School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations

Philosophy Seminars and Events

The Philosophy Programme hosts a regular seminar series during Trimesters 1 and 2 with papers presented by visiting speakers and academic staff from within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Victoria.  All are welcome to attend.

Justin Sytsma is the coordinator of the series for 2016.

Unless otherwise noted(*), all talks to be held Thursdays from 2.00 - 4.00 pm in New Kirk (KK) 107.

Date Speaker and Topic
3 March Glen Pettigrove (University of Auckland), 'What virtue adds to value'
10 March Simon James Hope (University of Stirling), 'Human Rights as one thought too many? The Maori Case'
17 March Kim Sterelny (ANU, Victoria University of Wellington) 'Is there a theory of human nature that is both substantive and defensible?'
7 April Peter Wenz (University of Illinois at Springfield) 'Functional inefficiency: The unexpected benefits of wasting time and money'
14 April Cei Maslen (Victoria University of Wellington, 'Are causes simultaneous with their effects?
21 April Jonathan Weinberg (Arizona), 'A Critical Defence of Local Debunking in Ethics'--Virtual Seminar
5 May Grant Tavinor (Lincoln University), 'Value and virtual achievement; or, How to value and enjoy pointless things'
12 May Fred Kroon (University of Auckland), TBD
19 May Mark Alfano (Delft University of Technology), TBD
26 May Joe Ulatowski (University of Waikato), 'The objective of truth, a core truism?'
2 June Neil Levy (Macquarie University), TBD

Public Lectures

Maurice Goldsmith Lecture 2016

Date: 15 July 2016

Time: 5.30 pm

Venue: Hunter Council Chamber, Kelburn Campus, Victoria University of Wellington

The Maurice Goldsmith Lecture is an endowed public lecture hosted by the philosophy programme every one to two years.  It is always a lecture in either political philosophy or ethics and values.  Details of the 2016 lecture appear below.

Title: Aesthetic Responsibility

Speaker: Professor Susan Wolf, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


It is often suggested that the fact that we are morally responsible is an important mark of our distinctive humanity. But focusing exclusively on the attitudes and judgments we form toward people on the basis of their moral qualities leads to overly narrow conceptions both of responsibility and of humanity. As a corrective, this paper considers the attitudes and judgments we make of artists on the basis of their artworks, suggesting that there is such a thing as aesthetic responsibility that is both similar to and different from moral responsibility.

Susan Wolf

Susan Wolf is the Edna J. Koury Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her area of research interests are in ethics, moral philosophy and psychology, political philosophy, action theory and aesthetics.

Susan completed a Bachelor of Arts at Yale University, majoring in philosophy and mathematics.  She received her PhD in philosophy from Princeton University, which at the time was the most prestigious philosophy department the world.  Susan was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences in She received a Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in the Humanities in 2002.

She is the author of The Variety of Values: Essays on Morality, Meaning & Love (Oxford, 2015), Meaning in Life and Why It Matters (Princeton, 2010), Freedom Within Reason (Oxford, 1990), and is co-editor, with Christopher Grau, of Understanding Love: Philosophy, Film, and Fiction (Oxford, 2014).

Please register for the event by emailing your RSVP to

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