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2014-15 Philosophy Speaker Series

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

Fall 2014 Speakers

September 17, 2014 
Cliff Williams  Dr. Cliff Williams
, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College & Professor of Philosophy Emeritus (Ph.D., Indiana University) at Trinity International University

Need As a Reason To Believe In God

Dr. Williams will lecture on the question of whether it is legitimate to believe in God because one feels a need to.  This question arises from a puzzle: On the one hand, feeling a need to believe something is not by itself a legitimate motivation for believing it.  On the other hand, people have often believed in God because they have felt a need to do so, and need is often appealed to by Christian writers, preachers, lay people, and even Jesus as a basis for believing in God. Based on his recent book, Existential Reasons for Belief in God: A Defense of Desires and Emotions for Faith", Professor Williams will argue that it is legitimate to believe in God, in part, because on needs to.

October 14, 2014
Jonathan Jacobs  Dr. Jonathan Jacobs
, Associate Professor of Classical and Medieval Philosophy (Ph.D., Indiana University) at Saint Louis University

The Trouble With Talking About God

Dr. Jacobs will lecture on how there appears to be a deep tension throughout the Christian tradition concerning talking about God. On the one hand, the tradition holds that it is important to say the right things about God: There is one and only one God; there are exactly three divine Persons; Jesus Christ was one person with both a divine nature and a human nature.  Theologians and saints defended these claims, even unto death.  On the other hand, those very same theologians and saints insisted that such claims fail in some important sense, since God is in some way beyond all knowledge, understanding, and description.  In this talk, I explore this apparent tension by attempting to understand the ways in which talking about God, even when we say true and important things, is in fact dangerous.

November 19, 2014
Nancy Snow  Dr. Nancy Snow
, Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) at Marquette University

Hope As a Christian Theological Virtue

Dr. Snow will lecture on exploring hope as a Christian theological virtue in the work of St. Thomas Aquinas, in relation to the virtues of faith and charity, and in eschatological perspective.  She will also ask whether Christians have a duty to hope.

Spring 2015 Speakers

January 22, 2015
Alex Tuckness  Dr. Alex Tuckness,
Assistant Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., Princeton University) at Iowa State University

The Mercy-Justice Paradox in Historical Perspective

Dr. Tuckness will lecture that contemporary philosophers have frequently found mercy paradoxical in that it is regarded as a virtue yet frequently defined such that it conflicts with justice.  They have also found it very difficult to agree on necessary and sufficient conditions for an act to count as merciful.  Based on his recent Cambridge University Press book (co-authored with John M. Parrish), Tuckness argues that current confusions about mercy have roots in the plurality of metaphors that have historically been used to conceptualize it.  Understanding this history suggests argument for a conception of mercy that is defensible in public life.

February 24, 2015

Candace Vogler Dr. Candace Vogler, David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh) at University of Chicago

Turning to Aquinas in Moral Philosophy

Dr. Vogler will lecture that many contemporary theorists of virtue working in the Aristotelian tradition recognize some strengths of character--hope, for example, or humility or gratitude--as virtues, even though Aristotle does not address these explicitly.  She will argue that Aquinas's moral psychology, deeply indebted to Aristotle, gives insight into the role and structure of virtue in a way that helps to illuminate both the acquired virtues Aristotle recognized and the enlarged catalogue of virtues we now recognize.

March 24, 2015
Christopher Franklin  Dr. Christopher Franklin
, Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., University of California-Riverside ) at Grove City College

Orientations to the Good: Beyond Consequentialist and Retributivist Theories of Blame

Dr. Franklin will cover: Why should we blame the blameworthy?  Even if blame is permissible, wouldn't it be better to reject this punitive practice, and instead embrace an ethic of unrelenting forgiveness and mercy?  Dr. Franklin's aim is to defend the value of blame, beginning his lecture by sketching a pluralist account of value: many things are good, and there are many appropriate orientations to the good.  Central among the proper orientations to the good is that we should be for it.  This opens up the possibility of conceptualizing blame as a mode of being for the good.  Part of what it is to be properly orientated to the good is to be for it and part of what it is to be for the good is to be opposed to those who are against it.  We ought, then, to cultivate a disposition to blame because blame is an essential way of being for the good.