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Philosophy

Previous Events

Gender Essentialism: Identity or Classification?

February 27, 20124:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Kanbar Hall, Room 107

There is a long-standing feminist debate between gender essentialists and anti-essentialists. However, it is often unclear what notion of essentialism undergirds these debates. In this talk, Charlotte Witt outlines a concept of essentialism deriving from Aristotle, and she argues that this account survives standard feminist criticism while also providing a useful model for expressing the centrality of gender in the lived experience of women. 

Please join us for this lecture with Charlotte Witt, Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, University of New Hampshire.

Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and Gender and Women's Studies Program

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Harvey Mansfield Lecture

April 26, 20124:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Moulton Union, Lancaster Lounge

Lecture by Harvey Mansfield, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard, entitled "Intimations of Philosophy in Tocqueville's Democracy in America." Professor Mansfield has written on Aristotle, Edmund Burke, Machiavelli, and Tocqueville, among others, and has translated Machiavelli's Prince and Discourses, and with Delba Winthrop, Democracy in America. He has held Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships and has been a Fellow at the National Humanities Center; he also received the National Humanities Medal in 2004 and delivered the Jefferson Lecture in 2007. Professor Mansfield?s lecture is sponsored by the Department of Government and Legal Studies with support from the John C. Donovan Lecture Fund. Light refreshments will be served.

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Clifford Orwin Lecture on Genesis 18-19

May 7, 20125:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Moulton Union, Lancaster Lounge

Clifford Orwin will give the talk "Will Not the Judge of All the World Do Justly? Abraham's Intervention with God on Behalf of the Righteous Remnant of Sodom (Genesis 18-19)" at 5 p.m. Monday, May 7, 2012, in Lancaster Lounge, Moulton Union. The talk is open to the public free of charge.

Orwin is a professor of political science, classics, and Jewish studies and director of the Program in Political Philosophy and International Affairs at the University of Toronto. He is also the founding co-director of the Tikvah Project Graduate Summer Program in Jewish Thought at Princeton University

He is the author of The Humanity of Thucydides, co-editor and co-author of The Legacy of Rousseau and the author of dozens of articles on classical, modern, contemporary, and Jewish political thought.

He is presently completing a book for the general reader on the role of compassion in modern politics, and his next project is a new translation of Thucydides' History for Yale University Press, in collaboration with Ryan K. Balot.

Orwin earned his B.A. in history at Cornell and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science at Harvard. He has taught as a visitor at Harvard and Chicago as well as in Jerusalem, Paris, and Lisbon.

Orwin's lecture is sponsored by the Department of Government and Legal Studies with support from the John C. Donovan Lecture Fund. Light refreshments will be served.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Elliott Sober
Hans Reichenbach Professor and William Vilas Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of WisconsinElliott Sober
“Instrumentalism -- can a false scientific theory be more predictively accurate than a true one?"

It is conventional wisdom to think that the goal of model-building in science is to find models of natural phenomena that are (1) true and (2) observationally testable. In this talk, I'll give a sympathetic presentation of an alternative each.  Instrumentalism maintains that the goal of modeling is predictive accuracy, not truth.  And there is also the idea that some models in science are a priori mathematical truths.

Join us for this talk
Kanbar 109 (The Hazleton Room) 4:00 p.m.
All are welcome.

Event Poster

Monday, November 9th, 2009
Jonathan M. Fischer
Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside
Stories and the Meaning of Life
Professor Fischer's main research interests lie in free will, moral responsibility, and both metaphysical and ethical issues pertaining to life and death.

Jonathan M. FischerHe is the author of The Metaphysics of Free Will: An Essay on Control; with Mark Ravizza, Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility; and My Way: Essays on Moral Responsibility.

His recent work includes a contribution to Four Views on Free Will (in Blackwell’s Great Debates in Philosophy series) and his latest collection of essays (Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will) is now out with Oxford University Press.

Kanbar 107
All are welcome.

philosopher Simon BlackburnTuesday, April 15th, 2008
Simon Blackburn, Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University
Professor Blackburn will be giving a lecture titled “Who’s Afraid of Big Bad Nietzsche.”
The event will be held in Kanbar 107 at 4:30pm.

