The University of Dundee is delighted to host the Scots Philosophical Association Annual General Meeting.

The Scots Philosophical Association is the professional association of philosophers in Scotland. Its primary purpose is to promote the study and teaching of philosophy in Scotland.

It will take place on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th December at Dalhousie Building.

All welcome ! 🙂

Schedule :

Thursday, 8th of December in Dalhousie 1S10 (Building 1, Second Floor, Room 10)

Launch event for ACE (Analytic-Continental Encounters) – St. Andrews and Dundee
4.00 pm – 6.00 pm
Graham Priest – Nothingness and the limits of thought/language
6.00 pm – 7.30 pm Drinks at DCA

Friday 9th of December in Dalhousie 1S03 (Building 1, Second floor, Room 3)

09.30 – 11:00 Walter Pedrali – The Labyrinth of Norms. Temporal Externalism and Marxist Ethics

Break – Coffe and Tea

11.15 – 12:45 Graham Priest – Social Atomism and its Problems—Metaphysical and Political
14:00 – 15:30 AGM of the Scots Philosophical Association

Break – Coffee and Tea

16:00 – 17:30 Amelie Berger-Soraruff – Challenging Innovation in Philosophy of Technology



Graham Priest, Nothingness and the Limits of Thought/Language

Many philosophers have argued that there are limits to thought/ language–that is, things that cannot be conceptualised/described—e.g., Nāgārjuna (ultimate reality), Kant (noumena), Heidegger (being), Wittgenstein (form, the Tractatus). Of course they do precisely this in the process of such arguments. Hence, if the theories on which these philosophers base their arguments are correct, we would seem to have a contradiction at the limits of thought/language.

Many philosophers have discussed nothingness, which itself appears to be a highly paradoxical notion. It is something (you can describe it, think about it), but it is nothing, since it is “what is left when all things are removed”. It follows that one cannot talk about it. There is nothing there of which to predicate anything. But of course, one can: I just have been.

Nothingness seems to be rather different from the apparently paradoxical objects I mentioned earlier. For a start, it comes with a lot less philosophical baggage than do these. Moreover, those objects are things that (according to the relevant accounts) “lie beneath” the objects of our (phenomenological) world—or at least our grasp thereof—and in some sense ground them. Nothingness does not seem to be like that. But in fact, it does.

In this talk I will show all these things.


Walter Pedrali, The Labyrinth of Norms. Temporal Externalism and Marxist Ethics

Marxist theory has long been taken to be normatively self-defeating. On the one hand, it must make normative claims about the structural injustices constitutive of capitalism. On the other, it must condemn all normative talk as ideological through and through. 

In this talk, I explore a way for Marxist theory to overcome normative self-defeat. I outline a Marxist ethics that appeals to normative temporal externalism, the view that the content of our norms is partly determined by future states of affairs. This view allows us to coherently say that while our current moral theorising is indeed ideologically infected, the norms underlying a Marxist critique of capitalism are instead already determined by (and reflective of) states of affairs that will only obtain under mature communism, when ideology will no longer infect thought.

Graham Priest, Social Atomism and its Problems—Metaphysical and Political

Social atomism is a view of the nature of people and society which arose in Europe in about the 17th Century. It informs much contemporary social and political thinking. In the first part of this talk I will argue that it is false, drawing on arguments from Marxism and Buddhism. In the second part of the talk I will explore the consequences of this fact for political economy. We will be concerned with capitalism, ideology, self-interest, and the environment.

Amelie Berger-Soraruff, Challenging Innovation in Philosophy

It is with the collective sentiment that our world is on the verge of catastrophe that a significant number of philosophers of technology are respectively turning to applied ethics (Phillipe Brey), civic action (Bernard Stiegler), and innovative thinking (Luciano Floridi) in the hope of articulating possibilities for a livable future. Yet, this paper wonders if this enthusiasm, across continental and analytical philosophy, for the ethics of technology, responsible innovation, and collective action is not producing more harm than good. With recourse to work done in philosophy of design, this paper argues that instead of solving sociopolitical problems such as those of climate change, poverty, and lack of education, strategies of ‘responsible innovation’ often participate in worsening the situation by saturating the world with an excess of new products under the alibi of finding creative solutions and alternative strategies.  It concludes that it is the very culture of innovation, driven by creative thinking, the production of the new, and a technicist understanding of ethical challenges, that needs to be deconstructed.