New to the Department: Ethan Nowak, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Where were you before coming to Kings?

After finishing my PhD at UC Berkeley, I spent a few years at UCL as a teaching fellow, and some time at Umeå University in Sweden—which by the way is a great place to do philosophy—as a research fellow. 

What got you into philosophy?

When I first started as an undergraduate, I thought I’d do a degree in biology. I took a logic course in my first year, though, and that changed everything. 

You’ve written about the philosophical implications of language death. What is lost when we lose a language?

There are too many things to list! In the stuff I’ve written on this question, I’ve tried to call attention to some that I think are both particularly important and a bit hard to see. For example, while philosophers mostly reject the idea that there are things you can say in one language that you can’t say in any other, I think there is space open for us to think that there are things you can do in one language that you can’t do in any other. This means that when a language is lost, so is a class of possible actions. Since I think the space of possible things we can do amounts, in a fairly direct way, to the space of people we can be, this is a problematic loss. 

Why do you think philosophers have traditionally overlooked this issue? 

To be honest, I have often wondered this myself. I imagine it has something to do with the fact that you can more-or-less get by these days speaking only English, and probably something to do with the fact that philosophers tend to think of languages as more-or-less interchangeable signaling systems.

Is there a philosophical idea that you endorse that most people don’t but should?

I’d have to say metasemantic pluralism. 

You can find out more about Ethan’s work on his website

MAP x PhilSoc screening: ‘The Stuart Hall Project’

In celebration of Black History Month, MAP and PhilSoc will be co-hosting a film screening of the documentary ‘The Stuart Hall Project’ (2013), written and directed by Black British artist and writer John Akomfrah.

Tuesday 15th October, 18:00-20:00

Strand Campus, S -1.27 (wheelchair accessible)

Stuart Hall was a Jamaican-born British philosopher, critical theorist, sociologist, and Marxist. He is considered one of the founding figures of the ‘New Left’ political movement of the 60s and 70s, as we as central to the development of Cultural Studies in Britain. The documentary looks at Hall’s life from colonial Jamaica to British intellectual, exploring themes of identity, diaspora, post-coloniality, and what it meant to be Black and British during the 70s.

The film screening is open to all!

If you are non-King’s student you will need to book a ticket on eventbrite:

Facebook Event:

 2019 Annual Sowerby Lecture

Raymond Tallis: Are you your Brain?  Neuroscience and Neuromania

Professor Raymond Tallis FMedSci FRCP FRSA image

Theatre 2, New Hunt’s House, KCL Guy’s Campus

The lecture will be introduced by Lord Turnberg FRCP FMedSci, past president of the Royal College of Physicians.

Professor Tallis is the author of Why the Mind is Not a Computer: A Pocket Dictionary on Neuromythology, The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around Your Head, and most recently Logos: The Mystery of How We Make Sense of the World. 

For more information on the speaker and the lectures: click here

REGISTRATION: Registration is required so that King’s Estate Security have the names of all external visitors. You should not register if you have a valid King’s ID. You must register with your full name and email if you are a visitor – you can omit all other information. For further questions, email

The Phenomenology Reading Group – Autumn 2019 Series

A new series of the Phenomenology Reading group starts next Wednesday, 9thOctober: 15:00-16:00 in the Emeritus Room (PB508). The group will cover papers that connect the detailed descriptions of phenomenology with systematic debates from analytic philosophy. Anyone is welcome!

For the first week, we will discuss Hubert Dreyfus’ seminal 2005 paper Overcoming the Myth of the Mental: How Philosophers can Profit from the Phenomenology of Everyday Expertise. (download from JSTOR here). For those short on time but still wanting to join, there is a 6-page version from 2006 published in Topoi.

For a list of suggested readings, or if the time and date are not suitable for you, as well as any other questions, do not hesitate to contact Gregor Bös.

Minorities and Philosophy Reading Group – #2

KCL MAP reading group will be meeting 13:00 – 14:00 next Wednesday, 9th October, in Activity room E, KCLSU (Bush House, South East Wing). The reading is ‘Reparations and Racial Inequality’, by Derrick Darby, University of Kansas (see file/abstract below). The reading group is open to all — staff, students, PGTs and PGRs, within and external to the department. All are welcome to attend!

For regular updates, join our Facebook reading group page:

Or sign up to our mailing list by emailing:

Abstract: A recent development in philosophical scholarship on reparations for black chattel slavery and Jim Crow segregation is reliance upon social science in normative arguments for reparations. Although there are certainly positive things to be said in favor of an empirically informed normative argument for black reparations, given the depth of empirical disagreement about the causes of persistent racial inequalities, and the ethos of ‘post-racial’ America, the strongest normative argument for reparations may be one that goes through irrespective of how we ultimately explain the causes of racial inequalities. By illuminating the interplay between normative political philosophy and social scientific explanations of racial inequality in the prevailing corrective justice argument for black reparations, I shall explain why an alternative normative argument, which is not tethered to a particular empirical explanation of racial inequality, may be more appealing.

The Ethics of… Exhibiting

Prof. Sarah Fine will be chairing a panel discussion on the ethics of exhibiting to be held at the Photographer’s Gallery on Wednesday 25th September. This is part of an ongoing collaboration between The Photographers’ Gallery and the Centre for Philosophy and the Visual Arts at King’s College London.

Speakers include the playwright and researcher, Raminder Kaur (University of Sussex); anthropologist and art historian Christopher Pinney (University College London); curator and cultural historian Mark Sealy (Autograph ABP). 


Wednesday 25th September

18:30 – 20:30

The Photographers’ Gallery

Click here for details

The Annual Conference of the British Society for the History of Philosophy at King’s (24-26 April)


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The Annual Conference of the British Society for the History of Philosophy took place at King’s College London on 24-26 April 2019. Over 120 delegates gathered in London for three days of discussion. The conference covered all periods of the history of philosophy, including sessions on Chinese, Islamic, Indian, and other non-western parts of the canon, in nearly 100 papers.


Several KCL faculty, emeritus faculty and students gave papers at the event. Maria Rosa Antognazza delivered the welcome remarks as BSHP Chair. Other King’s speakers included: MM McCabe, Mike Beaney, Richard Sorabji, John Callanan, Jessica Leech, Mark Textor, Katharine O’Reilly, Jon W. Thompson, Carlo Cogliati, and Mike Coxhead.

Conference Programme


The British Society for the History of Philosophy (BSHP), launched in 1984, is a registered charity, which exists to promote and foster all aspects of the study and teaching of the history of philosophy. It publishes one of the leading journals in the field, the British Journal for the History of Philosophy (Taylor and Francis), currently based at KCL. Both the BSHP Chair (Professor Maria Rosa Antognazza) and the BJHP Editor (Professor Mike Beaney) are members of King’s Philosophy Department.

The Ship of Theseus – a poem by Mina Aries


The Ship of Theseus

The tale of the ship of Theseus
There are some things one has to make clear
If it is one or two ships at a point of time
Depends on the view of identity one might decline.

A ship leaves the harbour to take a little tour,
A plank breaks, then three then four.

By the time it comes back, it is a new ship
Every single part of it has lived through a switch.

But someone collected all of the wood
And reassembled them under a hood
To exhibit a new ship in a museum
So lovers of Greek history can flock in to see ‘em.

Is it the one that lived through the history
The ship of Theseus, that is the mystery!

How many repairs can a ship survive
Without leading to its own demise?

Is it ship A or is it ship B, does that make them all ship C?
One thing is for sure, it can’t be all three.

Mina Aries
Philosophy, Politics, Economics