Omnipotence and the Conflict of Wills
James Baillie, Professor of Philosophy, University of Portland, will be giving a talk on omnipotence and the nature of God.  What is omnipotence?  Can there be more than one God? 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
4:30 PM  
Kanbar 107

Induction and Altruism
A lecture by Don Garrett, Professor of Philosophy, New York University
In science and ordinary life we often reason and believe inductively – that is, we presume that unobserved things and events will resemble observed ones.  In morality and ordinary life, we often reason and act altruistically, presuming that others matter as much as ourselves.  Professor Garrett will discuss how these two presumptions are related and whether we can justify them.

Tuesday, November 27th
4:30 PM
Kanbar 107

Event poster (PDF).

Religious vs. Secular Approaches to Ethics
A lecture by Michael Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
Author of The Moral Problem (Blackwell, 1994), for which he was awarded the American Philosophical Association Book Prize 1994-6; Ethics and the A Priori: Selected Essays on Moral Psychology and Meta-Ethics (CUP, 2004); and co-author of Mind, Morality and Explanation: Selected Collaborations (OUP, 2004)

Event poster (PDF).

What Is and Is Not Wrong with Enhancement of Human Capacities

A lecture by Frances Kamm, Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy, Harvard University.
Professor Kamm is the author of:

  • Creation and Abortion
  • Morality, Mortality, Vol. 1: Death and Whom to Save From It
  • Morality, Mortality Vol. 2: Rights, Duties, and Status

Event poster (PDF).

War, Terrorism, and the “War on Terror”
A lecture by Jeff McMahan, Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He is the author of The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margin of Life (Oxford University Press, 2002) and is currently working on the second volume titled Self-Defense, War, and Punishment. This lecture was recently given as an Oxford Amnesty Lecture.

Event poster (PDF).

Monday, November 9th, 2009
Jonathan M. FischerJonathan M. Fischer
Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside
Stories and the Meaning of Life
Professor Fischer's main research interests lie in free will, moral responsibility, and both metaphysical and ethical issues pertaining to life and death.

He is the author of The Metaphysics of Free Will: An Essay on Control; with Mark Ravizza, Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility; and My Way: Essays on Moral Responsibility.

His recent work includes a contribution to Four Views on Free Will (in Blackwell’s Great Debates in Philosophy series) and his latest collection of essays (Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will) is now out with Oxford University Press.

Kanbar 107
All are welcome.

philosopher Simon BlackburnTuesday, April 15th, 2008
Simon Blackburn, Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University
Professor Blackburn will be giving a lecture titled “Who’s Afraid of Big Bad Nietzsche.”
The event will be held in Kanbar 107 at 4:30pm.

Omnipotence and the Conflict of Wills
James Baillie, Professor of Philosophy, University of Portland, will be giving a talk on omnipotence and the nature of God.  What is omnipotence?  Can there be more than one God? 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
4:30 PM 
Kanbar 107

Induction and Altruism
A lecture by Don Garrett, Professor of Philosophy, New York University
In science and ordinary life we often reason and believe inductively – that is, we presume that unobserved things and events will resemble observed ones.  In morality and ordinary life, we often reason and act altruistically, presuming that others matter as much as ourselves.  Professor Garrett will discuss how these two presumptions are related and whether we can justify them.

Tuesday, November 27th
4:30 PM
Kanbar 107

Event poster (PDF).

Religious vs. Secular Approaches to Ethics
A lecture by Michael Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
Author of The Moral Problem (Blackwell, 1994), for which he was awarded the American Philosophical Association Book Prize 1994-6; Ethics and the A Priori: Selected Essays on Moral Psychology and Meta-Ethics (CUP, 2004); and co-author of Mind, Morality and Explanation: Selected Collaborations (OUP, 2004)

Event poster (PDF).

What Is and Is Not Wrong with Enhancement of Human Capacities

A lecture by Frances Kamm, Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy, Harvard University.
Professor Kamm is the author of:

  • Creation and Abortion
  • Morality, Mortality, Vol. 1: Death and Whom to Save From It
  • Morality, Mortality Vol. 2: Rights, Duties, and Status

Event poster (PDF).

War, Terrorism, and the “War on Terror”
A lecture by Jeff McMahan, Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He is the author of The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margin of Life (Oxford University Press, 2002) and is currently working on the second volume titled Self-Defense, War, and Punishment. This lecture was recently given as an Oxford Amnesty Lecture.

Event poster (PDF).