Jennifer Nagel Gives 2023 John Locke Lectures at Oxford

Published: August 22, 2023

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Jennifer Nagel had the honour of being selected to give the 2023 John Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford. In May and June of this year, Nagel gave six distinct lectures on the topic of “Recognizing Knowledge: Intuitive and Reflective Epistemology.” The John Locke Lectures, begun in 1950, rank among the world’s most distinguished lecture series in philosophy. Past lecturers have included some of the greatest minds in philosophy of the past half century, including Nelson Goodman, Noam Chomsky, and Martha Nussbaum.

Nagel described the overarching framework of her lectures in this way: “Humans have a remarkable capacity to track what others do and do not know. This capacity guides us in everyday social navigation, for example as we switch between the roles of telling and asking in conversation. It also provides raw data to epistemology, in the form of intuitive judgments about possible cases of knowledge. Over the years, philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists have discovered a variety of cross-culturally robust patterns of epistemic intuition, patterns that are attractively systematic, but often disturbingly paradoxical. This series of talks examines the natural origins and functions of our capacity to detect knowledge, in search of a better analysis of the data guiding epistemology, and ultimately a clearer view of knowledge itself.”

Listen to the lectures and find the accompanying handouts on the site of the Oxford Department of Philosophy.