open letter for diversifying the philosophy faculty and curriculum at oxford

We are a collective of students that has come together to write this letter in order to push for swift and systemic representational and curriculum change within the philosophy faculty. We are made up of both undergraduate and graduate level philosophers from a wide range of degree subjects, with a shared passion for diversifying the formal teaching of philosophy at Oxford. In writing this letter, we want to make a public affirmation on behalf of philosophy students at Oxford that we recognise that more work needs to be done, and express that we are willing and eager to work alongside the philosophy faculty to implement the changes that we express such a strong sentiment for. We find ourselves in a crucial moment, and we seek to use the  recent  weeks’ momentum to continue to promote important change in the spaces in which we operate, including the philosophy faculty in which we study. As students, we cannot do this alone, and we hope that we will be able to work together with the faculty in order to ensure that the Oxford philosophers now and of the future –and the world they affect– will be able to flourish under conditions of broader diversity of thought.  We intend that the measures that we suggest in this letter will be able to facilitate this educational and ethical endeavour. We emphasise our willingness to work together in this introduction so as not to  lose the strength of our commitment expressed in the following letter. Please take this as a sign of how eager we are to engage. 

Dear Professor Chris Timpson, Professor Stephen Mulhall, & Dr. Anil Gomes (we assume Dr. Gomes still holds the faculty Equality & Diversity position; if not, we apologise and ask this be directed towards the appropriate person while nonetheless recognising Dr. Gomes’ experience in the role means his attention would be appropriate)

Students found encouraging and inspiring Professor Timpson’s recent statement about the Philosophy Faculty’s interest in opening a discussion about the scope and possibilities of philosophical pedagogy in Oxford, in light of the tragic events that have taken place in the US and around the world in the past weeks and months. A group of Oxford philosophy students would like to affirm our willingness to work with the faculty to request and shape changes in order to promote representation and a broader curriculum in the Faculty. 

We understand that the path to change is complex; but we think the urgency of change supersedes the difficulties: we must do all we can to learn about currently under-discussed topics and to support minority academics, in structures whose curricula can either perpetuate systemic oppression and silencing or strive to envision a just future. We recognise there might not yet be a consensus for how to best go about this; we also recognise that there may never be consensus. We must begin to take steps to remedy the effects of systemic racism, sexism, and much more that pervade our discipline. This might involve a learning curve. We understand student demand is also a deciding factor towards making changes. We want you to know this demand exists, and we want to help build active feedback and communication systems to promote faculty-student interaction in combating structural injustices. This letter represents one step in this direction. It goes without saying that the philosophy curriculum doeshave an influence on the world; we too would like to take responsibility for this.

We would like to distinguish between two different types of change which we are requesting;

Firstly: more representation of ethnic minority thinkers in the department and on our reading lists. The latter can happen much more quickly than the former for which we can also take significant steps now (see appendix), but both are necessary. The lack of diversity in philosophy is well known. It is shocking that the representation of ethnic minority thinkers in each FHS reading list is less than 5%. To provide some examples: Knowledge and Reality, 3-4%; Philosophy of Science, 1.5%; Ethics, 2%; Early Modern Philosophy, below 1%. Philosophy is a discipline that benefits from diversity of opinion and rigorous critical appraisal of often preconceived, presumed ideas about the topic material therein. A diverse country, and undergraduate body, and academic discipline, should not be limited to such a narrow portion of the body of work that makes up what we call philosophy.

We need representation to support those highly competent individuals who face more obstacles to graduate programmes, job placement, and tenure; we also need representation to encourage minorities at the undergraduate level so that they have a chance of viably pursuing a career in the discipline. We need their names and works on our reading lists, in our graduate programmes, in our faculty, as professors, and on the lecture stage. We need them in working groups where data is collected and examined, hypotheses are suggested, and decisions are made. Such measures, of course, also entail diversity training and support. We must recognise that just hiring currently absent minorities is not enough; we must provide them with support for working in a historically racist and sexist institution while working to change those racist and sexist systems, including by highly valuing and acting upon their testimony as to what needs to change.

Secondly: a wider representation of types of philosophy on our curriculum. We distinguish between this and the former request to avoid the assumption that has been made elsewhere that a person specialises in a philosophy that relates specifically to their ethnic identity. This might appear to be an obvious error, but it is not uncommon. These two requests nonetheless go hand in hand in cultivating a more critical and comprehensive philosophical discipline –which can be done well at the undergraduate level without jeopardising rigour. Indeed, we believe this will increase our capacities to reflect critically on the traditions we encounter and broaden our array of philosophical tools. For this reason, we include an appendix of models that have been tested elsewhere. Vitally we must note that many practitioners of philosophies beyond the ‘mainstream’ canon are impressive individuals who have managed to be versed in the mainstream and beyond. We can strive to emulate this. Historically, many revered institutions flourished when contending with philosophies from around the world –from ancient Greece to classical India, from 9th century Baghdad to 12th century Cordoba, to name just a few examples. We too can look to these precedents for guidance while questioning what, in our case, ‘Western’ philosophy does not prioritise, including but not limited to, non-Western philosophies as well as philosophy of race, of disability, and feminism. We request that both these topics – philosophy of race, disability, and sexuality/queer theory – and other global philosophies be integrated into current reading lists and added as papers. 

