Dr Greg Fried discusses God with Professor John Lennox

April, 2018

A conversation about God and Science between Dr Greg Fried and Prof John Lennox (19 April 2018, Jubilee Community Church Observatory, Cape Town).

Business Ethics team wins UCT Collaborative Educational Practice Award

September, 2017

The Philosophy Department is delighted to announce that one of its courses—Business Ethics—has won a prestigious UCT teaching award. The Collaborative Educational Practice Award recognises excellent collaborative approaches to teaching and learning at UCT.

Business Ethics is a course primarily in moral philosophy taken by more than 500 Commerce students each semester, and a good number of students from other faculties. The teaching team has striven to offer a course that pushes most students out of their comfort zone, while still supporting their learning as fully as possible. To do this, they have come up with several innovative strategies, including staffing the course with academics from both Humanities and Commerce, which has given rise to a genuinely interdisciplinary course offering.

By working closely together over the years, they have developed a very effective teaching model. One of the team members, Assoc Prof Jimmy Winfield, explains: “many students are put off by abstract theory, so we introduce theory in the context of useful ways to respond to questions in the business world. For example, consequentialism is not taught and examined first only to be applied later, but rather we introduce it as a way to properly understand Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ argument for capitalist economic systems.” 

The team has also been recognised for taking full advantage of the opportunity to develop students’ critical thinking skills, constantly highlighting the value of critical thinking for the business decisions they will make—and moral dilemmas they will face—in future. And Business Ethics students engage with carefully designed learning tools from novel methods of assessment, through innovative classroom technology, to a textbook—sold at other universities in South Africa and internationally—written especially to support the UCT course.

The hard work put in since the course began in 2010 has paid off not only in this award, but also in many positive reviews from students, for example “I valued this course very highly - probably the highest of all the courses I have done so far. I thought the content covered was directly applicable to real life and it encouraged me to live a meaningful life... To me, the topics covered were more important (in meaning) than all the other business science courses I take.”

The winners are Jimmy Winfield, Greg Fried, George Hull, Tom Angier, Lara Davison, Anye Nyamnjoh, Gabriele James, Laurence Bloom, Andres Luco and Jessica Lerm.

Jimmy Winfield wins Distinguished Teachers Award

March, 2017

Jimmy Winfield, co-convener of the Philosophy Department’s Business Ethics course, has been awarded the University of Cape Town’s Distinguished Teachers Award. 

Greg Fried and Lisa Lazarus win National Arts Festival Short.Sharp.Stories Award

July, 2016

Greg Lazarus, the husband-and-wife writing duo of Greg Fried and Lisa Lazarus, have been announced in Grahamstown as the winners of the National Arts Festival Award for the Judges’ Choice of Best Story in the annual anthology of stories chosen for the Short.Sharp.Stories awards.

This year’s theme, Die Laughing, drew many entries, twenty of which were chosen for the collection, which will be launched in Cape Town and Johannesburg. ‘This Could Get Messy,’ the winning story by Greg Lazarus, was described by the judges, Karabo Kgoleng, Karina Szczurek and Ken Barris, as ‘a simply wonderful story about love…funny, with its twists and turns, chuckles and sadness.’

According to Lisa and Greg, ‘Our story is about Ilhaam, a passionate and brilliant schoolgirl who has an extensive knowledge of the Koran and a confidential problem involving love, and Gary, a pompous philosopher of mathematics and a man with his own secrets, whom she contacts. Who will see through the other first? Who knows more about love? And what will the outcome be? We enjoyed finding out what happens when this oddly-matched pair interact.’

Greg lectures in UCT’s Philosophy Department. He also co-teaches the Master’s course in Creative Non-Fiction offered by the Centre for Film and Media Studies, and supervises students for the MA in Creative Writing. He and Lisa – who is a writer and writing teacher, educated as a psychologist – have co-written a memoir of parenting, The Book of Jacob (2009), and – as Greg Lazarus – the novels When in Broad Daylight I Open My Eyes (2012) and Paradise (2014), as well as several short stories selected for anthologies.

