Our next meeting is on Thursday, February 26th at 5:30 p.m. in MSC 3712.
Dr. Lee Braver will give a talk entitled “Heidegger on What There Is.”
Summary: What is the world made of? Is there any question philosophers have spent more time thinking about? And yet, is there any topic that philosophers have gotten more consistently wrong?
These three questions drive much of Martin Heidegger’s thought, and we will look at his answers to them. We’ll see what he thought the world actually consists of, why he believed that philosophy is by its very nature prone to getting it wrong and, if we have time, why you knew the right answer all along.
Dr. Braver is Associate Professor of Philosophy at USF. He is the author of four books: A Thing of This World: A History of Continental Anti-Realism (Northwestern, 2007), Heidegger’s Later Writings: A Reader’s Guide (Bloomsbury, 2009), Groundless Grounds: A Study of Wittgenstein and Heidegger (MIT, 2012), and Heidegger: Thinking of Being (Wiley, 2014). He is also the editor of Division III of Being and Time: Heidegger’s Unanswered Question of Being (MIT, forthcoming).
Our next meeting is Thursday, February 19th at 5:30 p.m. in MSC 2707.
Dr. Alex Levine will give a talk entitled “Human Nature after Darwin.”
Précis: Evolved species are moving targets, with no fixed essences. Every such species is simply a population, in which intra-species individual differences among organisms may or may not be less significant than inter-species differences with organisms of other, related species. The same must be true for our own species. This talk will subject the prized philosophical notion of “human nature” to critical scrutiny, in light of our evolutionary history.
Dr. Levine is Professor of Philosophy at USF. With Adriana Novoa he is the coauthor of From Man to Ape: Darwinism in Argentina, 1870-1920 (Chicago, 2010) and ¡Darwinistas! The Construction of Evolutionary Thought in Nineteenth Century Argentina (Brill, 2012).
Update: An audio recording of Dr. Levine’s lecture is available here.
Our next meeting is on Thursday, February 12 at 5:30 p.m. in MSC 3712.
Dr. Martin Schönfeld will give a talk entitled “Green is the New Left—how climate change challenges the political economy and what this may ultimately mean for philosophy.”
Abstract: Civilization has crossed planetary boundaries into a zone of ecological overshoot. The first worldwide symptom of overshoot is climate change. The failure to rein in climate change spells global food insecurity. Being in overshoot means humankind needs to return to a safe operating space. But this is not happening; market forces have consistently thwarted legislative attempts at reducing emissions and shrinking footprints, a phenomenon of failing governance called “regulatory capture”. What does this crisis mean for civilization at this juncture in history? What does it mean for the design of our economic systems? And what does it imply, ultimately, for the methods and topics of western philosophy?
UPDATE: The slides accompanying Dr. Schönfeld’s talk are available here. Some of Dr. Schönfeld’s writings on climate philosophy and environmental ethics are available at his blog, The Blistered Orb.
This week’s meeting is on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in MSC 2703. Dahlia Guzman will give a presentation entitled “Where Does Knowledge Happen?: Epistemic Agents vs. Epistemic Communities.”
Abstract: I am interested in the ontological status of the knower, and what effect it has on shaping the accounts of knowledge claims. This comes out of my interest in trying to understand how it is humans can know, given the way in which humans shape and respond to the environment. Two strands of thought are of interest to me: one is the work done in cognitive science and embodied cognition, and the attempts to make sense of HOW humans shape and respond to the environment; the other is the insight provided by phenomenological accounts of the embodied experience of human subjects. I will look at Lynn Hankinson Nelson’s account of the locus of knowledge activity and claims. Nelson proposes that our evaluation of the evolving network of our claims and theories do and should incorporate social and political values and factors that shape our account of knowledge and cognitive activity. This holistic view contributes to her thesis that knowledge and meaningful cognitive activity happen at the communal rather than the individual level. I will talk about why I find that problematic.
This week’s meeting is on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in MSC 2702. (For those of you who have recently joined us, please note that the meeting location changes every week. See here for a list of meeting locations for the whole semester.)
At this week’s meeting Paul Clarke will give a short presentation entitled “Nietzsche on the Death of God and Nihilism.”
Summary: In this presentation I will explain what Nietzsche means by his famous remark “God is dead.” At first glance it seems this means that belief in the Judeo-Christian god has become untenable. But, as I will show, atheism for Nietzsche means the rejection of any absolute ground for truth or moral values. For Nietzsche this leads to nihilism. One can respond to nihilism in a negative, destructive way, but Nietzsche advocates a joyful nihilism that affirms life. I conclude by raising the worry that no meaningful assessment of Nietzsche’s views can be given without appealing to some notion of truth and that Nietzsche himself smuggles normative values back into his preferred form of nihilism.
1. This week’s meeting is on Thursday at 5:30 in MSC 2703.
At this week’s meeting John Walsh will give a presentation entitled “Free Will: Groundless Self-determination of Moral Choice,” which discusses the work of Kant and Reinhold. An abstract is available here (.docx).
2. We are planning on organizing a trip to the 10th Annual Society for Women’s Advancement in Philosophy Conference, which will be on Friday, March 27th at FSU. This year’s keynote speaker will be Charles W. Mills. The plan is to leave the night before, spend the night in Tallahassee, and return to Tampa after the conference.
We will not be able to receive funding for this trip from USF. We may look into fundraising in order to cover expenses, but in principle anyone interested in going should be willing to carpool and share a room as well as chip in for gas, food, and accommodation expenses (there is no registration fee for the conference). I imagine that if there’s enough interest we could probably split costs with little financial burden on anyone.
For the moment I want to put together a list of people who are interested in going, so let me know if you are. Expressing interest doesn’t commit you to anything at this point. If you are very likely to attend, however, please let me know if you are willing to drive other people and how many passengers your vehicle can accommodate. You should also let me know if you will need to get a ride from someone.
This week’s meeting is on Thursday at 5:30 in MSC 2702. Dr. Sidney Axinn will give a presentation entitled “The Morality of Automatic Drones.” Here’s the abstract:
While there are many issues to be raised in using lethal autonomous robotic weapons, we argue that the most important question is: should the decision to take a human life be relinquished to a machine? We argue that the answer must be ‘no’ and offer several reasons for banning autonomous robots. (1) Such a robot treats a human as an object, instead of as a person with inherent dignity. (2) A machine can only mimic moral actions, it cannot be moral. (3) A machine run by a program has no human emotions, no feelings about the seriousness of killing a human. (4) Using such a robot would be a violation of military honor. We therefore conclude that the use of an autonomous robot in lethal operations should be banned.
In the spring semester Philosophy Organization will meet from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. Our first meeting will be on January 8 in MSC 3708. More details about the agenda and topic of our first meeting will be available in about a week or so. I hope to see you all there!
Next, thanks to the efforts of Zachary Purdue, our liaison with the Graduate Student Philosophy Organization, I have a list of graduate students and topics they are willing to present on. Please take this quick survey to vote on which topics you’re interested in hearing presentations on this semester.
At this week’s meeting, the last of the semester, Steven Starke will deliver a paper entitled “Justifying Just War Theory.”
Summary: Using an Aristotelian square of opposition, I investigate the plausibility of the application of just war theory. Using some classics of just war literature, I begin by considering the realist argument that there is no connection between justice and war. Then I look at the pacifist notion that no wars are just. Finally, I deal with the relativist position that all wars are just. I am left to conclude that, by process of elimination, there is some relationship between justice and war, all that remains is to specify the criteria for it, i.e. just war theory.
Here is a call for papers for Eastern Michigan University’s 5th Annual Undergraduate Conference in Philosophy.