Balphin Symposium: The Philosophy of Food, Helsinki, 2-4 May 2018


The philosophy of food is a relatively new and fast-growing area of reflection and discussion for professional philosophers. While questions surrounding in particular the ethics of eating or drinking have not gone unnoticed in the philosophical tradition, it is only in the last 20 years that the world of food as a whole has been thematized as a serious and worthy topic for philosophical analysis. In part, this is the continuation of a ‘practical turn’ in philosophy, started about 40 years ago with debates in bioethics. But it is also the result of social changes and widespread calls in favour of a more ethically responsible approach to consumption (of food and other goods), promoted for example by the vegetarian and vegan movements, whose philosophical inspirers have been influential thinkers like Peter Singer and Tom Regan. However, study curricula have not typically kept track of such developments, and rarely if ever is the philosophy of food made the single focus of any course.

The course aims to provide a unique opportunity to offer students a systematic study of philosophical questions regarding food. It will involve some of the best researchers from both philosophy and related sciences. It will cover a variety of topics: ethical ones, such as the significance of concepts like naturalness and authenticity, the ethical reasons for choosing a vegetarian, vegan, or carnivore diet, and the social consequences of individual consumer choices; psychological ones, such as the nature of the food appetite and the issue of food addiction; and epistemological ones, such as the problem of how we acquire knowledge on the effects of nutrition and of what constitutes good evidence for making population-level dietary recommendations.

Upon completing the course, students (1) will have a reliable and systematic overview of the main questions in the philosophy of food; (2) will be able to assess and appreciate the joint contribution of philosophy and related disciplines to the topics above, thus having a first-hand and successful example of interdisciplinary work; (3) will be in a position to express their views (and to challenge others’ views) on often hotly debated issues in a rigorous and well-argued way; (4) will be able to engage in seminar discussions with peers, gain some experience in conducting empirical research (including presenting results), and practice essay writing.

The course is well integrated with the partner institutions’ curricula. First, in their MA studies students will have gained enough familiarity with ethical theories to understand and discuss the ethical questions touched in the course. Second, philosophy of food integrates well with our MA curricula, which mostly have a focus on ethical and political topics. Third, for those MA curricula with an interdisciplinary tendency, this course will be a natural addition; for those with a single focus on philosophy, this course will provide a refreshing change of perspective.

The course is innovative in two main ways. First, its subject-matter: philosophy of food is rarely even mentioned in the usual curricula. So this is an excellent opportunity for students to delve into a topic of immediate interest and relevance. Second, as regards both topics and lecturers’ expertise, the course has a multidisciplinary profile often promised but seldom delivered in ordinary courses. Also, the chosen location is home to one of the most brilliant interdisciplinary centres in philosophy (TINT center for the Philosophy of the Social Sciences), to which some of the lecturers belong, thus making the University of Helsinki the ideal venue for the course.

It will be a three-day intensive course. Each day will include lectures and groupwork. Groupwork will include discussion of relevant texts, personal reflection on one’s food history, and empirical “fieldwork” such as research on labels and slogans in food outlets (supermarkets, restaurants etc.), and interviews on people’s eating habits. Required readings will include both philosophical texts and relevant support texts in the social sciences. A selection of documentaries on food production, consumption, etc. may also be screened. Required readings will be discussed during lectures, will form the background to groupwork, and will be briefly analyzed in “journal entries” by students. If needed, students will be split into smaller groups to ensure contribution from all. 


Assessment is based on (1) active participation in groupwork, (2) five reading journal entries (where the student briefly analyzes the main readings), (3) a written essay, to be submitted no later than one month after the final day of the course. The topic of the essay will be discussed and decided with teachers during the course. Depending on class size, lecturers may also choose alternative forms of assessment, such as small group presentations.

After successful completion of the course, students will be awarded 5 ECTS to be recognized at the student’s home institution.


