The 5th Biennial Dorothy Edgington Lectures: Catherine Elgin Graduate Workshop

April 24, 2020 - April 25, 2020
Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London
United Kingdom

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  • Aristotelian Society, Analysis Trust

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Harvard University

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Birkbeck College, London is delighted to announce that the 2020 Edgington Lectures will be delivered by Professor Catherine Z. Elgin (Harvard University) on the 24th and 25th April 2020. In conjunction with the lectures, Professor Elgin will be running a graduate workshop.

Professor Elgin’s lectures are titled The Realm of Epistemic Ends:

Epistemic agents are ineluctably interdependent. We are nodes in epistemic networks, supporting and supported by others. Via testimony we convey and glean information. We teach and learn from others – not just facts but also techniques, strategies, standards, and skills that are vital to our understanding of the world. Each of us relies on methods and devices that she could never have invented, validated, or calibrated on her own. If epistemic autonomy requires complete independence, it is a chimera. But if autonomy is a matter of self-government, our situation is different. The autonomous agent, Kant maintains, makes the rules that bind her. She does so not in isolation, but as a legislating member of a realm of ends – that is, as one among many who jointly ratify those rules. Building on the account of epistemic normativity I presented in True Enough, I will argue that epistemic communities are quasi-Kantian communities of epistemic ends. Members of such communities are autonomous epistemic agents who collectively certify epistemic norms by justifying those norms to one another. I will show that the constraints on a realm of ends insure that this does not make knowledge or understanding relativistic or subjective. Epistemic autonomy and epistemic interdependence are mutually supportive.

Lecture 1, 24th April: Epistemic Autonomy 

Lecture 2, 25th April: Epistemic Community 

Attendance at the lectures is free and open to all, but we kindly ask that you register in advance at

And if you wish you attend the workshop, we ask that you register at

Further details about Professor Elgin’s work can be found at

The Edgington Lectures are public lectures held by the Department of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. Previous Edgington Lectures were given by Katherine Hawley (2018), Kit Fine (2016), Rae Langton (2014) and Jonathan McDowell (2012).

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April 22, 2020, 9:00am BST

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