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Irish Philosophy in the Age of Berkeley

The Irish Philosophy in the Age of Berkeley conference will take place in the Trinity Long Room Hub Neill Lecture Theatre on 5 and 6 April, 2019.

George Berkeley’s Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710) and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713) are standard texts in the philosophy curricula of most European and American universities. No other Irish philosopher, and no other work of Berkeley’s, has achieved this ‘canonical’ status. However, there was a vibrant philosophical scene in Ireland in Berkeley’s lifetime, to which Berkeley was far from the only contributor. Studying this broader Irish philosophical discussion will improve our understanding of Berkeley and also of early modern philosophy more generally.

The Irish Philosophy in the Age of Berkeley conference will include general exploration of the intellectual culture of early modern Ireland as well as examination of specific thinkers with significant connections to Ireland active during Berkeley’s lifetime (1685–1753), including Robert Boyle (1627–1691); Edward Synge (1659–1741); John Toland (1670–1722); Peter Browne (d. 1735); Henry Maul (1676-1758); Mary Barber (c. 1685-1755); Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746); Constantia Grierson (1704-1732); Laetitia Pilkington (c. 1709-1750); and John Austin (1717-1784).

The papers will address:

  • The Irish context of Berkeley’s philosophy.
  • The philosophical work of other Irish thinkers active during Berkeley’s lifetime.
  • The reception within Ireland of other philosophical figures, ideas, and movements.
  • The reception of Irish philosophy outside Ireland.

Papers presented at the conference will be published as part of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements series, Cambridge University Press.

Participants and attendees may also be interested in attending Berkeleian Minds: Will and Understanding, to be held at the University of York on 2 and 3 April.

Invited Speakers


All events will take place in the Trinity Long Room Hub O’Neill Lecture Theatre, unless otherwise noted.

No registration is required to attend the conference. However, those wishing to attend the Friday evening reception are requested to RSVP by email to Takaharu Oda (

Friday 5 April


Panel 1: Education and Gender


What the Dublin Women of the ‘Triumfeminate’ did with John Locke

Christine Gerrard, Professor of English Literature and Tutorial Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, UK


From Hypatia to Serena: John Toland's Women

Ian Leask, Lecturer in Philosophy, Dublin City University, Ireland


Berkeley and Previous Bishops of Cloyne on Education as Means of Conversion

Marta Szymańska-Lewoszewska, independent scholar, Poland


Book Exhibition

13:30-14:30Henry Jones Room, Old Library

A selection of relevant works from TCD’s Early Printed Books collection will be on display.

Panel 2: Francis Hutcheson


Berkeley’s Main Criticism of Shaftesbury and Hutcheson

Samuel Rickless, Professor of Philosophy, University of California San Diego, USA


Francis Hutcheson on Liberty and Self-Mastery

Ruth Boeker, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin, Ireland


'Plainly of Considerable Moment in Human Society': Francis Hutcheson and Eighteenth-Century Philosophies of Laughter

Kate Davison, Lecturer in Long Eighteenth-Century History, University of Sheffield, UK


18:30-20:30Trinity City Hotel (light refreshments provided)

Saturday 6 April

Panel 3: Knowledge and Perception


Peter Browne on the Metaphysics of Knowledge

Kenneth Pearce, Ussher Assistant Professor in Berkeley Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


John Austin SJ (1717-84), the First Irish Catholic Cartesian?

Jacob Schmutz, Maître de Conferénces en Philosophie, Université Paris-Sorbonne, France


The Irish Context of Berkeley’s ‘Resemblance Thesis’

Manuel Fasko, Doktorand in Geschichte der Philosophie, Universität Zürich, Switzerland

Peter West, Phd Candidate and Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland



Panel 4: Natural and Social Sciences


Poverty and Prosperity: The Irish School of Political Economics

Marc Hight, Elliot Professor of Philosophy, Hampden-Sydney College, USA


The Wilson-Garber Debate on Berkeley on Corpuscles Reconsidered in Light of Toland and Clarke on the Role of God’s Order in Science

Eric Schliesser, Professor of Political Science, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Boyle’s Powers

Lisa Downing, Professor of Philosophy, The Ohio State University, USA


For More Information

Contact Kenneth Pearce,


Additional support provided by: