The Gavin David Young Lectures in Philosophy

The Gavin David Young Lectures bring a distinguished philosopher to the University of Adelaide to deliver a public lecture for the promotion, advancement, teaching and diffusion of the study of philosophy.

The next lecture, ‘Origins of the A-B Theory Debate and G. E. Moore’, will be delivered by Associate Professor Emily Thomas on July 13, 2023.

The lecture owes its existence to a bequest made by Jessie Frances Raven in memory of her father, the late Gavin David Young. The first lecture in this prestigious series was delivered in 1956 by Gilbert Ryle, and subsequent lecturers have included W V O Quine, Donald Davidson, David Lewis, Daniel Dennett, Hilary Putnam, and Frank Jackson, among other distinguished philosophers.

Commencing from 2022, the lecture will take place not less than biennially. After being presented, each lecture is revised and a written text subsequently published open access as an issue of The Gavin David Young Lectures in Philosophy.

The lectures are administered and published by the  Department of Philosophy on behalf of the University of Adelaide. We acknowledge the support of the  School of Humanities in the Faculty of Arts, Business, Law, and Economics.

Gavin David Young

Gavin David Young (1825–1881) arrived in South Australia in 1848 not long after the founding of the colony. He took up land at Mintaro with his brothers, and was afterwards in business at Watervale. Upon the opening of the Wallaroo Mines in 1860 he was appointed Superintendent, and acted in that capacity for some time. His role in the Yorke Penninsula copper miners strike of 1864 is documented in Peter Bell (1998) ‘The power of respectful remonstrance: the Wallaroo and Moonta miners’ strike of 1864’, Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia 26 : 55–68. He travelled to England in 1867, but returned to reside in Adelaide in 1871, where he was a Director of the Mercantile Marine Insurance Company, the Bank of South Australia, and the Wallaroo and Moonta Mining Companies until returning to England again in 1878. He died in Pau, France, after a long illness. The lectures were established in his memory by his only daughter, Jessie Frances Raven, who bequeathed £3000 to the University on her death in 1924.

Origins of the A-B Theory Debate and G. E. Moore

The 14th Gavin David Young Lecture in Philosophy will be presented by Associate Professor Emily Thomas from Durham University. 

Abstract - J. M. E. McTaggart’s 1908 ‘The Unreality of Time’ is rightly recognised as sparking the debate between philosophers who hold the ‘real nature’ of time to be an A-series, and those who take it to be a B-series. Bertrand Russell has been described as the ‘father’ of B-theory, but the parentage of A-theory is murky. This paper argues we should look to fellow ‘new realist’ G. E. Moore, who espoused anti-realism about time until late 1898 and then became a ‘common-sense’ A-theorist and presentist. I put Moore’s shifting views in context, explore his positions, and argue he owes a great debt to ‘old realist’ Henry Sidgwick.

The lecture will take place on Thursday 13th July 2023 on the North Terrace Campus in the Napier Building, lecture theatre G04, 6:00pm–7:30pm. It is open to the public, and there will be time for Q&A from the audience.

About the Lecturer

Emily Thomas is Associate Professor in Philosophy at Durham University in the UK, and an Honorary Fellow at the ACU Dianoia Institute of Philosophy. Her scholarly research has focussed on space and time in the history of philosophy, from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, and on early modern women metaphysicians. She is also committed to bringing philosophy to audiences outside the academy, notably through her trade book The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad, and through popular articles, podcasts, and radio. In 2020, Thomas was awarded a Leverhulme Prize for excellence in research, and her research has also received funding from the AHRC, the Netherlands Research Council, and the British Academy. She tweets regularly about philosophy at @emilytwrites.

The Gavin David Young Lectures in Philosophy (ISSN 2653-5378) is a peer-reviewed online open access journal devoted to publishing articles based on the titular lectures. Publication is by invitation only; we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Antony Eagle  is the current editor of the published lectures.

The first lecture in the rejuvenated series is ‘Poverty and Blame’ by the 2022 lecturer, Prof Jeanette Kennett. This will be published on this website later in 2023.

Details of the original series of lectures and their subsequent publication history, where known, follow in the table below.

Year Lecturer Topic Publication notes
1956 Gilbert Ryle Thinking


1959 Willard Van Orman Quine Terms and Objects

Quine’s lectures were subsequently published in W V O Quine (1960) Word and Object, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

1963 Antony Flew The Presuppositions of Immortality


1965 Herbert Feigl Towards a Philosophy for Our Age of Science


1968 Donald Davidson Agency and Causality

Davidson’s lectures were based on drafts of material subsequently published in Donald Davidson (1980) Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford: Oxford University Press

1971 David Lewis The Paradoxes of Time Travel

An abridged version of this lecture was published as David Lewis (1976) ‘The Paradoxes of Time Travel’, American Philosophical Quarterly 13: 145–52. The full lectures were published in David Lewis (2022) Philosophical Manuscripts, Frederique Janssen-Lauret and Fraser Macbride, eds., Oxford: Oxford University Press.

1979 Carl G Hempel Science and Rationality: Analytics vs Pragmatic Perspectives

The manuscript of Hempel’s lectures are in Series 3, Subseries 5 of the Carl Gustav Hempel Papers, 1903-1997, ASP.1999.01, Archives of Scientific Philosophy, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System.

1984 Daniel C Dennett Conscious Experience and Intentionality

Dennett’s lectures were subsequently published in Daniel Dennett (1987) The Intentional Stance, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press

1987 J J C Smart Our Place in the Universe

Smart’s lectures were subsequently published as J J C Smart (1989) Our Place in the Universe, Oxford: Blackwell.

1998 Hilary Putnam Mind and Body

Audio recordings of Putnam’s lectures; another version of ‘Non-Scientific Knowledge’.

2007 Simon Blackburn Truth, Ethics, History, and Philosophy and the University  
2012 Frank Jackson Philosophy for Representationalists