Rather than adding ‘sections’ to syllabi we recommend incorporating work into already delineated sections – a lot of work has been done on how to talk about knowledge, ‘free will,’ scepticism, and induction, for example, in these areas. We recognise that adding entirely new papers might take more time and work. But there is such an abundance of work in these areas that can be put in conversation with the philosophy we currently study that we find no excuse for much delay in adding readings to existing papers. If it is good academic practice to continually refresh acquaintance with writing in a field and to update reading lists, such an update must involve one of our two suggested priorities. We also include an appendix with resources. We can also look to our own university for resources, which often extend beyond the current philosophy faculty, as evidenced for the specialist Indian Philosophy paper. Resources. For long term change we must be willing to hire graduates in these areas, work with other faculties, and hire faculty in these areas while working towards adding more papers and general coverage in the curriculum. We suggest that the exposure is so vital and useful that while the faculty works towards these changes they might consider hosting more specialist seminars/lectures on these, such as those frequently led by graduate students, for undergraduates.

In line with the two main requests we believe the following would support students and faculty to enact these values:

  1. Reading list accountability at the faculty and college level – we understand that the faculty does not control individual tutors’ reading lists but also recognise that individual tutorials are the unique foundation of Oxford learning and so individual tutors play an important  role in any developments. This may well therefore entail some systemic change in the relations between faculty lists and college tutors’ lists. This could take the form of an enforced quota, for example, or the emphasis that there will be questions touching upon the above topics in exams. We can and should expect faculty to update their practices and reading acquaintances as mentioned above. Such items could be further explored in a student-inclusive  faculty working group.
  2. A public robust agenda and transparent updates of efforts –  Some changes can be implemented imminently and some will take more time. We should both like to showcase faculty efforts as well as be assured that change is underway. Good practice for sustainability efforts has included making this available publicly on websites; we suggest likewise the faculty website could share with the general public the work underway and share progress regularly with students through a student-directed newsletter and through more actively promoted and facilitated student-faculty forums. We would like to see a clear pathway accounting for what is more achievable now and what the faculty will work towards, including the steps planned to get there. For example, this might include organising specialist topic papers in philosophy of race, Indian philosophy, and Chinese philosophy in the next year  – for which we have enough resources already – while outlining steps towards how to be capable of adding papers in Africana diaspora, Latin American, and disability philosophy. This might also include an explanation of how the faculty develops new papers.
  3. More actively facilitated student participation: if the faculty values the voices and lives of the students they teach, they must more proactively promote current venues for students feedback –such as the UJCC– and develop more effective ways for students to be involved. We include some suggestions in our appendix.
  4. Pro-actively informing students about newly introduced topics: whether new readings or a new special paper. For new readings this could take the form of a written statement and for new special papers, such as for Indian Philosophy, this could take the form of both a written statement with resources as well as an information session. Global philosophies might seem more unfamiliar given the way our course is currently taught. If the faculty believes their introduction is valuable to the student philosophers and is putting effort into developing papers, then they must attempt to inform students as a faculty rather than depending on college tutors to be informed enough to do this job. We believe in-person information sessions are important ways to do this so that students might meet other interested students and ask questions in person to paper lecturers, tutors, and students familiar with the area. This is a viable model demonstrated by ‘Economics’ in both PPE and Economics and Management, and is less work than the efforts of the Theology & Religions Department to expose students to different ‘world religions’ before they decide to select one or more for further study.

We would finally like to note that many thinkers and work we already study are historically connected to the under-discussed groups and topics mentioned. Adding in these voices would allow us to more deeply understand the work we already study. It would be patently unforgivable for us not to address these issues now they are so raised to our collective consciousness. We must become aware of the complexities and have the courage to face our histories and confront the shape of our discipline. We can examine not only racist and sexist inflections but also how historical  engagements with  philosophy from around the world shaped the ‘Western’ philosophers we read. This would be more accurate and more responsible, giving credit to unacknowledged sources of influence –whether for Heidegger, Hegel, Hume, Nietzsche, or Wittgenstein. Strikingly there is a notable absence of any women on this list of philosophers we may study individually, including the conspicuous absence of women-identifying philosophers so recently prominent at Oxford such as the Quartet of Iris Murdoch, Mary Midgley, Philipa Foot, and G.E.M. Anscombe. If these brilliant women, so recently at Oxford, are absent, how much more adamant must we be in changing and how starkly must we face the restrictions placed on our syllabi? 

