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The Philosophical Foundations of Effective Altruism (St Andrews)

Tue 29th March 2016 to Wed 30th March 2016

Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews


Tuesday 29 March:

Workshop Talks:

3:30pm – 4:10pm:  Sebastian Farquhar (The Centre for Effective Altruism)

4:20pm – 5:00pm:  Michelle Hutchinson (Giving What We Can)

5:00pm – 5:40pm:  Emily Clough (Harvard University)


Networking Dinner:

6:00pm – 8:20pm:  funded by British Academy; attendees include speakers, organizers, GWWC members, and early career researchers who were awarded travel bursaries; location TBA


Public Keynote (separate venue:  Buchanan Lecture Theatre)

8:40pm:  Peter Singer (Princeton University), TED Talk Viewing: The Why and How of Effective Altruism

9:00pm:  Q&A with Peter Singer over Skype


Wednesday 30 March:


St Andrews Sightseeing (optional):

09:30am – 12:40pm:  meet outside Parliament Hall, will go for a walk around campus and the beach, and then grab an informal lunch in town (pay your own way)


Workshop Talks:

1:00pm – 1:40pm:  James Lenman (University of Sheffield)

2:00pm – 2:40pm:  Mark Budolfson (Princeton University)

3:00pm – 3:40pm:  Stephanie Collins (University of Manchester)

4:00pm – 4:40pm:  James Snowden (Giving What We Can)


Coffee/tea/snack break:

4:40pm – 5:40pm (pay your own way)


Public Keynote:

6:00pm – 7:00pm:  Hilary Greaves (Oxford University)


Informal dinner/pub (optional):

7:00pm (pay your own way)


Organizers:  Theron Pummer, Rufaida Al Hashmi, and Oscar Westerblad.  Please email Oscar Westerblad to RSVP and if you have any questions (


Sponsors:  We are grateful to the British Academy and the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs (CEPPA) at St Andrews for their support.


Theme of Conference:  The Philosophical Foundations of Effective Altruism 

Effective altruism is a growing social movement founded on the desire to make the world as good a place as it can be, the use of evidence and reason to find out how to do so, and the audacity to actually try’ (from the Centre for Effective Altruism).  We are interested in exploring philosophical questions surrounding this movement, including its philosophical foundations.

  • What is the best statement of effective altruism as a philosophical view, and what is its relation to consequentialism, deontology, or virtue ethics?
  • What are the strongest objections to effective altruism, in theory or in practice, and do they succeed?
  • Are there agent-relative reasons for giving to charity (for example, reasons to give on the basis of close personal ties)?  Are such reasons compatible with effective altruism?
  • What is the most important cause?  Fighting extreme poverty, reducing existential risks, or what?  How should we decide where to give if there is no clearly best cause?
  • To what extent is progress in ethical theory a priority, from an effective altruist perspective?  For example, how important is it for us to figure out what well-being consists in, or to solve problems in population ethics, and so on?


Interested in attending?  Please email Oscar Westerblad ( ) so we can keep track of the audience size as well as provide you with any key updates (e.g. venue updates).  There is a possibility we will be able to provide small bursaries to postgraduates and early career researchers wishing to serve as discussants at the conference.  Please let us know if you or anyone you know might be interested in this.

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Philosophy Events in Dundee 30 March – 3 April

Dear all,


The Philosophy programme at the University of Dundee and the Scottish Centre for Continental Philosophy are pleased to present quite an extravaganza of philosophical events in Dundee next week. Following is a schedule of the events, followed by further details on each. Please contact me if you would like any further information:







Wed 30 March: Information, Nihilism, and Art book launch and panel discussion.


Thurs 31st March and Fri 1st April: The End(s) of Art symposium.


Sat 2nd  and Sun 3rd April: Continuities in Modern French Philosophy workshop.




Nihilism, Information, and Art: A Panel Disscussion

5:30 – 7:00pm Wednesday 30 March

@ G E N E R A T O R Projects

Unit 25/26/Mid Wynd Ind Est, Dundee DD1 4JG

Launching the book: Ashley Woodward, Lyotard and the Inhuman Condition: Reflections on Nihilism, Information, and Art. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016.

Participants: Dr Sarah Cook (DJCAD), Dr Dominic Smith (Philosophy, UoD), Dr Ashley Woodward (Philosophy, UoD). Please join us for a discussion on the themes of Ashley Woodward’s new book. All welcome. Free drinks and light refreshments.



The End(s) of Art

An Art and Philosophy Symposium, exploring the notion of where art is going and the idea of its supposed end in the twentieth century. Free, all welcome.