  1. Day. Lecture: Pure, natural, and authentic? Food choices and values (Helena Siipi, Turku) – Groupwork – Lecture: What to eat? (Johanna Mäkelä, Helsinki)
  2. Day. Lecture: Food and addiction (Susanne Uusitalo, Turku and Helsinki) – Groupwork – Lecture: Ethics and epistemology of dietary policy making (Saana Jukola, Bielefeld)
  3. Day. Lecture: The ethics and rationality of dietary choice: does it matter? (Teemu Toppinen and Michiru Nagatsu, Helsinki) – Groupwork – Concluding session; discussion of final assignment


The course convenor is Michiru Nagatsu, a researcher at TINT who works at the intersection of philosophy, ethics, and policy-making. Teemu Toppinen is an expert in moral philosophy at Helsinki University. Helena Siipi runs a project on the Health Values of Food at the Turku Institute of Advanced Studies. Johanna Mäkelä is Professor of Food Culture in Helsinki and a well-established expert in her field. Saana Jukola is a researcher at the Research Training Group Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research at Bielefeld University, and at TINT. Susanne Uusitalo has published extensively on the ethics and philosophy of addiction. Francesco Orsi (University of Tartu) will provide teaching support such as assistance in seminar leading and student assessment, as well as coordinating the various parts of the course together with Nagatsu.

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MA Philosophy in Tartu

15th of March is the deadline to apply for a place in the two-year Master in Philosophy at the University of Tartu!

Please go to this page for all the necessary information, interviews with current students, and the links to proceed to application: MA in Philosophy Tartu.

From 2018 we will have three new professors: Juhani Yli-Vakkuri (philosophy of language), Bryan Frances (epistemology), Pärtel Piirimäe (history of ideas).

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Balphin Symposium: Chinese Philosophy, Vilnius, 4-8 December 2017

I post here below the programme of the intensive course successfully completed.


Chinese philosophical traditions can be traced back more than 2500 years and even longer when considering their roots in the ancient art of divination during the 2nd millennium BCE. Contemporary Western philosophers are increasingly turning their attention, in particular, to Confucianism and Daoism (as well as other Asian schools of thought), mainly as they offer alternative philosophical approaches and responses to pressing questions of our times, in particular regarding relations between human beings in society, between humans and the environment, between past, present and future generations, etc. However, rarely if ever such work by experts reaches philosophy students in their ordinary curricula. Chinese philosophy remains for many an object of attraction but for the most part unknown or misunderstood as a mere collection of aphorisms.

The course aims to improve on this situation by giving students from member institutions a unique opportunity to be in direct contact with first-rate specialists in Chinese philosophy. Concretely, the course will focus on the philosophical schools that arose during 6th-4th centuries BCE and are still vibrant in East Asia, i.e. Confucianism and Daoism. Confucianism addresses in particular ethical and political issues related to family, tradition, social living, education, personal cultivation and good government. Daoism presents an explicit cosmological framework, within which human existence takes place and focuses on the wider relations between human and nature, individual freedom, the meaning of life and ways to nurture the good life. While playing a somewhat peripheral role in the course, other schools from the ancient period will also be discussed, e.g. Legalism, Moism and School of Names. Depending on time restraints, the rise of the Daoism- and Buddhism-influenced Neo-Confucian movement during the Song and Ming dynasties (10th-14th centuries) may be discussed, and, finally, contemporary developments in Confucianism and Daoism addressed.

Upon completing the course, students:

(1) will have a reliable and systematic overview of Confucian and Daoist thought;
(2) will be able to compare these approaches with relevant areas of Western philosophy;
(3) will have direct acquaintance with, and a critical understanding of, key texts in Chinese philosophy;
(4) will be able to engage in seminar discussions with peers concerning the interpretation and plausibility of challenging philosophical claims and theories, and to practice essay writing.

The course ties in with the existing curricula in various ways. First, Master students from member institutions are the ideal target group for such a course, because in their studies they will have already gained sufficient knowledge both of the history and the methods of Western philosophy to be able to intelligently compare them with Chinese thought. Second, in each of the member institutions ethics and politics (and their history) play a large role in Master curricula, so students are in an especially good position to appreciate the focus specifically offered in this course. Third, some students might have learned some Asian philosophy before, and so will be in a position to both deepen their knowledge (possibly also in view of their Master thesis) and contribute to the seminar discussion from a vantage point that will be beneficial to all.

The course is innovative first and foremost for its subject-matter. Despite its attractions and the interest it stimulates, Chinese thought is rarely part of philosophy curricula, and so this course offers a unique opportunity for students to learn something completely new, under the trusted guidance of experts. The chosen location (Vilnius University) is also home to one of the best European research centers on Asian philosophy, adding particular value to this course.