Since all of undergraduate philosophy is only an introduction to vast areas of discourse, this also applies to any non-’Western’ philosophies that might be included on a syllabus. Indeed it would be almost inconsistent reasoning to debar work in these philosophies by such a premise as not being adequately acquainted with their cultural milieu. Students study here from around the world. There is no reason to suppose students are more acquainted with or should be more acquainted with the way the British establishment traditionally tells history, especially when our curriculum currently contains no explicitly historical papers. If Oxford is considered ‘world-leading’ in Philosophy, while historically and still systematically silencing non-Western and marginalised philosophies that influence or go unobserved by the  narrow demographic of philosophers and topics we currently study, then it would be accurate to call Oxford Philosophy ‘world-dominating’, harkening to its imperialist tradition. We must examine our presuppositions about our current curriculum and perceptions of predominantly excluded traditions and discourses, to see both how we can begin to engage cross-culturally through and expand upon our existing categories – logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, etc – and how we can adjust and broaden our tools of analysis thereby. Our philosophy could be richer and more critical by conversing with a wider array of thought.

After World War I, when the university’s values were thrust into question amid globally devastating events, the department managed to relatively swiftly introduce a radically rigorous and then ‘modern’ degree focused on engaging with contemporary issues: PPE, now considered in high demand. We believe we face a time similarly urgent and ripe for drawing our attention to changes that must be made, from a tragic set of circumstances of our society’s own making –the environmental crisis, the pandemic, and racial injustice. We have yet to face these problems in Oxford’s philosophical institutional heritage; philosophers here will remain complicit and culpable as long as we do not educate ourselves on our role and responsibilities in justifying and perpetuating systemic oppression and destruction through ignorance, indifference, or more sinister insinuations. It is no longer tenable to avoid committing to a robust plan for systemic change, beginning with what we are taught here. We understand this is a big ask, but we also are certain it is necessary. We are therefore also willing to do our part as students. We are ready to engage in working groups and beyond, and ask therefore for more opportunities to enter into constructive dialogue and collaborative action to implement a more diverse philosophy curriculum and environment at Oxford.

Please do let us know your thoughts. We are looking forward to working with you and talking further. Please find a selection of appendices here.

Wishing you all health at this time.

In solidarity with BLM & all those who have been unjustly silenced;

The Diversifying Philosophy Student Collective &

The following signatories: [excluded for privacy]



Appendix 1: examples of more diverse (BME & topical representation) readings on given themes in General Philosophy, here presented as  additions to the current reading list

Appendix 2: ways to diversify the curriculum

Appendix 3: model student feedback systems

Appendix 4: the current historical narrative of philosophy shaped by racism and colonialism

Appendix 5: Readings for how to discuss philosophies that we see as coming from distant traditions around the world

APPENDIX 1: examples of more diverse (BME & topical representation) readings on given themes in General Philosophy, here presented as  additions to the current reading list – in purple.

CURRENT: PHIL BA Philosophy General Philosophy Prelims (Academic Year 2019/20)

Knowledge (5 items)

  • Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? – Edmund L. Gettier, 1963-06 Article
  • Knowledge: a very short introduction – Jennifer Nagel, 2014, ©2014 Book | p. 58.
  • A Causal Theory of Knowing – Alvin I. Goldman, 1967-06-22 Article
  • Externalist Theories of Empirical Knowledge – Laurence Bonjour, 1980-09 Article
  • The Inescapability of Gettier Problems – Linda Zagzebski, 1994-01 Article

Suggested additions:

