Fall 2011 Colloquium Schedule
Wednesday, October 12
Noon, JRC 209
"Moral Certainty to Moral Evidentia: An Epistemological Shift in Leiden's Physics Theatre"
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Grinnell College Philosophy Department
This paper examines the work of two physics professors at the University of Leiden who played key roles in the spread and acceptance of experimental physics during the so-called "Scientific Revolution": the Cartesian, Burchard de Volder (1643-1709), and the Newtonian Willem J. ‘s Gravesande (1688-1742). In particular, I consider how they used evolving notions of moral certainty to justify their experimental practices and discuss the diverse philosophical and theological traditions from which these notions emerge.
Wednesday, November 2
Noon, JRC 227
Panel Discussion on Graduate School in Philosophy
A panel of Grinnell Philosophy Faculty will answer questions about graduate programs in philosophy, from how to choose the program that is right for you, tips for applying, and other paths that the philosophy major might also want to consider after graduation.
Wednesday, November 16
4:15 pm, JRC 227
"Margaret Cavendish and the Wonder of Material Things"
Associate Professor and Director Graduate Studies
University of Iowa, Philosophy Department
Margaret Cavendish was a 17th-Century philosopher and scientist, a promoter of the view that minds and bodies -- and all things of which we can intelligibly speak -- are a part of nature. She offers a compelling defense of the view, and in her response to potential objections she anticipates the insights of philosophers who come later (esp. Hume). She also proposes a novel account of body-body interaction, an account that informs her feminist (though still somewhat conservative) political philosophy.
December: Philosophy Student MAP Presentations
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Spring 2012 Colloquium Schedule Wednesday, February 21
4:15 p.m. JRC 209
"An Empathetic Scaffold for Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action"
--MAP Presentation: Ben Aronowicz
Jürgen Habermas' theory of communicative action provides promising insight into ideal moral deliberation. However, critics contend that Habermas' cognitivist ideals neglect the emotional dynamics integral in particular moral circumstances. Arne Johan Vetlesen bolsters Habermas' cognitivist theory with a robust account of empathy that elucidates the role of empathetic emotions in situating individuals within the particular moral circumstance of the here and now. Vetlesen's complimentary account illuminates how individuals become capable of the deliberation Habermas champions. This paper demonstrates the numerous benefits of augmenting Habermas' moral theory with Vetlesen's account.
Thursday, March 1
4:15 p.m. JRC 209
"Strangers in the Public Sphere"
--Visiting Alumni Scholar: Melissa Yates '01
Political philosophers often connect the merits of democracies to the process of public deliberation. The public sphere, many argue, makes possible the moral legitimacy of laws and epistemic improvements in public knowledge. This presentation explores the implications of an increasingly small and fragmented public sphere for these sorts of moral and epistemic arguments, and suggests that our reduced deliberations with strangers in physical and internet public spheres challenges the close connection drawn between public deliberation and the promise of democracy.
Wednesday, March 7
4:15 p.m. Location TBA.
"Secrets and Lies"
--Professor James Mahon
Most people think that it is wrong to tell lies. At least, normally it is wrong. Normally, you should not tell a lie, and normally, you should not try to deceive people. Most people also think that it is permissible to keep secrets. At least, normally it is permissible. Normally, you should be able to keep a secret from people. But is it really permissible to keep secrets? And, are you not being deceptive, at least to some extent, when you keep a secret? This talk will consider whether keeping a secret is or is not being deceptive, and whether keeping secrets, as opposed to telling lies, is permissible.
Thursday, April 5
4:15 p.m. JRC 209
"Of President Barack H. Obama and Others: Public Policy, Race-talk, and Pragmatism"
--Professor Bill Lawson
University of Memphis
The election of Barack H. Obama as President of the United States was a significant event in the social and political history of the United States. His elections as the first non-white male President has been seen as a sign of the changing racial attitudes of white Americans. Nonetheless, the specter of race and racism haunts his presidency. As the first African American president, he has to show the black community that he has their social and economic interest on his public policy agenda. On the other hand, he cannot appear to be to overtly pro-black without bruising white racial sensibilities. In order to walk this fine line, President Obama has taken what can be seen as a colorblind approach to public policies. He claims that his color-blind public policies will help to uplift all citizens regardless of race, creed or national origin. Race need not be factor in public policies. There are some doubts about his claim given the history of racism in the United States. It is argued, herein, that color or race conscious policies are needed to address some of the social and economic problems that besiege the black community. This paper utilizes a pragmatic account of race to illustrate why colorblindness in public policies takes an ahistorical and decontextualized view of race and in the long term will hurt the social and economic standing of African Americans.
Wednesday, May 2
4:15 p.m. JRC 209.
"Critical Theory and the Self: Re-thinking Internalization"
--Professor Johanna Meehan