The London Lecture Series

The Institute's Royal status was granted in 1947, it is said in recognition of the fact that its public lectures carried on through the wartime blitz.  The Institute's main activity at the time was providing elementary lecture courses to non-professional philosophers, and although the Institute now engages in a variety of charitable undertakings, the London Lecture Series carries on, each Friday evening, more or less as it did during the blitz.  The Institute's lectures have always been and remain free and open to the general public.

Through an agreement with the Cambridge University Press, each series is published, and all members of the Institute can receive a copy at a reduced rate.


Recent series have been on the following topics:

  • Logic, Thought and Language
  • Modern Moral Philosophy
  • Philosophy, Biology and Life
  • Political Philosophy
  • The Philosophy of Science
  • Epistemology
  • Conceptions of Philosophy

Details of the current series, on Religion, can be found HERE.

The Annual Lecture

Since 1998, the Institute has held an annual lecture, bringing a philosopher of international standing to London to give a talk on the topic of his or her choosing.  The lecture is usually published in the Institute's journal Philosophy.

Past Annual Lectures have been:

  • Thomas Nagel, 'Conceiving the Impossible and the Mind-Body Problem'
  • Alasdair MacIntyre, 'Social Structures and their Threats to Moral Agency'
  • Bernard Williams, 'Philosophy as a Humanist Discipline'
  • John Searle, 'Freedom of the Will as a Problem in Nurobiology'
  • Mary Warnock, 'What is Natural and Should We Care About It?'
  • Jürgen Habermas, 'Religious Tolerance ? The Pacemaker for Cultural
  • Rights'
  • Noam Chomsky, 'Simple Truths, Hard Choices: Some Thoughts on Terror, Justice and Self-defence'
  • John McDowell, 'Intention in Action'
  • Jerry Fodor, 'The Revenge of the Given:  Mental Representation without Conceptualization'
  • Sir Anthony Kenny, 'Knowledge, Belief and Faith:  Is Religion Really the Root of all Evil?' 
  • T. M. Scanlon, 'Reassessing Reasons'

The 2009 Annual Lecture will be given by Simon Blackburn at 5.30 p.m. on 13 February 2009 at the New Theatre, East Building, LSE, Aldwych, London WC2. His talk is called 'The Sovereignty of Reason?'.

All of the Institute's lectures are free and open to the public. No reservations can be taken, so you are advised to arrive early to be sure of a seat.

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