It will be a five-day intensive course, with six daily hours of class/seminar activities. Each day will include diverse activities, such as lectures, seminar discussion of relevant philosophical texts, and viewings of documentary or fictional material with the aim of both illustrating the issues and facilitating classroom discussion.

Required readings include original philosophical texts in English translation, such as the Confucian Analects and Daodejing, as well as overview texts. The readings will be made available in advance to registered students in a dedicated Dropbox folder. A selection of documentaries on the manifestations of contemporary Chinese philosophy and religion will also be screened. Required readings will be discussed during seminars. If needed, students will be split into smaller groups to ensure contribution from all.

The mutual exchange, moderated by the lecturers, will ensure wide participation, learning through reciprocal feedback, and practice in argumentative conduct. It will also enable the lecturers to monitor students’ progress in the course. Lectures are intended to prepare students for the readings and so will be fully adapted to the seminars.

Assessment is based on active participation in the seminars (50%) and a written essay (50%) that has to be submitted no later than one month after the final day of the course. The topic of the essay will be discussed and decided with teachers during the course. Depending on class size, lecturers may also choose alternative forms of assessment, such as small group presentations.

After successful completion of the course, students will be awarded 6 ECTS to be recognized at the student’s home institution.

Work programme (tentative lecture/seminar topics):

  1. Day: Overview of history of Chinese philosophy. Why Chinese philosophy matters.
  2. Day: Confucianism.
  3. Day: Daoism.
  4. Day: Comparison with Western ethical and political theories.
  5. Day: Neo-Confucian movement and contemporary developments.


The course lecturers will be:

  1. Geir Sigurðsson (University of Iceland)  Sigurðsson is Director of ASÍS – Icelandic Centre for Asian Studies, University of Iceland/University of Akureyri. He is a leading specialist in Chinese philosophy and has recently published Confucian Propriety and Ritual Learning: A Philosophical Interpretation (SUNY Press, 2015).
  2. Vytis Silius (Vilnius University). Silius is Director of the Centre of Oriental Studies at Vilnius University and President of the European Association for Chinese Philosophy. He has worked, in particular, on the relation between Confucian ethics and Aristotelian theory of virtue.

* Francesco Orsi, University of Tartu, Balphin Coordinator:

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CFA: Emotions: Rationality, Morality and Social Understanding

Call for Abstracts: Emotions: Rationality, Morality and Social Understanding | 7-9 September, Tartu (Estonia)

Emotions are complex mental states that have important behavioural, experiential, cognitive and social aspects. This interdisciplinary conference focuses upon the nature of emotions, the relationship of emotions to morality and to social understanding. The first set of questions concerns the nature of emotions. What are emotions and what kind of structure do they have? In what sense can we speak of the rationality of emotions?

The second set of questions concerns the moral and political role of emotions. What role do emotions play in moral motivation, moral judgment and moral development? Should we seek to cultivate or otherwise regulate our emotions? What is the role of emotions in
moral disagreements? What kind of emotions should or should not have an important place in a civil society?

The third topic of the conference is the social nature of emotions. How are emotions related to empathy, sympathy, compassion and solidarity, and what role do they play in social interaction? Does recognizing the emotions of others presume that we must have had a similar emotional experience ourselves? What does it mean to share an emotion?

The fourth theme of the conference concerns the expression of emotions. How is the experience of an emotion related to its expression? What can we learn about emotions from literature and arts? How are emotions expressed in social media?

Invited speakers:

  • Mary Carman | Thumos – The Genevan Research Group on Emotions, Values and Norms, Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences (CISA), University of Geneva
  • Gregory Currie | Department of Philosophy, University of York
  • Kristján Kristjánsson | Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues School of Education, University of Birmingham
  • Peter McCormick | The Royal Society of Canada, L’Institut International de Philosophie
  • Carolyn Price | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University
  • Mikko Salmela | Department of Political and Economic Studies/Social and Moral Philosophy, University of Helsinki

Submission of abstracts: deadline 30th June 2017
Please send an abstract (maximum 300 words) to by 30th of June 2017. Please include your name, academic affiliation and contact information separately.  Notification of acceptance will be given by 10th of July 2017.
In addition to full papers (45 minutes including discussion), a number of slots will be reserved for shorter postgraduate papers (20-30 minutes). We encourage all postgraduate students to submit abstracts. Selected papers will be considered for inclusion in a special issue of a peer-review philosophy journal Studia Philosophica Estonica.

