The Philosophy of Penelope Mackie: A Memorial Conference

July 3, 2024 - July 5, 2024
University of Nottingham

University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD
United Kingdom

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

View the Call For Papers

This event is available both online and in-person


  • The Aristotelian Society
  • School of Humanities at the University of Nottingham
  • British Society for the Philosophy of Science
  • Mind Association


University of Leeds
King's College London
Nottingham Trent University
New York University
University of California, Riverside
Providence College
Central European University
University of Stirling
University of Leeds
Durham University


Nottingham University

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Penelope Mackie (1953-2022) was a long-time member and former Head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. Her philosophical contributions span the areas of (1) essence, modality, identity; (2) philosophy of mind; (3) causation and counterfactuals; and (4) free will and determinism. A superbly perceptive critic, Penelope is best known for her 2006 book How Things Might Have Been, in which she argued that our essential properties place little constraint on what we could have been. Hence, you could have been a poached egg. Her most recent work provides invigorating contributions to debates about neo-Aristotelian essentialism (in constructive opposition to the work of Kit Fine), Transworld identity, persistence, and the nature of perceptual experience.  

This conference will celebrate Penelope’s life and work.  

Confirmed speakers:  

Helen Beebee (Leeds) 

Bill Brewer (Kings College London) 

Ben Curtis (Nottingham Trent University) 

Kit Fine (New York University) 

John Martin Fischer (University of California; online) 

Antonella Mallozzi (Providence) 

Howard Robinson (Oxford) 

Sonia Roca-Royes (Stirling) 

Helen Steward (Leeds) 

Matthew Tugby (Durham) 

The conference will begin at 2pm on Wednesday 3rd July and finish by 6pm on Friday 5th July. On the Wednesday there will be an opening lecture followed by speeches, before the philosophical talks begin (the first talk will be at 4pm on Wednesday). The conference will be fully hybrid, with online and in-person attendance available for all sessions.  

Penelope had an immense influence on generations of students. To celebrate this, we would like to include papers by any current and recent PhD students. If you would like to be included in the programme, please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words (for a paper that can be presented in 20 minutes) to Neil Sinclair ([email protected]) by 30th March 2024.  

Unfortunately we did not have space on the programme to invite all the speakers we would have liked to invite. We realise that Penelope’s work and infectious good humour touched many people – if you would like to share your memories of Penelope by contributing to the speeches on Wednesday, please contact Neil Sinclair ([email protected]).  

The conference is open to all and everyone is welcome.

The full conference programme will be posted on the University of Nottingham Philosophy Department webpages shortly.

The conference is generously supported by: The Aristotelian Society; The School of Humanities at the University of Nottingham.

There is no conference fee, but we ask that those attending (whether online or in person) to please complete the registration process. Here:


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July 3, 2024, 9:00am BST

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