Northern Scholars Lectures 2017

Klemens Kappel

We are delighted to announce the first Northern Scholars Lectures for 2017-18.

The committee of the Northern Scholars Scheme was established in 1956. It exists to foster co-operation between scholars of Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and colleagues in the University of Edinburgh, in aspects of linguistics, and historical and other cultural studies which are common to these countries and to Scotland. In particular, the committee sponsors visits by scholars of the member countries to Edinburgh.

Dr Danita Burke of the University of Southern Denmark will present her lecture International Disputes and Cultural Ideas in the Canadian Arctic: Arctic Sovereignty in the National Consciousness. The lecture will take place on Tuesday 21st November at 17:15 – 19:00 in Martin Hall at New College, followed by a book signing. Free tickets are available here.

The Canadian relationship with its portion of the Arctic region revolves around the dramatic split between the appearance of absent-minded governance, bordering on indifference toward the region, and the raging nationalism during moments of actual and perceived challenge toward the sovereignty of the imagined “Canadian Arctic region.” This lecture will explore Canada’s relationship with the Arctic region, pushing against the common argument that the relationship is largely a reactionary phenomenon to the actual and perceived Americanization of Canada. This lecture encourages the audience to consider the complexity and nuances of the evolution of the Canadian relationship with the Arctic region in order to more fully appreciate the implications of this relationship on Canada’s approach toward international relations pertaining to the Arctic region.

Professor Klemens Kappel of the University of Copenhagen will present his lecture Freedom of Expression, Diversity and Truth. The lecture will take place on Tuesday 5th December at 16:00 – 18:00 in Room F21, 7 George Square, followed by a drinks reception. Free tickets are available here.

Why should we value freedom of expression? One reason dating back at least to the British philosopher JS Mill is that freedom of expressions allows a variety of views to be expressed, and this diversity of opinions in the public sphere promotes truth or knowledge. Being exposed to a variety of different views makes enables us better to appreciate the true views, or the best arguments. In the long run, truth prevails. Freedom of speech, as has been said, secures a market place of ideas. In my talk, I examine the idea that diversity benefits deliberation in detail. There are several importantly different forms of diversity that might be relevant for promoting truth or knowledge through deliberation. Also, there is a variety of more distinct mechanisms by which diversity is claimed to promote truth or knowledge. In my talk, I will characterise several of these and critically discuss them. Moreover, I will relate this to the justification of free speech, and to the general norms governing how we should speak to one another.