Each year, Rotman Institute members organize and participate in reading and working groups exploring philosophical questions from a wide range of fields. Listed below are the groups organized for the 2020-21 academic year. Meetings this year will be held virtually, and dates & times vary. Learn more about each group, or join by inquiring with the group’s main contact person.

AI Ethics Reading Group

The AI Ethics reading group plans to discuss a variety of topics concerning the social implications of artificial intelligence (broadly construed). The initial focus will be on the challenges posed by currently existing AI technologies and their ethical and political impact, as well as solutions to these challenges. We’ll be discussing data privacy, algorithmic bias, opacity and transparency, AI governance, and many related questions. The group will be meeting every other Tuesday at 4:00 pm EST. For more information and if you’d like to participate, please contact Bartek Chomanski.

Embodiment and Social Psychology Working Group

This working group is a part of the EMRG Lab, supervised by Michael Anderson, and is open to anyone interested in topics of embodiment and social psychology and cognition. The group meets twice a month, reading contemporary texts during the first week and opening the floor for a discussion of student-run projects and research during the second week. Student-run projects stem from and/or are related to the content of the chosen readings. Initiating or participating in a student-led project is not necessary but encouraged. Please contact Hershy Jaiprakash if interested in participating.

Lab Associates Basic Training

This program is for graduate students (primarily in philosophy) who want to acquire some basic knowledge of psychology and neuroscience, including experimental methods and data analysis. The goal is to place graduates of the program in a BMI lab to further their training in and ability to contribute to empirical research. Many graduates of the program have gone on to co-author scientific papers. This is highly recommended for any students with an interest in philosophy of science. Meetings will take place bi-weekly on Tuesdays at 5:00 pm EST. Please contact Mike Anderson if interested in participating.

Philosophy and Cognitive Science Reading Group

The Philosophy and Cognitive Science Reading Group is open to anyone interested in the intersection between cognitive science and philosophy. Meetings are held biweekly on Wednesdays at 2:00 pm EST. In the Winter 2021 semester the group is hosting a guest speaker dialogue with Karen Adolph (New York University) on February 5. Please contact Ed Baggs if interested in participating.

Philosophy of Physics Reading Group

The Philosophy of Physics Reading Group is made up of some faculty and graduate students in the philosophy of physics. Most of the reading is quite technical, so either a good background in physics or mathematics or a willingness to acquire it is required to get the most out of the group. In addition to more pure philosophy of physics, we sometimes read and discuss some history of physics that’s of relevance to the philosophical development of physics. Meetings will take place every other week on Fridays at 11:00 am EST. Please contact Niels Linneman if interested in participating.

Synthetic Biology and Philosophy Reading Group

This interdisciplinary reading group will meet twice a month to discuss various philosophical issues arising in the context of synthetic biology. Meetings this semester, will be held on Mondays at 2:00 pm EST. Please contact Eric Desjardins if interested in participating.

Trust and Social Bonds Reading Group

Crucial to our well-being and survival are social bonds that allow us to depend on one another. The COVID-19 crisis has made this fact all too clear. But these bonds depend on trust, which in some societies or relationships is in short supply. How can trust be enhanced where it is lacking or preserved where it exists, particularly in societies marked by systemic inequalities? This reading group will centre on this question, which is deeply interdisciplinary. We will focus on what philosophy can contribute by way of an answer, particularly feminist philosophy, but will also welcome other disciplinary perspectives. Meetings for the fall term will be held virtually on every other Thursday from 3:00 – 4:30 pm. View a copy of the reading list here. Please contact Carolyn McLeod if interested in participating.

Well-being Reading Group

This group will resume meetings in the winter term. The focus will be Michael Bishop’s The Good Life: Unifying the Philosophy and Psychology of Well-being. The book is very accessible and should be of interest to people working in normative ethics, bioethics, and the philosophy of science (especially science and values). Meeting times are TBD. Please contact Jordan Craib if interested in participating.


The calendar below includes events that are colour-coded as follows: Rotman Speakers Series, Lectures & Dialogues (dark green); Rotman Member Events (light green); Philosophy Department Colloquium Series (red); Philosophy Department Member Events (pink); dates from Western Academic Term (purple).