With the new QS Rankings released this week, the Philosophy Department at King’s has risen to 8th in the world and 4th in the UK while the Arts and Humanities Faculty as a whole has risen to 25th globally. The QS ranking evaluates universities upon 6 metrics: academic reputation (as determined by a survey), staff-student ratio, citation-levels, employer reputation, international faculty ratio, and international student ratios. It appears to be in academic reputation and citation-levels that the department has seen the greatest growth.
The Birmingham-Bristol-London-Oxford-Cambridge Philosophy of Physics Seminar Series is restarting! This is a research seminar for philosophers of physics across the South of England to meet each term, hosted at King’s College London.
The next two events will take place on Monday 23rd March at 5pm in Bush House (SE) 1.02 and Thursday 21st May at 4:30pm in K2.40, King’s Building, KCL Strand Campus. The speakers will be Emily Adlam and James Read.
For more details see: https://kingsphilosophy.com/bbloc/
Where where you before coming to King’s?
I did my PhD and MPhilStud at King’s, so I’ve been here since 2013. However, most recently I came here from Bristol where I was a postdoc on a project with the grand title ‘The Metaphysical Unity of Science’. The great thing about that project is that it allowed me to work on my own research while also giving me the chance to collaborate with the other postdocs (Vanessa Seifert and Toby Friend) on exciting topics. The products of these collaborations should be completed soon!
How did you become interested in philosophy?
I’m lucky enough to have been introduced to philosophy from a very young age by my dad (who also has a PhD in philosophy). Throughout my childhood and later life we’d go on walks on Hampstead Heath discussing philosophy (though not necessarily calling it that) as well as various religious Jewish texts. So, it’s not clear to me that I’ve ever not been into philosophy. The choice to study philosophy professionally was likely motivated in part by the desire to keep up with the conversations when Oliver Black (a schoolfriend of my Dad’s) would join us on these walks! But I really became excited when, as an undergraduate, I started learning about the philosophy of physics!
Your work involves the role of emergence in science, do you think there is a single concept of emergence applicable across different levels of scientific explanation or are we talking about different things?
That’s a good question, and a difficult one to answer. In my more hubristic moments, I think that everyone is talking about the same thing, and that the account of it that I defend with Eleanor Knox, is the one to which everyone should appeal! I do think that many of the uses of the term ‘emergence’ across science have a lot in common with each other, and that, if one wants to use the philosophical jargon, scientists are mainly talking about weak ontological emergence (in its synchronic or diachronic forms). I think that strong emergence is almost exclusively found within philosophy (and that’s one reason to be sceptical of it!). Having said all that, it’s worth noting that I’ve read much more physics than any other science, and so my views should not be taken to result from a systematic study of the literature.
It has been argued in the past that special sciences are autonomous from more fundamental sciences. Do you think that we can ever give an explanation of this autonomy or will it remain a mystery?
The boring answer to this question is that it depends on how ‘autonomy’ is defined. A fair few philosophers assume (explicitly or implicitly) that autonomy is the kind of thing that just can’t be explained – that if a science is autonomous then the relations between it and the lower-level sciences aren’t the sorts of relation which allow for explanation of that autonomy. My view is that, while there’s a sense in which the special sciences are clearly autonomous, that’s a sense which is compatible with explaining how that autonomy comes about.
The basic idea is that autonomy corresponds to a kind of stability: my desk is autonomous because it will look the same even while its constituent particles are continually jiggling about. So part of explaining autonomy is explaining why the jiggling about of the particles just doesn’t make a difference to the macroscopic properties of the table. Once we’ve made this conceptual shift, then we can repurpose a great many scientific explanations to explanations of autonomy: the table’s autonomy is explained by the theories which tell us about how the particles are arranged in a lattice, and how wood is cohesive etc. I’ve written a paper about this that’s currently under review, so hopefully it’ll all be public soon!
Is there a philosophical idea that you endorse and that most people don’t but should?
I think that there may well be no fundamental level – that we may continue describing the world ever more precisely for ever and ever!
The King’s College London Peace Lecture will be given this year by Prof Cécile Fabre on the topic, ‘Snatching Something From Death’: Value, Justice, and Humankind’s Common Heritage
Professor Fabre is a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy. She is the author of Justice in a Changing World, Whose Body is it Anyway? Justice and the Integrity of the Person, and in 2012 Cosmopolitan War.
Cécile Fabre has just completed an eight year long project on the ethics of war and peace. She is also working on the ethics of economic statecraft and on the ethics of espionage.
