Beth Lord in Australia

Beth Lord will be presenting research related to the Equalities of Wellbeing project in Sydney and Wollongong this month:

18-25 August: 5-day postgraduate seminar on Human Nature and the Construction of the State: Hobbes and Spinoza, University of Sydney

20 August: Research seminar on “Ratios and Relational Autonomy” at the University of Wollongong

22 August: Research seminar on “Ratios and Relational Autonomy” in the SHAPE seminar, University of Sydney

26 August: Paper on “Debt, charity, and redistribution in Spinoza’s state” at the workshop Human Nature and the Construction of the State: Hobbes and Spinoza, University of Sydney


Spinoza and Relational Autonomy Workshop


Beth Lord will be presenting her research from the Equalities of Wellbeing project at this workshop, immediately following SEP-FEP 2014.

Originally posted on spinoza research network:

6 September 2014

University of Groningen

Organization: Andrea Sangiacomo

Speakers: Matt Kisner, Keith Green, Ursula Renz, Beth Lord

Spinoza’s philosophy has been both celebrated and reviled for its strict commitment to a kind of naturalism, according to which all aspects of human beings are to be understood in fundamentally the same way that we understand any other natural phenomena. Spinoza takes this to imply, most controversially, that our volitions are determined by prior causes, which leads him to deny that humans possess free will in the sense of a spontaneous power for determining one’s own actions in isolation from external things. Although one might take this to imply that Spinoza rules out the possibility of freedom and autonomy, Spinoza insists on the possibility and importance of freedom, a form of self-determination, which philosophers today would describe as autonomy. This workshop aims to bring together scholars interested in the nature of…

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Catch the Equalities of Wellbeing team at SEP-FEP 2014

Beth Lord, Peg Rawes, and Christopher Thomas will be presenting papers at the annual joint conference of the Society for European Philosophy and the Forum for European Philosophy (SEP-FEP 2014) at the University of Utrecht, Sept. 3-5, 2014.

We are delighted to be joined by Caroline Williams on our panel, “Self-Determination in Spinoza: Interdisciplinary Approaches”, on Sept. 5.

Beth Lord – ‘Spinoza’s Ratios and Relational Autonomy’

Peg Rawes – Spinoza’s Geometric Thinking and Housing Rights’

Christopher Thomas – ‘Spinoza’s Problem of Indeterminacy and Melville’s Bartleby’

Caroline Williams – ‘Thinking Nature After Spinoza: Towards a Morphology of Subjectivity’

SEP-FEP is the largest annual conference of continental philosophy in Europe. Programme, information and registration information can be found here:

Workshop: Human Nature and the Construction of the State: Hobbes and Spinoza


Beth Lord will be speaking at this workshop in Sydney on her research stemming from the Equalities of Wellbeing project.

Originally posted on spinoza research network:


Human Nature and the Construction of the State: Hobbes and Spinoza

Time: 26th August, 9.00 am – 5 pm

Place: Muniment Room, Main Quad, University of Sydney

Organiser: Anik Waldow


9.15-10.30 Duncan Ivison (Sydney): “Hobbesian Liberty”

10.45-12.00 Daniel Garber (Princeton): “Hobbes vs. Spinoza on Human Nature”

12.00-1.15 Moira Gatens (Sydney): “Spinoza on Human Nature … As It Really Is …”

2.15-3.30 Michael LeBuffe (Otago): “Hobbes and Spinoza on the Individual and the State”

3.45-5.00 Beth Lord (Aberdeen): “Debt, Charity, and Redistribution in Spinoza’s State”

This event has been made possible with the support of the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science and the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry of the University of Sydney.


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Equalities of Wellbeing Housing Workshop, UCL

This first event brought together our advisory group members, Alex Ely (Mae Architects), Deborah Garvie (Shelter), Brian Quinn (CABE/Design Council), Phil Hamilton (Peter Barber Architects) together with Sarah Wigglesworth (Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and University of Sheffield), Andrea Phillips (Goldsmiths) in a series of discussions which enabled us to draw out links between contemporary architectural and urban design understandings of wellbeing, equality and, importantly in the present time, inequality that informs the disciplines. Held at UCL, it was attended by colleagues and students from UCL and other UK institutions, together with architects and members of the public as part of UCL’s Urban Lab ‘Cities Methodologies’ week of events.

Beginning with technical concerns about standards of provision, Alex and Deborah highlighted how the Government’s current housing standards review follows the guidance on minimum space standards that Alex and CABE have worked on, together with Design for London’s design guide, and which – if implemented – would go some way towards the still much-valued Parker Morris Space Standards. Deborah also very usefully emphasised that the capacity for implementation is vastly increased if standards were to be put into the industry’s building regulations, rather than as political policy.   In the second panel Brian and Phil addressed design and wellbeing relations within the urban context, bringing out issues including infrastructural design (transport), and mobilising the social space of the Southern-European street for driving housing design concepts, as well as housing for the vulnerable where the ‘front door’ is also a key constituent of the individual ‘home’.  In the final session Sarah and Andrea’s discussions brought in the perspective of the rights of the individual&community, where choice enables wellbeing and ‘agency’ for the specific needs of a community (such as the elderly).

Discussions which did not get unpacked during the day – and noted in the summing up by Andrew Saint (Survey of London UCL), and Anne Bottomley (University of Kent) – were issues of land value and property speculation and the long-term management of housing, as aspects that have historically, and currently, very actively determine the capacity of an individual/community’s wellbeing/equality. So very clearly highlighting material for Part 2 of the discussion within the next months….

Beth Lord’s reflections on “Equalities of Wellbeing and Housing” workshop

Our first project event yesterday was a great success, with 6 speakers, 2 respondents, and some very high quality discussion. Much of the material was new to me, making it all the more interesting to think about ways of linking current housing design debates with Spinoza.

For example, it became clear through the presentations that the concept of wellbeing must be understood to be dynamic: it changes with people’s circumstances. This was particularly thematic in Sarah Wigglesworth’s presentation of the DWELL project, which is focused on designing housing for older people. But it also emerged in Andrea Phillips’s paper on how we might develop art – and public art – in housing developments for differing (and maybe unforeseen) kinds of wellbeing rather than in the interests of privatization. Phil Hamilton’s discussion of the projects of Peter Barber Architects, and Brian Quinn’s presentation on CABE’s Building for Life report, also drew this out: different kinds of wellbeing may be served by different, context-specific, approaches to the design of housing and public space. A surprise question that arose was whether access to a car improves wellbeing or not – which reminded me of Anthony Paul Smith’s paper in Spinoza Beyond Philosophy which treats this as a Spinozistic question of “personal capacity vs. environmental responsibility”.

It was also great to hear the development of discussions we’ve previously had with Alex Ely of mae Architects and Deborah Garvie of Shelter; and wonderful to have the interdisciplinary contributions of lawyer Anne Bottomley and historian Andrew Saint.

My own contribution to the day took the form of live-tweeting: a new experience for me, and one that helped me to understand the potentialities of Twitter as a mode of networking and broadcast.