Outreach

 

2017

On 15 May, Dr Daniel Kodaj visited the Philosophy Club of Radley School, Oxford, to deliver a talk entitled Quantum Entanglement: A Muder Mystery. Students were presented with a murder mystery analogue of the Mach-Zehnder interferometry experiment, as well as with candidate explanations of the phenomena. About 15 pupils attended.

In February and March, Dr Daniel Kodaj delivered two sets of five philosophy tutorials at high schools near Oxford. The courses were organized by The Brilliant Club, an educational charity that aims to widen access to highly selective universities by offering extracurricular courses in state schools. Dr Kodaj delivered a predesigned course on ethics in Pewsey Vale school and a course on metaphysics that he designed himself in St Bartholomew’s School.

On 14 February, the project team took part in, and Dr Martin Pickup co-organized, a Philosophy Study Day at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. The day included a lecture and a number of introductory seminars to help students think about different areas of a subject they may not have encountered in depth before. The day was entirely free of charge, and was aimed at pupils studying in state schools. There was also an associated essay competition, and seven entries received prizes. Dr Anna Marmodoro gave a lecture on Why we do what we do: character versus situations, and each pupil attended three of the following seminars: Dealing with disagreement: from Brexit to anti-vaxxers (Dr George Darby), The Concept of God (Dr Martin Pickup), Does history have an end? (Dr Daniel Kodaj), Darwin, Design and DNA (Dr Christopher Austin), Introduction to the philosophy of quantum mechanics: the measurement problem (Dr David Glick).

2016

On 22 July, Dr Daniel Kodaj gave a talk at the UNIQ Summer School organized by the University of Oxford. UNIQ aims to introduce secondary school students from underprivileged areas to the university, encouraging them to apply. Dr Kodaj’s talk, titled The Pros and Cons of Time Travel (and Metaphysics), was part of the PPE strand of the summer school. It walked students through David Lewis’s classic paper, “The Paradoxes of Time Travel,” and generated very lively discussion as well as widespread scepticism about Lewis’s argument.

Dr Martin Pickup was involved in the HowTheLightGetsIn Festival which ran from 23rd May to 5th June, 2016 as part of his role as a Fellow of the Institute of Art and Ideas. HowTheLightGetsIn is the world's largest philosophy and music festival, attracting over 30,000 visitors, and takes place in Hay-on-Wye. The 2016 festival had the theme 'The Known, the Strange and the New'. 

Dr Pickup helped produce two debates. The first, called 'Missing Evidence', discussed the role that evidence plays in science with philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, CERN physicist Tara Shears, and biologist Rupert Sheldrake. The second, called 'Playing Dice with the Universe', discussed randomness and quantum mechanics, with constructor theorist Chiara Marletto, mathematician Peter Cameron, and string theorist Mike Duff. These debates were recorded and will become available online in due course.

As well as producing these debates, Dr Pickup engaged with the speakers and the festival-goers, as well as providing support for the lead organisers of the festival. It was a very well attended and successful festival that provided substantial formal and informal opportunities for public engagement with cutting-edge philosophy, science and culture.

On 23 May, Dr Daniel Kodaj visited the Philosophy Club of Radley School, Oxford. The session was about external world scepticism. The students were first confronted with a simplified version of Nick Bostrom’s simulation argument which purports to show that we are probably running on a computer. This was followed by an interactive thought experiment in which students had to convince an artificial intelligence living in a virtual environment that he is not a real human. Both topics generated lively discussion.

On 22 April, Dr Martin Pickup gave a talk entitled “Why there are no such things as tables and chairs (or any complex objects)” at the Magdalen College School Philosophy Society. The talk provoked interesting and engaged discussion and is described here.

On 4 February, Professor Andrew Steane gave a public talk entitled “What is quantum entanglement?” at the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London. Quantum entanglement, or "spooky action at a distance," as Einstein called it, has not only been experimentally confirmed but underpins new practical developments in computing. It also raises profound philosophical questions about reality, time, and causation. Could there be nonlocal causal influence? Might the future sometimes influence the present? Or should we abandon realism about the quantum world altogether?

The event was co-organized by the Metaphysics of Entanglement project and the London Philosophy Club. About 70 people attended. The 40-minute talk was very well received and was followed by another 40 minutes of lively Q&A.

 

2015


On 13 November, Dr Martin Pickup gave a well received talk on Quantum Entanglement and the Trinity at Cranleigh School's Purvis Society (a description of which can be found here).


On 20 March, Dr Martin Pickup spoke about Puzzles of Persistence: how do objects exist over time? at the Philosophy Society of Magdalen College School in Oxford. 15 students and 5 staff attended the event, ages from 14-18 for the students. Dr Pickup introduced some metaphysical issues and a productive discussion followed.


On 9 February, Dr Daniel Kodaj spoke at the Philosophy Club of Radley School about the problem of evil. He introduced the topic through two short video recordings: William Hasker explaining the justifiability of killing infants by God's orders, and Stephen Fry commenting on the impossibility to reconcile divine goodness with evil. A lively discussion followed.


On 2 February, Dr George Darby spoke on Could there have been nothing: cosmology vs. metaphysics at the Philosophy Club organized by the Classics Faculty at Radley School. About 15 students, aged 16, and 1 staff attended the event.