Recent Conferences

The Rise of Empiricism

6 – 7 September, 2010
Darlington Centre,
Institute Building boardroom

Empiricism is often regarded as the characterising feature of modern scientific method, and, in those approaches to psychology and the social and economic sciences that seek to model themselves on successful scientific practice in the physical and life sciences, it often acts as a model of good practice. Yet what is advocated is a very simplified model in which a rarefied notion of method as value-free inquiry is presented as the essence of empiricism. The failings of such a conception have long been evident, but the motivations behind the various forms of empiricism have remained obscure. The conference will explore new avenues to the original form of empiricism and show how it was able to directly engage questions of value in a novel and revealing way, and how its connection with ‘hard’ sciences was not merely to provide a methodological gloss on these, but went to the core of what scientific explanation consisted in.


  • Peter Anstey (Otago University)
  • Millicent Churcher (Sydney University)
  • Stephen Gaukroger (Sydney University)
  • Peter Kail (Oxford University)
  • Rhodri Lewis (Oxford University)
  • David Macarthur (Sydney University)
  • Liam Semler (Sydney University)
  • Dejan Simko (Sydney University)
  • Alberto Vanzo (Otago University)
  • Anik Waldow (Sydney University)
  • Charles Wolfe (Sydney University)


Dr. Anik Waldow
Department of Philosophy, SOPHI
University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Telephone: +61 2 91141245
Fax: +61 2 9351 3918

Religion and Post-Kantian Research Cluster Conference

Hegel and Religion

University of Sydney, Australia
14 – 15 September, 2010

Sponsored by the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney.

Hegel occupies a critical position within the history of modern Western attitudes to God and religion. Traditionally, Hegel's philosophy had been regarded as an expression, perhaps the last and most luxuriant, of the world-view that inextricably linked orthodox theological and metaphysical notions. However, according to some more recent interpretations, Hegel's "absolute idealism" should be thought of as advancing the spirit of Kant's critical project beyond the problems of the "letter" within which it had been expressed. The conference aims at addressing various issues related to Hegel’s account of religion, and at showing the relevance of Hegel’s approach for contemporary debates over religion.

Confirmed Keynote speakers:

  • Stephen Houlgate (University of Warwick, UK)
  • Maurizio Pagano (University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy)
  • Paul Redding (University of Sydney, Australia)

Further information

For further information, or enquiries, please contact
Professor Paul Redding
or Dr Paolo Diego Bubbio .

For further information about the Religion and Post-Kantian Philosophy Research Cluster, see: the Research Cluster website

Previous years

New Horizons in Political Philosophy 2009

Annual Australian Postgraduate Conference

26-27 November 2009
University of Sydney

Enter the conference website

Persons by Convention

December 16-18, 2008
The Refectory, Main Quad, The University of Sydney.

Some things in the world are perfectly real, but not perhaps instances of natural kinds. Corporations, nations, swimming pools are all rightly so called because of sets of conventional practices in which they are involved. Could persons fall into this category? In the last decade or so a number of theorists have argued so. This conference focuses on the state of this debate–both exploring new ways to make sense of the idea, and new stumbling blocks to its progress.

Michael Slezak
Russellian Society
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry
Main Quad, A14
University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Persons by Convention

Violence and the Post-Colonial Welfare State in France and Australia

October 18, 2007
Department of Philosophy and Department of Sociology
The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia, 2006

The guiding hypothesis of this workshop is that there are fruitful and
currently underdeveloped connections to be made between two groups of
scholars: those whose work relates to the violence occurring in
indigenous communities in Australia and those with expertise on
violence as it manifests in immigrant communities in France. We
anticipate that the comparative approach to the topic will provide an
innovative and stimulating avenue to explore highly significant (and
politically charged) issues of contemporary violence and
responsibility in the post-colonial welfare state.


Russellian Society
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry
Main Quad, A14
University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Conference website

Norms and Analysis - From Personal Identity to the Rationality of Desire

Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney
26-28 June 2007

There is a picture of the world which is disenchanted – a world that contains only the ingredients of the natural sciences, with no mention of norms; no reasons to govern desires or obligations. But some of the objects in this world – one case is persons – seem to have among their persistence conditions norms and reasons. Is there a way to reconcile these pictures? Can we reconstruct reasons in an austere world? This conference explores these themes.

Enter website

Spinoza, politico-theology and the notion of authority, July 2006

On the 18th of July 2006 The Department of Philosphy hosted Spinoza, politico-theology and the notion of authority at St Paul’s College, University of Sydney speakers included Moira Gatens (University of Sydney), Stephen Gaukroger (University of Sydney), Jonathan Israel (Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton), Susan James (Birkbeck College, University of London), Genevieve Lloyd (Sydney), Theo Verbeek (University of Utrecht).

Papers for the Conference (click on name to download paper):

Click here for more information about the Program of History