Truth Telling: Elements of a Philosophical Critique of Eugenics by Rob Wilson


Acknowledgement of country: we respectfully acknowledge the past and present Traditional Custodians of the land on which we will be meeting. The team based in Darwin acknowledges the Larrakia people; and the team based in Perth acknowledges the Noongar people. It is a privilege to be meeting on both Larrakia country and Noongar country. We extend this respect to all First Australians, and to all Indigenous Peoples.

Friday, 9 July 2021, Meeting 1: Elements of A Philosophical Critique of Eugenics

9:30-11:30 AM ACST / 8:00-10:00 AM AWST: Truth Telling Webinar: Elements of A Philosophical Critique of Eugenics. This webinar was an interactive conversation with Professor Rob Wilson (University of Western Australia). In this first part of the workshop, Rob provides an introduction to his own introduction to eugenics 20 years ago, his subsequent work in building oral histories through collaborations with eugenics survivors in Canada, and the relevance of that community-focused engagement for marginalised groups in contemporary Australia.


Rob Wilson (http://robwilsonphilosophy.com) was born in Broken Hill, where he spent much of his childhood, moving to Perth during his primary school years. After completing a PhD at Cornell University in New York in 1992, Rob built an international reputation teaching and researching in Canada and the United States of America before taking up a position at La Trobe University in 2017. Since 2019, he has been professor of philosophy at the University of Western Australia. Rob explores fundamental questions in the cognitive, biological, and social sciences, and takes philosophy into non-university spaces, such as school classrooms and public events.

For the past decade, the study of eugenics has been Rob’s research and community-engagement focus. His work here continues in modified form in the Australian context, with interests in cultural forms of eugenics (such as Indigenous child removal practices) and technology and social policy. Rob’s most notable career achievements include his directorship of the five-year project ‘Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada’ as part of which he hosted 80 public events and helped to build the public resources at EugenicsArchive.ca, and his longstanding commitment to his ‘Philosophy in the Schools’ project in which he directed the first Western Australia Conference in Philosophy for Children in 1986 and founded Philosophy for Children Alberta in 2008. Feel free to drop Rob a note at rwilson DOT robert AT gmail DOT com, or check out what he has written at PhilPapers, searching for “Robert A. Wilson”.

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