  • Alcoff, Linda M., 2017. “Philosophy and Philosophical Practice: Eurocentrism as an Epistemology of Ignorance.” In Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, edited by Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr., New York: Routledge. 
  • Angle, .Stephen and Justin Tiwald (2017) “Knowing”, in Neo-Confucianism: A Philosophical Introduction, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, Chapter 6.
  • Applebaum, Barbara. Chp 4. ‘The Epistemology of Complicity.’ Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy. Lexington Books, 2010.
  • Black, D.  “Knowledge (ʿIlm) and Certainty (Yaqīn) in al-Fārābī’s Epistemology,” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 16 (2006), 11-45.
  • Collins, Patricia Hill. ‘Some Group Matters: Intersectionality, Situated Standpoints, and Black Feminist Thought.’ A Companion to African-American Philosophy. Lott, Tommy L. Pittman, John P. Blackwell, 2006.
  • Connolly, Tim  (2011) “Perspectivism as a Way of Knowing in the Zhuangzi”, Dao 10.4: 487-505.
  • Dotson, KristieAccumulating Epistemic Power. 2018, Philosophical Topics 46 (1):129-154.
  • Elgin, Z. CatherineNon-foundationalist epistemology: Holism, coherence, and tenability. 2005, in Steup, Matthias and Sosa, Ernest (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, Boston: Blackwell, 2005, pp. 156-167
  • Fraser,  Chris (2011) “Knowledge and Error in Early Chinese Thought”, in Dao 10.2: 127-48.
  • Fricker, Miranda, 2007. Epistemic injustice : power and the ethics of knowing, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Haack, Susan. ‘12: A Foundationalist Theory of Empirical Justification.’ Epistemology: An Anthology. Sosa, Ernest, Kim, Jaegwon. McGrath, Matthew. Blackwell, 2000.
  • Harbsmeier, Christoph  (1993) “Conceptions of Knowledge in Ancient China”, in Hans Lenk & Gregor Paul eds., Epistemological Issues in Classical Chinese Philosophy, New York: State University of New York Press, pp. 11-30.
  • Ichikawa, Jonathan Jenkins. C. S. I. Jenkins. Jarvis, Benjamin.  Knowledge First. Oxford UP, 2017.
  • ‘1. An Introduction: Knowledge First,’ Carter, Adam J. Gordon, Emma C. Jarvis, Benjamin.
  • ‘6. On Putting Knowledge ‘First’,’ Ichikawa, Jonathan Jenkins. Jenkins, C.S.I.
  • Lackey, JennferNorms of Assertion. 2007, Noûs 41 (4): 594–626.
  • Perrett, Roy W. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. CUP, 2016. Chp 2 ‘Knowledge.’
  • Srinivasan, AmiaNormativity without Cartesian Privilege. 2015, Philosophical Issues: 25 (1): 273-299.
  • Thakchöe, Sonam. “Prāsaṅgika Epistemology in Context.” Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy. : Oxford University Press,  January 01, 2011. Oxford Scholarship Online. Date Accessed 24 Jun. 2020 <>. 

Scepticism (6 items)

  • Meditations on first philosophy: with selections from the objections and replies – René Descartes, Bernard Williams, 2017, ©2017 Book | Meditation One The electronic version links to the Past Masters ‘Continental Rationalists Electronic Edition’, which sources the translation from Cottingham, Stoothoff and Murdoch (Cambridge University Press, 1984)
  • Al-Ghazālī’s Path to Sufism and his Deliverance from error: an annotated translation of al-Munqidh min al Dal⁻al – Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Richard Joseph McCarthy, c2000 Book | Please read Sections 1-20 (pages 17-25 in this edition) of ‘The deliverance from error’
  • Knowledge: a very short introduction – Jennifer Nagel, 2014, ©2014 Book | Chapter Two
  • Knowledge and Skepticism – Robert Nozick Chapter
  • Reasoning One’s Way Out of Scepticism – S. Rinard Chapter
  • Brains in a Vat – Hilary Putnam Chapter

Suggested additions:

  • Cantor, Lea, 2020. “Zhuangzi on ‘happy fish’ and the limits of human knowledge”. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 28(2), pp.216–230.
  • A. Chakrabarti, “Telling as Letting Know” in B. Matilal, and A. Chakrabarti (eds), Knowing from Words (Dordrecht, 1994), 99-124. 
  • Coliva, AnnalisaMoore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty, and Common Sense. 2010, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hansen, Chad. 
  • “The Relatively Happy Fish”. Asian Philosophy 13 (2003): 145–64 
  • (2003), “Guru or Skeptic? Relativistic Skepticism in the Zhuangzi” in Hiding the World in the World: Uneven Discourses on the Zhuangzi, ed. Scott Cook, Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Ivanhoe, Philip J. “Zhuangzi on Skepticism, Skill, and the Ineffable Dao”. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 61, no. 4 (1993): 639–54. 
  • Menn, S., “The Discourse on the Method and the Tradition of Intellectual Autobiography,” in J. Miller and B. Inwood (eds), Hellenistic and Early Modern Philosophy (Cambridge, 2003), 141-91 [On al-Ghazali].
  • E. Mills, Three Pillars of Scepticism in Classical India: Nāgārjuna, Jayarāśi and Śrīharṣa (Lanham, 2018). N. Das 
  • Schwitzgebel, Eric. “Zhuangzi’s Attitude Toward Language and His Skepticism”. In Essays on Skepticism, Relativism, and Ethics in the Zhuangzi, edited by Paul Kjellberg and Philip J. Ivanhoe, 68–96. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1996.  
  • Stine, Gail. ‘20:  Relevant Alternatives and Deductive Closure.’ Epistemology: An Anthology. Sosa, Ernest, Kim, Jaegwon. McGrath, Matthew. Blackwell, 2000.
  • Westerhoff, Jan. The Dispeller of Disputes, trans. OUP, 2010. pp 65-93.

