Lecturer in Political Theory

Rob Watt

  • I work mainly on the history of philosophy, especially Immanuel Kant and Henri Bergson. I also teach Political Theory.

  • My previous positions include a Junior Research Fellowship at Christ Church and a Lectureship at Cambridge.

  • Having arrived at Oxford from a comprehensive school in the Midlands, I particularly welcome applications from students at non-selective state schools and colleges which may not have a tradition of students applying to Oxford.

Rob Watt

Teaching

II teach Trinity students the second/third-year paper in Theory of Politics as well as the ‘Theory’ half of the first-year Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Politics. Theory of Politics was one of my favourite papers when I was an undergraduate - thanks to a brilliant and inspirational Oxford tutor - and it is now one of my favourite papers to teach. What could be more important than thinking carefully and critically about the nature of justice or the value of freedom, equality and democracy?

Research

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is primarily a contribution to what philosophers would now call meta-metaphysics: the branch of philosophy where we try to answer questions about metaphysics, instead of trying to answer metaphysical questions (Kant does also spend a lot of his time answering metaphysical questions!). Kant is especially keen to respond to the sort of sceptic who doubts that metaphysicians will ever add anything to the stock of human knowledge, and it is perhaps because I sympathise with this sort of sceptic that I find Kant’s project so fascinating. I am especially interested in Kant’s views about the relationship between the structure of the human mind and basic features of the natural world.

In the last two years my research has increasingly focused on Henri Bergson, a French philosopher of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bergson was world famous in his day, but he is often neglected by Anglophone historians of philosophy – you won’t find him anywhere on the Oxford philosophy syllabus! I am currently working on Bergson’s ideas about the nature of time and freedom, and on his relationship to Kant.

You can find out more about my work here.

Selected Publications

(‘Bergson on Number’, British Journal for the History of Philosophy (forthcoming)

Three Myths About Kant’s Second Antinomy’, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 101:2 (2019), 258-279

‘Hyper-Physical Influence and Pre-Established Intellectual Harmony in Kant’s Letter to Herz’, History of Philosophy Quarterly 35:3 (2018), 259-277

‘Kant’s Transcendental Deduction, Non-Conceptualism, and the Fitness-for-Purpose Objection’, Kantian Review 23:1 (2018), 65-88

‘The Location of Kant’s Refutation of Idealism’, European Journal of Philosophy 25:4 (2017), 1640-1659

Dr Watt
robert.watt@trinity.ox.ac.uk