Register Now: Technology and Psychiatry with Dr Yasemin J. Erden Tuesday 14 June 2022, 7:30pm at the OSO & over Zoom

Supported by the Royal Institute of Philosophy

Our final talk in the 2021-22 season will be given online by Yasemin J Erden on the theme of technology and psychiatry. Please do register if you'd like to join us in person at the OSO for a chat and drink, and to watch the talk, or to be sent a reminder with the Zoom link (which is always the same).

Please note this talk contains unpublished material and will not be recorded, so we recommend joining live.

"Close encounters of the mechanical kind: when clever machines meet problematic theories"

Dr Yasemin J. Erden, Assistant Professor, University of Twente



10 May 2022 - Dr Reuben Binns on Artificial intelligence and justice

Dr Reuben Binns gave a thoughtful and stimulating lecture on Artificial Intelligence and Justice on 10th May 2022. He discussed various dimensions of justice and how they could be modeled, and explored some of the challenges and limitations of automating these conceptions. He closed by discussing how philosophers could play an important role in examining, and making choices between, different types of justice.

You can read more about Reuben at the University of Oxford's page.

Reuben Binns is an Associate Professor of Human Centred Computing, working between computer science, law, and philosophy, focusing on data protection, machine learning, and the regulation of and by technology. Between 2018-2020, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in AI at the Information Commissioner's Office, addressing AI / ML and data protection. He joined the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher in 2015. He received his Ph.D. in Web Science from The University of Southampton in 2015.

Supported by the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Watch: Ray Tallis on Freedom: an impossible reality (April 2022)

The question of free will has preoccupied philosophers for millennia. In recent years the debate has been reinvigorated by the findings of neuroscience and, for some, the notion that we have free will has finally been laid to rest. Not so, says Raymond Tallis. In his quest to reconcile our practical belief in our own agency with our theoretical doubts, Tallis will advance powerful arguments for the reality of freedom. He will challenge the idea that we are imprisoned by laws of nature that wire us into a causally closed world. He will aim to shows that our capacity to discover and exploit these laws is central to understanding the nature of voluntary action and to reconciling free will with our status as material beings.

We had a fantastic talk and discussion with Ray over Zoom, in which he explained his theory of free will very clearly, and engaged with energy and imagination in the discussion afterwards. You can watch our recording and the discussion now:

You can get 25% off Ray's book by using the code AGENDA25 on the publisher's website.

Raymond Tallis trained in medicine at Oxford University and at St Thomas’ Hospital London before becoming Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences for his research in clinical neuroscience and he has played a key role in developing guidelines for the care of stroke patients in the UK. From 2011–14 he was Chair of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying. He retired from medicine in 2006 to become a full-time writer. His books have ranged across many subjects – from philosophical anthropology to literary and cultural criticism – but all are characterised by a fascination for the infinite complexity of human lives and the human condition. The Economist’s Intelligent Life magazine lists him as one of the world’s leading polymaths.


Tuesday 8 March 2022: Where should epistemology start? - Professor Timothy Williamson (in person!)

We were delighted that Timothy Williamson, Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford since 2000, joined us in person for our next talk on 8th March, 7:15 for a 7:30 start. This provided a great opportunity for members to meet with, and question, one of the country's leading philosophers.

Professor Williamson addressed the fundamental question of epistemology: how can we know things? He talked about why Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum" is a bad starting-point and why the kinds of knowledge humans share with other animals is a better one.

Unfortunately, due to disagreements between Zoom and our mixing desk, the sound recording was not of adequate quality to share. Apologies to those who missed out.

Supported by the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Timothy Williamson has been the Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford since 2000. He was born in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1955. After an undergraduate degree in mathematics and philosophy and a doctorate in philosophy, both at Oxford, he was a lecturer in philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, a fellow and tutor at University College Oxford, and Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh. He has been a visiting professor at MIT and Princeton, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), a visiting scholar at the centre for advanced study in Oslo, a Nelson distinguished professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a Townsend Visitor at Berkeley and Tang Chun-I visiting professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 


Watch: 2022 February 8 - Professor Jennifer Lackey on Eyewitness Testimony

In February 2022, we were joined by Jennifer Lackey, the Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. She gave an impressive and fascinating talk on the  enormous epistemic weight that eyewitness testimony is afforded in the United States criminal legal system and the various forms of injustice that result. We were lucky enough to have several other experts on the topic in the audience, and were able to discuss some of the differences between the US and the UK. You can watch the video here:

Eyewitness testimony is a powerful form of evidence, and this is especially true in the United States criminal legal system. At the same time, eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing. In this talk I offer a close examination of this tension between the enormous epistemic weight that eyewitness testimony is afforded in the United States criminal legal system and the fact that there are important questions about its reliability as a source of evidence. I argue that lineups and interrogations often function by way of extracting testimony from an eyewitness through practices that are manipulative, deceptive, or coercive. I then show that when testimony that is extracted in these ways is given an unwarranted excess of credibility, the eyewitness in question is the victim of what I call agential testimonial injustice. I conclude that since much of the testimony of eyewitnesses is both extracted and given an excess of credibility, there is a fairly widespread form of epistemic injustice being inflicted upon testifiers in the United States criminal legal system. This calls for reforms along both dimensions—lineups and interrogations should go through a witness’s epistemic agency, rather than bypassing, exploiting, or undermining it, and the weight of the resulting testimony should be viewed in the broader context of its significant fallibility.

Jennifer Lackey, Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy, Northwestern university

Ph.D. Brown University

Jennifer Lackey specializes in epistemology, with a particular emphasis on a broad range of issues in social epistemology. Her recent work focuses on false confessions, the criminal justice system, the duty to object, norms of credibility, the epistemic status of punishment, the epistemology of groups, expertise, and the distribution of epistemic goods.