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The Department is delighted to announce that Hannah Clark-Younger, one of our recent PhD students, has had a paper published in the leading philosophy journal Thought: A Journal of Philosophy (Thought won the 2015 PROSE award – organised by the Association of American Publishers – for the best new Humanities and Social Sciences journal of the year). Hannah’s paper is entitled “Imperatives and the More Generalised Tarski Thesis” and is available here.





Course Advising Wednesday February 18th and Thursday February 19th. Our Department course advisors will be available for student consultation at the following times:

Associate Professor James Maclaurin: 9am - 12.45 pm, 117 Union Street East Room 103

Associate Professor Andrew Moore 12.45pm - 4.30pm, 117 Union Street East Room 106




The Department is delighted to announce that Dr. Kourken (Kirk) Michaelian will be joining us as a lecturer in February 2015. Kirk is currently Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is a specialist in philosophy of mind, cognitive science and epistemology. Kirk has published articles in many leading journals, including Synthese, Mind and Language, Erkenntnis, and British Journal for the History of Philosophy. 



If you are a philosophy student (or are thinking of becoming a philosophy student), course advice for the 2015 academic year is available from the Department of Philosophy Advisor of Studies, Associate Professor Andrew Moore. To fix up an appointment with Andrew please email him here.

Details of Philosophy papers can be found here.

Alternatively, course advice is available from the Division of Humanities: please contact either Christine Colbert or Carol Forbes.


Andrew Moore





Students are invited to come along to the Philosophy Club -- now fortnightly, by popular demand.

Pizza and a discussion every other Tuesday night, 7pm, Philosophy Department (117 Union St E).

The schedule for club meetings is posted at




The Department annually honours distinguished students in Philosophy with prizes that are, largely, the result of bequests. An inventory of these prizes and previous prizewinners is available here.




We are delighted to announce that Zach has received an Early Career Award for Distinction in Research.

Zach is a senior lecturer working in philosophical logic, using formal mathematics to address philosophical questions. In particular he studies paradoxes that arise in simple theories of truth and sets, and uses inconsistency-tolerant (“paraconsistent”) logics to try to understand these contradictions.

Before joining Otago as a lecturer in 2012 he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Since 2013 he has been involved in two three-year Marsden Fast Start Grants: he is Principal Investigator on “Models of Paradox in Non-Classical Mereotopology” (Philosophy, Otago), and Associate Investigator on “Non-Classical Foundations of Analysis” (Mathematics, Canterbury). He has published articles in some of the world’s leading journals in his field, including Mind, Journal of Philosophy and Philosophical Quarterly. He is also the co-founder and convenor of the interdisciplinary Otago Logic Group.




Greg is interviewed by 3am Magazine on Theism and Explanation here.




Congratulations to Philosophy, Politics and Economics student, Lukas Clark-Memler (currently on exchange in Britain) who has just had a paper published in the British Journal of Undergraduate Philosophy - Issue 7, Vol. 2 (pp. 50-66). He argues, very learnedly, that Plato’s Republic should not be considered as a work of political philosophy as 'the construction of the "city in words" is simply a component of the dialectical inquiry; the political proposals themselves are of little importance to the overall meaning'. Thus we should not be perturbed by Plato's apparent totalitarianism.




The Department is delighted to welcome Professor Alan Weir. Alan's main research interest in recent years has been in the foundations of logic and mathematics. He has published a monograph defending formalism in the philosophy of mathematics- Truth through Proof - a formalist foundation for mathematics, (OUP, 2010). He is currently working on establishing the consistency of naive set theory inside a relatively natural and user-friendly non-classical logic, on the interpretation of Quine, on the metaphysics of properties, as well as continuing to work on formalism.


A. Weir




The Department is delighted to announce that the 2014 DAN AND GWEN TAYLOR LECTURE will be delivered by Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University, Phillip Pettit. He will present 'Doing Good and Doing Evil'.

Are doing good and doing evil on a par? It may at first seem so: doing good to others means conferring a benefit, doing evil means imposing a harm. But first impressions are misleading this case, as in many others. For it turns out that while we expect goodwill in those who do us good, we do not often expect malice in those who do us evil. The difference proves to be significant since it helps to explain some of our most ingrained habits of moral thought.

The lecture will take place on Tuesday March 11th at 5.30pm in Archway 4 theatre, followed by refreshments in the University Staff Club.


Philip Pettit




We are delighted to announce that Michael LeBuffe and Lisa Ellis are joining the department from the beginning of the 2014 academic year.





