Royal Institute of Philosophy Stapledon Colloquium 2021-22


The Stapledon Colloquium Series features external speakers and members of the Liverpool department of Philosophy presenting current philosophical research. The seminars are free and open to members of the public. The seminar takes place on Thursdays, 3-5pm at the School of the Arts Library, 19 Abercromby Square, Liverpool L7 7BD. In 2021-22, we will be presenting a mixture of online and in-person seminars.

Read about Olaf Stapledon here.

For any organisational queries, contact Dr Vid Simoniti

Semester 2


(in person)
Charlotte Newey, University of Reading

Fairness and Close Personal Relationships


From the playground to the political arena, appeals to fairness are part of everyday life. In moral and political theory, there is a growing literature relating to the concept. As yet, however, scant attention has been paid to the grounds of fairness. In this talk, I discuss three accounts of fairness, and argue that close personal relationships should be recognised as a ground of fairness.


24-Feb-22 (online)


Veli Mitova,

University of Johannesburg

Socialising epistemic risk: on the risks of epistemic injustice


Epistemic risk is of central importance to epistemology nowadays: one common way in which a belief can fail to be knowledge is by being formed in an epistemically risky way, i.e., a way that makes it true by luck. Recently, epistemologists have been expanding this rather narrow conception of risk in every direction, except (to my mind) the most obvious one — to enable it to accommodate the increasingly commonplace thought that knowledge has an irreducibly social dimension. In this talk, I fill this lacuna by bringing issues of epistemic injustice to bear on epistemic risk. In particular, I draw on the phenomena of white ignorance and epistemic exploitation, to sketch a more social notion of epistemic risk. On the proposed view, the interests of one’s epistemic community partly determine whether a belief-forming procedure is epistemically risky. This expansion of the concept will benefit scholarship on both epistemic risk and epistemic injustice: it would allow the former to honour the importance of one’s community to the knowledge enterprise; and it would give the latter the tools to solve what Robin McKenna calls their ‘responsibility problem’.


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10-Mar-22 (online) Anna Alexandrova, University of Cambridge

CANCELLED - Social Science: A Constructivist Account


The term ‘social science’ was first coined in the eighteenth century and ever since there has been a debate about what it is and what knowledge can be expected from it. Some accounts of social science call themselves naturalist and draw inspiration from natural sciences. Others are exceptionalist and they emphasise the distinctiveness of social knowledge. As different as they are, these two traditions share a strategy: they position social science with respect to either natural sciences or humanities and then, depending on this initial choice, they proceed to formulate what social scientists should do and how. I shall call this strategy contrastivism and argue that it has been a failure. Instead of positioning social science relative to the supposedly clear categories of natural sciences or humanities, I propose a constructivist account of social science. I develop a version of constructivism according to which social science is any mode of inquiry that serves priorities of any community that undertakes to understand and to improve itself. 

24-Mar-22 (online) Aaron Meskin, University of Georgia

Really Bad Genres


It is sometimes said that there are no bad genres of art; that is, that there are no genres that preclude artistic success. The thesis has intuitive appeal. After all, many dismissals of entire genres are rooted in ignorance or snobbery. I argue that the view is mistaken. I point to a number of ethically flawed racist genres of art and defend the claim that these really are genres and that they do not admit of artistic success. These cases will not convince an aesthetic autonomist committed to the “no bad genres” view, so I go on to offer an alternative argument for the claim that bad genres are possible. If we think about what a genre is, it is plausible that there are possible genres, even ones that humans could care about, in which one could not generate artistically successful works.


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(in person)

Anna Bergqvist, Manchester Metropolitan University


The Participatory Turn in Museum Curation as a Model for Person-centred Clinical Care

This chapter argues that the participatory turn in museum curation offers a powerful model for person-centred clinical care. The chapter is in three main sections. The first section gives an outline of contemporary person-centred care focussing on the contested values arising (particularly though not only in mental health) from the shared clinical decision-making between clinician and patient on which it is based. The section then outlines the growing range of philosophical resources available for tackling contested values of this kind. With notable exceptions, aesthetics has to date been largely absent from these resources. The next section describes the participatory turn and illustrates it with a museum-based project involving migrants. The Silent University, as the project is called, is an example of what the curator Maria Lind has characterised as ‘curating in the extended field’. The final section brings the considerations of the first two sections together by exploring some of the features of the participatory turn that make it a powerful model for person-centred care. First and foremost are partnership working and dialogue. Interpreted through the philosopher, Hilde Hein’s, agentic account of the participatory turn, these features point to the need for a similarly agentic understanding of shared clinical decision-making. Further features of the participatory turn important for person-centred care particularly in mental health, include its focus on strengths. Interpreted within Lind’s concept of ‘curation in the extended field’, recovery in mental health can be described as ‘recovery in the extended field’. We conclude with brief comments on the wider significance of aesthetics in contemporary science-based and person-centred clinical care.


(in person)


Pauline Phemister, University of Edinburgh

Monadic Souls and the West Lothian Bings


Abstract forthcoming.