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2011-12 Philosophy Speaker Series

All lectures are free and open to the public. The lectures will be held in Blanchard Hall 339 and begin at 7:30 p.m. unless indicated otherwise.

Fall 2011 Speakers

September 21, 2011  
Dr. Thomas Carson, Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University

Tom Carson
"What's Wrong with Lying?"
I will examine 3 major views about the morality of lying –  A. Absolutism  (the view that lying is wrong no matter what, even if it is necessary in order to save someone’s life);  B. Utilitarianism (the view that lying is morally right when, and only when, it results in better consequences than not lying); and  C.  Ross’s theory (the view that lying is prima facie wrong, or wrong other things being equal -  Ross says that there is a duty not to lie, but this duty can conflict with other duties which are sometimes more important than the duty not to lie).   I criticize absolutism and argue that there is a moral presumption against lying at least as strong as that endorsed by utilitarianism.  My arguments leave open the question of whether there is a stronger presumption against lying of the sort that Ross endorses.

October 13, 2011

Dr. Andrew Chignell, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University

Andrew Chignell
"How to Abandon Hope"
What is hope? — is it an attitude, an emotion, a virtue, a stance? How does it relate to fear and despair? What are its appropriate objects, and why have philosophers (as opposed to politicians) so often neglected it, in order to focus on other states such as belief, faith, and knowledge? The goal of this paper is to examine the nature of hope generally, the role of hope in the religious life, and some conceptual connections between hope and the doctrine of the afterlife.

Dr. Bob Roberts, Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University

Bob Roberts
“Emotions & Moral Knowledge”
Do emotions help or hinder us from knowing moral truths? If they help us in our moral understanding, how do they do it, and under what conditions do they do it? When they blind us and cause us moral misjudgment, how do they do this, and under what conditions do they do dirty work?


Spring 2012 Speakers

February 9, 2012
Dr. Chad Meister, Professor of Philosophy at Bethel College

Chad Meister
"Divine Elusiveness, Reasonable Nonbelief, and the Existence of God"
If it is true that belief in God is necessary for ultimate human flourishing, as most theists affirm, then it would seem that the existence of God would be an obvious feature of the world. But this is not the case; there is no unambiguous evidence for God. According to what is commonly referred to as “the problem of divine hiddenness,” the non-existence of God is confirmed by the fact that not everyone believes in God. John Schellenberg argues that if a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief would not occur. But since there is reasonable nonbelief, a perfectly loving God does not exist. I argue that (a) reasonable nonbelief is not incongruous with the existence of an omnibenevolent God, and (b) the elusiveness of God should be expected given Christian theism.

March 20, 2012
Dr. Gilbert Meilaender, Professor of Theology at Valpraiso University

Gilbert Meilander
"The Dignity of the Human Person"
The term ‘dignity’ is frequently used in contemporary bioethics, but often in quite different ways. Thus, an advocate of euthanasia may frame his argument in the language of death with dignity, while an opponent of euthanasia may argue that acknowledging our dependence and accepting our decline is integral to human dignity. The lecture will explore two different concepts of dignity, one that involves comparative assessments and one that does not. Each concept is needed, but holding them together in a coherent position is by no means easy

April 17, 2012
Dr. Merold Westphal, Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University

Merold Westphall
"Philosophical Hermeneutics as the Postmodern Turn"
While 'postmodern' often connotes such "radical" French thinkers as Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, and Deleuze, the "conservative" philosophical hermeneutics in Gadamer and Ricoeur already constitute a decisive break with essential elements of modern philosophy. Since hermeneutics is highly relevant for biblical interpretation, Gadamer and Ricoeur are as important for theology as for philosophy.