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Knox Lecture 2020 – John Haldane (Baylor/University of St Andrews)

June 9, 2020 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

CEPPA is pleased to present the 2020 Sir Malcolm Knox Memorial Lecture:

John Haldane FRSA, FRSE

J. Newton Rayzor Sr Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University

Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of St. Andrews

Senior Fellow, CEPPA

Visiting Professor, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham

“Philosophy and Public Affairs in Historical Perspective’’

with introductory remarks by Professor Sally Mapstone FRSE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews

3:00 p.m.

Live webcast on Microsoft Teams

Open to all; no invitation needed.  Click here to join the webcast.



The expression ‘Philosophy and Public Affairs’ like ‘Applied Philosophy’ was coined in the early 1970s to reflect a growing interest among professional philosophers in engaging practical and policy issues. That interest was the product of developments within philosophy but also of social events, especially ones relating to personal morality, civil rights, foreign policy, and warfare. CEPPA, originally titled the ‘Centre for Philosophy and Public Affairs’ was inspired in its conception by initiatives in the US and sought to bring together philosophy and practice. The Knox lecture was an important focus of this, and having been involved with the Centre from the outset and directed it for most of its history, and engaged with most of the lecturers including Dworkin, MacIntyre, Putnam, Rawls, Rorty, Skinner, Taylor, Warnock, and Williams, I will begin with a brief review of its aims and some of these contributions noting the contrast between a priori argument and historically situated reflection. This will lead to an analysis of the relation of thought to history involving ‘three degrees of historical involvement’. From that I will turn to look at the rise of casuistry in medieval thought, giving some illustrations of enduring ‘discoveries’ about norms for action, and then draw upon a specific concern of Aquinas about the virtues that should govern disputation bringing these to the contemporary concern with contention and disagreement, both as a matter of theory (giving rise to the idea of ‘public reason’) and practice. These historical reflections pose a question about the nature and future of liberalism.

To see Professor Haldane’s recent CEPPA Chat, click here.


June 9, 2020
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Ben Sachs