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Graduate Work in Progress Seminar

The Departmental Graduate Seminar is a student-organised seminar providing an opportunity for all Warwick philosophy graduate students, and occasionally students from other universities, to present their work to a general philosophy audience. It’s also a great chance to meet and socialise with fellow graduate students, and discuss each other’s research.

Talks take place every other Wednesday from 4:00pm to 6:00pm in room S2.77 (Term 1) in the Social Sciences Building, and are normally followed by a short (i.e. 5–10 minute) response from another student, questions and discussion chaired by a PhD student or member of the faculty, and drinks at The Dirty Duck from around 6pm. All PhD, MPhil and MA students are encouraged to attend, and faculty members and visitors are very welcome.

Notes for Presenters

Individual talks should be between 30 to 45 minutes long. The seminar can accommodate two 20 minute talks, in which case the session would be divided evenly between two speakers. You do not need to register with a second person if you are wanting to give a 20 minute talk, although doing so is encouraged. If you are presenting a paper that you would like circulated in advance, the paper should be forwarded to Brigid Evans or Chris Noonan no later than 9am the preceding Monday.

The seminars are flexible in format and are designed first and foremost to accommodate the needs and development of graduate students. As such, speakers should not feel restricted to presenting a paper and may instead chair a discussion on a philosophical topic or reading of interest, or some other format suitable for group presentation.

To reserve a slot, please e-mail Brigid Evans and Chris Noonan with your preferred date(s) and a provisional title or topic for your talk.

A list of seminars for the current academic term is listed below.

Previous 2019/2020 Talks

Emily  Jae



Next Talk:

Zak WIP poster




2019/2020 Seminars

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Wed 23 Oct, '19
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77, The Cowling Room

Speaker: Adam Neal

Title: 'Social Poverty'

Respondent: Simon Gansinger


The paper explores the relationship between material deprivation, and our needs as social beings. It argues that those who suffer at that intersection do so in two distinct but sometimes overlapping ways: 1) their needs for friendship, human contact and intimacy; and 2) status driven harms. The paper then conceptualises these harms as social poverty and argues that any complete account of poverty should include the impact on our social needs and our social position. The paper explores the ways in which each aspect of social poverty can lead to a worsening of material conditions. These include the social capital we gain from our social relationships, the impact of social poverty on our ability to participate in the job market and the impact on our ability to make and sustain social connections. The paper contextualises social poverty by discussing studies on the residents of Chicago who died during the 1995 Heatwave, poverty in inner city areas and low-income pensioners. After assessing different accounts of poverty, the paper shows that assessing poverty using income fails to do justice to the many factors which determine the extent of one's deprivation, including people's environments, social situation, social norms, friends and family, unemployment and life expectancy. This leads to an assessment of poverty as capability deprivation which, the paper argues, is more effective in assessing deprivation in respect of our nature as social beings. However, the paper argues that capability deprivation goes too far from our ordinary understanding of poverty. Instead, the paper outlines a conception of social poverty and argues that should be prominent in our thinking about deprivation.

Wed 13 Nov, '19
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77, The Cowling Room

Speaker: Emily Bassett

Title: 'Responsibility for Sexual Desire'


Sexual desire is a rich topic dominated by conflicting intuitions - the uncontrollable nature of sexual desire and the indisputable existence of sexual repression often go hand in hand in literary works from the Aeneid to Anna Karenina. Questions of responsibility for sexual desire in particular are muddied by these warring opinions on the nature of sexual desire.

In this paper, I will draw on one account of sexual desire offered by Shaffer. Shaffer rejects what he calls 'propositional theories' of sexual desire - which appear more amenable to questions of responsibility - in favour of an account of sexual desire that is emotion-like, which I begin by outlining. Following this, I move to Shaffer's argument that his account is not parallel to emotions in one key way: sexual desires, unlike emotions, are not appropriately subject to reasons. In exploring whether this argument holds, I touch upon correlative concerns about opening sexual desires up to questions of responsibility, and draw to the conclusion that it is at least intuitively possible to talk about responsibility for sexual desire. However, I also hold this conclusion would be best served with a clear delineation of what it means for something to appropriately be subject to reasons.