Perception (5 items)

  • The foundations of empirical knowledge – A. J. Ayer, 1969 Book | Pp. 1-11.
  • Perception – M. G. F. Martin Article | In Part One “Epistemology”, please read Section 2.1-2.4 Perception / M.G.F. Martin, pp.26-43
  • Analytical philosophy: second series – R. J. Butler, 1965 Book | To note: online link is to the reprint of this article in Alva Noe (ed) Vision and mind : selected readings in the philosophy of perception.
  • Do Visual Experiences Have Contents? – Susannah Siegel, 2010 Chapter
  • Mental Paint – Ned Block Chapter

Suggested additions:

  • Guerrero, Laura. “Conventional Truth and Intentionality in the Work of Dharmakīrti.” The Moon Points Back. : Oxford University Press,  August 20, 2015. Oxford Scholarship Online. Date Accessed 24 Jun. 2020 <>. 
  • Kumārila, Pratyakṣa-pariccheda of Ślokavārttika. J. Taber (trans.), A Hindu Critique of Buddhist Epistemology: Kumārila on Perception (London, 2012), 44–148. 
  • Logue, Heather. ‘9. Perception First?’ Knowledge First. Ichikawa, Jonathan Jenkins. C. S. I. Jenkins. Jarvis, Benjamin.  Oxford UP, 2017.
  • MACKIE, P., 2019. Perception, Mind-Independence, and Berkeley Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
  • Westerhoff, Jan. The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy. OUP, 2018. Pp 220-225

Induction (5 items)

  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding – David Hume Chapter | Sections IV-V and Section XII paragraphs 21-23. Ebook links to Past Masters ‘The Complete Works and Correspondence of David Hume Electronic Edition’. The text of An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding was drawn from the 1898 Green and Grose, but proofread against the 1912 Open Court edition. Discrepancies were arbitrated by the 1758 Hume. The Advertisement was drawn from the Open Court edition. Two page numbers identify each folio: the first, labeled p., refers to page numbers in the Third Edition of the Nidditch Enquiry. The second, labeled gp., refers to page numbers in Green and Grose.
  • The problems of philosophy – Bertrand Russell, 1912 Book | Chapter Six. Online link is to the OUP 2001 reprint of the 2nd edition.
  • Skepticism about Induction – R. Weintraub, 2008 Chapter
  • Reliability, Justification, and the Problem of Induction – James Van Cleve, 1984-09 Article
  • Necessary Connections and the Problem of Induction – Helen Beebee, 2011 Article

Suggested additions:

The Relation Between Mind and Body (6 items)

  • Meditations on first philosophy: with selections from the objections and replies – René Descartes, Bernard Williams, 2017, ©2017 Book | Meditations Two and Six
  • Women philosophers of the early modern period – Margaret Atherton, c1994 Book | Please read, pp.11-21. Letters: Elisabeth to Descartes, 6/16 May 1643; Descartes to Elisabeth, 21 May 1643; Elisabeth to Descartes, 10/20 June 1643; Descartes to Elisabeth, 28 June 1643; Elisabeth to Descartes, 1 July 1643. For online link, use the alternative version listed below.
  • Correspondence between Descartes and Elisabeth of Bohemia – Elisabeth of Bohemia, Rene Descartes Chapter | Letters: Elisabeth to Descartes, 6/16 May 1643; Descartes to Elisabeth, 21 May 1643; Elisabeth to Descartes, 10/20 June 1643; Descartes to Elisabeth, 28 June 1643; Elisabeth to Descartes, 1 July 1643. Also reprinted in Women philosophers of the early modern period / ed. Margaret Atherton, Hackett, 1994, pp.11-21.
  • Descartes – Margaret Dauler Wilson, 1982 Book | Chapter Six
  • Freedom and resentment: and other essays – P. F. Strawson, 1974 Book | Chapter ‘Self, Mind and Body’
  • The conscious mind: in search of a fundamental theory – David John Chalmers, 1996 Book | Chapter One, Chapter Three §1 up to p.99, and Chapter Four §1

Suggested additions:

  • Adamson, P. and F. Benevich, “The Thought Experimental Method: Avicenna’s Flying Man Argument,” Journal of the American Philosophical Association (2018), 1-18.
  • Baker, Gordon P. Morris, Katherine J. Descartes’ Dualism. London: Routledge, 2005. 
  • Chp 2: Cartesian Dualism, Chp 4: Descartes’ Dualism
  • Tillemans, Tom J. F. “On Minds, Dharmakīrti and Madhyamaka.” The Moon Points Back. : Oxford University Press,  August 20, 2015. Oxford Scholarship Online. Date Accessed 24 Jun. 2020 <>.
  • Marmura, M.E., “Avicenna’s ‘Flying Man’ in Context,” Monist 69 (1986), 383-95. 
  • Ram-Prasad. ‘Saving the Self: Classical Hindu Theories on Consciousness & Contemporary Physicalism.’ Philosophy East & West, 2001 Jul, Vol 51(3), pp. 378-392.
  • Antony, LouiseThe Mental and The Physical. 2009, in Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge. 555-567
  • Slingerland, E.G., 2019. Mind and body in early China: beyond orientalism and the myth of holism, New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 
  • Slingerland, E. & Chudek, M., 2011. “The prevalence of mind-body dualism in early China”. Cognitive science, 35(5), pp.997–1007.

