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Trinity Term Social

Thursday 17th May at 8pm at The Grapes

We hope you’ve enjoyed our panel events this term! Do you have any feedback you would like to share with us? Do you want to know more about how to get involved? Come join the committee for a few drinks, some stimulating exchange of ideas, and the inevitable discussion of the current state of academic philosophy. As ever, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions on the mission of Philiminality!

View the Facebook event here.

Should Water Have Rights?

Tuesday 8th May at 5pm – 7pm

Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building

water rights

This panel discussion will explore the “nature” and status of water in relation to the concepts of water security and water governance. Practitioners and scholars in the fields of Geography, Law, Political Philosophy and Theology will address relevant aspects of development discourse, environmental ethics and the theory of justice.

Our confirmed speakers:

  • Alice Evatt (DPhil Candidate, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford) will provide conceptual background about the possibility that water can have rights.
  • Prof. David Bradley (Ross Professor of Tropical Hygiene, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London; Department of Zoology, University of Oxford) has extensive experience as a physician, communicable disease epidemiologist and zoologist in East Africa, Asia as well as the UK, which has informed his advisory roles on public health and research policy. His contribution to the panel will focus on water as an entity in relation to water security and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Dr. Kevin Grecksch (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford) will give a socio-legal perspective on whether water should have rights. He will argue that our relationship with water is primarily one of rights and regulations. For millennia, humans have created rights and regulations around water, either to protect it and/or to use it. Yet, by doing so we treat water merely as a property. However, recent cases in New Zealand, India and Australia have seen granting rights of personhood to rivers, i.e. rivers can act as a person in court. This could potentially hold wide-ranging consequences for how we manage water resources and how we value water in general. touch on water governance, climate change adaptation, governance of societal transformation processes, property rights and the governance of natural resources, sustainability and ecological economics.
  • Stevan Veljkovic (DPhil Candidate, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Oxford) will ask “Why rights?” and argue the following: Human rights trump – liberal order rests upon them, and no alternatives exist within the pale of Western sensibilities. Historical contingency is to thank for this consensus, although it is thought to be something natural and its arising to have been foregone. The very idea of recognizing water’s rights suggests the historical trajectory on which the order consensus lies – and its tensions.

Each speaker will speak for ten minutes. This will be followed by a moderated panel discussion and Q&A.

View the Facebook event here.

Grounding: Notions of Essence and Dependence Across Traditions

Friday 4th May at 6pm – 8pm

TORCH Seminar Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building


What is/are the logical form(s) for grounding claims? What theoretical work is grounding asked to do (what are its applications)? How diverse are the concepts of grounding? Does it make sense to gather them under one title, or are there natural distinctions to be drawn between uses in different traditions and contexts? This talk will seek to shed light on all of these questions, drawing on perspectives from Buddhist, Hindu, Greek and contemporary metaphysics.

Our panelists:

  • Ben Brast-McKie (DPhil Candidate, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford) will present elements from a contemporary development of grounding, inspired primarily
    by Kit Fine. He will contrast relational and operational accounts of ground, focusing on the latter. He will then draw on some simple examples in order to clarify the theoretical role which grounding may aim to serve. He will conclude by situating ground within the historical development of logics for material and strict implication, comparing the corresponding accounts of propositions.
  • Prof. Michail Peramatzis (Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford) will briefly discuss passages from Aristotle’s Categories and Metaphysics, having in mind a possible objection arising from Jessica Wilson’s recent work, i.e. that there is no theoretical work to be done by any general notion of grounding. Specifically, if Aristotle thinks that there is a generic notion of priority or grounding, then he might be vulnerable to this sort of objection. He will attempt to reply to Wilson by claiming that even if Aristotle has a generic notion or priority/grounding, still there is some work (if not the whole work) to be done by it.
  • Dr Jessica Frazier (Centre for Hindu Studies; Faculty of Theology and Religion, Oxford) will consider the treatment of the idea of an ultimate ground for everything the world contains in the Vedanta school of Indian thought. After presenting how initial rough conceptions of ground led to implicit differences about what constitutes ontological dependence and independence, she will consider the way notions of substance and inherence gave way to recognition of the problematic character of ‘ontological substrate’ notions, pointing to cases in which ‘ontological ground’ was refined into something more like ‘necessary precondition’ – generating a very different ontological model of reality.
  • Prof. Jan Westerhoff (Professor of Buddhist Philosophy, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Oxford) will discuss anti-foundationalism in Madhyamaka, with a special focus on the fact that this is not just an ontological anti-foundationalism (no ultimately real things) but also a semantic anti-foundationalism (no ultimately true propositions).

