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The D Society overview

The D Society is the main senior seminar in the faculty for Philosophy of Religion and Ethics. It is chaired by Professor Sarah Coakley.

Professor Donald Mackinnon
Professor Donald Mackinnon

Papers are invited from a wide range of philosophers, philosophers of religion and ethicists, both internal to Cambridge and from outside. A short response paper from a graduate student or faculty member usually opens the discussion.

Founded in 1921 by Professor James Bethune-Baker, the D Society was originally a subscription society intended to supplement the (then) predominantly biblical emphases of the faculty to include doctrinal and philosophical discussion. Under Professor Donald MacKinnon's chairmanship it became the main locus in the university for the interaction between senior members of the Philosophy and Divinity faculties; and under Professor Nicholas Lash it was transformed into a regular senior seminar in the faculty. 

The seminar is open to all interested members of the University, and to visitors who may wish to attend. Graduate students in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics are encouraged to come from the beginning of their programme and to make the seminars, and the enjoyable tea that follows, a place of regular interaction.

Members of the D Society are also encouraged to attend the regular public lectures in Philosophy of Religion, including the Stanton Lectures.


Michaelmas Term 2017 Progamme

Meetings will normally be held in the Faculty of Divinity on Fridays at 2.00 pm (unless indicated otherwise) in the Lightfoot Room, (Tea at 4.00 pm in the Selwyn Room)

(but note that the first meeting of term begins at 3.00pm, followed by a welcoming wine reception for the start of the academic year, 5.00 pm in the Selwyn Room)

  • October 13, 3.00 pm – ‘Divine Simplicity and Divine Freedom’ - Professor Brian Leftow (Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, Oriel College, Oxford)
  • October 27, 2.00 pm - ‘What is the meaning of monotheism?: Comparing philosophical and biblical-rabbinic understandings and their human implications’ Dr Daniel Weiss (Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge)
  • November 10, ‘Naturalism and Supernaturalism:  Beyond the Divide – A Debate’ - Professor Sir Roger Scruton (independent writer, philosopher) and Professor Fiona Ellis (Heythrop College, University of London)
  • November 24, ‘Why we need Avicenna to Know what Aquinas Meant by “Being”’ - Dr. Daniel De Haan (Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge; post-doctoral fellow in Theology, Philosophy of Religion and the Sciences)