Free Will (5 items)

  • Are they playing our tune? – Helen Steward, 2002 Article
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding – David Hume Chapter | Section VIII
  • The Powers of Rational Beings: Freedom of the Will – Peter Van Inwagen Chapter
  • Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility – Harry G. Frankfurt, 1969-12-04 Article
  • Asymmetrical Freedom – Susan Wolf, 1980-03 Article

Suggested additions:

  • Bobzien, S., 1998. Determinism and freedom in Stoic philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Bobzien, S.  “Did Epicurus discover the free will problem?”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 19 (2000)
  • Garfield, J. Just another word for nothing left to lose: freedom, agency, and ethics for Mādhyamikas, in Free Will, Agency and Selfhood in Indian Philosophy (ed. Dasti and Bryant) Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2013.
  • Gowans, C. Why the Buddha did not discuss ‘the problem of free will and determinism’ in Buddhist Perspectives on Free Will: Agentless Agency? (ed. Repetti), Routledge: Abingdon-on-Thames, 2017. 
  • Javanaud, K. (a) Reformulating the Buddhist Free Will Problem: why there can be no definitive solution, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 46, No. 4, 2018, 773-803. 
  • Kukkonen, T., “Possible Worlds in the Tahāfut al-Falāsifa: al-Ghazālī on Creation and Contingency,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 38 (2000), 479-502.
  • Li, Chenyang. “The Confucian Conception of Freedom.” Philosophy East and West, vol. 64 no. 4, 2014, p. 902-919. Project MUSEdoi:10.1353/pew.2014.0066
  • MACKIE, P., 2018. Compatibilism, Indeterminism, and Chance Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. 82, 265-287
  • Repetti, Riccardo. “What Do Buddhists Think about Free Will?.” A Mirror Is for Reflection: Understanding Buddhist Ethics. : Oxford University Press,  June 22, 2017. Oxford Scholarship Online. Date Accessed 24 Jun. 2020 <>. 
  • Stump, Eleonore. Knowledge, Freedom, and the Problem of Evil. 1983, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 14(1): 49-58

Personal Identity (5 items)

  • An essay concerning human understanding – John Locke, P. H. Nidditch, 1979, c1975 Book | Book II, Chapter XXVII.
  • Of Identity and Diversity Types of Personal Identity – Katherine Hawley, 1997-08-01 Article 3/4
  • Reasons and persons – Derek Parfit, 1984 Book | Chapter
  • Why Our Identity is Not What Matters’ Survival and Identity – David Lewis Chapter | eresource links to a reprint with postscripts
  • Personhood and Personal Identity – Marya Schechtman, 1990-02 Article

Suggested additions:

  • Ames, Roger T. Dissanayake, Wimal. Kasulis, Thomas P. Self As Person in Asian Theory and Practice
  • Part I – Chp 1: Recapturing Personal Identity, Robert Solomon, Chp 2: The Coordination of the Self and the Passions, Amélie Rorty, Chp 3: Rousseau, Hakuseki, and Hakuin: Paradigms of Self in Thee Autobiographers, John Maraldo
  • Pat IV – Chp 12: The Perception of Self in Indian Tradition, Bimal Krishna Matilal
  • Appiah, Kwame AnthonyAkan and Euro-American Concepts of the Person. 2004, In Lee M. Brown (ed.), African Philosophy: New and Traditional Perspectives. Oxford University.
  • Carpenter, Amber D. “Persons Keeping Their Karma Together: The Reasons for the pudgalavāda in Early Buddhism.” The Moon Points Back. : Oxford University Press,  August 20, 2015. Oxford Scholarship Online. Date Accessed 24 Jun. 2020 <>. 
  • Ganeri, Jonardon. The Concealed Art of the Soul: Theories of Self and Practices of Truth in Indian Ethics and Epistemology.Clarendon, 2007. Web
  • Part I – Chp 1: Hidden in the Cave: The Upanisadic Self    c c c
  • Part III – Chp 6: The Imperfect Reality of Persons, Chp 7: The Self as Performance
  • Martin, Raymond. ‘9: Would It Matter All That Much if There Were No Selves?’ Pointing at the MMoon: Buddhism, Logic, Analytic Philosophy. Garfield, K. Tillemans, T. D’Amato, M. OUP, 2009.
  • Siderits, Mark.  Personal Identity & Buddhist Philosophy. Ashgate. 2003.
  • Westerhoff, Jan. Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Introduction.  OUP, 2009. Chp. 7 ‘The Self’

The Problem of Evil (5 items)

