The Philosophy of Penelope Mackie: A Memorial Conference  

Penelope Mackie (1953-2022) was a long-time member and former Head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. Her philosophical contributions span the areas of (1) essence, modality, identity; (2) philosophy of mind; (3) causation and counterfactuals; and (4) free will and determinism.

A superbly perceptive critic, Penelope is best known for her 2006 book How Things Might Have Been, in which she argued that our essential properties place little constraint on what we could have been. Hence, you could have been a poached egg. Her most recent work provides invigorating contributions to debates about neo-Aristotelian essentialism (in constructive opposition to the work of Kit Fine), Transworld identity, persistence, and the nature of perceptual experience. This conference will celebrate Penelope’s life and work.  

Topic areas

  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Action
  • Philosophy of Mind

The conference will begin at 2pm on Wednesday 3rd July and finish by 6pm on Friday 5th July. On the Wednesday there will be an opening lecture followed by speeches, before the philosophical talks begin (the first talk will be at 4pm on Wednesday). The conference will be fully hybrid, with online and in-person attendance available for all sessions.  

Penelope had an immense influence on generations of students. To celebrate this, we would like to include papers by any current and recent PhD students. If you would like to be included in the programme, please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words, for a paper that can be presented in 20 minutes, to Neil Sinclair (email below) by 30th March 2024.  

Unfortunately we did not have space on the programme to invite all the speakers we would have liked to invite. We realise that Penelope’s work and infectious good humour touched many people – if you would like to share your memories of Penelope by contributing to the speeches on Wednesday, please contact Neil Sinclair: 

The conference is open to all and everyone is welcome. The full conference programme will be posted on this page shortly. The conference is generously supported by: The Aristotelian Society; The School of Humanities at the University of Nottingham.

There is no conference fee, but we ask that those attending (whether online or in person) to please complete the registration process.

Date and Location

Wednesday 3 July - Friday 5 July 

A01 and A02, Highfield House, University Park


Register here.

Conference organisers

Neil Sinclair

Conference essentials

Getting to the University

Parking on campus


If you require accommodation we recommend the on-campus Orchard Hotel 

Orchard Hotel


  • Bill Brewer
    King's College London
  • Benjamin L. Curtis
    Nottingham Trent University
  • John Fischer
    University of California, Riverside
  • Antonella Mallozzi
    Providence College
  • Howard Robinson
    Central European University
  • Sonia Roca-Royes
    University of Stirling
  • Helen Steward
    University of Leeds
  • Matthew Tugby
    Durham University
  • Helen Beebee
    University of Leeds
  • Kit Fine
    New York University

Paper Abstracts

Paper Abstracts


British Society for the Philosophy of Science (BSPS)


Aristotelian society logo
The Aristotelian Society


MIND Association

Call for papers

Your paper must engage with some aspect of Penelope's work, and can fall under any of the four topics.

  • Essence, modality, identity
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Causation and counterfactuals
  • Free will and determinism

This call is open to all current and recent PhD students. 

(The conference has some limited funds to pay for UK-based travel and accommodation, and an option to present online will be available.)


  • All conference spaces are fully accessible and rooms for conference sessions have hearing loop fitted (all speakers will be asked to use microphones). Disabled parking is available nearby.
  • Conference venue will include a quiet (low-sensory environment) space, and seating will be available in communal areas.
  • Delegates are encouraged to use our AccessAble app: 
  • Please feel free to contact the conference organiser ( for any accessibility queries.
  • Accessibility requirements  can be noted during the delegate registration process.
  • Online attendance available.
  • Delegate pack will include detailed information regarding the venue, transport links, emergency contact etc.


The University of Nottingham
University Park

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5151