Lecture Theatre 1, Dalhousie Building


Thursday, March 31

9.30-10.00 Meet and Greet with Tea and Coffee

10-11 Diarmuid Costello – ‘James Welling, Philosopher of Photography?’

11-12 John Dummett – ‘A History of Twilight in Seven Colours’

12-1.30 Lunch Break

1.30-2.30 Lucy Byatt – ‘Investing: The Realisation that Private is taking the Form of the Public’

2.30-3.30 Dominic Smith – ‘Drawn Into Tomorrow: Three Questions for IC-98’

3.30-4.00 Tea and Coffee Break

4.00-5.00 Oisín Keohane – ‘The End of the Nude: Aphrodite sé derobe’


Friday, April 1

9.30-10.00 Meet and Greet with Tea and Coffee

10-11 Eoin Carney – ‘Technologies and the End of the Artist’

11-12 Isabel Rocamora – ‘Restoring Being: The Dwelling Figure and the Moving Image’

12-1.30 Lunch Break

1.30-2.30 Graham Fagen – ‘This is the End’

2.30-3.30 Roundtable with Tea and Coffee



Continuities in Modern French Philosophy Workshop

The aim of this international workshop is to explore some of the philosophical continuities between early and late 20th century French philosophy. Free and all welcome, but please register:


Room 2F15, Dalhousie Building


Saturday, April 2

12.15 – 1:15 Coffee and welcome.

1.15 – 2.00 Judith Wambacq (Gent) – ‘The structuralist dimension in the philosophies of Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze’

2.15 – 3.00 Walter Pedriali (St. Andrews) – ‘An Unpoetic Journey To e Unnameable Elements of Bergsonism in Badiou’s Metaontology’

3.30 – 5.00 Jeffrey Bell (SELU) – ‘The Primacy of Deception’

5.00 – 7.00 Drinks

7.00 Workshop Dinner


Sunday, April 3

9.00 – 9.45 Coffee

9.45 – 11.15 Alan Schrift (Grinnell) – ‘Jean Wahl and Gilles Deleuze: Opening the way to Nietzsche and the Philosophy of Difference’

11.30 – 12.15 Moritz Gansen (Berlin / Darmstadt) – ‘”To make us think, in French, things which were very new.” Jean Wahl and Gilles Deleuze’

12.15 – 1.15 Lunch

1.15-2.00 Stephen Noble (Paris xii) – ‘The Thinker and the Painter. Thinking through art in Twentieth Century French Philosophy’

2.15 – 3.00 Gavin Rae (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) – ‘From Nothingness to Difference: Critiquing Presence with Sartre and Derrida’

3.30 – 5.00 Howard Caygill (Kingston) – ‘The Psychopathology of Eugene Minkowski’

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manipulation and moral responsibility in ethics and philosophy of religion; Edinburgh, July 15/16

I’m pleased to announce a conference this summer, July 15 and 16, 2016, in Edinburgh, Scotland, on topics relating to free will, moral responsibility, manipulation, and philosophy of religion. The conference brings together philosophers working on related themes: manipulation (and manipulation arguments) in debates about free will and moral responsibility, and issues regarding divine providence in philosophy of religion.

Confirmed speakers include:

Helen Beebee

Maria Alvarez

Gunnar Björnsson

Jean-Baptiste Guillon

Sofia Jeppsson

Alfred Mele

Patrick Todd

John Martin Fischer

Derk Pereboom

Travel funds available:

We have a limited amount of travel funding available for early career researchers (graduate students and those who received their PhD in 2010 or later) who might benefit from participation in the conference and chairing a session. If you wish to apply for such funding, please send an email (with subject line “request for travel funding”) to Patrick Todd (at pat.c.todd at with (a) a CV (b) 200 words explaining your interest in the topics of the conference and (c) a rough estimate of how much funding would be required in order to make your participation possible.

Funding can be used for travel to the conference and accommodation in Edinburgh. International applications are welcome.

The deadline for requests for travel funding is Monday, April 3. Decisions will be made by April 25.


There is a natural connection between manipulation arguments and philosophy of religion: on some traditional pictures of God, God’s providence seemingly amounts a manipulation scenario “writ large”. What kind of “manipulation” does undermine moral responsibility? And what kind of picture of divine providence really threatens human freedom?

Further, there has been a recent increase in interest in what we might call the positionality of blame – issues regarding, for instance, who has and lacks the moral standing to blame morally responsible wrongdoers. Under what conditions – if any – could a “manipulator” retain the “moral standing” to blame those she manipulates? Or under what conditions might God lack the standing to “hold” creatures responsible, even if those creatures are responsible


This conference is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, Eidyn at the University of Edinburgh, and the Scots Philosophical Association.