  • Theodicy: essays on the goodness of God, the freedom of man, and the origin of evil – Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Austin Farrer, E. M. Huggard, 1951 Book | Part I, Sections I-XX.
  • Early modern women and the problem of evil: atrocity & theodicy – Jill Graper Hernandez, 2016 Book | Chapters One and Four
  • Evil and Omnipotence – J. L. Mackie, 1955 Article
  • Philosophy of religion: an historical introduction – Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski, 2007 Book | §7.1 and 7.2
  • Evil and the Temptation of Theodicy – R. Bernstein

Suggested additions

  • Adams, Marilyn McCordHorrendous Evils and the Goodness of God. 1999, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • Clack, Beverley. Feminism and the Problem of Evil2014, in Justin P. McBrayer & Daniel Howard Snyder (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil (Wiley & Sons): 326-339
  • Griffioen, Amber. Theraputic Theodicy? Suffering, Struggle, and the Shift from the Gods-Eye View. 2018, Religions 9(4).
  • Hewitt Suchocki, Marjorie. The Idea of God in Feminist Philosophy. 1994, Hypatia 9(4): 57-68.
  • Luis Oliveira. Skeptical Theism and the Paradox of Evil. 2019, Australasian Journal of Philosophy
  • Stump, Eleonore. The Problem of Evil. 1985, Faith and Philosophy 2(4): 392-423.
  • Perkins, Franklin (2014), Heaven and Earth Are Not Humane: The Problem of Evil in Classical Chinese Philosophy (Bloomington, Indiana. World Philosophies)

APPENDIX 2: ways to diversify the curriculum

  1. Philosophy of race paper
  2. General Philosophy section on comparative philosophy (alternative modifiers: cross-cultural, global, decolonising)
  3. Modifying General Philosophy to include or offering another introductory course asking the question ‘How has philosophy been done?’/ ‘What do we call philosophy?’/’What is philosophy?’ touching on ways to examine philosophy, possibly including: a global history including mainstream and emerging /under-represented topics, comparing different methodologies, contextualising distinctions and styles 
    1. We suggest this would be more valuable to understanding disciplinary expectations than perhaps the Mills work that dominantes a generally named ‘Moral Philosophy’ paper
    2. An example in another department is the ‘Religion & Religions’ paper that questions what we mean by the term ‘religion’, different ways this has been addressed historically in the discipline, different elements of the discourse, and also examines different ‘word religions’; we might take a similar approach to an introductory paper which would them inform students about more diverse topics they might not otherwise be familiar with and might appear as special papers in coming years
  4. Global philosophies specialist (initially) topics as papers
  5. Special graduate-led seminars/lectures on philosophies from around the world
  6. Reading lists:
    1. Add ethnic minority & womxn* philosophers’ work, recognising the additional obstacles to these thinkers’ meeting standard criteria (though also recognising there is plenty of work which meets these criteria)
    2. Add pieces rooted in philosophies from around the world
    3. This can be for any and all papers: from Gen Phil to Early Modern to Logic, Post-Kantian, and Wittgenstein –there’s plenty of high-quality work for both (i) & (ii) in both these areas
  7. For case studies you might reference: Yale-NUS, University of NottinghamBath Spa UniversitySOAS; for Oxford-internal models, see the revised Theology & Religion undergraduate course (as in c.ii.), politics, and IR.

APPENDIX 3: model student feedback systems

  1. UJCC models
    1. Follow our philosophy graduate students’ model:  Equality & Diversity Officer, Womxn’s Officer
    2. Theology UJCC model: 3 elected members
    3. Given the nature of our requests, a combination of 1.a & 1.b might prove more effective.
  2. Town hall models:  SWIP-UK recommends some procedures (for WiP groups) that we believe faculty could implement effectively by carving out dedicated public faculty time focused on creating safe spaces to listen to students and act on what they here. SWIP-UK recommends:
    1. Climate meetings/town halls: safe & open spaces where minorities & womxn could freely share any of their “views, concerns, experiences, suggestions, feedback, and advice” related to issue they encounter. We recommend this might be separately for folk identifying as womxn, ethnic minorities, queer folk, and disabled, regularly. 
      1. SWIP-UK offers further advice on climate meetings that can be extended to all minorities: 
  3. Working group: consisting of new volunteers, UJCC members, and students from various student groups and all the joint degrees.
  4. Streamlined communication system
    1. Also recommended by SWIP-UK: a regular climate survey put out by the faculty that references both the joint degree & college/hall also, unless this threatens student anonymity. 
    2. An ongoing online mechanism for anonymous student comments regarding E&D issues to be passed on to the faculty E&D officer. This should be easily accessible on the philosophy website or canvas, for example.
    3. Public sharing of efforts the department is undertaking: this enables and encourages students to know the work the faculty is doing, to give the faculty credit, lets them know their voices are heard which even helps with tutorial and essay confidence, and promotes active engagement and participation. 
  5. All the above demand heightening efforts to encourage student involvement

APPENDIX 4: the current historical narrative of philosophy shaped by racism and colonialism 

