Search type


Research seminars

All are welcome to our philosophy research seminars, presented by visiting speakers, members of staff and PhD students.

Research seminars will take place on Wednesdays. 

The seminars will usually run from 3.15-5pm, with a break. There are three exceptions - see details for 21 February, 28 February, and 16 May.

The seminars are not all in the same venue - please see below for details:

Please contact Paula Satne ( if you have any queries.

2017-18: Semester Two

14 February 2018: Professor Kevin Mulligan (University of Italian Switzerland, Lugano)

Venue: Arthur Lewis Building 2.016/17

Title: Misleading Pictures, Temptations, and Metaphilosophy: Marty and Wittgenstein

Abstract: One of the most distinctive features of Wittgenstein's reflections on philosophy is his appeal to the temptations to which philosophers too often succumb, in particular, the temptation to be misled by certain pictures or forms of language into misunderstandings of the way language works and so, too, into philosophy. Before the first World War, Anton Marty also argued at length that philosophers are often misled by pictures and forms of language. I survey and evaluate their descriptions of misleading pictures of modality, thinking, propositions, time, logic, their accounts of temptation and the different conceptions of philosophy they build on these descriptions and accounts. Marty wins.

21 February 2018: Dr Roberta Ballarin (University of British Columbia)

Venue: University Place 2.219

Note that this seminar will start and end at the later-than-normal times of 4.15pm and 6.00pm.

Title: On The Genealogy of Modality: The Necessity of Origin and the Origin of Necessity

Abstract: In this paper, I lift from Kripke’s Naming and Necessity two alternative interpretations of necessity: essentialism and a historical, genealogical conception. I argue that Kripkean essentialism, and even more so Kit Fine’s definitional interpretation of essentialism, shares deep connections with its arch-nemesis, Carnapian conceptualism. Yet we find in Kripke’s work also the seeds of a historical interpretation of necessity according to which historical, that is, causally produced objects are what they are because of their processes of production. In a reversal of the essentialist paradigm, origin, rather than essence, is the source of modality. I then connect Kripke’s focus on origin to Nietzsche’s reflections on the origin of justice, and to Quine’s naturalism. Against the common definitional practices of metaphysicians, Quine famously rejected meanings and essences and the analytic and necessary truths dependent on them. He then proceeded to naturalise semantics and epistemology by focusing on sensory stimulations and the ordinary psychological processes of knowledge acquisition. No corresponding naturalisation of essence was proposed. In this paper, I am happy to follow Quine and let essence, as well as essential predication, go. Left only with real entities and phenomena and their natural place in history, I conjecture that origin is what remains in place to naturalise necessity.

21 March 2018: Dr Dawn Wilson (University of Hull)

Venue: Arthur Lewis Building Boardroom

Title: Composing and Performing: Photographers Creating Art

Abstract: ‘I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music.’ The photographer Ansel Adams was a classically trained pianist and saw an analogy between art photography and music: ‘The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance’; ‘The negative comes to life only when performed as a print’; ‘Each performance differs in subtle ways.’

I argue that Adams is right in some respects, but wrong in others. It is true that some art photography can be fruitfully understood in the composer-performer paradigm and Adams is right that prints are like performances. However, his claim that a negative is like a score is incorrect and symptomatic of a widely held misconception about the nature of photography. I offer an original account of the photographic production process which corrects this misconception and I argue that the analogy between photography and music can unlock significant new ways to understand art photography. 

18 April 2018: Professor Fraser MacBride (The University of Manchester)

Venue: Arthur Lewis Building 2.016/17

Title: Relations: Predicates Expressing Them, Names Denoting Them, and Second-Order Logic

Abstract: I argue for an original package of metaphysical, semantic and logical doctrines about relations. Metaphysically I argue that relations cannot be reduced or eliminated, that they lack direction but the manner of their application must be taken as an ideological primitive. Semantically I argue that predicates in general and many place predicates, in particular, are impurely referring expressions, ie do not only refer to relations but perform a further co-ordinating function in virtue of which a sentence is more than a list. Conceiving of predicates as impurely referring expressions not only provides a solution to Frege's Paradox of the Concept Horse but also allows us to address the Puzzle about Relation Names advanced by van Inwagen. Because it enables us to solve these puzzles, this gives us reason to favour my view that predicates are impurely referring expressions. If time permits I will expand upon one important consequence of this view for our understanding of higher-order logic, viz. that second-order quantification cannot be conceived as referential and that the extensions of many place predicates belong to the realm of phenomena rather than being noumena. 