Each speaker will give a concise presentation. This will be followed by a moderated panel discussion and Q&A.

View the Facebook event here.

Perspectives on Democracy

Friday 27th April 2018 at 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Seminar Room (Third Floor), Radcliffe Humanities Building

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How is democracy conceived in different traditions, and how is it valued in each of them? This panel discussion will attempt to shed light on these questions, honing various strands of global intellectual history, postcolonial theory and contemporary politics.

Our confirmed panelists are:

  • Prof. Jonathan Wolff (Blavatnik Professor of Public Policy, Oxford) will consider democracy and Marxism;
  • Prof. Nicholas Bunnin (Institute for Chinese Studies, Oxford) will focus on the relevance of Chinese political philosophy (especially Xunzi) to democratic theory;
  • Prof. Karma Nabulsi (Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations, DPIR, Oxford) will discuss relevant aspects of political theory in relation to Palestine;
  • Puneet Dhaliwal (DPhil candidate, Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford) will address democracy and (anti)Eurocentrism, and consider postcolonial inflections of Marxist theory in relation to global democratic politics.

Each speaker will give a concise presentation. This will be followed by a moderated panel discussion and Q&A.


View the Facebook event here.

Descartes and Beyond: On the Mind-Body Problem

Friday 9th March 2018 at 5pm

Seminar Room (Third Floor), Radcliffe Humanities Building

descartes event

How should we understand Descartes’ mind-body dualism? Can the scientific and technological advancements of his day shed light on his metaphysical assumptions? How did Leibniz, Stahl and Amo challenge his dualism? Who was the West African-born Anton Amo, and how did he come to play a role in key debates of the German Enlightenment?

Join us for our first panel discussion to hear responses to all of these questions. The event will gather speakers from four different universities, and engage with perspectives from the history of science, theology as well as philosophy.

  • Prof. Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra (University of Oxford) will discuss René Descartes’ (1596-1650) account of the distinction between the mind and body.
  • Prof. Hanoch Ben-Yami (Central European University) will argue that technology in Descartes’ day shaped much of his thought, including key aspects of his mind-body dualism.
  • Prof. Justin Smith (University of Paris 7 – Denis Diderot) will address German responses and reactions to Cartesian dualism, with specific reference to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) and Georg Ernst Stahl (1659-1734).
  • Victor Emma-Adamah (University of Cambridge) will discuss the important contributions of the West African-born Anton Wilhelm Amo (1703-1756) to the Leibniz-Stahl debates regarding the mind-body problem.

Each speaker will give a concise presentation. This will be followed by a moderated panel discussion and Q&A.

View the Facebook event here.

Launch Party

Join us on Thursday 1st February at 7:30 pm to celebrate our launch at The Grapes, Oxford. Come and meet the committee for a few drinks, some stimulating exchange of ideas, and discuss the current state of academic philosophy. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions on the mission of Philiminality!


Past Events at Philiminality Cambridge:

A Meta-philosophical Discussion on Form, October 2017

This talk gathered speakers from four different faculties, covering thinkers from three continents and spanning 2500 years. How can we use form to achieve our philosophical goals? How have aphorisms and fragments been used in different philosophical traditions? What makes all of this work philosophical? Would these thinkers have used Twitter?

Conceptions of human nature from Latin America to the Middle East, March 2017

What does being part of nature mean for humanity, and for how we approach the environment? Can we both be part of the world and remove ourselves from it in thinking about it? What ethical issues arise from our relationship to nature?

Essence and Existence from Antiquity to ModernityFebruary 2017

This panel discussion explored the distinction between essence and existence from Antiquity (especially Aristotle) through to the Twentieth-Century (in e.g. French existentialism). Questions of translation and transmission were also considered, honing philosophical traditions in Ancient Greek, Latin, Persian, Classical Arabic and French.

Ancient conceptions of being and becoming in India, China and Greece, November 2016

What is the nature of ultimate reality according to philosophies in ancient China, India, and Greece? Dr Barua and Dr Hedley of the Divinity Faculty, Prof. Betegh of the Classics Faculty, and Prof. Sterckx of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies discussed the concepts of unity, being and becoming in the global ancient context.

Perspectives on Existentialism, October 2016

An inaugural event which explored the seemingly disparate perspectives on existentialism of a theologian, an expert on Twentieth-Century French thought, and postgraduate students researching feminism and post-colonialism.