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Calendar and Events

Dirty Politics: The Role of Disgust in Policital and Moral Judgment - Professor David Pizarro

In recent years a great deal of psychological research has highlighted the powerful role emotions play in shaping our attitudes and judgments. Evidence has been found that individuals who are more easily disgusted in everyday life tend to have different moral and political views than those who are less easily disgusted. This research helps shed light on how basic differences in emotion can give rise to differences in our judgments about the social world that surrounds us.

Monday April 7, 2014 6:00 PM Wells Fargo Auditorium (Beatty Center)

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Normativity and Practical Justification in Hobbes- Professor Larry Krasnoff

In contemporary philosophical usage, at least, a normative claim is an evaluation that others ought to accept, or more specifically, a claim that is supposed to provide reasons for action (understood to include reasons for belief). This identification of normativity with reason-giving poses a special problem for the traditional project of philosophical justification. If norms are, as most naturalistic philosophy and the other academic disciplines seem to presume, simply social facts of one sort or other, how can the reasons they provide be capable of any deep sort of justification?  Unless we are prepared to say that norms are something other than social facts, it would seem that philosophy ought to give up its traditional project of justification, because any reason-giving project must already take place within a socially existing normative space.

This talk is taken from a book project arguing that this now-familiar problem about justification is not as fundamental and intractable as it might seem, because the identification of reasoning and normativity is itself a historical project.  For long periods of its history, I argue, Western philosophy pursued projects of practical justification that made no essential reference to norms, or to normativity in general.  In this chapter of the book, I show how Hobbes’ secularization of the concept of natural law not only made normativity central to practical philosophy, but also required a rethinking of the notion of normativity itself.  It was the implications of this rethinking that created the relation between normativity and justification that we now take to be so fundamental, and so problematic.  Thinking about Hobbes’ project can thus remind us of the historical dimension of the contemporary problem of justification, which is a first step toward dissolving it.

Tuesday, March 18th at 3:15pm in Maybank 316

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Aldo Leopold - A Standard of Change

A one-man, one-act play
Jim Pfitzer, writer and director

The play is set in one evening around the Wisconsin Shack of Aldo Leopold, an American  author, forester, and ecologist. It has been 64 years since his death, and the influences and challenges that led to his widely popular work, A Sand County Almanac are explored. There are many memories, emotions, and stories that reacquaint him with his beloved landscape.

Monday, March 24th at 6:30pm in Physicians Auditorium

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Can Reasoning Influence Perception?

Dr. Susanna Siegel
Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy
Harvard University

Normally, we have pretty good reason to believe our eyes. But there seem to be cases in which we reason our way to having some perceptions rather than others. Does the rational support provided by experience change, if our perceptual experience is influenced by expertise? What effects, if any, can background influences on perception have on the rational power of perception?

 Susanna Siegel is Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University.  She is the author of The Contents of Visual Experience (Oxford University Press, 2010), and many articles on topics in the philosophy of mind and epistemology.

Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall (Randolph Hall)

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Empathy for the Devil: Mirror Neurons & the Appeal of Horror

Dr. Daniel Shaw
Journal Editor, Film & Philosophy
Professor of Philosophy, Lock Haven University

The ability of at least some of us to take pleasure in watching monsters and horror films is something of a paradox.  Why do we enjoy depictions of beings and actions that we would find repugnant if faced with them in real life?  Dr. Shaw will address this issue in regards to his favorite human monster of film and TV, Hannibal Lecter.  It will focus on several factors that allow those of us who love him to enjoy his depictions on the big and small screens.

These factors include the extensive use of close ups (which trigger our mirror neurons to cause us to feel empathy with the character), his exquisite aesthetic and culinary taste, his genius for evil deeds (done to unsympathetic victims), and his romantic acquaintances (Clarice Starling and Lady Murasaki).   Most significant, however, is what Dr. Shaw characterizes as Lecter’s Will to Power, drawing on Friedrich Nietzsche's existential theory of value.  Lecter is one of the most powerful characters in the history of the moving image, for he is in complete control of every situation and individual that he confronts.

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