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Calendar and Events


Putting Social Epistemology of Science Into Practice - Professor Helen Longino           

The role of background assumptions in determining the evidential relevance of observational data to hypotheses seems to put claims for scientific objectivity in jeopardy.  What I call strong social epistemology argues that this so-called underdetermination problem is best addressed by bringing the social interactions within science into the orbit of epistemology.  The talk will develop this argument and suggest how the epistemological norms of social epistemology can be deployed in environmental science.

Prof. Longino is the Clarence Irving Lewis Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. 

Thursday, 4/14/16 at 6:30pm in the Alumni Hall of Randolph Hall


The Anthropocene: Love it or Leave it - Professor Dale Jamieson           

This is a special colloquium in honor of Ned Hettinger’s retirement – a talk by Prof. Dale Jamieson, Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy at New York University The Anthropocene: Love it or Leave it on Tuesday, 3/15/2016 in the EHHP Alumni Center

Prof. Jamieson is a prolific author whose most recent academic works are Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed--and What It Means For Our Future (Oxford, 2014) and Love in the Anthropocene (OR, 2015), a collection of short stories & essays written with the novelist, Bonnie Nadzam.


From Subjective Physicalism to Pansychism - Professor Robert J. Howell           

According to Subjective Physicalism, the world is completely made of physical stuff, but certain parts of the world can only be fully understood by subjects who instantiate certain physical states.  One challenge for this approach to the mind/body problem is that subjective physicalism might collapse into a form of panpsychism, according to which consciousness is everywhere, even in sticks, stones, and electrons.

Dr. Robert J. Howell is Dedman Family Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Southern Methodist University.

Thursday, February 25th at 3:15 pm in Addlestone Library, Room 227


Why Does Nietzsche Think the Will to Power is So Important - Professor Maudemarie Clark           

Nietzsche claims that “life is will to power,” evidently meaning that the behavior of all living things is a striving after power.  And this is apparently fine with him.  “What is good,” he says, is “everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself.”  But isn’t this a dangerous idea?  Doesn’t it encourage the idea that we humans can do whatever we want to the environment?  After all, our behavior simply expresses our will to power, which is apparently what we are.  Furthermore, doesn’t it encourage the human addiction to the feeling of power, to the feeling we get, for instance, from whipping the world into shape according to our needs and desires?  So how can I expect environmentalists—or anyone else sensitive to the problems that arise from an addiction to the feeling of power (e.g., the preference for bombs over negotiation)—to have any initial sympathy with Nietzsche’s claims about and evaluation of the will to power?  I can’t.  And that is the reason I’ve decided to try to convince you that Nietzsche’s claims about the will to power are more interesting and complex than they might initially seem, and very much worth taking seriously. 

Thursday, October 29th at 6:30pm in Alumni Hall, Randolph Hall


Is it a Boy or  a Girl?  Intersexuality in the Pediatric Patient - Professor Kenneth Kipnis           

Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii, Kipnis been doing ethics work in hospitals since 1983, when he was present following the birth of a child with ambiguous genitalia. He consulted on the advisability of "normalizing" surgery for the infant. He later collaborated with Milton Diamond, an international expert on reproductive anatomy, co-authoring an influential paper on the ethics of pediatric "normalization". The talk describes both his clinical work and the issues raised by such surgery.   Professor Richard Nunan will follow by discussing a related pair of local cases: M.C. v. Amrhein and M.C. V. M.U.S.C Both cases concern an intersex child who was a ward of the State of South Carolina as an infant, when subjected to genital modification surgery.  The first of these is an interesting federal constitutional law challenge , decided earlier this year in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The second is a somewhat more “traditional" medical malpractice case, still in litigation in a state court.

Thursday, October 15th at 3:15 pm in Wells Fargo Auditorium in the Beatty Center


PhilosoFest II

Please join us for our sedond PhilosoFest - a mini conference featuring CofC Philosophy faculty presenting their own research and keynote presentations by Prof. Susan Wolf of the University of North Carolina and Prof. Kristi Dotson of Michigan State University.  Feel free to attend all sessions or those that particularly interest you.

Friday, October 9th 3:30 - 7:00, Saturday October 10th 10:00 - 3:50 in 202 Tate Center


The Neuroscience of the Criminal Psychopath - Kent Kiehl 

Dr. Kent Kiehl is an author and neuroscientist who specializes in the use of clinical brain imaging techniques to understand major mental illnesses, with special focus on criminal psychopathy, psychotic disorders (i.e., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, affective disorders), traumatic brain injury, substance abuse and paraphilias.  His latest book The Psychopath Whisperer, was published in April.

Thursday, October 1st at 6:00 pm in Maybank Hall, Room 100


2015 Bachelor's Essay Presentations

Rebecca Stanley and Jake Webb will be presenting their Bachelor's Essays.  