– See more at:

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Symposium on ‘Hume: an Intellectual Biography’, by James A. Harris, 11 March, Edinburgh

A symposium to mark the publication of Hume. An Intellectual Biography by James A. Harris.

Friday, 11 March, 2 – 5.30 pm

Venue: Meadows Lecture Theatre, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, 4 Teviot Place, Edinburgh.

2.00 – 2.15 pm: Introduction (Thomas Ahnert)

2.15 – 3.15 pm: Hume on Human Nature and Politics
Chair: Knud Haakonssen (Erfurt and St Andrews)

Commentators: Tim Stuart-Buttle (Cambridge) and Mikko Tolonen (Helsinki)

3.15 – 3.30 pm: Coffee and Tea (Jim McMillan Room, 1.31)

3.30 – 4.30 pm: Hume as Historian and Man of Letters
Chair: Nicholas Phillipson (Edinburgh)
Commentators: Moritz Baumstark (Munich) and Catherine Jones (Aberdeen)

4.30 – 5. 30 pm: Response by James Harris and general discussion.

Participants must register. If you are interested in attending, please email

The event is supported by Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, the St Andrews Institute of Intellectual History, and the Edinburgh Eighteenth-Century and Enlightenment Studies Network.

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Stirling Early Analytic Group Meeting; March 12

The spring 2016 meeting of the Stirling Early Analytic Group will take place on Saturday March 12th from 10.30am to 6.30pm in Pathfoot C2, University of Stirling.  There is no registration fee, but please let Colin Johnston (colin.j… know if you plan to attend.  The following papers will be presented:

10.45  Colin Johnston (Stirling) Wittgenstein on representability and possibility

13.15 Fiona Doherty (Cambridge) Frege, Hilbert and Neo-Logicism

15.00 Alex Yates (Stirling and St Andrew’s) The role of inference and heuristic indicators in Frege’s epistemology of logic

4.45 Mark Textor (KCL) Brentano on Existence

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Raymond Plant giving the inaugural Dudley Knowles Memorial Lecture, Glasgow 21 January

On Thursday 21 January we will be holding the first Dudley Knowles memorial Lecture in Political Philosophy, hosted by the Stevenson Committee. The speaker will be Professor Lord Raymond Plant, and he will be speaking on the subject ‘Religious Freedom and Identity in the Liberal State’. Everyone is very welcome. The lecture will be from 6pm to 7.30pm in the Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre (the converted church at the top of Gibson Street, very close to the Philosophy Department), and there will be a drinks reception afterwards. Everyone is very welcome; no need to book in advance.




Professor Dudley Ross Knowles (1947 – 2014) was a renowned political philosopher who taught at Glasgow University from 1975 to 2012 and was a staunch supporter of the Stevenson Trust.  Dudley insisted that the Trust’s commitment to public education must include the contribution of political philosophy to examining issues of contemporary relevance in a manner accessible to all citizens.  In 2015 the Stevenson committee decided to endorse Professor Knowles’s view by instigating an annual public lecture on political philosophy in his memory.


Raymond Plant is currently Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Philosophy at King’s College London and has represented Labour in the House of Lords as Baron Plant of Highfields since 1992.  He was also Professor of Divinity at Gresham College and is a Lay Canon at Winchester Cathedral.  He was previously Master of St Catherine’s College Oxford, Professor of European Political Thought at the University of Southampton and has given prestigious lecture series in Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, Manchester and Southampton.  He is well known at Glasgow University as one of our most formidable Stevenson Lecturers.


Professor Plant has written extensively in political, social and legal philosophy.  His range of published work on the Neo Liberal State reflects and informs his public and political service.  He has been a member of the Nuffield Council on Medical Ethics and served on the Joint Committee on Human Rights for the House of Lords.  He also has contributed to party policy making, for instance,  by chairing reports for the Labour Party on Electoral Reform, and (for the Fabian Society) on Taxation and Citizenship.


Raymond Plant and Dudley Knowles share many concerns and interests in applying political philosophy to issues such rights, welfare, political obligation and citizenship.  They are also both leading authorities on Hegel’s political philosophy from whom each draws inspiration.


The subject of Professor Plant’s lecture arises from reflections on the subject which began during his period of tenure as Professor at Sciences Po (the Paris Institute of Political Studies).


All best wishes,




Dr Ben Colburn

Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

School of Humanities

University of Glasgow

67-69 Oakfield Avenue

Glasgow G12 8QQ

+44 (0) 141 330 4277