‘In some ways, fiction writing is quite different from philosophy,’ says Greg. ‘For one thing, it’s important to be explicit and comprehensive in analytic philosophy, while gaps and ambiguity are crucial tools in fiction. For another, philosophy often aims to persuade an audience by means of argument, while it’s frequently better to avoid writing didactic fiction. But we hope that the powerful and enduring occupations of philosophy – including such themes as freedom, goodness and evil, the meaning of life and the nature of reality – help to enrich our fiction writing.’

Mourning the death of Dr Augustine Shutte

May, 2016

The Philosophy Department mourns the death, early on the morning of Monday 23 May 2016, of retired colleague, Dr Augustine Shutte. We extend our condolences to his family. 

We remembered and paid tribute to Dr Shutte on the occasion of our annual prize giving. Professor Peter Collins’ address about Dr Shutte can be found here.

Philosophy in Africa, Africa in Philosophy

February, 2016

Research seminar series: Philosophy in Africa, Africa in Philosophy

Over the course of 2016, the Philosophy Department is hosting (jointly with the Centre for African Studies at UCT) a weekly series of academic research seminars called "Philosophy in Africa, Africa in Philosophy". This series aims to explore the role which academic philosophy can play in solving problems specific to Africa, including South Africa, and the role which indigenous African traditions of thought and practice can play in enriching the academic discipline of philosophy. Each week a speaker—from UCT, from another South African university, or from abroad—will present a paper, followed by general discussion. Titles of papers being presented in the first semester of 2016 include:

  • African Philosophy and Nonhuman Nature
  • Is Philosophy Restricted by Its Language?
  • Madness, Faith, Roots: Grounding Philosophy in, of and for Africa
  • Making Sense of Survivor’s Guilt: Why It Is Justified by an African Ethic
  • Decolonizing Bioethics via African Philosophy
  • Who Can Say What?

The series is convened by Prof Lungisile Ntsebeza (African Studies) and Dr George Hull (Philosophy). Academics and postgraduate students are invited to attend the seminars in this series. Though there will be a strong philosophical focus, interdisciplinary perspectives on the seminar topics will be welcomed. For more information, see the seminar series’ webpage: www.africanstudies.uct.ac.za/cas/events/2016/philosophy_in_africa. Twitter-users wishing to continue discussion of the seminar topics electronically are invited to use hash-tag #PhilosophyInAfrica.

Anna Hartford awarded UCT Research Associateship

July 2014

Anna Hartford, a PhD student in the Philosophy Department, has been awarded a UCT Research Associateship for 2014. Congratulations to Anna.

Social Equality Conference: 15-17 August 2014

July 2014

The Philosophy Department at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, is hosting a three-day conference on Social Equality. The conference will take place on 15-17 August 2014.

Organiser: Dr George Hull
Confirmed keynote speakers: 
Prof Miranda Fricker (University of Sheffield); Prof Charles W. Mills (Northwestern University); Prof Jonathan Wolff (University College London)

Many contemporary societies are strikingly unequal, and quickly becoming more so. In a country like South Africa, much social inequality is a visible part of daily life. But there are forms of inequality and disadvantage which, though no less problematic, are not immediately obvious to the casual observer. It would be naive to think philosophy on its own could do anything to alleviate inequality. But it does have a role to play. Philosophy can articulate the various different forms of social inequality. By arguing for a particular conception of justice or the good life, it can show what is wrong with some or all of these forms of inequality. In addition, political philosophy can demarcate the steps a government may legitimately take to address inequality and disadvantage. The philosophical debate about equality has become increasingly nuanced, concrete and empirically informed in recent years. We hope this conference will enable its continuation in a place where the need for an understanding of, and a strategy to address, inequality is particularly urgent.