Organizers: Margit Sutrop, Bruno Mölder, Vivian Bohl, Heidy Meriste, Triin Paaver.

Conference language: English. Attendance is free of charge.


Website: Conference website.

Organizing institutions:

This event is supported by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (IUT20-5), and by the (European Union) European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies).

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10th Nordic Workshop in Early Modern Philosophy (NWEMP)

June 2-3, 2017
University of Tartu | Jakobi 2–336, Tartu, Estonia

Friday, June 2
11.00 | Welcome
11.05-12.05 | Erik Åkerlund (Uppsala): “The End? Final Causes and Final Causation in some Baroque Scholastics”
12.15-13.15 | Jan Forsman (Tampere): “Life and Skepticism for Descartes: The Meaning of the Moral Code in the Discourse”
15.00-16.00 | Markku Roinila (Helsinki): “Cogito-argument and Self-consciousness in Leibniz”
16.10-17.10 | Artem Besedin (Moscow): “Leibniz over the Precipice of Hobbes’ Compatibilism”

Saturday, June 3
11.00-12.00 | Roomet Jakapi (Tartu): “Toland and Browne on the Nature of Faith”
12.10-13.10 | Marc Hight (Hampden-Sydney): “Berkeley’s Strange Semi-Occasionalist Mystery”
15.00-16.00 | Francesco Orsi (Tartu): “Hume’s Guise of the Good”
16.10-17.10 | Hemmo Laiho (Turku): “Kant and Multimodal Intuitions”

Contact person:

Tartu University

Tartu University

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Estonian Annual Philosophy Conference 2017

Facts, Disputes, and Arguments in the Age of “Post-Truth”

11th -13th May 2017 at Kääriku

“Post-truth” was the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016. According to some authors, post-truth is a useful concept to understand some of the most recent political events. But what does post-truth mean? Is it really such a useful concept as many claim? Is post-truth a phenomenon confined to politics or does it pervade our culture as a whole? Does post-truth leave any room for engaged and reasoned debate over facts and values? And looking at past and present philosophy, how does post-truth relate to discussions on the nature of truth, on the genealogy and deconstruction of truth, and on truth-related values such as knowledge or truthfulness? Finally, should we come to terms with post-truth, and how, or should we attempt to resist it, and how?

The conference programme can be found here.

We encourage submissions on these and related questions, including, if desired, with reference to the Estonian context.
We also welcome submissions on any other topic and area of philosophy.
Languages of the conference will be Estonian and English.

Keynote speakers:
S.M. Amadae (MIT, Helsinki)
Helmut Heit (Tongji)
Indrek Ibrus (Tallinn University)
Piret Kuusk (University of Tartu)

Deadline for submitting abstracts: March 15th, acceptance notices by March 31st
Requirements: in Estonian or English, 200-300 words, preferably 3-5 keywords
Press this link to the abstract submission form.

Participation fee
75 euros – accommodation at a hotel (2 nights, one of two beds in a double room), catering
50 euros – accommodation at a hotel (2 nights, one of two beds in a double room), catering (student rate)
25 euros – catering only, accommodation must be arranged by the participant.

In addition to plenary and parallel sessions, the conference will feature a culture and entertainment program, including creative activity workshops.

The conference is organised by The Graduate School of Linguistics, Philosophy and Semiotics, supported by the University of Tartu’s ASTRA project, PER ASPERA (The European Union, European Regional Development Fund). The conference has been supported by the Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies (The European Union, European Regional Development Fund) and is related to research project IUT20-5 (Estonian Ministry of Education and Research).

