Centre for Knowledge and Society



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Centre for Knowledge and Society

We live in complex societies facing numerous challenges, such as the erosion of social cohesion, widening wealth and income gaps, unsustainable development and climate change, increasing demands on health care systems, deficiencies in education and persistent inequalities. The Centre for Knowledge and Society (CEKAS) aims to address problems of this type by applying philosophical tools and notions drawn from all the sub-disciplines of theoretical and practical philosophy in collaboration with specialists from other disciplines. Specifically, CEKAS aims to improve understanding of societal challenges and to recommend and develop interventions that have societal impact. This requires a multi-disciplinary effort, requiring collaborations with both academic non-philosophers and non-academic stakeholders.


CEKAS is organised around three themes—(1) Education & Learning, (2) Social Epistemology, and (3) Health & Wellbeing—which cross-cut our three disciplinary clusters—(1) Epistemology, (2) History of Philosophy, and (3) Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science. These themes also dovetail with the University’s broader Interdisciplinary Challenges of “Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity” and “Health, Nutrition and Wellbeing”, as articulated in the University’s 2040 strategy. A number of thematically distinct and changing projects conduct research and impact under the auspices of CEKAS, all unified by the described methodological approach. We are open to all philosophical resources, whether developed in the analytic or continental tradition.


CEKAS also provides a platform to meet and exchange ideas, facilitated by a dedicated series of talks and an annual public lecture. The interdisciplinary speaker series Knowledge and Society and the annual public lecture bring together researchers from all participating projects and disciplines, as well as societal stakeholders.


For inquiries about CEKAS, please contact Professor Beth Lord (s.b.lord@abdn.ac.uk).


Internal Members:


Michael Beaney (Philosophy)

Silvia Casini (Film and Visual Culture)

Rama Chakravarthi (Psychology)

Beth Lord (Philosophy, Director)

Federico Luzzi (Philosophy)

Jasna Martinovic (Psychology)

Luca Moretti (Philosophy)

Andrea Teti (Politics)

Stephan Torre (Philosophy)

Ulrich Stegmann (Philosophy)

Ritu Vij (Politics)


External Associated Members:


Adam Carter (Philosophy, Glasgow)

Jan Derry (Education, UCL)

Chris Kelp (Philosophy, Glasgow)

Ben Kotzee (Education, Birmingham)

Alessia Marabini, (Istituto Paolini-Cassiano, Bologna)

Natasha Mauthner (Business, Newcastle)

Adrienne Milner (Primary Care and Public Health, Queen Mary’s)

Mona Simion (Philosophy, Glasgow)

Paul Standish (Education, UCL)  


PGT Student Members:


Christopher Higham

Jiaqi Long

Owen Rippin


Sex and Gender Equality in SportPIs: Adrienne Milner (Queen Mary’s) and Federico Luzzi (Philosophy). In the first instance, the project will identify problems of inequality affecting the sports as well as potential philosophical justifications of eligibility restrictions. It will then devise fairer policies of inclusion and promote changes in policy and policy implementation. The beneficiaries of this project are therefore sports governing bodies at various levels, sports clubs and individual athletes/participants. Luzzi has already organised the workshop Segregation and Inclusion in Sports, which led to important academic (Milner) and non-academic contacts (e.g. LEAP Sports Scotland). Luzzi and Milner are co-applicants on an AHRC Early Career Research Grant


Epistemic Aims of EducationPIs: Luca Moretti (Philosophy, Aberdeen) and Been Kotzee (Birmingham, Education). Education is the primary means by which societies institutionalise the spread of knowledge and skills. This project identifies and evaluates the epistemic aims of education. It will then use the findings in order to assess school curricula. Moretti and Marabini (CEKAS) have set up a network in epistemology of education with the UCL Institute of Education (Jan Derry and Paul Standish), the Research Centre "Cogito" of the University of Glasgow (Adam Carter and Mona Simion), the School of Education of the University of Birmingham (Ben Kotzee) and the Centre for Education Studies of the University of Warwick (Emma Williams). Kotzee and Moretti are co-applicants for an AHRC network grant, which aims to include researchers in the USA (McCain, University of Alabama, and Harvey Siegel, University of Miami), Canada (David Bakhurst, Queen University Ontario) and Germany (Krassimir Stojanov, Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt). The first event within this project is the postgraduate and early career researcher workshop "Philosophy and Education: Exploring their interaction and dynamic relationship" at the University of Aberdeen on the 1st of May, 2019, organised by our PhD students Christos Georgakakis and Alessio Persichetti.


