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Philosophy Department

Visiting Speaker Series 2016-2017

 Unless announced otherwise, all lectures are held on Fridays at 3:30pm

Michael DeGroote Centre for Learning & Discovery (MDCL) Rm-1016

Winter Term, 2017


January 27:   Les Green (Oxford, Faculty of Law)  ** Held in BSB 108**

 “The Normativity of Law: What’s the Problem?”

Abstract: Legal and political philosophers have long debated how to explain the normativity of law.  But ‘normativity’, unlike ‘justice’ or ‘equality’,  is a purely technical, philosophical, concept.  In this Lecture I disambiguate several senses of ‘normative’  as that term is actually used, and argue that an adequate account of one may not help us with the others.  “Normative’ is the most equivocal, and least useful, concept in contemporary legal philosophy.

February 3:   Joseph Heath (University of Toronto)

“A Defence of Stigmatization”

Abstract: The term “stigmatization,” when used in contemporary social science, almost always has a negative connotation. Particularly when applied to behavior that is primarily self-regarding, such as drug addiction, the existence of a social stigma is widely regarded as adding “insult to injury,” although the normative basis of this assessment is seldom made explicit. My objective in this paper is to develop a more careful analysis, and qualified defence of, stigmatization in these cases. I will argue …..

February 10: Jamie Tappenden (University of Michigan)

“Frege, Carl Snell and Romanticism; Fruitful Concepts and the ‘Organic/Mechanical’ Distinction”

Abstract: A surprisingly neglected figure in Frege scholarship is the man Frege describes (with praise that is very rare for Frege) as his “revered teacher”, the Jena physics and mathematics professor Carl Snell. It turns out that there is more of interest to say about Snell than can fit into one paper, so I’ll restrict attention here to just this aspect of his thought: the role of the concept of “organic”, and a contrast with “mechanical”. Snell turns out to have been …..

February 17: No Speaker

February 23: Winter Recess

March 3:        Kathy Berendt (Wilfrid Laurier University)

“Mortal Harm and Mortal Fear”

Abstract: What do we talk about when we talk about fear of death? Contemporary philosophers of death don’t talk much about it at all. More worryingly, though, when they do, what they say is often inadequate, self-undermining, or ambiguous, or so I will contend. The explanation for this, I believe, stems from ….

March 10: Erich Reck (University of California- Riverside)

and Visiting Russell Professor @ McMaster University

“Frege, Cohen, and the Issue of Origins: An Early Parting of the Ways”

Abstract:  With the recent increase of interest in the relationship between analytic philosophy and other philosophical traditions, several writers have addressed episodes that constitute a “parting of the ways” between them.  At the center of this talk will be an early, so far neglected example, ….

March 17       Jacqueline Anne Sullivan (Western University)

Coordinated Pluralism as a Means to Facilitate Integrative Taxonomies of Cognition

Abstract: The past decade has witnessed a growing awareness of conceptual and methodological hurdles within the contemporary mind-brain sciences that must be addressed for an integrated science of the mind-brain to be possible. In this paper, I evaluate several collaborative knowledge-building initiatives that have emerged as a means to address these obstacles. I make the case that while each initiative provides us with important insights as to how to facilitate taxonomic and explanatory progress in the mind-brain sciences, only a “coordinated pluralism” that incorporates positive aspects of each initiative and codifies them at local and higher social organizational levels in the mind-brain sciences will have the potential for success.

March 24       Aude Bandini (University of Montreal)

“Willful Ignorance and individual responsibility”

Abstract: There are numerous cases in which one seems to acquire or stick to beliefs even though they are blatantly ill-founded or wrong. For instance, despite all my previous losses, I may keep on believing that every time I gamble, the odds that I will eventually win the jackpot are increased. This might even occur to someone endowed with some fair knowledge about probabilities, and who therefore has the means to deem such a belief as thoroughly unjustified and false.

In what kind of mental state, and in particular what kind of doxastic state, is a person who believes against the evidence is philosophically perplexing issue. Yet it is morally and legally crucial since one may be held responsible for the actions performed on the basis of false beliefs, especially in case they or their outcome result into a breach of the law or of common moral standards. In such a situation, a person is most likely to claim her good faith, insisting that at that moment she had no idea she was doing something wrong or, say, harming someone else. But is that true, and how are we to assess whether it is or not? In case the subject was indeed ignorant, the kind of ignorance at stake needs to be carefully determined: for instance, the Canadian Criminal Code distinguishes between recklessness and willful ignorance (or blindness), the former being non intentional while the other would be deliberate and henceforth culpable. But is willful ignorance even possible and if it does, how would that happen?

My aim here is to scrutinize and elucidate the concept of willful ignorance in order to secure both its philosophical foundations and practical relevance.

March 31:      Carolyn Korsmeyer (SUNY Buffalo)

Relics, Remnants, and Scrap: In Pursuit of the Genuine

Abstract: Many people testify to the thrill of encounters with ancient sites or with artifacts that have survived from the past. In such cases, even the most skillful replica, perceptually indiscernible from the “real thing,” does not provide an adequate substitute. I argue …..

Speaker Series 16-17 Term 1

Visiting Speaker Series 2015-2016

Visiting Speaker Series 2014-2015

Visiting Speaker Series 2013-2014

Visiting Speaker Series 2012-2013

Visiting Speaker Series 2011-2012