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Durham University

The Department of Philosophy

Forthcoming Research Seminars and Lectures

(For past seminars and lectures see here)

Departmental Research Seminar talks will take place each Thursday in Term Time from 13:30 to 15:00 online. Joining details will be available in the event listing when confirmed.

All talks will take place online, with talks beginning at 1.30pm. There will be the normal 45 minutes of presentation, followed by a 5 minute break, and 40 minutes for Q&A.


Please use the form at the bottom of this page should you wish to be added to our Events Mailing List


30th November 2011: Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture: Philip Kitcher (Columbia) - Dissent

(12 August 2011)

Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture

This lecture will be held in the Birley Room, Hatfield College.  Refreshments will be served from 5pm with the talk commencing at 5:30pm

Title: Dissent

Abstract:

Many people who have thought about scientific inquiry and about public debate have supposed that dissent is a valuable thing.    In this lecture, I attempt to show that there are serious problems about dissent, problems that arise today with respect to some of the most urgent issues human beings face (for example, climate change and world hunger).    I begin with the apparently plausible idea that some balance has to be struck between the fostering of dissent and the reliance on consensus.    Once that idea is cautiously framed, and attention is given to the various groups within which consensus or dissent might occur, it becomes evident that the problem is multi-faceted.   In part it arises from the friction between two important institutions (the system of public knowledge and the framework of economic and commercial activities).   In part it also arises from the credit economy that helps to ensure valuable cognitive diversity within the sciences.    I argue that the problem should be conceived in terms of this friction, and that the roles of the scientist and of the dissenter need to be more carefully scrutinized and defined.   Further, popular slogans about democracy and about freedom of public debate need to be rethought.    I conclude by suggesting that philosophy (and philosophy of science) today should renew the project of classical pragmatism. 

 

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