Monthly Archives: April 2016



Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor for Channel 4 News*


DATE: Thursday 12 May 2016

TIME: 16:30

PLACE: George Square Lecture Theatre, George Square, EH8 9LH

Tickets can be reserved on Eventbrite (by 28 April 2016).


Lindsey is a renowned TV journalist and writer. Recently she reported the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe and Lebanon and the Paris terror attacks, as well as conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, and Mali. She covered the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the genocide in Rwanda, as well as witnessing the Arab Spring uprisings in Libya and Egypt. From 2006-8 she was based in China. She is the author of Sandstorm; Libya in the Time of Revolution, which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and is currently writing a biography of Marie Colvin, the war correspondent who was killed in Syria in 2012.

She was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Essex in 2004, and has won several awards including the Royal Television Society Journalist of the Year, James Cameron Award, One World Broadcasting Trust Award, Voice of the Viewer and Listener, and the Charles Wheeler Award. In 2015, Lindsey Hilsum was awarded the Mungo Park Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society by HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal and Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

The lecture will be a first-hand account of war reporting. Lindsey will discuss the new ways refugees and reporters try to overcome restrictions on movement and information. Governments and rebel groups use increasingly brutal methods to stop journalists from seeing what’s really going on while, under the pressure of mass migration, Europe has re-imposed borders that had melted away. In reponse, new virtual geographies are being created as citizen journalists send videos by Youtube and refugees resort to smugglers and move cash through cyberspace.

The Wreford Watson Lecture series commemorates the life and work of James Wreford Watson (1915-1990), the distinguished geographer and poet, who held a chair at the University of Edinburgh (from 1953 to 1983) and who served as Chief Geographer to the Canadian Government.




Professor David Davies at SAF

David Davies (McGill): Descriptivism and its Discontents
28th April 2016 – 4:00 pm, Edinburgh

For more information, or to contact us, please visit:

Julian Dodd has recently argued against what he terms ‘local descriptivism’ as a meta-ontological principle in the philosophy of art. Dodd distinguishes local descriptivism from another meta-ontological view, ‘folk-theoretic modesty.’ The two views differ as to the relationship between the folk-theoretic beliefs about artworks implicit in our practices and the correct ontology of art for particular art forms. The local descriptivist thinks that the folk-theoretic beliefs in some way determine the ontological characters of artworks, whereas proponents of folk-theoretic modesty think that properly rigorous philosophical inquiry in accordance with the demands of “mainstream metaphysics” can lead us to rightly conclude that our folk ontology of art is seriously in error. Dodd takes his objections to descriptivism as counting equally against the idea that the ontology of art is by its very nature constrained by artistic practice. I argue, against Dodd, that according a grounding role to artistic practice in the ontology of art need not conflict with the demands of meta-ontological realism and can allow for both practices and folk beliefs about those practices to be revised. Practice, I argue, must ground our ontological inquiries into the nature of artworks of various kinds because the ontologist’s task is to make sense of the practices into which such artworks enter. But neither the practices themselves nor our folk beliefs about those practices are sacrosanct. In taking ontology of art to be reflectively accountable to artistic practice, I also reject Thomasson’s global descriptivism in the ontology of art. My objection, however, is independent of the merits of Thomasson’s ‘easy view’ in metaphysics more generally. Rather, I argue, she misunderstands the nature of the questions that ontologists of art are asking. Ontology of art is by its very nature reflective and potentially revisionary of certain aspects of our practice. It involves not conceptual analysis but the codification of a practice in a way that clarifies the role played by certain things in that practice.

About the speaker
David Davies is Professor of Philosophy at McGill University where he has taught since 1987. His research and publications span a wide range of topics in aesthetics including film, literature, music, performance, and the visual arts, as well as issues in metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of mind and language. He is the author of three monographs: Art as Performance (Blackwell, 2004); Aesthetics and Literature (Continuum, 2007); and Philosophy of the Performing Arts (Blackwell, 2011). For more information, please visit Professor Davies’ website:

Additional information
The lecture will be followed by a dinner with our speaker. Please inform the organisers by Sunday, 24th April if you would like to join us for dinner.
There are limited funds to cover dinner expenses for two students, offered on a first-come-first-served basis.