Calling All the Junior De Beauvoirs – It’s Our New 6th Form Philosophy Seminars

Calling All Junior Philosophers!


Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution and The Royal Institute of Philosophy present:

FREE 6th Form Seminars, Thursdays from 5.30pm – 7.00pm

A series of free seminars via Zoom, exploring  the fundamental questions of philosophy, why it is important and its meaning in relation to life. The seminars will be led by Dr Lucienne Spencer, University of Bristol.

Are you seriously imaginative and thoughtful?

Then join us for these free seminars via Zoom.

Please contact your philosophy teacher or email with your name and the name of your school.

Seminars will start at 5.30pm and will finish at 7.00pm each week

04 November – Freedom of Speech

Every day we utilise speech: we promise, joke, explain, convince, apologise, predict, warn and so on. In many ways, our complex language use is what sets us apart from the other animals. It is perhaps for this reason that the value of free speech has received so much philosophical attention. This session explores how philosophy can help us tackle important questions surrounding freedom of speech and its boundaries.  We will discuss why we fight for freedom of speech, how free speech has changed with the advent of the internet, whether our freedom of speech should be protected at all costs, and whether certain dangerous speech acts, such as hate speech, should be prohibited.

11 November – Climate Ethics

Following a year of forest fires, mass flooding, rising sea levels and record-breaking temperatures, philosophical discussions on climate ethics have never been more urgent. As the climate crisis impacts the most marginalised in our communities, it is essentially a social and political problem. Through this session, we will discuss whether we have a responsibility to tackle the climate crisis, the morality of having children during the climate crisis, and what we owe to future generations who are yet to exist.

18 November -Duties of Aid 

If wealthy western individuals were to donate a small percentage each to effective charities, we could overcome global poverty. However, most people would decline to contribute. Should the more charitable people have a moral responsibility to pick up the slack and donate more? Do they only need to do their fair share? Or perhaps one could argue that, even though it would be generous to donate, we have no moral obligation to do so? Through this session, we will explore just how far our obligation towards others extends and how much we ought to be willing to sacrifice for others.

25 November – Silencing and Oppression

There are two ways in which the powerful in society can be described as silencing the oppressed. The first is through physically silencing marginalised voices. Historically, the oppressed have been silenced through gagging devices, like the ‘iron bit’, ‘brank’ or ‘scold’s bridle’. The second form of silencing, passive silencing, uses structural, socially imposed mechanisms to prevent certain groups from communicating their experiences, publishing their truths or recording their history. This session will explore the latter form of silencing, the philosophical concept of ‘epistemic injustice’ and the ways in which these injustices could be overcome.

02 December – Gender Theory

According to Simone De Beauvoir, ‘One is not born a woman, one becomes one’. Here Beauvoir captures a distinction between sex and gender, whereby sex denotes the biological determination of male or female and gender refers to the social construct of femininity or masculinity. This session will examine the metaphysical, moral and political dimensions of gender. We will consider, amongst other questions, how we ought to define gender, how gender intersects with other axes of oppression, how gender norms are reinforced in our society and how one can exist beyond the boundaries of gender.

09December – Civil Disobedience

The topic of civil disobedience has been one of the most contentious issues in modern society. Contemporary examples may include the Black Lives Matter movement or Extinction Rebellion. In this session, we will discuss how to define civil disobedience and distinguish it from other forms of law-breaking, what (if any) obligation we have towards obeying laws that we perceive to be unjust, whether violent protest is ever justified and whether civil disobedience ought to be punished.

If you are interested in participating in these Zoom seminars, please contact your philosophy teacher or email with your name and the name of your school.