Events and announcements

Philosophy colloquia occur on Fridays at 2:30pm in CLE A313 or are held via Zoom. Sometimes in-person colloquia events will also have a Zoom component.

Note: please email uvicphil@uvic.ca to be added to the Philosophy Colloquium mailing list so you may receive notifications about upcoming talks and Zoom meeting information.


2022-23

September 16, 2022: David Liebesman - University of Calgary (with Ofra Magidor, Oxford)

Title: Thinking Outside the Lunch Box

Abstract: Lunch was delicious but took hours. How can this be true? It seems to many that only food was delicious while only events can take hours, and that nothing can be both. This is one instance of the problem of copredication, where there are true sentences that seem to ascribe categorically incompatible properties. On our approach to the problem there are not such strong categorical constraints on property instantiation, i.e. properties are more versatile than is commonly supposed. In this talk I’ll sketch the problem of copredication, our approach, and then delve into the details of the lunch example. Our approach yields a metaphysics of lunch on which lunch is a meal that is not straightforwardly identified with either the event of eating lunch or the food eaten.

UVic Events Calendar listing

November 18, 2022: Mark Povich - University of Rochester

Title: The Expressive Role of Mathematics in Scientific Explanation

Abstract: Distinctively mathematical explanations (DMEs) explain natural phenomena primarily by appeal to mathematical facts. Some philosophers take DMEs to provide good evidence for the existence of the mathematical objects to which they appeal. Here I give a normativist account of mathematical necessity that blocks the indispensability-inference from DMEs – even ontic accounts thereof – to Platonism, by allowing the nominalist to accept the former – even deflated ontic accounts thereof – while denying the latter. Furthermore, I argue that deflated ontic accounts are just as explanatorily powerful, if not more.

UVic Events Calendar listing

December 2, 2022: Rob Wilson - University of Western Australia

Title: Philosophical Silences: Some Thoughts on Race, Gender, and Eugenics

Abstract: Drawing on the work of Charles Mills on race and of Susan Babbitt on gender, as well as my own on eugenics and disability, this talk raises some questions about philosophy's boundaries, history, sociology, and community engagement.  The discipline of philosophy has had (and continues to have) an uneasy relationship with race, gender, and disability.  The hope is for the talk to spark some constructive thinking about how the future need not be like the past.

UVic Events Calendar listing

January 13, 2023: Kian Mintz-Woo - University College, Cork

Feburary 10, 2023: Kristen Hessler - University of Albany

February 24, 2023: Geordie McComb - Queen's University

March 3, 2023: Luc Bovens - University of North Carolina

March 23, 2023: Zoe Drayson - University of California, Davis)

The Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social and Legal Theory provides a forum for regular interdisciplinary exchange among faculty, graduate students, and upper-level LL.B students on critical issues in political, social and legal philosophy.

September 23, 2022: Terrell Carver (University of Bristol)

Terrell Carver

Seminar: Marx Update

Abstract

Marx is a moving target, but so are his readers. And so are his scholarly editors and translators. Regrettably, though, some of his recent biographers and commentators haven’t moved on very much, partly from keeping him the same and playing safe, and partly from the genre-constraints of intellectual biography and textbook-mainstreaming. Moreover some of his ideas go unmarked and uncredited because they have merged with liberal-minded commonsense and taken-for-granted methodologies. In sum he is a complex cultural phenomenon, taking in visual, dramaturgical and cinematic representation.

This talk will cover various ways that Marx has changed, because we – or rather some of us in the scholarly community – have changed. The text for this talk will be in outline form covering topics such as the Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) or Complete Works project and its editorial politics; the shifting canon of ‘great works’ over the last 120 years; ‘Marx and ...’: ecology, the anthropocene, settler societies, Indigeneity and racial capitalism; feminism and the politics of sex, gender and sexuality; democracy, social democracy and socialisms.

But how to read Marx is changing, given his will to interpret the world and to change it. This is because our understanding of his reception through Engels and subsequent Marxisms has critically evolved; because our contextual understanding of what he thought his words were doing is improving; and because our literary and analytical skills have developed very considerably in a multi- and inter-disciplinary way.

It's a fair question what Marx’s words are doing for us, and why we don’t want him to leave us alone.

Bio

Terrell Carver is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Bristol, UK. He has published very extensively on Marx, Engels and Marxisms, and is co-general-editor (with Marcello Musto, York University, Toronto) of a book series of that name for Palgrave Macmillan. His latest books are Marx in the ‘Classic Thinkers’ series for Polity Press, 2018; Engels Before Marx for Palgrave Macmillan. 2020; and The Life and Thought of Friedrich Engels, 30th Anniversary Edition, for Palgrave Macmillan (2020).

Talk materials

Abstract + Outline

October 28, 2022: Kimberley Brownlee (UBC)

Kimberley Brownlee

Seminar: The Razian's Elephant in the Room: When do Interests Give Rise to Rights?