Questions concerning substantive matters – head organizer Roomet Jakapi (
Questions concerning administrative matters – Triin Paaver (

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CFP: Feminism, Phenomenology and Genealogy

CFP: Feminism, Phenomenology, and Genealogy | Nordic Summer University | Saulkrasti, Latvia, 26 July – 2 August 2017

Keynote speakers:
Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iceland, specialising in feminist philosophy, the philosophy of Nietzsche, and the philosophy of nature and embodiment.
Cecilia Malmström Olsson, PhD at Lund University in Literature, with the special focus on Dance Studies. Malmström Olsson specialises in dance and aesthetics, as well as dance and politics from different perspectives, such as identity, gender, race, and power relations.

The network Feminist Philosophy: Time, history and the transformation of thought (2017-2019), invites scholars to Saulkrasti, Latvia, 26 July – 2 August 2017. The aim of the conference is to create a space for critical feminist practices of reading. We want to develop and draw connections between philosophy and feminist theory, informed by historical perspectives. How can feminism revitalise philosophy and interpretations of its history? What would a philosophical feminism look like? What would it mean to read feminist theory historically? The meeting in Saulkrasti is the second out of a total of six conferences during a three-year period. The first conference Feminist Utopias was held in collaboration with the University of Iceland in March 2017, attracting about 60 scholars from all over the world.

The keywords for the gathering in Saulkrasti are feminism, phenomenology, and genealogy. During the week we will organise text seminars where we re-read classical texts in phenomenology and genealogy through a feminist lens. One seminar will be devoted to the study of texts by Hannah Arendt and Adriana Cavarero and one seminar will take on the project of reading Simone de Beauvoir alongside Friedrich Nietzsche. One evening is dedicated to a symposium ancient style (with wine, outdoors) where we read Sophocles’ Antigone together. The following day we follow up the theme with a seminar on feminist readings of Antigone.

We invite papers or proposals for activities that address the themes in a variety of perspectives. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

· Feminist readings of texts in the phenomenological and genealogical traditions.
· Women philosophers in the phenomenological movement.
· Appropriating phenomenology and genealogy for feminist aims.
· Genealogies of feminist thought, writing histories of feminist theory and philosophy.
· Power and struggle in the production of feminist truths.
· Feminist genealogies of the history of philosophy.
· Corporeal temporalities, history as embodied practice.
· Appropriating phenomenology and genealogy in feminist art and artistic research.
· We also welcome proposals on the theme of feminist philosophy more broadly speaking by people who have an interest in the network.

Each paper presentation will be allotted at least one hour, which allows for in-depth discussions. The fact that we have a whole week at our disposal opens up for an intimate environment for learning and discussion between people from different countries, universities, disciplines and traditions. All participants are invited to organise workshops, film screenings or similar activities. PhD candidates receive 5 ECTS for the presentation of a paper and full participation during the week.

About the network

Feminist philosophy: Time, history and the transformation of thought is an international platform for inquiries in feminist philosophy. From 2017 to 2019, we will organise six conferences on different themes in feminist philosophy. Our ambition is to make a contribution to feminist theory and philosophy both within and without the discipline of philosophy, as well as to put extant efforts in feminist philosophy in historical perspectives. The network aims to transcend the hierarchies of academia and is open to senior scholars, PhD-candidates, and master students.

Practical information

The summer session takes place in the town of Saulkrasti, close to Riga on the Latvian seashore, 26 July to 2 August 2017. It is organized together with the other seven thematic networks of the Nordic Summer University (see below). The total number of participants is expected to be between 100 and 120. Feminist philosophy will have its own separate program, but as a participant, you will have the opportunity to visit and partake in the work of the other circles. There will also be a cultural program in the evenings and a chance to go on excursions in the surroundings of Saulkrasti. There will be a children’s circle during the academic work sessions, which means parents can bring their children with them.

The cost of participating in the summer session ranges from 80 € to 550 €, depending on what accommodation you choose. The full board is included in all prices. Further information about accommodation and prices, as well as the location, excursions and cultural program, is found on the website

Participation – deadline 1st of May

Anyone interested in presenting a paper or organising a workshop is invited to submit an abstract of approximately 300 words and a short bio to no later than May 1st, 2017. If you wish to participate without presenting a paper, please write 50-100 words about yourself and submit by the same date. Decisions will be communicated in the beginning of May, together with further information on how to register. We might be able to accept late applications; contact us if the deadline has passed.

