Article on Robots in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
In April 2016 I was interviewed by John Elder from Fairfax Media about the philosophical implications of robot technology. The resulting article appeared on April 3 under the title “What happens when your robot gets just a little bit ambitious?” For an expanded version of my argument in the article, see here.
Podcast on Derrida, theology and Reformed theology
In this third podcast I begin by discussing Derrida’s cautious affirmation that “I rightly pass for an atheist”, and try to dismantle the myth that, for Derrida, God can be whatever you want him/her/it to be. I trace Derrida’s rejection of the god of onto-theology and then explain why he returns to the trope of “x without x” (religion without religion, God without God…), using the example of “messianicity without messianism” and his affirmation of a democracy to come.
I note that, while Reformed theology shares with Derrida a rejection of the God of onto-theology, absolute personality theism is nevertheless very different from both the God of metaphysics and Derrida’s own position, and that introducing absolute personality Trinitarianism into the conversation shows that ontotheology and Derrida have a number of key commitments in common. After a brief discussion of divine accommodation in Calvin I contrast messianicity without messinaism with the account of predestination in Ephesians 1, offering a note of caution with respect to Derridean openness to the other-to-come. I finish by summing up some of the principles that I have found helpful in staging an engagement between Derrida and Reformed theology.
Podcast on Derrida, ethics and Reformed theology
In this episode I talk very briefly about the growing willingness to accept, from the mid 1990s onwards, that deconstruction is indeed ethical, before tackling the myth that Derrida is a relativist. I unpack the phrase “tout autre est tout autre” (“every other is wholly other”) from Derrida’s reading of Kierkegaard on Genesis 22 and then introduce the notions of double bind and aporia in relation to Force of Law. In the second half of the episode I reflect on “tout autre est tout autre” in relation to Colossians 1:16-17, and on the difference between law and justice in the context of absolute personality theism.
Podcast on Derrida, metaphysics and Reformed theology
Recorded with the Reformed Forum in 2016. In this first of three podcasts I introduce Derrida and debunk the myth that he thinks language is meaningless or that things can mean whatever we want them to mean. I then unpack the famous phrase “il n’y a pas de hors-texte” (“there is nothing outside the text”) and the notions of logocentrism and différance, before reflecting on the creator/creature distinction and the Trinity in relation to Derridean thought.
How we Became Modern
A talk at the 2011 Cambridge University Festival of Ideas.
Program blurb: “Join Dr Watkin in his whistle-stop exploration of the birth of the ‘modern’ world: when did the west become modern, and what brought about the change? This is an introductory talk for non-specialists.”
Equality, Justice and Love
A paper given at the Cambridge Modern French Research Seminar in 2010, beginning to think about the problems inherent in defining the human being in terms of a series of capacities or capabilities, and possible ways to address those problems.
Short interview about the paper:
You can find other seminars in the same series on equality from Oliver Davis (Warwick), Martin Crowley (Cambridge) and Kevin Inston (UCL) at https://www.youtube.com/user/CamFrenchResearch
“Evangelical” as a term of public discourse
Short interview for the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme in 2008 about the contemporary use of the term “evangelical”.
Not More of the Same: Michel Serres and the Question of Alterity in Recent French Thought
A research paper given at Deakin University, Melbourne, in August 2017.