Abstract

Many legal theorists and political philosophers – myself included – rely on Joseph Raz’s version of the interest theory of rights: we use rights-talk when we believe that some person’s interest has sufficient moral importance to justify holding others to be under specific duties to serve that interest. Sometimes the specified duties are purely moral, but often they’re presumptively legal too. When we rely on Raz’s interest theory we tend not to dwell, however, on the fact that we can conceive of the moral importance of interests in different ways which yield different answers to the question of whether those interests generate rights. This paper explores four factors that can alter our assessment of the moral importance of interests. These four factors represent challenges that must be grappled with if we are to draw determinate boundaries around rights generating interests, especially in key areas such as human rights law. First, when assessing the moral importance of an interest, should we take into account whether it is possible to secure that interest? Second, should we consider an interest in isolation from a person’s other interests or in aggregation with some of her other interests, thereby allowing that individually unimportant interests could aggregate to form morally important bundles that generate rights? Third, should we focus on types of interest or on token interests? For instance, in the case of marriage, should we focus on the fact that adults have a type-interest in being able to marry or on the fact that many women (and girls) lack token-interests in being able to marry? Fourth, should we take into account a person’s own perspective on the importance of her different interests? This lecture will unpack these four challenges and consider the pros and cons of possible solutions.

Pre-seminar readings:

Raz, "On the Foundations of Human Rights"

Tasioulas, "Morality of Freedom"

November 25, 2022: Coel Kirkby (University of Sydney)

 Coel Kirkby

Inventing Necessity: Law and Revolution in Cold War Africa

Abstract

Law and revolution have shaped modernity, yet their study remains dominated by the writings and concerns of a narrow Western canon. This paper responds to this history by exploring alternative anticolonial writing on the specific problem of the coups d'état across independent Africa in the 1960s. I first set out how British legal scholars framed and analysed the problem of revolutionary legality: if and how judges should rule on the legality of an unconstitutional change of government. I juxtapose this discourse and its assumptions to the heated debate in the pages of Transition, the Kampala-based popular magazine, between Ugandan, Kenyan and Tanzania scholars over these same events. The evolving answer of the loose 'Dar es Salaam school' started from an immanent critique of African postcolonial political economy. The result was a different set of problems that asked what role of judges should play in the broader reconstructive project to decolonise the modern African state characterised by political independence and economic dependence.

Bio

Coel Kirkby joined Sydney Law School in 2018 and is Associate Director of the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence. He was elected the Smuts Research Fellow in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge for 2017-18. Before that he was a McKenzie Fellow at Melbourne Law School, an Endeavour Fellow at UNSW, and a researcher at the Dullah Omar Institute in Cape Town, South Africa. He has also worked on contemporary constitutional reform projects from Fiji and Tuvalu to Victoria and South Africa.

Dr Kirkby is both a historian of the legal thought and practice of British imperialism, and a comparative constitutional scholar concerned with its legacies in postcolonial states. He has published a number of articles and chapters in the Modern Law ReviewUniversity of Toronto Law JournalOsgoode Hall Law Journal and elsewhere. Coel is currently completing two books on the birth of liberal democracy in the British Empire over the nineteenth century. He is also working on a new book, The Immanentists, on law and revolution during the Cold War.

Seminar reading

"Inventing Necessity" [DRAFT] 

January 20, 2023: Anna Jurkevics (UBC)

World-building, Democracy, and the Limits of Sovereign Mastery

Abstract

What does democracy require of us when it comes to governing land? More fundamentally, what does it mean to be free with regard to land? This talk explores these questions and proposes a geographically-attuned theory of democracy as world-building. To do so, I draw on a set of puzzles and shortcomings in European political theories of land, property, and work. My primary interlocutors are Hannah Arendt, GWF Hegel, Martin Heidegger, and Bonnie Honig. Ultimately, I find that these thinkers fail, albeit in illuminating ways, to provide convincing normative foundations for democratic world-building. To ground a robust theory of democracy over land, we will have to turn elsewhere, for example to indigenous theorists and anarchists. Moreover, I find that when it comes to land, it is time to abandon the framework of popular sovereignty that has long guided democratic theory. A truly democratic and participatory theory of land governance must sever any connection with sovereign mastery.

Bio

Anna Jurkevics is a political theorist and an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia (PhD Yale 2017). Her research explores theories of land and territory from the vantage point of critical theory and the German tradition. She is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Contested Territory: A Theory of Land and Democracy Beyond Sovereign Bounds. Her work has appeared in Political Theory, the European Journal of Political Theory, and Modern Intellectual History, among other venues.

PhD candidate Ryan Tonkin awarded Dean's Dissertation Year Scholarship

Ryan and two other PhD candidates from the Humanities have been awarded the Dean's Dissertation Year Scholarship, an award meant to facilitate completion the completion of their dissertations.

Bauhaus

“Bauhaus, Design, and the Livable Anthropocene” celebrates the innovative approach to design and architecture developed at the Bauhaus School, founded in Weimar, Germany, in 1919. The aim is to reflect on the historical impact of this approach, and explore its potential for addressing the design challenges of the Anthropocene. The bau1haus photographs by Jean Molitor, brought to UVic by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany Vancouver, present an exceptionally beautiful record of modernist buildings from around the world. The Exhibit is accompanied by an inter-disciplinary colloquium.