  • “Park (2014) gives an account of the development of philosophy as an academic discipline in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. During this period, European philosophy influenced by Kant formulated the history of philosophy as a March of progress from the Greeks to Kant. It was an account that demolished existing accounts beginning in Egypt or Western Asia thus establishing an exclusionary canon of philosophy. Hegel’s account of world history was strongly racist and imbued European philosophy with a prejudicial history we are still trying to escape from. These two philosophers contributed so much to a contemporary understanding of modernity as fundamentally Western (Peters, 2014).” Michael A. Peters (2015) Why is My Curriculum White?, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47:7, 641-646
  • Bello, A.G.A. 2004. Some Methodological Controversies in African Philosophy. In Kwasi 
  • Wiredu (ed.), A Companion to African Philosophy. Available on SOLO. 
  • Bernasconi, Robert, 2003. “Will the Real Kant Please Stand Up?  The Challenge of Enlightenment Racism to the Study of the History of Philosophy.” Radical Philosophy vol. 117, 13–22. 
  • Bernasconi, Robert, 2002. “Kant as an Unfamiliar source of Racism.” In Philosophers on Race: critical essays, edited by Julie K. Ward and Tommy Lee Lott, Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Bernasconi, Robert, 2000. “With what must the philosophy of world history begin? On the racial basis of Hegel’s  eurocentrism. Nineteenth Century Contexts 22(2), 171-201.
  • Bernasconi, Robert, 1997. “Philosophy’s Paradoxical Parochialism: The Reinvention of Philosophy as Greek.” In Cultural Readings of Imperialism, edited by Keith Ansell-Pearson, Benita Parry, and Judith Squires, London: Lawrence and Wishart.
  • Bernasconi, Robert, 1995. “Heidegger and the Invention of the Western Philosophical Canon.” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 26(3), 240-254.   
  • Bilgrami, Akeel, 2006. “Occidentalism, the Very Idea: An Essay on Enlightenment and Enchantment.” Critical Inquiry 32 (3), 381-411.
  • Bonnett, Alastair, 2004. The idea of the West: culture, politics, and history, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hall, Stuart, 1992. “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power.” In Formations of modernity, edited by Stuart Hall and Bram Gieben, Cambridge: Polity Press in association with the Open University.
  • Krishna, Daya. 2011. Comparative Philosophy. In Contrary Thinking: Selected Essays of 
  • Daya Krishna. Available on SOLO.
  • Nelson, Eric S., 2017. Chinese and Buddhist philosophy in early twentieth-century German thought, New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Park, Peter K. J., 2013. Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy: Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon, 1780–1830, Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Patterson, Thomas C., 1997. Inventing Western Civilization. New York: Monthly Review.
  • Said, E.W., 1978. Orientalism, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • West, M.L., 1971. Early Greek philosophy and the Orient, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Wimmer, Franz, Robert Bernasconi, Paul Hountondji, and Thomas Norton-Smith, 2016. “Symposium: How Are Histories of Non-Western Philosophies Relevant to Intercultural Philosophizing?”. Confluence: Journal of World Philosophies 3.

APPENDIX 5: Readings for how to discuss philosophies that we see as coming from distant traditions around the world

  • Angle, S.C., 2010. “The minimal definition and methodology of comparative philosophy: A report from a conference.” Comparative philosophy1(1), pp.26-26.
  • Bunnin, Nicholas & Yu, Ji-Yuan, “Saving the Phenomena: An Aristotelian Method in Comparative Philosophy”, in B. Mou (ed.), Two Roads to Wisdom? Chinese and Analytic Philosophical Traditions. Chicago, Il.: Open Court, 2001, 293-312.
  • Cooper, David E. World Philosophies : An Historical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996. Print.
  • Garfield, Jay L. “Two Truths and Method.” The Moon Points Back. : Oxford University Press,  August 20, 2015. Oxford Scholarship Online. Date Accessed 24 Jun. 2020 <>. 
  • Harrison, Victoria S. Eastern Philosophy : The Basics. London ; New York, 2013. Print. The Basics.
  • Imbo, Samuel Oluoch. 1998. An Introduction to African Philosophy. Lanham et al.: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Kupperman, Joel J. “Why Ethical Philosophy Needs to Be Comparative.” Philosophy 85.332 (2010): 185-200. 
  • Perkins, Franklin. “Comparative Philosophy: Chinese and Western”. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2014.
  • Perrett, Roy W. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. Cambridge, 2016. Print. Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy. ‘Introduction.’
  • Smith, Justin E. H. The Philosopher: A History in Six Types, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016.
  • Shun, Kwong-loi. “Studying Confucian and Comparative Ethics: Methodological Reflections.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 36(3), 2009: 455-478. 
  • Wiredu, Kwasi (ed.). 2004. A Companion to African Philosophy. Malden, Oxford, Victoria: Blackwell Publishing.

The Case for Non-Western Philosophies to Be Taught in Mainstream Departments 

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