Philosophy at the 2018 Arts & Science Festival


The Department of Philosophy has three public events at this year’s Arts & Science Festival.

The three events highlighted the exciting and diverse research undertaken in the department, including metaphysics and the philosophy of time travel, climate change and global ethics, and philosophy of mind and psychology.

Start, stop, pause: keeping mood on track

The first event, hosted by Professor Lisa Bortolotti and Project PERFECT, will focus on bipolar disorder, a mental health condition in which people experience both higher than normal mood (mania) and lower than normal mood (depression). At this event Chris will talk about his personal experience of bipolar disorder, its episodic nature, and the effects of medical and psychological interventions. He will be joined by Lizzie, a clinical psychologist, who specialises in talking treatments for bipolar disorder and psychosis.

Together they reflect on the start, stop, and pauses of mood changes, and the start and stop of psychological interventions. How can such interventions be put into practice? Do the effects of such interventions ever really stop?

Monday 12 March, 12:30 – 13:30, Arts Building Lecture Room 5 (Second Floor, Room 219), University of Birmingham

Free, booking recommended

You want me to stop doing what?

Many people feel powerless to do anything about climate change, despite being concerned about it. Reducing emissions is said to be too time consuming, too costly, too difficult, while the changes we could make in our daily lives are too small to make a difference anyway.

Join Dr Wouter Peeters (Lecturer in Global Ethics at Birmingham) and Dr Jo Swaffield (Research Fellow at Newcastle) for this lively workshop which considers issues including: How much can we be expected to do about climate change and can we really make a difference to this global problem? When we ask people to reduce their emissions, what sorts of considerations are important? Who can have the biggest impact on the problem? Who should be allowed to emit the most?

The workshop will provide important feedback for a research project which considers the lives of ‘real’ people and the extent of their individual responsibility for climate change. It also offers participants an opportunity to reflect on their own circumstances and their ability to reduce their emissions.

Tuesday 13 March, 12:00 – 13:00, Law Building Room 114 (First Floor), University of Birmingham

Free, booking recommended


Finally, Dr Nikk Effingham will introduce a screening of Timecrimes. Lauded short film director Vigalondo makes his feature debut with this tense, unstoppable vision of science and natural law gone awry. A man who accidentally travels back into the past and meets himself. A naked girl in the middle of the forest. A mysterious stranger with his face wrapped in a pink bandage. A disquieting mansion on the top of a hill. All of them pieces of an unpredictable jigsaw puzzle where terror, drama and suspense will lead to an unthinkable crime. Who’s the murderer? Who’s the victim? Timecrimes takes a bold, difficult premise and brings the rarely-tread time travel framework to pulse-pounding but intelligent new heights.

Nikk Effingham is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy; his main research interests lie in metaphysics and the philosophy of time, particularly time travel. He has recently completed a book on the philosophy of time travel, arguing that whilst it might be possible, it would almost certainly be fatal for anyone to even to try to travel in time.

Tuesday 13 March, 20:00 – 21:45, Electric Cinema (47-49 Station Street, B5 4DY), Birmingham

Tickets £10.50 / £7.50 conc., booking recommended

Since it was founded in 2012 the Arts & Science Festival has been the University of Birmingham’s annual showcase of its research to the city and region at large. Full details and a listing of all events can be found on the Arts & Science Festival website.