‘Engaged Philosophy’ sums up the work in the department that makes a difference in the wider world, by engaging on a practical level with real-world problems and by bringing philosophy to an audience beyond academia.
Our work in this area currently falls into three main categories: environmental sustainability, diversity in philosophy, and public engagement. However, staff and PhD students have a range of other relevant interests including animal ethics, ageing, and mental disorders; check the 'our people' list for more on these.
The main staff and students working in this area are listed below. Other staff are also involved in Engaged Philosophy activities as well.
For example, Thomas Uebel has worked, alone and with John O'Neill, for a number of years on the socialist calculation debates of the Left Vienna Circle. This work connects directly with O'Neill's work on the limits of market modes of governance for the valuation of environmental goods. Additionally, Michael Scott was involved in the EU-funded BIOMOT project, working in particular on moral motivation in relation to biodiversity and the environment. Public engagement activities are also organised by staff across the department.
- Hannah Battersby is a PhD student working on animal rights and environmental justice. She has written on killing animals for the UK Centre for Animal Law's e-Magazine Animal Justice UK, and has an article on COVID-19, ecological justice and veganism on the University of Manchester's Sustainable Consumption Institute's blog.
- Prof. Helen Beebee works on diversity in philosophy and in particular, on making philosophy a more inclusive profession. With Jenny Saul, she co-authored the first ever report on the underrepresentation of women in philosophy in the UK (2011) and co-designed the BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme, running in philosophy departments, learned societies and journals in the UK and overseas since 2014. She recently -- with Anne-Marie McCallion -- co-edited a journal special issue and co-authored a paper on diversity in philosophy (Symposion 2020). She is a Patron of the Athena Swan Charter.
- Dr Frederique Janssen-Lauret works on diversity in philosophy and, in particular, the role -- and marginalisation -- of women in the history of philosophy. She has published papers on Susan Stebbing, Christine Ladd-Franklin and Constance Jones, Elizabeth of Bohemia and women in Logical Empiricism, and on using texts by women in teaching philosophical logic, and is a founder member of the Women in the History of Analytic Philosophy Network. She is also the Department's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer.
- Dr Hane Maung is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow -- and a qualified psychiatrist. His current project, Suicide, Disorder, and Causal Judgements investigates the explanation for, and the effects of, the fact that mental disorder tends to get privileged over other factors as a primary cause of suicide.
- Anne-Marie McCallion is a PhD student in the Department, working on the underrepresentation of women in philosophy. She recently -- with Helen Beebee -- co-edited a journal special issue and co-authored a paper on diversity in philosophy (Symposion 2020). She has also worked with the In Parenthesis project, which aims to shed light on the lessons that can be learned from the circumstances and modus operandi of the Wartime Quartet (Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgeley and Iris Murdoch), who flourished at a time when men were largely absent from the philosophical scene in Oxford. She has also been working as an AHRC-funded intern on the Diversity Reading List project, and is conducting empirical research into the high attrition rate of female undergraduates in philosophy, which is supervised by Wendy Bottero in the Sociology Department.
- Prof. John O’Neill works at the intersection of philosophy, political economy, environmental policy, political theory, and ethics. He has been involved in numerous funded projects concerning aspects of environmental sustainability and social justice, including BIOMOT and the Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade project (EJOLT), both funded by the EU; Climate Change, Justice and Vulnerability and Social Justice and the Future of Flood Insurance (both Joseph Rowntree Foundation), and Green Infrastructure and the Health and Wellbeing Influences on an Ageing Population (GHIA). His interest in ageing also resulted in the co-authored report, Dementia, Vulnerability and Well-being: Living Well with Dementia Together.
Focusing on environmental justice and the economic valuation of environmental goods.
We have philosophers working on problems concerned with how we should: value the environment, the limits of market valuations, our attitudes towards the environment and motivations to act on them, and environmental justice.
Some recent research projects and their impact
- Social Justice and Flood Insurance: Find out how John O'Neill and Martin O'Neill (York)'s project, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, led to a fairer insurance scheme for housing in areas of high flood risk.
- Climate justice: who and where are the climate disadvantaged? Find out how John O'Neill's work has contributed to a mapping tool that has helped various regional, national and overseas bodies to take 'climate disadvantage' into account in town planning and decision-making.
- Green Infrastructure and the Health and Wellbeing Influences on an Ageing Population (GHIA) (O'Neill, 2016-19, NERC and other funders)
Doing philosophy sustainably
In our AHRC-funded project The Age of Metaphysical Revolution (2016-19), we took steps to reduce the carbon footprint that is associated with a large research project by testing out ways of running hybrid/in-person conferences and workshops. Visit the project website to find out more about why this is a good idea and for some guidance on running hybrid events.
Another outcome of this project was that Fraser MacBride developed the British Philosophical Association's Sustainability Guidelines for Business Travel, which have so far been endorsed by some 23 philosophy departments in the UK.
Diversity in Philosophy
We are trying to make philosophy a more inclusive and diverse profession. Our work in this area includes:
- The BPA/SWIP report, Women in Philosophy in the UK, co-authored by Helen Beebee and Jenny Saul in 2011, has been widely cited in subsequent reports by other professional associations and learned societies, and has guided empirical research into the underrepresentation of women.
