2017 – 2018: Imagination and Intuition

There are interesting philosophical debates about the role of imagination and intuition in evaluative judgement, ethical and aesthetic sensitivity or appreciation, learning, prediction, mind reading and understanding others in a broader sense. There are deep questions surrounding the epistemological status of imagination and intuition, as well as their relationship to perception, sensation, mental imagery, emotion and reason — to mention just a few. And then there are areas in aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics and philosophy of mind in which imagination and intuition are not the subjects, but nevertheless play a clear role. Our hope is that this diversity of questions, ideas and approaches should provoke some interesting discussions.

Preliminary details about the series are listed below. Additional lectures/dates may yet be added. Please bookmark this page and check back for further updates over the coming months.

Upcoming Lectures

7 November – Dr Peter Fossey (Philosophy, St Mary’s University) Imagination as a Guide to Reality

21 November – Dr. Karen Simecek (Philosophy, University of Warwick) Thinking Philosophically: Cognitive Benefits of Engaging with Art and Literature

IMG_345016 February – Dr. Helen de Cruz (Philosophy, Oxford Brookes University) Filling the Gaps in Evolutionary Ethics


27 February – Dr. Mike Stuart (Philosophy, London School of Economics) How Scientists Use Imagination to Learn about the World


20 March – Prof. Peter Lamarque (University of York) Truth in Poetry: a Matter of Detail

17 May – Prof. Beverley Clack (Oxford Brookes) – Wisdom, Friendship and the Practice of Philosophy

2016 – 2017: Philosophy and Rhetoric

The relationship between philosophy and rhetoric has often been strained, if not hostile. Philosophers have regarded rhetoricians with suspicion, accused them of misleading the masses and squandering truth for power. Rhetoricians, on the other hand, have considered philosophers as politically naïve or even dangerous.

This series invites its speakers to rethink and challenge the sharp distinction between the two disciplines. There are good reasons to do so. It has, for instance, long been recognised that philosophy has its own rhetoric. Moreover, good rhetoric aims at reconciliation, rather than usurpation. At the same time, any rapprochement is not without its difficulties. It creates questions about disciplinarity, about truth and politics etc..

Click here for the series poster.

Preliminary details about the series are listed below. Please bookmark this page and check back for further updates over the coming months.

Upcoming Lectures

29 September – Dr Hannah Marije Altorf (Philosophy, St Mary’s University) Philosophy and Rhetoric: Retelling the Old Story


20 October – Dr Johan Siebers (Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Middlesex University London) The Zen of Rhetoric


19 January – Prof. Richard Toye, (History, University of Exeter) Should we always say what we mean, and mean what we say? Reflections on politics and the English language


9 February –  Prof. Kurt Barling (Journalism, Middlesex University London) A help or a hindrance? Rhetoric of race in a cosmopolitan world


2 March – Prof. Jennifer Saul (Philosophy, University of Sheffield) Dogwhistles and Figleaves: Techniques of Racist Political Manipulation


30 March – Prof. Lene Rubinstein (Classics, Royal Holloway) Ethos and Logos. Persuasion and Character in Classical Greek Theory and Practice

2015 – 2016: Desire: Thinking, Feeling, Acting

Desire is a key concept in a number of areas of philosophy. Debates abound regarding the relationship between desires and evaluative judgements, the motivational role of desires, the role of desire in the mind and in human nature, the relationship between desires and similar entities like emotions, sentiments, perceptions (and quasi-perceptions), desire and the self, and what desires actually are. Our hope is that this diversity of questions, ideas and approaches should provoke some interesting discussions, and provide an opportunity for different but related projects to inform and influence each other.

Dr Kate Devlin (Goldsmiths) Techno-lust: Engineering the Heart’s Desire [19 November] IMG_2041

Dr Maria Alvarez (King’s College London) Desires, Dispositions & the Explanation of Action [3 March]image

Dr Ulrike Heuer (University of Leeds) Desires, Intentions, Reasons [7 April]

Dr Yonatan Shemmer (University of Sheffield) The Object of Trust [21 April]

Dr Amber Carpenter (The University of York) Desire, the Self and the Good [12 May]

2014 – 2015: Error

Error was the topic for our fourth series of Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures at St Mary’s University. View the series poster here.

Dr Yasemin J. Erden (St Mary’s University) Errors and mistakes: so wot? [23 October]IMG_1345

Prof Paul Standish (Institute of Education) Sentenced By Our Words [27 November]IMG_1378

Dr Roxana Baiasu Failures of Understanding (Oxford University; Birmingham University) [4 December]

Prof Christopher Norris (Cardiff University) The Augumentative Muse: recent philosophical poems by Christopher Norris [22 January]IMG_1452

Dr Ardo van den Hout (University College London) Statistical predictions are always true (and that’s why they are not about me) [26 February]IMG_1475

Prof Helen Beebee (University of Manchester) Are we accountable for our unconscious biases? [5 March]IMG_1484_2

Prof Michael Brady (University of Glasgow) Emotional Errors [23 April]IMG_1588

2013 – 2014: Creativity

For our third series of Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures at St Mary’s University, we invited our speakers to reflect on the topic of Creativity. You can view the series poster here.

Prof John Barnden (University of Birmingham) The Understanding of Metaphor and Creativity [23 October]IMG_0885

Prof Michaela Kendall (University of Southampton) Scientific Creativity and The Rise of the Entreprenerds [20 November]IMG_0914

Prof Derek Matravers (The Open University) Can There Be an Account of Creativity? [15 January]IMG_1025

Dr Christine Battersby (University of Warwick) Cultures of Creativity: Shifting the Frame [19 February]IMG_1043

Prof Len Platt (Goldsmiths) ‘For his Diligence Majesty our long distance laird that likes creation’: the Finnegans Wake creative [5 March]IMG_1057

Dr Barbara Underwood (Barnes Philosophy Club) Creativity and Invisibility: Gender and Music [26 March]IMG_1074

2012 – 2013: The Art of Dialogue

The second series of Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures at St Mary’s University was on The Art of Dialogue. The series poster can be viewed here (semester one) and here (semester two).

Dr Pamela Anderson (University of Oxford) In dialogue with philosophical texts [10 October]IMG_0348

Prof Timothy Chappell (The Open University) Persons in dialogue [14 November]IMG_0371

Dr Karin Fry (University of Wisconsin) Religion and Politics in the United States: Challenging One Way Discourse [28 November]IMG_0388

Prof Matthew Kieran (University of Leeds) Creative Competition or Dialogue? [13 March]IMG_0511.JPG

Dr Barry Dixon (University of Cambridge) Plato and the Rules of Dialogue [17 April]IMG_0651

2011 – 2012: Knowledge, Wisdom and the University

In September 2011, Philosophy at St Mary’s University hosted their first series of Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures. The series had the theme of Knowledge, Wisdom and the University. The series poster can be viewed here.

Mr Peter Worley (The Philosophy Shop) What can university philosophy learn from primary philosophy? [21 September]

Prof Murray Shanahan (Imperial College, London) Animal minds and robot minds [5 October]

Dr Phil Hutchinson (Manchester Metropolitan University) What has philosophy ever done for us? [30 November]

Prof Luciano Floridi (University of Hertfordshire / University of Oxford) What is a philosophical question? [1 February]IMG_0056

Dr Beverley Clack (Oxford Brookes University) Loss and the struggle for meaning [29 February]IMG_0104

Dr Cecile Hatier (University of Wolverhampton) The morality of university decision-makers [18 April]IMG_0118