Philosophy of Race - a new undergraduate course

April 2014

The Department of Philosophy is extending its course offering in 2014 with the introduction of Philosophy of Race. This new second year course will be introduced as a second semester module in July 2014.

The course, which will be taught by Dr. George Hull, will engage with issues in the philosophy of race, with a central focus on questions raised by the contemporary situation in South Africa, including: Morally speaking, does most of the Western Cape actually belong to the Khoisan? Does being indigenous (if that concept makes sense) give you certain moral rights? Has the achievement of legal equality liberated black people, or would true liberation require the rediscovery of a distinctive identity? What special responsibilities (if any) do formerly advantaged groups have today?

As part of the first offering of the course, students will benefit from visiting international experts who include Professor Charles W Mills (Northwestern University) author of classics of The Philosophy of Race including: The Racial Contract and Blackness Visible. Mills will guest-lecture while he is here for the Social Equality Conference hosted by the Philosophy Department from 15-17 August 2014. Professor Miranda Fricker (University of Sheffield) will also lecture students. Her ideas of epistemic injustice will be drawn on in the course as part of a philosophical engagement with the Black Consciousness Movement.

For more information on this and other Philosophy course, contact the Department or consult the undergraduate course pages on this website: /philosophy/undergraduate/courses#2045

Elisa Galgut re-elected President of the PSSA

January 2014

At its recent Annual General Meeting, Dr Elisa Galgut was elected for a second term as President of the Philosophical Association of Southern Africa. Dr Tom Angier was elected to the Executive Committee.

The PPE Colloquium: Invitation to the UCT community

September 2013

The fourth annual PPE Humanities Colloquium will be held on Friday 20 September from 1pm to 3pm. While the colloquium is planned specifically for undergraduate PPE students in the Humanities, it is open to everyone in the UCT community.

The colloquium has two components: student talks, (followed by an announcement of the new PPE essay competition), and guest lecture by Gareth van Onselen. UCT students and staff are welcome to attend either or both of these components.

The full programme is attached here.

Cindy Gilbert and Liz Gubb Ace Second Xhosa course

December 2012

Cindy Gilbert and Liz Gubb, the department's administrators, scored (respectively) 89% and 92% for Xhosa Communication 1B, a semester long course offered by the African Languages and Literatures Section of the School of Languages and Literatures at UCT.

Jeremy Wanderer wins Distinguished Teachers Award

November 2012

Jeremy Wanderer is the recipient of a 2012 Distinguished Teachers Award from UCT. Read more...

Elisa Galgut inspires better treatment of baboons

August 2012

Dr Elisa Galgut, Senior Lecturer in the Department and former Chair of the Senate Animal Ethics Committee has been duly credited for inspiring UCT's decision to relocate research baboons to a sanctuary in the Limpopo province. Read more...

Kyle Blumberg awarded UCT Research Associateship

July 2012

Kyle Blumberg, a second year Masters student in the Philosophy Department, has been awarded a UCT Research Associateship for 2012. Congratulations to Kyle.

Cindy Gilbert and Liz Gubb Ace Xhosa course

June 2012

Cindy Gilbert and Liz Gubb, the department's administrators, scored (respectively) 90% and 92% for Xhosa Communication 1A, a semester long course offered by the African Languages and Literatures Section of the School of Languages and Literatures at UCT.

Bernhard Weiss delivers inaugural lecture

May 2012

Bernhard Weiss delivered his inaugural professorial lecture on 16 May 2012. Read more...

Philosophy Department has moved

February 2012

The Philosophy Department moved to new premises on Monday 6 February. You can now find us in our new location: Room 3.03, Humanities Building, University Avenue.

Elisa Galgut elected President of PSSA

January 2012

Elisa Galgut is the new President of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa. She was elected at the Society's Annual General Meeting, which was held during the annual conference of the PSSA.