- The BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme was devised by Beebee and Saul and launched in 2014. Its subscribers include some 27 UK philosophy departments, most of the main UK philosophy learned societies and journals, and several overseas departments and societies.
- Frederique Janssen-Lauret works on the role, and marginalisation as historical figures, of women in the history of analytic philosophy. She has published papers on, for example, Susan Stebbing, Christine Ladd-Franklin and Constance Jones, Ruth Barcan Marcus and women in Logical Empiricism, and on using texts by women in teaching philosophical logic. She is also a founder member of the Women in the History of Analytic Philosophy Network. Anne-Marie McCallion has worked with the In Parenthesis project on the Wartime Quartet (Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgeley and Iris Murdoch), who flourished at a time when men were largely absent from the philosophical scene in Oxford.
- Helen Beebee co-authored the BPA's Guidelines for Accessible Conferences and Guidelines for Accessible Public Lectures with Giulia Felappi and Alex Gregory. These are aimed at making philosophy events more inclusive for those with a range of disabilities.
- Our annual 'PhilChat' conference, organised by PhD students and aimed at undergraduates, always has a diversity theme -- e.g. Race, Gender and Class in Philosophy in 2017 and Extending Knowledge: Decolonised, Non-Western and Interdisciplinary Perspectives in 2019.
- Frederique Janssen-Lauret, 'Women in Logical Empiricism', in C. Limbeck & T. Uebel (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Logical Empiricism (Routledge), f/c 2021 (preprint)
- Frederique Janssen-Lauret, 'Grandmothers of Analytic Philosophy: The Formal and Philosophical Logic of Christine Ladd-Franklin and Constance Jones', in Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science (Vol. 20) University of Minnesota Press, f/c 2021 (preprint)
- Helen Beebee & Anne-Marie McCallion (eds), Diversity in Philosophy (special issue, Symposion 7(2)), 2020 (open access)
- Helen Beebee & Anne-Marie McCallion, 'In Defence of Different Voices', Symposion 7(2): 149-177, 2020 (open access)
- Helen Beebee & Heather Widdows, 'Weinstein, Philosophy and Structures of Abuse', Institute of Arts and Ideas blog, 2017
- Frederique Janssen-Lauret, 'Making room for women in our tools for teaching logic: a proposal for promoting gender inclusiveness' Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Tools for Teaching Logic. 65-73 (2015).
- Helen Beebee, ‘Women and Deviance in Philosophy’, in K. Hutchison and F. Jenkins (eds.), Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change? (Oxford: OUP), 2013
- Helen Beebee & Jenny Saul, Women in Philosophy in the UK, on behalf of the British Philosophical Association and Society for Women in Philosophy UK, 2011
Our annual public lecture series, the Dorothy Emmet Lectures -- generously funded by the Royal Institute of Philosophy -- has run since 2016.
We run a Pre-University Course in Philosophy for year 12 and 13 students from widening-participation postcodes, aimed at introducing school and sixth-form college students both to philosophy and to university study more generally. Our staff and PhD students also regularly give talks in local schools and colleges, and in 2021 some of our PhD students have been running a philosophy course for prisoners (remotely via prison TV due to covid-19) in collaboration with the Philosophy in Prison charity.
On the radio
- Free will: Helen Beebee discusses free will with Melvyn Bragg, Simon Blackburn and Galen Strawson on In our Time.
- Logical positivism: Thomas Uebel discusses the logical positivists with Melvyn Bragg, Nancy Cartwright and Barry Smith on In Our Time.
- Hume: Helen Beebee discusses David Hume with Melvyn Bragg, James Harris and Peter Millican on In Our Time.
- More Hume: Helen Beebee discusses Hume again, this time with Alan Saunders on The Philosopher's Zone on Australia's Radio National.
- The problem of induction: Helen Beebee discusses induction with Matthew Sweet, zoologist Matthew Cobb, weather forecaster John Hammond and others, in The Philosophers Arms.
- Free will: A series of three short BBC Reel documentaries, featuring Helen Beebee.
- The Emotions of Others: A short film on the expression of emotion, scripted by Joel Smith and Catharine Abell.
- Laws of Nature: Helen Beebee debates the laws of nature with Gerard 't Hooft, David Malone, and Laura Mersini-Houghton, as part of the Institute of Arts and Ideas HowTheLightGetsIn festival.
- COVID-19, ecological justice and veganism by PhD student Hannah Battersby.
- Emotional Robots: Lydia Farina and Joel Smith on whether robots can experience emotions.
- Experiencing Time: Joel Smith on Husserl and the puzzle of experiencing time.
- Memory, Identity and Responsibility: Helen Beebee on whether people should be punished for crimes they can't remember.
- Experiencing Phenomenology: Joel Smith on his book Experiencing Phenomenology.
- Who is Rachael? The Philosophy of Blade Runner: Helen Beebee on personal identity and memory implants.
- Is killing animals a matter of animal welfare? Hannah Battersby in the UK Centre for Animal Law's e-Magazine Animal Justice UK.