Scholarships – deadline 15th of April

NSU offers a scholarship program to support PhD and MA students or people with low income or special needs. In return, scholarship recipients are asked to help the Arrangement committee for a few hours during the week. Tasks may include taking care of some light practical work or contributing to a blog about the overall experience of the week.
The recipients will pay 40 euro + their own travel cost. The full board is included. The arrangement committee also offers extra travel funding for three participating students from Greenland (1 student), Faroe Islands (1 student) and any Baltic state (1 student) to cover their travel costs to and from Latvia.
The application for scholarships and extra travel funding should be submitted to and to the leader of the Arrangement committee: by April 15th.

About the Nordic Summer University

Founded in 1950, the Nordic Summer University is an independent, non-profit academic institution that fosters intellectual and cultural exchange between the Nordic and the Baltic countries. Committed to egalitarian and interdisciplinary modes of learning, the NSU is open for senior scholars, doctoral and master students as well as artists and professionals with relevant backgrounds. The NSU is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Read more about the Nordic Summer University on the website


The coordinators of Feminist Philosophy are Synne Myrebøe, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies, Umeå University, Sweden, Valgerður Pálmadóttir, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies at Umeå University, Sweden, and Johanna Sjöstedt, Department of literature, history of ideas and religious studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Contact the coordinators at and join our Facebook group Feminist philosophy (NSU).

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MA in Philosophy Tartu

15th of March is the deadline to apply for a place in the two-year Master in Philosophy at the University of Tartu!

Please go to this page for all the necessary information, interviews with current students, and the links to proceed to application: MA in Philosophy Tartu.

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University of Tartu Graduate Conference: The Epistemology of Disagreement

CFP: The Epistemology of Disagreement

On the 25th and 26th March 2017 the Department of Philosophy at the University of Tartu will host a graduate conference on the epistemology of disagreement. The keynote speaker will be Jonathan Matheson (University of North Florida). The aim of the conference is to bring together MA and PhD level students who are working on this area and other related topics. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  •        The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement
  •        Disagreements between Epistemic Peers
  •        Disagreements in Idealized Contexts and Everyday Contexts
  •        The Independence Principle
  •        The Relationship between Uniqueness and Conciliationism
  •        The Relationship between Permissiveness and Steadfastness
  •        Higher Order Evidence and First Order Evidence
  •        The Relevancy of Personal Evidence
  •        Belief Independence

Papers on other related topics such as the ethics of belief, evidentialism, and the theory of justification are also welcome.

Please send all submissions to

Essays should be no more than 6000 words. Please include the following information in a separate file from the main text: title of paper, abstract of no more than 300 words, author’s name, author’s institutional affiliation, author’s email address.

Key dates:

Deadline for submissions: February 22nd 2016.

All submissions will receive notification of acceptance or rejection by March 1st 2016.

Conference will take place 25th-26th March 2016.

For further inquiries, feel free to contact Triinu Eesmaa (conference coordinator) at:

Information on PhilEvents: link here.

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Intensive course: Intensive Seminar for Nordic-Baltic Philosophy Symposia Master’s Students: Passions and Morals in David Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature

(this is for archive purposes only. The course was effectively held in 2016.)

2-6 May 2016,

Tallinn University, School of Humanities, Narva mnt 25: rooms TBA

5 ECTS credits


This course will be taught by Mikael M. Karlsson (University of Iceland) and Henry Alexander Henrysson (University of Iceland). Teachers from other institutions will assist with the assessment and may join in the seminars.

Course description

The central aim of this course is to get students to become intimate with the account of passions and morals presented by the Scottish philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776), in his classic work, A Treatise of Human Nature, and to equip them to analyze and interpret this account and to form their own understanding of its significance.

Hume is one of the principal “British Empiricists”. He was indeed a Scottish philosopher and certainly an empiricist. But Hume was arguably as much an inspiration to Nietzsche and to later phenomenologists as he was to the more aggressively empiricist philosophers of the so called “analytic” tradition. In this course, an attempt will be made to reveal Hume’s pivotal importance to the development of 19th- and 20th-century philosophy—moral and political theory in particular—as well as his wider influence.