PPE Essay Competition 2011-2012

November 2011

The Humanities Faculty has provided a total of R1000 in prize money. The judges – Greg Fried and Andre Hofmeyr, the members of the PPE Humanities Committee – will award the prize, or prizes, based on essay quality and perhaps student seniority. There may (for example) be just one prize, or prizes for first to third place, or prizes for students in first to third year of their undergraduate degree at the date of submission. The distribution of prizes will depend on the entries we receive.

The details of the essay competition are attached here.

The PPE Colloquium: Invitation to the UCT community

September 2011

The second annual PPE Humanities Colloquium will be held on Friday 30 September from 1pm to 3:45pm. While the colloquium is planned specifically for undergraduate PPE students in the Humanities, it is open to everyone in the UCT community.

The colloquium has three components: student talks, careers discussion over lunch (followed by an announcement of the new PPE essay competition), and guest lecture. UCT students and staff are welcome to attend any or all of these components. The colloquium has been generously sponsored by the Humanities Faculty, and lunch is free of charge to attendees.

The full programme is attached here.

Jessica Lerm and Jenni Sinclaire awarded UCT Research Associateships

June 2011

Two postgraduate students in the Philosophy Department have been awarded UCT Research Associateships for 2011. Congratulations to Jessica Lerm, who began her PhD this year, and to Jenni Sinclaire, who is in the second year of her Masters. Read more...

Meritorious publication award for Jeremy Wanderer

June 2011

Jeremy Wanderer has won a UCT meritorious publication award for his book Robert Brandom (Acumen, 2008).

Two promotions 

November 2010

Two members of the Philosophy Department have been promoted ad hominem.

Bernhard Weiss has been promoted to Professor and Jack Ritchie has been promoted to Senior Lecturer.

Foundations in Philosophy programme featured in Social Responsiveness Report

October 2010

The Foundations in Philosophy programme was featured in the University of Cape Town’s 2009 Social Responsiveness Report. The feature can be read here.

New books by Bernhard Weiss and Jeremy Wanderer 

May 2010

Bernhard Weiss and Jeremy Wanderer have co-edited Reading Brandom on Making it Explicit, published by Routledge.

Bernhard Weiss also authored How to Understand Language: A Philosophical Inquiry, which was recently published by Acumen.

A second PhD for Dr Robert Segall

December 2009

Monday Paper 14 December - 8 February 2010: "From physics to philosophy for PhD"

Dr Robert Segall, whose first PhD was in Physics, recently completed his PhD in Philosophy.

Recycling News

October 2009

Monday Paper 28 September - 11 October 2009: "Green Philosophy"

Greg Fried's and Lisa Lazarus' The Book of Jacob is published.

May 2009

Greg Fried co-authored The Book of Jacob with his wife, Lisa Lazarus. 

Jack Ritchie's book, Understanding Naturalism, is published.

May 2009

Jack Ritchie's book, Understanding Naturalism, was published by Acumen publishers.

Paul Smit wins Keswick Prize for Lucidity

April 2009

Paul Smit, who has completed his Honours in Philosophy, has been awarded the 2008 Keswick Prize for Lucidity. This annual University-wide award, sponsored by Sir Chips Keswick, is made to a fourth-year or Honours student, who has been judged to have written the most lucid essay on a technical subject without recourse to jargon. 
The essay was nominated by Dr Elisa Galgut, for whose course Paul wrote the winning essay.  
Previous Philosophy winners of the prize include Grant Harrison  in 2005 and Greg Fried in 1996.

Department to host Annual Postgraduate Philosophy Conference

January 2009

The Philosophy Department will host the Fourth Annual Conference of the Postgraduate Philosophy Association of South Africa (PPA) in 2009.  Further details are available here. 

New Philosophy Department website launched

November 2008

The Philosophy Department's new website goes live today.  The website was designed and produced by Honours student, Ross Van der Linde, to whom we extend our thanks. 

Please report any errors to us.