25 April 2018: Dr Sean Crawford (The University of Manchester)

Location: HBS 2.53

Title: The Paderewski Identity

Abstract: The talk will discuss the prospects of solving various puzzles about belief without resorting to modes of presentation, whether these be part of a Fregean or a Russellian theory. It will explore the idea that rejecting principles necessary to generate the puzzles renders appeals to modes of presentation unnecessary. Such principles include ones about rationality, disquotation, epistemic transparency and the relation between first-order and second-order belief.

16 May 2018: Welcome Event

Note the unusual time and format. This seminar will form part of the School’s welcome event for holders of offers for the MA and PhD and will be followed by a ‘social’ in the Arthur Lewis Common Room. It will run from 2pm-3.45pm and will consist of a talk from a PhD student and a member of staff.

First Talk: Joel Smith (University of Manchester) and Abi Connor (University of Manchester)

Title: The Perceptual Present

Abstract: In perceptually experiencing event e, it seems to one that e occurs in the present. In this way, we can distinguish perceptual experience from episodic recall: the perceived event seems to be happening in the present whereas the recalled event does not. One way of representing this feature of perceptual experience is to attribute to it the explicitly indexical content ‘e is happening now’. Since ‘now’ refers to different times on different occasions of use, it requires analysis. One way of analysing the temporally indexical content, the Token-Reflexive Account, claims that e is presented as simultaneous with the perceptual experience of it. On this view, that is, the experience itself is represented in its own content. We offer two arguments against the Token-Reflexive Account. Firstly, that it entails idealism and secondly, that it conflicts with temporal transparency. We defend the Minimal Account, according to which the temporal content of perceptual experience is exhausted by its direct reference to the interval of time over which it occurs. That is, we defend the claim that the content of perceptual experience is untensed.

Second Talk: Julian Dodd (The University of Manchester)

Title: Personal Authenticity in Musical Performance

Abstract: TBC

Location: Arthur Lewis Building 2.016/7

Previous speakers

2017-18: Abigail Connor (Manchester), Sean Crawford (Manchester), Frederique Janssen-Lauret (Manchester), Francois Recanati (Institute Jean Nicod), Andy Kirton (Manchester), Sophie Grace-Chappell (Open University), and Richard Christian (Manchester).

2016-17: Lubomira Radoilska (Kent), Sylvia Barnett (Manchester), Lea-Cecile Salje (Leeds), Jules Holroyd (Sheffield), Alex Grzankowski (Birkbeck), Chris Hughes (KCL), Helen Beebee (Manchester), Pilar Lopez-Cantero (Manchester), Fred Horton (Manchester), Catharine Abell (Manchester), Joel Smith (Manchester), Joey Montgomery (Manchester), Lydia Farina (Manchester), Michael Scott (Manchester) and Graham Stevens (Manchester), Paula Satne (Manchester), Stephen Ingram (Manchester), and Richard Yetter Chappell (York).

2015-16: Nikk Effingham (Birmingham), Al Mele (FSU), Jess Leech (Sheffield), David A. Nicolas (Jean Nicod), Michaela Massimi (Edinburgh), Catherine Z. Elgin (Harvard), Stacie Friend (Birkbeck), Lee Walters (Southampton), Finn Malcolm (Manchester), Tom Crowther (Warwick), Chris Ovenden (Manchester), Yu Gu (Manchester), Marcello Orieste Fiocco (UC Irvine), Nathan Duckett (Manchester), Helen Yetter Chappell (York), Luke Russell (Sydney), Thomas Smith (Manchester), Pila Lopez-Cantero (Manchester).

2014-15: Nicholas Jones (Birmingham), Emily Caddick Bourne (Cambridge), Kathleen Stock (Sussex), Debbie Roberts (Edinburgh), Christy Mag Uidhir (Houston), Peter Vickers (Durham), Johannes Roessler (Warwick), Heather Logue (Leeds), John Heil (Washington St. Louis), Matthew Smith (Leeds).

2013-14: Ian Proops (Austin), Daniel Whiting (Southampton), Ian Phillips (UCL), Jonathan Farrell (Manchester), Jason Turner (Leeds), Steinvör Thöll Árnadóttir (Stirling), Barry Dainton (Liverpool), Louise Richardson (York), Miranda Fricker (Sheffield), Jani Haikkarainen and Markku Keinanen (Tampere, Finland), Tom Smith (Manchester), Josh Parsons (Oxford), James Maclaurin (Otago).