Cattedra Rotelli

Cattedra Rotelli

Lectures 2020 Philip Pettit

Philip Pettit is L.S.Rockefeller University Professor of Human Values at Princeton University and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University. He has worked in a range of areas, including ethical and political theory; the theory of collective and corporate agency; and the philosophy of mind. He has published a number of books in those areas, including over the last decade Made with Words (PUP 2008), Group Agency (with C.List, OUP 2011), Just Freedom (Norton 2014), The Robust Demands of the Good (OUP 2014), and The Birth of Ethics (OUP 2018). He gave the Tanner Lectures in Human Values in Berkeley in 2015 and the John Locke Lectures in Philosophy in Oxford 2019. Common Minds: Themes from the Philosophy of Philip Pettit appeared from OUP in 2007, edited by Geoffrey Brennan et al. 

Lessons program

The theme of the lectures is the constitutive dependence of characteristic mental capacities on the ability to communicate in words or similar signs, and the social life it makes possible. The claim defended is that language is more or less bound to generate certain distinctive mental capacities, which are not themselves presupposed to having language. The method followed is to explore, counterfactually, how the advent of even a simple, information-sharing language would elicit the capacities in subjects otherwise like us.

Minds with words, so the argument goes, will more or less inevitably 1. decide about how to judge and what to think; 2. control their thinking by rule-based reasoning; 3. enjoy a special perceptual consciousness; 4. make commitments and form community; 5. assume responsibility for what they do; and 6. constitute persons and selves. Is language necessary for the capacities it is said to catalyze? Perhaps not, at least in the case of the first three, more purely psychological abilities. But even if they might exist without language—nothing is said about that topic here—the important point is that language itself does not presuppose them.


  • 17 June 2020, 10.00 – 12.30 - Aula Newton Lecture 1. Minds with words decide how to judge and what to
  • 17 June 2020, 14.30 – 17.00 -  Aula Newton Lecture 2. Minds with words control their thought by rule-based reasoning     
  • 18 June 2020, 10.00 – 12.30 - Aula Newton Lecture 3. Minds with words enjoy a special perceptual consciousness       
  • 18 June 2020, 14.30 – 17.00 - Aula Newton Lecture 4. Minds with words form commitments and community                
  • 19 June 2020, 10.00 – 12.00 - Aula Newton  Lecture 5. Minds with words assume responsibility for what they do          
  • 19 June 2020, 14.30 – 17.00 - Aula Newton Lecture 6. Minds with words constitute persons and selves 
Abstract How Language Powers the Mind-2020

Not only words: seminars to prepare lessons for Cattedra Rotelli

Seminars to prepare lessons for Cattedra Rotelli.

  • 27 aprile, 14.00-16.00 - Alessandro Ferrara e Greta Favara : la filosofia politica di Philip Pettit
  • 14 maggio, 14.00-16.00 - Alessandro Salice e Francesca Forlè: l'intenzionalità collettiva in Philip Pettit
  • 18 maggio, 14.00-16.00 - Ian Carter: la concezione della libertà secondo Philip Pettit