Calendar and Events

Spring 2019 Lectures and Events

The Complexities of Positive Liberty: Freedom and Social Pratices in a Non-Ideal World - Professor John Christman

The language of freedom is ubiquitous in public discourse as a fundamental social and political value.  Yet it is also notoriously variable in its meaning, especially as articulated by theorists, public officials, and those engaged in struggles centered on its realization.  In this lecture I will pursue a particular avenue in the search for a conceptualization of freedom that captures these disparate uses, specifically the “positive” notion that includes more than merely absence of interference but also requires support for effective, socially engaged agency. In particular, I will discuss the view that freedom necessitates support for publicly recognized social practices and ways of life. I will do this in dialogue with Axel Honneth who, in recent work, has developed such a view in a Hegelian register.  But I will argue that we must depart from some of those very Hegelian aspects of Honneth’s view in order to capture the value of freedom for agents whose liberatory struggles express most pointedly the value of that ideal.


Spring 2018 Lectures and Events

When Nietzsche Read Kierkegaard: a Philosophical Experiment- Professor Hough

Kierkegaard’s vast corpus was composed early in the 19th-Century, and Nietzsche’s work occurs during the later years of that century; Nietzsche was admittedly fascinated with Kierkegaard’s work, although he is said never to have read him (a claim that turns out to be false). What can an avowedly Christian writer have to offer a thinker infamous for his anti-Christian views? The answer, of course, is that both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are passionately concerned with the significance of human life, and in surprisingly similar ways.


2018 Bachelor's Essay Presentations

Abigael Mslcolm, Elizabeth Torpey, and Andre VanParys will be presenting their bachelor’s essay on Friday, April 13, at 2:00 pm, in ECTR room 111.


Nietzsche's Nihilism-Professor Maudemarie Clark

In The Will to Power, Nietzsche claims that in informing us concerning the "advent of nihilism," he is relating "the history of the next two centuries." He also claims that he himself has been a nihilist, but that he had now left it behind. But what is the nihilism to which he refers? I offer an account of how Nietzsche under-stands nihilism and of how to understand his own (early and middle-period) work as nihilistic. I argue that the nihilism of interest to Nietzsche is not, or at least not mainly, a philosophical position, say, that human life is without value. I argue that it is instead a cultural condition in which things of true value cannot be appreciated as such. The upshot of my account is two-fold: 1) that it was only in overcoming the naturalistic orientation that it has become standard to attribute to him (and that I once attributed to him) that Nietzsche left nihilism behind, and 2) that our current cultural and political situation is well on its way to the kind of nihilism with which Nietzsche was particularly concerned.


Fall 2017 Lectures and Events

Poetry as Challenge to Current Materialist Models of Mind: The Place of Hegel's Inner Sensuousness- Professor Charles Altieri

Hegel is right to propose a mode of art that involves inner sensuousness, although this kind of sensuousness is more general and less historically specific than he claims.  Inner sensuousness matters for several reasons: first, stressing inner sensuousness allows us to talk about features of art as if identifying with the constructive energy (rather than sensuous details as also a kind of sensuality but one that is very difficult to speak of in materialist/cognitivist terms).  Second, inner sensuousness explains how self-consciousness about participating in distinctive powers takes place in art as we try to see how the work might be significant as a particular or as singularity. Finally, I argue that we need a model of mind that can entertain emotions that are not practical and do not orient us toward action but make us want to dwell in particular circumstances and gain more familiarity with the world that such feeling organizes. I do not propose idealism but argue for a phenomenology that takes seriously the problematic status of the kinds of objects and events that call for thick description.  I will make my case primarily by reading carefully Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud" and Ashbery's "As We Know.”


Spring 2017 Lectures and Events

Collective Responsibility and Climate Change - Professor kirk Ludwig

Human induced global warming is the most significant environment challenge the human species has faced in the long history of civilization. Who is to blame? Who is responsible, morally, for responding to it insofar as we can? Arguably, we human beings as a group (and some of us more than others) are collectively morally responsible for having caused and continuing to contribute to global warming (for none of us can do it alone), and arguably we are collectively responsible for doing something about it(for, again,none of us can do it alone). In this talk, I take a look at the ground for the claim that we bear both backwards looking collective responsibility for global warming and forward looking collective responsibility for doing something about it, and at what the relation is between the claim that we bear collective responsibility and our individual responsibilities. I will devolve an account of shared intention, one that makes each participant equally responsible in full for the harms done, and not just in proportion to their causal contribution. I will also consider the complications presented by real-world case like climate change and the role of institutions, governments and states in assignments of responsibility.


Resisting Body Oppression: An Aesthetic Approach - Professor Sherri Irvin           

This talk discusses oppression based on judgments of bodily unattractiveness and argues for an aesthetic approach to resisting this form of oppression. Philosophical theories have often suggested that appropriate aesthetic judgments should converge on sets of objects consensually found to be beautiful or ugly. The convergence of aesthetic judgments about human bodies, however, is a significant source of social injustice, because people judged to be unattractive pay substantial social and economic penalties in domains such as education, employment and criminal justice. The injustice is compounded due to the interaction between standards of attractiveness and gender, race, disability, and queer and trans identities

I argue that, in response to this form of injustice, we should actively work to reduce our participation in standard aeathetic practices that involve attractiveness judgments. However, this does not mean we should refuse engagement with the embodiment of others; even if it were possible to do so, ignorning someone's embodiment is often a way of dehumanizing them. Instead, I advocate a form of aesthetic preactice, aesthetic exploration, that involves seeking out the unique aesthetic affordances of all bodies and aiming to have positive aesthetic experiences of them, regardless ofwhether they are attractive in the standard sense. I argue that there are good ethical reasons to cultivate aesthetic exploration, and that it is psychologically plausible that doing so would help to alleviate the social injustice attending judgments of attractiveness.

Prof. Irvin is Presidential Research Professor of Philosophy & women's and Gender Studies, Co-Director of the Center for Social Justice at the University of Oklahoma 

Thursday, 3/16/17 at 3:15pm in the Tate Center, Room 202


Hermeneutical Impases- Professor Luvell Anderson           

When people respond to chants of ‘Black lives matter’ with ‘All lives matter’ or excoriate Colin Kaepernick for being “anti-military” or “anti-American” when he sits or kneels during the playing of the National Anthem, there appears to be a break in understanding. BLM protestors and Kaepernick understand their actions and messages in one way, detractors in quite a different way. I call these breaks in understanding "hermeneutical impasses." In this talk I discuss the nature of these impasses and the challenges a particular type of impasse presents for resolving it.

Prof. Anderson is Professor of Philosophy at The University of Memphis. 

Friday, 2/17/17 at 3:30pm The Tate Center, Room 202


Spring 2016 Lectures 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