About PhilChat

PhilChat is a postgraduate-run philosophy group which aims to introduce undergraduate students to interesting and socially relevant debates within, and related to, philosophy.

We aim to broaden our philosophical horizons by addressing issues that fall outside the Manchester undergraduate curriculum and to foster a collegial and friendly environment amongst undergraduate and postgraduate students.

In 2015, the University of Manchester became a new chapter of MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) the UK, an organisation that aims to facilitate the participation of members from underrepresented groups in academic philosophy. PhilChat constitutes the University of Manchester’s chapter and is dedicated to furthering the promotion of equality and representation within academic philosophy. PhilChat currently runs two main streams of activity: a monthly PhD-led seminar series and the Annual PhilChat Conference.

The PhilChat monthly seminar talks are given by current University of Manchester PhD candidates and attended by both undergraduate and postgraduate students. We aim to cover a range of interesting and current topics. Past PhilChat events have, for example, covered implicit biases; arguments for and against procreation; what it means to be 'normal'; and whether killing in war is ever justified. Each talk is followed by a short break and then an open Q&A and discussion with the speaker and the rest of the group. For questions about the monthly seminar series, please contact the convener, Leonie Smith.

From 2015-16, we have also held the annual PhilChat undergraduate conference. This one-day event includes talks on socially relevant topics within philosophy, as well as a philosophy postgraduate studies workshop aimed at current undergraduate students. Attendees are also given the opportunity to socialise and discuss the topics raised with speakers and organisers over a conference lunch and casual dinner.

2016’s conference addressed ‘The Philosophy of Race, Gender and Disability’, with presentations from Professor Rebecca Bennett (Manchester), Dr Graham Stevens (Manchester), and Jessica Bernard (St Andrews). In 2017 we considered ‘Race, Gender and Class in Philosophy’ with the help of our speakers; Professor Brian Klug (Oxford), Dr Frederique Janssen-Lauret (Manchester) and Leonie Smith (Manchester). Then the 2018 conference addressed ‘Trust, Forgiveness, and the Philosophy of Mixed-Race Identities’. We heard from Dr Gabriella Beckles-Raymond (Canterbury Christ Church), Dr Paula Satne (Manchester) and Dr Andrew Kirton (Manchester).

The focus of the 2019 conference was on ‘Extending knowledge: decolonised, non-western and interdisciplinary perspectives’, and it was held on the 10 May 2019. We heard from Katucha Bento (Leeds) on ‘Decolonising Knowledge production: strategies of thinking Other-wise’; Nilanjan Das (UCL) on ‘Śrīharṣa on the Unanalysability of Knowledge’; and Hane Maung (Manchester) on ‘Suicide and the Philosophy of Psychiatry’. 

The theme of PhilChat 2020 is ‘On the Necessities, Possibilities, and Future of Analytic Philosophy’. Nakul Krishna (University of Cambridge) will be asking the question, ‘Is analytic philosophy good for the soul?’, Nicola Mulkeen (University of Manchester) will be talking to us about issues of ‘Intergenerational Exploitation’, and former Manchester Philosophy student, Samuel Boardman (Oxford) will be returning to tell us about ‘Knowledge of the Modal Universe’.

This year’s event will be held online for the first time, and is open to all who register with a University email address. To sign up, please visit the event page.

The PhilChat committee are Jon Bebb (lead for the annual event), Leonie Smith (monthly seminar convener) and Maria Evaristo Cursino Da Silva (undergraduate representative). If you would like to get involved in PhilChat or would like to present a paper at one of our events, please get in touch with Jon Bebb or Leonie Smith.