Phi Org This Week

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.

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This Week’s Meeting & SWAP

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.

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Phi Org This Week: The Morality of Automatic Drones

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.

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Spring Meetings and Survey

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.

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Justifying Just War Theory

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.

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CFP for Eastern Michigan’s Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Here is a call for papers for Eastern Michigan University’s 5th Annual Undergraduate Conference in Philosophy.

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FPA at USF

USF will host the Florida Philosophical Association’s annual conference on November 14th and 15th. All sessions will be held in C. W. Young Hall. The program is here. Undergraduates can attend the conference for free.

Since one of Friday’s sessions is from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Philosophy Organization’s weekly meeting will start a bit later — around 5:50 p.m. — so that people have time to attend that session if they wish.

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Last Two Meetings

The schedule has been updated with details about the last two meetings of the semester.

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Halloween Party

This Friday in MSC 3708 at 5:30 p.m. we will have our first ever Halloween party! There will be food and a costume contest complete with a prize if more than a few people dress as their favorite philosopher.

My intention is for this week’s meeting to be pretty informal, but if people want a more structured discussion we can discuss the philosophy of horror (there’s a short survey article on the subject here if you’re interested).

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Updates and CFPs

The schedule has been updated with information about our next few meetings.

Here are the calls for papers for three conferences that are accepting submissions from undergraduates:

Delimiting Limits: 8th Annual University of South Florida Graduate Student Conference
Midsouth Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
Pacific University’s Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

See here for a list of additional undergraduate philosophy conferences.

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