too quick to dismiss rationalism.

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Glen Weyl (Yale/Microsoft Research): “Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society”

23 May, 5:30 pm7:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: Many blame today's economic inequality, stagnation, and political instability on the free market. The solution is to rein in the market, right? We challenge this thinking— as well as most arguments in favor of and against markets. We offer new, but historically rooted, ways to imagine markets for the common good. We argue that the emancipatory force of genuinely open,…

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Matt Adler (Duke) “The structure of luck prioritarianism”

30 May, 5:30 pm7:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: TBA

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June 2018

Laszlo Szabo (Eotvos University): “Empirical definitions of spatiotemporal conceptions”

4 June, 5:15 pm6:45 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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First I will argue for the inevitability of a coherent, non-circular system of operational definitions of the basic spatiotemporal quantities, in terms of which the empirically testable spatiotemporal statements of physics should be expressed. A few examples will illustrate that the task is not trivial, especially if the definitions should hold with high, relativistic, precision. In my talk, I will outline a possible construction of such a system of operational definitions. It will be seen that the complete collection of operational definitions, by means of which one can reconstruct something similar to our usual spatiotemporal intuitions, would require the satisfaction of certain conditions. Whether these conditions are satisfied is an empirical question which has never truly been examined. Some speculative considerations show however an interesting picture. If all conditions are empirically satisfied then the resulted spacetime structure is a Minkowski geometry. If however, as it is expected, some of the important conditions are violated, it is not at all obvious what the resulted spacetime structure is. Nevertheless, straightforward generalizations of Minkowski geometry offer themselves as suitable mathematical description of the empirically ascertained spacetime structure; more straightforward than Riemannian geometry on a four-dimensional manifold.

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Football (the Forum)

4 June, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Old Theatre, Old Building, London School of Economics, Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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"All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football", observed Albert Camus. And it is football, above all other sports, that so many philosophers revere. So there’s everything to play for in this panel discussion exploring the relationship between football and philosophy. We give it 110% in our exploration of what makes for a "good game" and whether philosophical principles can be put into play on the pitch.

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Laszlo Szabo (Eotvos University), “Meaning, Truth and Physics”

5 June, 11:00 am12:30 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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A physical theory is a partially interpreted axiomatic formal system (L, S), where L is a formal language with some logical, mathematical and physical axioms, and with some derivation rules, and the semantics S is a relationship between the formulas of L and some states of affairs in the physical world. In our ordinary discourse, the formal system L is regarded as an abstract object or structure, the semantics S as something which involves the mental/conceptual realm. This view is of course incompatible with physicalism. How can physical theory be accommodated in a purely physical ontology? The aim of the talk is to outline an account for meaning and truth of physical theory, within the philosophical framework spanned by three doctrines: physicalism, empiricism, and the formalist philosophy of mathematics.

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Workshop on the Report of the International Panel on Social Progress

8 June, 9:15 am5:10 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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The International Panel on Social Progress unites many of the world’s leading researchers from social sciences and the humanities in a single effort: developing research-based, multi-disciplinary, non-partisan, action-driven solutions to pressing challenges of our time. This workshop will engage several authors of its first, comprehensive Report in a debate with policy-makers and researchers from UK and international organisations.

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Niko Kolodny (UC Berkeley): “Official Corruption”

11 June, 4:00 pm5:30 pm
Parish Hall, Room LG.03, Sheffield Street
London, WC2A 2HA United Kingdom
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In its broadest use, “corruption” means: regress from a pure, healthy, or virtuous state. However, “corruption” has a narrower use, where it means something like: using an institutional role for personal gain when one shouldn’t. Paradigms of such “official corruption” are: bribery, nepotism, cronyism, self-dealing, and embezzlement. My question, lately urgent in the US, is when and why such official corruption is wrong. I survey limitations of such answers as: because official corruption disserves the public interest, breaks the law, unjustly enriches, plays favorites, and betrays ill will. Instead, I suggest, the paradigms of official corruption are wrong because they are abuses of office: that is, because the official in question decides how to use the office on the basis of a reason that does not contribute to the office’s functioning well. And that’s wrong because it violates a condition – namely, the exclusion of such reasons – meant to reconcile, to the extent possible, the hierarchy of offices with the equality of men. This account of abuse of office then explains two further things: our objection, which republicans make so much of, to being at the mercy of another’s whims, and our objection to threats that improve our options.

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Raffaele Pisano (Lille): “Analysing Mathematical Methodology in Newton’s Principia Geneva Edition ([1739–1742] 1822): The Relationship Physics–Mathematics”

25 June, 2:00 pm3:30 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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The third edition of Newton’s Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis (1726) adds some new important results to the two previous ones (1687, 1713). Between 1739–1742 a new deeply commented edition was published in Geneva (1822). The editors were the mathematicians: Thomas Le Seur and François Jacquier, belonging to the minim friars. The Swiss scientist Jean–Louis Calandrini gave a fundamental support to the edition with his physical notes on mechanics and mathematical describing. The comments (footnotes) are more extensive than the Newtonian text…

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July 2018

Probability and the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

2 July, 10:00 am6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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A workshop that brings together philosophers of physics exploring the nature of probability in quantum theory and in the Everett interpretation. Further information is available on the conference webpage.

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September 2018

Helen Steward (Leeds): TBA

4 September, 8:00 am5:00 pm

Abstract: TBA Helen Steward is Professor of Philosophy of Mind and Action at the University of Leeds.

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Financial Regulations Post Brexit

12 September, 9:00 am12:30 pm
Clement House, room 3.02, 99 Aldwych
London, WC2B 4JF United Kingdom
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Now it is official. The UK has given up the idea of passport for the financial industry in favour of "regulatory flexibility".  The Chequers Statement says that a deal should "provide regulatory flexibility where it matters most for the UK’s services-based economy, and where the potential trading opportunities outside of the EU are the largest, recognising that the UK and the…

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