The Department is delighted to announce that Daniel Wee has won 1st prize in the University of Otago 3-Minute Thesis Competition 2013. Daniel, who is originally from Brunei and has a BA from the University of Warwick and an MA from the University of Chicago, is writing a PhD thesis on rule-following, individualism and communitarianism under the supervision of Professor Alex Miller and Dr Colin Cheyne. Daniel will now represent Otago in the 2013 Australasian 3-Minute Thesis final in Sydney in October.






Alan Musgrave Ditinguished Research Medal Lecture



Program and Abstracts(.pdf)

Wednesday June 12th
More details from:



Philosophy shines in PBRF


The recently released PBRF report (the governmental measure of research excellence in New Zealand) has ranked Philosophy at Otago first amongst Philosophy Departments in New Zealand (for the third time running) and the second highest ranked department in any subject at any institution in the country. Otago Philosophy was the top scoring department across all subjects and institutions in 2003 and 2006, but this time we were just pipped by Otago's excellent Psychology Department.




Alex Miller's Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction, 2nd edition


We are delighted to announce the publication of the second edition of Alex Miller's Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction, from Polity Press. The book gives a critical overview of the main arguments and topics in contemporary metaethics. This new edition includes revised and updated guides and new material on fictionalism. The book can be ordered from the publisher's website.


Applications invited for Baier Chair in Early Modern Philosophy

Candidates should have demonstrated outstanding research and teaching strengths in Early Modern (17th and 18th century) Philosophy. As well as being actively engaged in research, the successful applicant will be expected to teach core undergraduate papers in Early Modern Philosophy and to supervise research students at honours and postgraduate levels in this area. Many current graduate students come from outside New Zealand and an appointment that will attract graduate students to Otago is valued.

For application information, a full job description, and further information about living and working in Otago go to:




Alan Musgrave receives 2012 Humanities Aronui Medal

We are delighted to announce that Professor Alan Musgrave has received the 2012 Humanities Aronui Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand for his enduring and profound influence as a philosopher of science.

The Humanities Aronui Medal is awarded annually for research or innovative work of outstanding merit in the Humanities.

Professor Musgrave is primarily interested in the nature of scientific knowledge and in the history of science, publishing on Ptolemy, Lavoisier, Darwin, Einstein and others. He has been a steadfast and influential defender of the theses of scientific rationality and scientific realism against competing schools of thought, such as post-structuralism.

Professor Musgrave observes: "When you have spent your life doing work it is very nice to learn that people don't think you have been wasting your time."





Zach Weber receives Marsden Grant

We are delighted to announce that Dr Zach Weber has received a Marsden Fund Fast Start Grant, 2013-2016. Zach's project is Models of Paradox in Non-Classical Mereotopology. This project will give a new description of logical paradoxes, explaining them through mathematical models based on non-classical logics. A position for a fully-funded PhD candidate is available.

Zach is interviewed by Channel 9 about the project here.


Mobiuds Strip



Annette Baier 1929 - 2012

It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Annette Baier, who passed away at 2:00 am on Friday the 2nd of November, 2012 in Dunedin hospital, where she had been admitted, following heart problems, earlier in the week. She was 83.

Friends and students of Annette – and we know she had friends the world over - will be pleased to know that she was active in philosophy right up to the last, attending and contributing to the Otago Departmental Seminar with her usual wit and acuity to within a few weeks of her death. Her last comment was a criticism of the error theory of her friend and former colleague J.L Mackie. She will be sorely missed.

An obituary by Associate Professor Charles Pigden can be read here.


Annette Bairt



Philosophy Student is finalist in Humanities Mobile Phone Competition

Emily Irwin, a philosophy student at Otago, has been awarded 'highly commended' in the recent Humanities Mobile Phone Competition. She made this video about studying philosophy at Otago using just a mobile phone, and in only two hours. We think she did a great job!



Rationis Defensor

Essays in Honour of Colin Cheyne

We are delighted to announce a new book, from Springer, Rationis Defensor: Essays in Honour of Colin Cheyne. This is a volume of previously unpublished essays celebrating the life and work of Colin Cheyne. Colin is a past Head of the Department of Philosophy and is the immediate past President of the Australasian Association for Philosophy (New Zealand Division). He is the author of Knowledge, Cause, and Abstract Objects: Causal Objections to Platonism (Springer, 2001) and the editor, with Vladimir Svoboda and Bjorn Jespersen, of Pavel Tichy’s Collected Papers in Logic and Philosophy (University of Otago Press, 2005) and, with John Worrall, of Rationality and Reality: Conversations with Alan Musgrave (Springer, 2006). The volume, edited by James Maclaurin, celebrates the dedication to rational enquiry and the philosophical style of Colin Cheyne. It also celebrates the distinctive brand of naturalistic philosophy for which Otago has become known. Contributors to the volume include a wide variety of philosophers, all with a personal connection to Colin, and all of whom are, in their own way, defenders of rationality.





