2023 Taylor Lewis Lecture
Susanna Siegel (Harvard University)

May 25, 2023, 6:00pm - 7:30pm
School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne

Forum Theatre (level 1)
Arts West Building

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


University of Melbourne

Topic areas


This talk explores forms of inquiring that occur in the spontaneous flow of thought, and what can make such forms of inquiry better or worse. 

What can make the pursuit of a line of inquiry better or worse? Norms of inquiry would give us principled grounds for deciding which questions to pursue. But what if inquiry can proceed without decision, intention, or self-awareness – all markers of executive control? Is it still subject to the same norms? Is it inquiry at all, if it happens within the spontaneous flow of thought? Susanna Siegel offers a framework for analyzing “low” inquiry: inquiry that proceeds by spontaneously directing conscious attention, without these markers of executive control. The framework helps us see commonalities between low inquiry and its “high” counterpart. Susanna Siegel uses the framework to identify some ways that both kinds of inquiry are susceptible to the same kinds of normative assessment, and both kinds can be influenced, for better or worse, by antecedent perspectives that help direct how the inquiry unfolds. Taken together, these consequences give us a new approach to norms of attention.

The Barry Taylor and David Lewis Philosophy Fund was established in memory of Melbourne Associate Professor Barry Taylor and Princeton Professor David Lewis. One of the most influential metaphysicians of the 20th century, David Lewis was a regular visitor in the philosophy program at The University of Melbourne and a valued contributor to its intellectual life for over twenty years. Barry Taylor was a distinguished philosopher of language who used linguistic and epistemological tools to argue against Lewisian-style metaphysical realism. Their strong friendship and philosophical disagreements enlivened the work of both. The Barry Taylor and David Lewis Philosophy Fund provides broad based support for the philosophy program at the University of Melbourne, including funding for the annual Barry Taylor and David Lewis Philosophy Lecture.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




May 25, 2023, 4:00pm +10:00

External Site

Who is attending?

No one has said they will attend yet.

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.

RSVPing on PhilEvents is not sufficient to register for this event.