Living in a Material World: A Philosophical Perspective


A day exploring key philosophical topics relating to mind, meaning and metaphysics with Professor David Papineau, one of the world’s leading researchers in these fields. Papineau is one of Britain’s best-known and most highly-regarded philosophers, with a reputation for writing very accessible, inclusive books intended for a wide audience. 

Papineau believes that we live in a natural, material world. However, there are notorious philosophical puzzles about how such a material world is able to accommodate things like consciousness, moral value and meaning. How, in particular, is it even possible for a material thing, such as a human being, to be conscious? Is it possible for a pain or some other conscious experience to be something physical, such as a brain state? And how do these squiggles, or sounds in the air, come to mean something? What is meaning, exactly?

Once we start thinking philosophically about mind and meaning, they can begin to seem almost magical – as something that the natural, material world could not possibly, by itself, contain or produce. So can mind and meaning be naturalized, and if so, how?

The day comprises three lectures – on mind, meaning and metaphysics – and a final session in which David Papineau is in conversation with Stephen Law.

Please note: this event will close to enrolments at 23:59 UTC on 6 December 2023.

Programme details

Registration at Rewley House reception (in-person attendees only)


Tea/coffee break




Tea/coffee break

In conversation with Stephen Law

End of day


Description Costs
Course Fee - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £99.00
Course Fee - virtual attendance £90.00
Baguette lunch £6.50
Hot lunch (3 courses) £17.60


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Prof David Papineau


David Papineau is Professor of Philosophy at King’s College London. He has been President of the Mind Association, the Aristotelian Society and the British Society for Philosophy of Science. His books include Theory and Meaning (1980), Philosophical Naturalism (1992), Philosophical Devices (2012), Knowing the Score (2017) and The Metaphysics of Sensory Experience (2021). He is currently working on causation.

Dr Stephen Law


Stephen Law is a Departmental Lecturer in Philosophy and Director of the Certificate of Higher Education at OUDCE. His research focuses on the philosophy of mind, language, metaphysics and on philosophy of religion. He also writes many accessible online articles and edits the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK: Philosophy for Everyone.


Please use the 'Book' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this event. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.