The lecture will be in Bush House Lecture Theatre 1 on Tuesday the 10th of March
The lecture will begin at 6.30pm till 8pm with a reception afterwards
When Notre-Dame Cathedral was engulfed by fire on April 15, 2019, the world (it seemed) watched in horror. On Twitter, Facebook, in newspapers and on TV cables ranging as far afield from Paris as South Africa, China and Chile, people expressed their sorrow at the partial destruction of the church, and retrospective anguish at the thought of what might very well have happened – the complete loss of a jewel of Gothic architecture whose value somehow transcends time and space. My aim in this lecture is to offer a philosophical account and defence of the view that there is such a thing as humankind’s common heritage, and that this heritage makes stringent moral demands on us. I first offer an account of the universal value of (some) heritage goods, and then offer a conception of justice at the bar of which we owe it to one another, but also to our ancestors and successors, to preserve that heritage.
Peter Adamson (KCL, LMU Munich) will be speaking to the department about on Friday 28th February, 3-5pm in Room 508 of the Philosophy Building.
The title of his talk is “From Known to Knower: Affinity Arguments for the Mind’s Incorporeality in the Islamic World”
Prof. Adamson’s latest book Classical Indian Philosophy will be released by Oxford University Press in March.
This term will see a host of reading groups, some familiar, some new, all open to everyone. So why not drop by?
Philosophy of Action
Monday 1pm, Room 508, Philosophy Building
Focus: Go beyond the ‘Standard Story’?
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Philosophy of Medicine
Thursday, 4pm, Room 508, Philosophy Building
Philosophy of Race
Thursday, 10am, Room 508, Philosophy Building
(Mostly) Metaphysics Reading Group
Wednesday, 12:30-2pm, Room 508, Philosophy Building
Philosophy of Mind
Wednesday, 11am, Room 508, Philosophy Building
Phenomenology in Analytic Philosophy
Wednesday 3pm, Room 508, Philosophy Building
Minorities and Philosophy
A Spirit of Trust
Time and place to be determined [starting after the reading week]
On the 10th of December, King’s will be hosting the inaugural London Post-Kantian workshop on the topic ‘Philosophy’s Relationship to Pre-Philosophical Experience’. The workshop will feature papers on Kant, Hegel, and Wittgenstein.
1000-1015: Welcome to LPKS and King’s
1015-1130: Stephen Houlgate (Warwick) ‘The Presuppositions of Hegel’s Presuppositionless Logic’
1200-1315: Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (Herts) ‘Wittgenstein’s Non-Intellectual Epistemology’
1315-1415: Lunch at KCL (Provided)
1415-1530: Sacha Golob (KCL) ‘Innocence and the Phenomenological Method’
1545-1700: Martin Sticker (Bristol) ‘Kant on the Common Rational Cognition of Duty Prospects and Problems’
1700-1730: Group Discussion of LPKS Future Events
1730: Close, Drinks.
Tuesday 10th December, Small Committee Room, Strand Campus, King’s College London
Maps and Access https://www.kcl.ac.uk/visit/strand-campus
Questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
King’s History of Philosophy Seminar will meet regularly throughout the academic year at King’s College London. The Seminar aims to promote discussion of methods and approaches to the History of Philosophy as well as of thinkers and topics within the tradition. We wish to encourage contextual and interdisciplinary perspectives, and welcome researchers in disciplines such as History, Theology, and Political Theory as well as Philosophy. Meetings take place on Fridays from 11am to 1pm. All welcome. For inquiries contact John Callanan (email@example.com)
This Friday we are welcoming Peter Dews (https://www.essex.ac.uk/people/dewsp24209/peter-dews)
who will be speaking on ‘Transcendental and Objective Idealism in Schelling’s Early Philosophy’ – Philosophy Building, Room 405 – 11am-1pm,
‘Minorities and Philosophy’ is a network of chapters across UK and US institutions that aims to celebrate the work of philosophers from marginalised backgrounds, and create a space of support for those currently pursuing studies and careers in academic philosophy.
KCL MAP became a ratified society in 2018 and has since been led primarily by undergraduates. As an academic and social society, we have organised various events, such as weekly reading groups, talks and conferences, film screenings, coffee & tea socials, and other activities.
As a campaign group, we have worked with our department to address various MAP related issues. Last year, the department held a ‘Women in Philosophy’ lunch, and this year, the department will hold a similar lunch for “BME” undergraduates. These events aim to open up discussions about various experiences people have in the discipline and offer support for those considering further study.
MAP has also held a workshop with the department on the issue of diversifying the curriculum. This year, we will commence our first working group meeting focusing on this issue, comprised of students from all levels of study, as well as both junior and senior members of staff from various sub-disciplines.
KCL MAP aims to be interdisciplinary, often attracting people from multiple areas of interest. We aim to create a space of learning outside the mainstream canon, which is both inclusive and productive. People from all areas of research, both inside and outside the academy, are welcome to our events. We firmly believe that philosophy ought to be accessible for everyone who wishes to engage!
To contact us or keep updated with events, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kclmap/
Signed KCL MAP committee,
Willa Saadat, Alice Wright, Astrid Oredsson, Jelena Milosavljevic, Arthur Taylor, Gayatri Menon