Professor Alex Miller joins the Department

Professor Alex Miller has joined the Department. Formerly at the University of Birmingham, Alex did his undergraduate work in mathematics and philosophy at the University of Glasgow and his graduate work in philosophy at the University of St. Andrews and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.                         

Alex works mainly in the areas of philosophy of language and mind, metaethics and metaphysics and has published widely on these topics. He is currently working on the role of normativity arguments in the theory of meaning and metaethics, and on developing a new interpretation of Kripkes Wittgenstein's skeptical argument about meaning.


Alex Miller



Dr Zach Weber joins the Department

We are delighted to announce that Dr Zach Weber joined the Department at the start of 2012. Zach received his doctorate from Melbourne in 2009; his thesis, Paradox and Foundation, was on the philosophy and mathematics of set theory and was supervised by Graham Priest and Greg Restall.                               

From September 2008 to May 2009 Zach was a research fellow at the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science, University of Sydney, under the direction of Mark Colyvan. He worked on the ARC funded project A Paraconsistent Approach to Vagueness.  

From June 2009 to February 2010 Zach was with us at Otago, tutoring and guest lecturing in logic, and working as a research assistant with Heather Dyke. Since then he has been a postdoctoral research fellow on the ARC project Paraconsistent Foundations of Mathematics at Melbourne.

Zach's work has appeared in journals such as Mind, the Journal of Philosophy, Analysis, and the Journal of Philosophical Logic.

Zach Weber



Experimental Philosophy: Old and New

This Special Collections exhibition is open until 23 September. Combining classics from the past and cutting-edge works of the present day, it brings together books on philosophy, science, literature and medicine. Together they illustrate the theme of Experimental Philosophy as it was understood and practised 350 years ago and as it is understood today. The on-line version can be viewed here.



Annette Baier: The Pursuits of Philosophy

We are delighted to announce a new book, from Harvard University Press, by Departmental Associate Annette Baier. The publisher's blurb reads as follows: 'Marking the tercentenary of David Hume’s birth, Annette Baier has created an engaging guide to the philosophy of one of the greatest thinkers of Enlightenment Britain. Drawing deeply on a lifetime of scholarship and incisive commentary, she deftly weaves Hume’s autobiography together with his writings and correspondence, finding in these personal experiences new ways to illuminate his ideas about religion, human nature, and the social order.'

Hume by Baier



Musgrave Scholarship Appeal Success

We are pleased to announce that the Appeal to honour Professor Alan Musgrave has now raised sufficient funds to enable the establishment of a scholarship. For more details visit the Appeal site.



Philosophy at the Library

The University of Otago Library has launched a new and much expanded Subject Guide for Philosophy. The new site includes guides to finding philosophy articles, books and reviews; fun and useful philosophy websites; links to popular philosophy publications; and a constantly updated list of the library's new philosophy titles.



A blog for 'Experimental Philosophy

and the Origins of Empiricism'

Professor Peter Anstey is currently the Principal Investigator of a Marsden-funded project (2009–2011) on 'Experimental Philosophy and the Origins of Empiricism'. Other researchers on the project include Alberto Vanzo, Juan Manuel Gomez, Kirsten Walsh and Dr Richard Serjeantson (Trinity College, Cambridge). You can visit the project blog here.



Charles Pigden: Hume on Is and Ought

An edited collection, Hume on Is and Ought has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan.

It ‘seems altogether inconceivable’, says Hume, that this ‘new relation’ ought ‘can be a deduction’ from others ‘which are entirely different from it'. The idea that you can’t derive an ought from an is, moral conclusions from non-moral premises, has proved enormously influential. But what did Hume mean by this famous dictum? Was he correct? How does it fit in with the rest of his philosophy? This collection, the first on this topic for forty years, assembles a distinguished cast of international scholars to discuss these questions.


Pigden Is and Ought

The book is available from Amazon here.



Charles Pigden: Hume on Motivation and Virtue

An edited collection, Hume on Motivation and Virtue has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. It is edited by Charles Pigden and contains essays by, among others, Annette Baier, Rosalind Hursthouse, Richard Joyce, Graham Oddie, and Michael Smith.

Pigden Hume Motivation and Virtue



Philosophy tops PBRF

In 2007 the Otago Philosophy Department was the top-scoring philosophy department, the top-scoring department at the university and the top-scoring research department of any kind in New Zealand, according to the PBRF (the New Zealand equivalent of the British RAE). In the 2003 PBRF round, the Otago department also came top, but in 2007 we improved our score, going up from 6.6 to 7.5.