Thursday, April 17th at 2:00 pm in ECTR111


Narrative and Social Justice - Sally Haslanger

Recent work on social injustice has focused on implicit bias as an important factor in explaining persistent injustice in spite of achievements on civil rights.  In this paper, I argue that implicit bias offers a familiar sort of individualistic narrative to explain injustice, but taken alone, it is inadequate.  Most importantly, such narratives miss what is morally at stake.  An adequate account of how implicit bias functions must situate it within a broader theory of social structures; changing structures is often a precondition for changing patterns of thought and action and is certainly required for durable change.  So we must learn to develop different sorts of narratives that address not only the question, "What can/should I do?" but also "What can/should we do?"

Thursday, March 13th at 6:30pm in Alumni Hall of Randolph Hall



Internationally Celebrated Cognitive Scientist Douglas Hoftsadter

Dr. Douglas Hofstadter is College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. His best-known book, Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the National Book Award for Science. It, along with some of his other books, addresses perennial philosophical questions about the nature of the human mind and language. His 2007 book I Am a Strange Loop won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science.  Hofstadter is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He will be at the College of Charleston for two events. Join us!

Sunday, January 25th 2:00 pm at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (161 Calhoun Street): Dr. Hofstadter will participate in a discussion woth Halsey Institute director Mark Sloan & artist Particia Boinest Potter focused on her exhibition at the Halsey Institute, Patterns of Peace.

Monday, January 26th 6:00pm in the CofC School of Science and Mathematics Auditorium Dr. Hofstadter will be giving a lecture The Countless Personal Consequences of my Passionate Craving for Pattern.

Tuesday, January 27th 7:00pm at The Citadel, Duckett Hall Auditorium.  Dr. Hofstadter will be giving a lecture Do Machines Understand? Could Machines Ever Understand?




Please join us for our first PhilosoFest - a mini conference featuring CofC Philosophy faculty presenting their own research and a keynote presentation by Prof. Valerie Tiberius of the University of Minnesota.  Feel free to attend all sessions or those that particularly interest you.

Friday, January 16th 3:30 - 6:45, Saturday January 17th 10:00 - 3:30 in 202 Tate Center



Moral Knowledge for Sentimentalists - Professor Simon Blackburn

The sentimentalist tradition in moral thought, from Hume and Adam Smith to the present day, has often been called "non-cognitivism", suggesting that there is no such thing as moral knowledge. But this is not an implication we need to accept, and when we
challenge it, we find a story about moral knowledge in much better shape than various rivals have claimed.

Friday, November 7th at 3:15pm in the Alumni Center, School of Education, Health, & Human Performance (86 Wentworth Street)



Shimmering Presences: Frog, Toad, and Toxic Interdependencies - Professor Alexis Shotwell

This paper is about anurans – frogs and toads. I attend both to the trope of gender-bending and disabled amphibians and to their actual bodies and lives, arguing for a queer disability attention to the toxic present as a kind of responsibility. Anurans have, over the last ten years, been frequently held up as warning signs for biological dangers inherent in many of our practices around food, climate, and mining. Industrial production, whether of corn or petroleum, has effects on the world around it. As I'll explore, one of the main ways people argue that these effects are too harmful to justify current production practices evokes gender and disability danger; humans, the warning goes, will be born disabled, queer, or genderqueer if we continue using or producing certain substances. And the way we know this, the narrative continues, is that frogs and toads are being born with bodily anomalies including ambiguous genitalia, changed voiceboxes, extra limbs, and more. My agenda is not to argue that we should not be worried about toxins and their effects – worry and action are both, I believe, at least justified and almost certainly necessary. Rather, I argue that we ought to cultivate practices of responsibility for the toxic present we are implicated in creating that do not rely on anti-disability or trans-hating tropes and that simultaneously do not attend to anurans merely as indicator species. I look toward “civilian scientists” – ordinary people who practice a naturalist’s attention to their world – as exemplars of this kind of practice of responsibility.

Thursday, October 2nd at 6:30pm in the Alumni Center, School of Education, Health, & Human Performance (86 Wentworth Street)



Age of Man Environmentalism and Respect for an Independent Nature- Professor Ned Hettinger

The debate over whether we have entered a new geological epoch known as “The Anthropocene” has helped spawn “Age of Man Environmentalism” (AME). According to AME, humans’ planetary scale impact indicates that respect for an independent nature can no longer serve as a guiding value for environmentalism. Traditional environmental goals of nature preservation and restoration are problematically grounded in the illusory ideal of pristine nature. Humans are now fully integrated into nature and have no choice but to become responsible managers of the earth we have created and to govern it according to our ideals.

This talk critically examines AME and defends traditional environmental values of naturalness and respect for nature’s autonomy. AME’s serious exaggeration of the extent of human influence over Earth manifests an anthropocentric narcissism that is blind to the ongoing agency of nature. Rather than becoming gods or parents of a nature that allegedly needs us, human flourishing requires we strengthen our commitment to humility, restraint, and respect for the gifted character of the world. Naturalness is increasingly valuable the more rare it becomes. AME’s insistence on a thoroughly managed future ignores the possibility of rewilding and turning nature loose. Its promotion of non-native species and ill-defined “novel ecosystems” is an attempt to polish the image of human-impacted nature and denigrate the value of preserved wild areas. Taking seriously the massive human impact on earth does not require abandoning traditional environmental values.

Tuesday, September 9th at 3:15pm in Arnold Hall, Jewish Studies Center