Hume wrote many other important works besides the Treatise, including works in which he treats of the “passions”—motivating emotions—and of morals; and in some of the other works Hume is often thought to have taken importantly different (and some think better) positions than in the Treatise. But most Hume scholars focus upon the Treatise and take the positions developed there as the purest examples of Hume’s thought.

Hume’s Treatise is divided into three books: Book I is entitled “Of the Understanding”, Book II “Of the Passions” and Book III “Of Morals”. The theses of Books II and III—the two Books of relevance to this course—have been highly influential, not only in the development of later philosophy, but in various other fields, where Humean perspectives, and even some of Hume’s original arguments, retain considerable influence to this day.

The approach of this course will be to focus intensively upon cultivating the abilities of the students to penetrate, understand, and formulate their own reasoned interpretations of a work of this nature. Even though Books II and III of the Treatise comprise only a part (though a large part) of the work, the readings and discussions in this course will necessarily be selective because the entirety of these Books cannot be comprehensively covered in a five-day course, even one taught on a very intensive basis. Since the selection will still amount to a substantial amount of reading, and the objective is to work closely with the text of the Treatise itself as opposed to secondary scholarship, the selections from Hume’s text will constitute the principal readings. Along the way, students will be advised about relevant works of secondary scholarship.

This five-day, Master’s level, intensive course will include 12 hours of lectures on the core material, which the students will be expected to have read in advance, and interactive seminars in which groups of four students will take responsibility for analyzing and interpreting important sections of text and leading focused, thematic discussions in interactive sessions of two hours each, attended by the entire student group, with all teachers present. Assuming the planned number of students (24), there will be six such seminars.

An in-depth study of Books II and III of Hume’s Treatise will acquaint students with a large part of one of the foundational works of modern Western philosophy. Students should learn how to analyze and interpret a significant philosophical text, be well-equipped to find their way into the secondary literature on Hume, to follow a number of contemporary debates related to Hume’s thoughts, and to contribute to them. This course should provide a good foundation for any student who aims to pursue academic philosophy or to use Hume’s philosophy in some other connection, for example psychology, sociology, history, political science and economics, all of which have fallen to some significant degree under Humean influence.


The schedule of teaching and seminar sessions looks, at the present time, like this (and will probably not change:

Sunday 01.05 Monday


Tuesday 03.05 Wednesday 04.05 Thursday 05.06 Friday


Saturday 07.05
10:00-11:00 Lecture 1 Lecture 3 Lecture 5 Seminar 5
11:00-12:00 Lecture 1 Lecture 3 Lecture 5 Seminar 5
13:00-14:00 Introduction Lecture 2 Lecture 4 Lecture 6 Seminar 6
14:00-15:00 Introduction Lecture 2 Lecture 4 Lecture 6 Seminar 6
16:00-17:00 Seminar 1 Seminar 2 Seminar 3 Seminar 4
17:00-18:00 Seminar 1 Seminar 2 Seminar 3 Seminar 4


This means that students must arrive at Tallinn in time to participate in the introductory sessions that begin at 13:00 on Monday, May 2 and should, if possible, not plan to leave Tallinn prior to Saturday, May 7. All students are expected to attend all sessions. The lectures will also be attended by students from Tallinn University, who will be taking a longer course on Hume’s Treatise.


Assessment will be based upon active participation in the seminars, both in the role of discussion leaders and general participants (50%) and a written essay (50%) that must be submitted no later than one month after the final working day of the course. The topic of the essay will be closely related to the matters discussed in the course, and each student must have a specific, approved essay topic by the last working day of the course. The active presence in the lectures will be assumed, and a student’s grade may be lowered for failure to meet this expectation.

Students will be expected to do the considerable advance reading, which is necessary if a work of the magnitude of Hume’s Treatise is to be well appreciated during a one-week course! All assigned reading will come from Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature, which should be read in English, since the work was written in English and our course will be taught in English. The Treatise can be found online, and read and downloaded for free. However, students are strongly advised to have a print edition available to hand, and the Penguin Classics paperback edition (edited by Ernest Mossner) is recommended, in case you do not already have a copy of this classic work. The Penguin paperback is available through on-line booksellers.

The overall organisation and implementation of this course, as well as its potential to attract students from the participating institutions, builds upon the successful experience of previous courses (2013-14, 2014-15) of the Nordic-Baltic Philosophy Symposia.

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