Thu 21 Nov, '19
PG Work in Progress Seminar: CHANGE OF DATE
S2.77, The Cowling Room

Speaker: Jae Hetterley

Title: 'Heidegger's Kantianism in Being and Time'


This paper investigates Heidegger's intellectual development at a specific historical moment: the centrality of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason to Heidegger's understanding of ontology in the late 1920s. Why does fundamental ontology become a specifically transcendental philosophy, and how ought we to understand the transcendental thread in relation to the wider systematics of Being and Time? Regarding the first question, I argue that Heidegger's thought undergoes its own 'Copernican Revolution' in response to a methodological aporia Heidegger is confronted with - namely, how can phenomenology address the question of the meaning of being whilst going beyond mere anthropology? The Copernican Revolution, I argue, signals a way out insofar as it demonstrates that intentional conditions coincide with ontological conditions - and with this in place, structures of Dasein are consequently structures of being. Secondly, in filling out Heidegger's transcendental conception of ontology, I draw an analogy between Kantian imagination and Heideggerian disclosedness as the root of their systematic unity - that what both philosophers foundationally recognise ontologically is a structure of ambiguity at the heart of the human subjectivity, between intuition and understanding, existentiality and facticity. Ontological interpretation, in turn, is structually projective for both Kant and Heidegger - which is to say, the formal structures of their respective ontologies cohere. Finally, I consider the question of transcendental idealism in relation to Kant and Heidegger, and set out how the primarily systematic argument that I provide in the thesis can provide the basis for closer readings of Being and Time.

The seminar will be followed by a Q&A session and drinks in The Duck.

Wed 4 Dec, '19
PG Work in Progress Seminar
S2.77, The Cowling Room

Speaker: Zak Stinchcombe

Title: 'This Moral Vision: Martha Nussbaum and the Novel'


This talk is interested in examining the relations that hold between ethical and literary value with a particular focus on whether they are in tension, do not neatly complement one another, perhaps violently disagree, and so on. Initially we will look at two competing accounts of this tension, namely Ethicism (wherein ethical deficiency, or merit, corresponds to literary deficiency or merit) and Aestheticism (there is no real tension to discuss - aesthetic value and ethical value do not occupy the same space, have nothing to do with one another, that ethical considerations are irrelevant to aesthetic judgements, and so on). Neither account is satisfactory, treating the relationship too superficially. Martha Nussbaum's account of the novel, particularly in the Jamesian novel, points to a deeper, more textured account of the relationship. Quite apart from the ethical and literary value covarying. or else standing independently of one another, Nussbaum argues: 1) novels are themselves works of moral philosophy. 2) it is in novels that one finds the most appropriate articulation of the, or this, moral vision. 3) we can find in novels a paradigm of moral activity. I shall assess the plausibility of these claims, taking into consideration some interpretative ambiguities that exist in her account. I will then be in a position to say something of how this might be applied to the tension we began with. Nussbaum says that there exists a 'dynamic tension between two possible irreconcilable visions...' I agree that this tension exists. Moreover, though, I intend to claim something stronger. The dynamic tension is not merely present; it is an essential component of the relationship between ethical and aesthetic value.

Mon 3 Feb, '20
Post Graduate Work in Progress Seminar
Room S2.77, The Cowling Room

Speaker: Jörn Wiengarn

Title: 'I Trusted You! - On the Normativity of Interpersonal Trust'

Mon 17 Feb, '20
Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar
Room S2.77, The Cowling Room

Speaker: Giulia Lorenzi

Title: The Role of Conceptualisation in DeBellis' Work on Music: A Discussion

Respondent: Chenwei Nie

Mon 24 Feb, '20
CANCELLED: Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar
Room S2.77, The Cowling Room

Speaker: Adam Bainbridge

Title: How to Appreciate Art (according to the critics)

Respondent: Gianluca Lorenzini

What is it to appreciate a work of art? For example, is it coherent to say “That’s a good sculpture, but I don’t like it”?

Analytic philosophers of art who think about art criticism typically agree that successful criticism must be evaluative. They claim that critics must judge the value of artworks, as art. But philosophical consensus quickly unravels into disagreements about how judgements are to be justified, and into disagreements about what makes artistic value valuable.

These philosophical divergences emerge in different beliefs about what a “proper” encounter with a work of art amounts to. In this talk, I want to suggest that the philosophers are not paying adequate attention to the actual practice of art criticism. I will introduce three possible ways of understanding appreciation in this context and I’ll ask: is there a relationship between our beliefs about an artwork’s value and our susceptibility to experience affective and emotional responses? I will argue that to appreciate an artwork is not merely to recognise its value, it is to incorporate the work into our lives.

Mon 9 Mar, '20
POSTPONED UNTIL TERM 3: Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar
Room S1.50, Social Sciences Building

Speaker: Will Gildea

Title: 'Grounding Our Equality Amid Inequality: Towards a View of Moral Status'