Ever wondered what could have been?

Posted on: 31 January 2024

A new lecture series hosted by the Department of Philosophy aims to help the public channel their inner philosopher.

Ever wondered what could have been?

What exactly makes work ‘meaningful’? Is it wrong to stop your spouse from taking a job in a different country? Ever wondered what would have been? These questions and more will be explored as part of ‘Philosophy Today’, Trinity College Dublin’s new public lecture series starting on February 8th, 2024.

From love and transformative experience to AI ethics, meaningful work, perception and power, what ifs, and wisdom, join Trinity's philosophers as they share their current research and offer a unique insight into its direct relevance to our day-to-day experiences.

Paul O’Grady, Head of the School of Social Sciences & Philosophy, and a featured speaker in the series, explains: “These lectures seek to connect the work of researchers in the Philosophy Department in Trinity with the wider public, showing the real-world impact of philosophical ideas. Our intention is to deliver an engaging, thought-provoking, and stimulating series that highlights how philosophy continues to shape our contemporary world and remains more relevant than ever.”

The public lecture series starts Thursday, 8 February at 7.30-9pm and continues every second Thursday until Thursday, 18th April.

For more information about the event and to book your place please visit the Department of Philosophy website. €75 for the entire series (6 lectures). A concessionary rate of €40 applies to: students, OAPs, unemployed, groups of 20+, TCD staff and graduates.

Speaker Line-Up:

Thursday, 8th February 2024 | Dr Farbod Akhlaghi

‘Changing Partners: Should You Stop Your Beloved from Changing Who They Are?'

Is it wrong to stop your spouse from taking a job in a different country? Your child from going to university? Your sibling from getting married? Farbod Akhlaghi works on the ethics of transformative experience – experiences which change who we are, and which remain unknowable until we personally encounter them.

Thursday, 22nd February 2024 | Prof John Divers

'Caring About What Would Have Been'

Ever wondered how your everyday "what if" statements hold the key to unlocking insights about our world? John Divers works on modality – what we say (and think) that goes beyond how the world actually is and speaks of how the world could have been, could not have been, would have been or would not have been.

 Thursday, 7th March 2024 | Dr Caleb Althorpe

'Making Work Meaningful'

What exactly makes work ‘meaningful’? Is it just whatever the worker feels is meaningful? Or is it work that has certain features, such as being complex, or giving the worker a say in how it is carried out? Caleb Althorpe does research in political philosophy and political theory, examining normative questions that fall at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics.

Thursday, 21st March 2024 | Dr Emma Otterski

'Decoding Perception: Power, Status, & How We See Others'

Have you ever considered how we truly understand the people we interact with every day? What subtle signals do we rely on to interpret their thoughts and feelings, and how much does our understanding of them depend on the world around us? Emma Otterski works on social cognition – how to explain our (mis)understanding of others.

Thursday, 4th April 2024 | Prof. Paul O'Grady

'What is Wisdom?'

Everyone thinks wisdom is a good thing to have, but it’s less than clear what it is and it has puzzling features. Paul O’Grady works in theory of knowledge and philosophy of religion and will explore what wisdom might be, using resources from psychology, history of philosophy and recent epistemology.

Thursday, 18th April 2024 |Dr William Ratoff

'How Should We Negotiate the Creation of Artificial General Intelligence?'

Artificial Intelligence is poised to revolutionise our lives. From self-driving cars to companion-bots, no aspect of our world, we envisage, will be quite the same again. How should we negotiate the creation of artificial general intelligence? Is the creation of such AI even desirable? Or does it pose an existential risk to humanity? William Ratoff works on moral philosophy, especially topics in the ethics of artificial intelligence and new technologies.

Media Coverage: 

Irish Times, 29 Jan, 2024: Don’t take this the wrong way: Five things you need to know about giving advice

* This article was edited on Feb 12th with an updated schedule of the public lectures

Media Contact:

Fiona Tyrrell | Media Relations | tyrrellf@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 3551