Spinoza and PoliticsPIs: Beth Lord (Philosophy), Andrea Teti, and Ritu Vij (both Politics). Lord’s AHRC project on Equalities of Wellbeing in Philosophy and Architecture has demonstrated how Spinoza’s philosophy can address issues in the contemporary political landscape, particularly inequalities of income and wellbeing. The current project intensifies and expands the exploration of Spinoza’s political texts, a rich but still neglected resource, in order to inform contemporary political concepts, such as equality, autonomy, and democracy, in order to inform and change public discourse. The project involves four PhD students (one of whom is funded through the Marie Curie POLITICO scheme, housed in CISRUL) and members of CISRUL. The project team has started a reading group and will organise a workshop on Spinoza and contemporary political concepts (invitees include Martin Saar [Frankfurt], Heidi Ravven [Hamilton College, US], and Anya Topolski [Nijmegen]). This event will feature a prominent public lecture on challenges to democracy, aimed at a non-academic audience. In connection with this event, Lord will co-organize a preliminary workshop in Sydney with Australian colleagues working in this area: Moira Gatens (U of Sydney), Janice Richardson (Monash University), Dimitris Vardoulakis (Univ Western Sydney), and others.


Free Will and NeurosciencePIs: Rama Chakravarthi (Psychology) and Stephan Torre (Philosophy). Some neuro-psychological studies suggest that our deeply held conviction that we freely and consciously initiate actions is illusory, and in fact predetermined by prior unconscious neural computation. This project will be the first to explore real-world moral and economic scenarios, with major implications for ethical decision-making and moral responsibility. Chakravarthi and Torre are co-applicants for an EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership and for the ESRC SGSSS Supervisor-led competition. 


Visualizations in Biomedicine. Pls: Silvia Casini (Film and Visual Culture) and Ulrich Stegmann (Philosophy).  The goal of this project is to identify and improve the theoretical and communicative benefits of visual representations in the biomedical sciences. In the first instance, we seek to develop a general descriptive framework for three major types of visual representations (images, illustrations, and data visualizations). This will facilitate identifying the various roles that visual representations can play in different contexts (e.g. in research, medical training, and the public realm). The project then seeks to develop practical recommendations for improving the effectiveness of images in these contexts. The project received a Library Subject Development Award in 2019 and led to the development of a jointly taught course for the Medical Humanities programme (‘The Medical Image’; ME33MI and FS3014).  


Genealogy in Theological Ethics. PI: Michael Laffin (Philosophy and Divinity). The goal of this project is to explore whether genealogy can be employed as a method of inquiry in theological ethics. The project will have practical importance for religious communities as it will identify the ways in which textual traditions are utilized for addressing political and societal concerns, and will seek to provide justification for such uses of these texts. Laffin has calendared all of the required steps for applying for an AHRC Early Career Research Fellowship. However, he will first sharpen the proposal with a smaller Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland Grant.  


New MaterialismsPIs: Natasha Mauthner (Business, formerly Aberdeen, now Newcastle) and Beth Lord (Philosophy). This is an interdisciplinary project involving Aberdeen colleagues in politics, sociology, language and literature, anthropology, and the Business School. The project explores variants of “new materialist” philosophy and the potential impacts of these concepts on political understanding and change. The project has strong connections with CISRUL and the Centre for Modern Thought, and the PIs will organize a workshop in 2020.


Please visit the Department of Philosophy's events page for details.