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2015-16 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 2015 Speakers

Are We Harming the Global Poor?

September 16, 2015 
Dr. Steven Daskal
, Associate Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., University of Michigan) at Northern Illinois University

Dr. Steven DaskalThomas Pogge has argued that typical citizens of affluent nations participate in an unjust global order that harms the global poor, and that “we” therefore have stringent negative duties to reform the global order and compensate those we have harmed.  In this talk, Dr. Daskal will raise some concerns about Pogge’s analysis and attempt to determine whether there are obligations to the global poor that have the special urgency traditionally associated with negative duties. He will argue that Pogge is correct to conclude that there are ways in which we are complicit in harming the global poor, and that we owe special obligations in light of this complicity, but that these negative obligations towards the global poor are not as widespread as Pogge suggests.


Does Suffering Provide a Good Reason for Atheism? A Skeptical Theist’s Analysis

November 5, 2015
Dr. Michael Bergmann
, Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) at Purdue University

Dr. Michael BergmanThe immense amount of horrific suffering in the world is perceived by many to be the basis for a strong argument for atheism.  But is this perception accurate?  Not according to skeptical theism, a view that is gaining increasing attention in the philosophy of religion.  What is skeptical theism?  How does it respond to atheistic arguments based on horrific suffering?  Does skeptical theism face problems of its own?  All of these questions will be addressed in this talk.


Revisiting Thomas Aquinas on Human Creativity and the Environment

December 1, 2015
Dr. Therese Scarpelli-Cory
, Assistant Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., Catholic University of America) at University of Notre Dame

Dr. Therese Scarpelli-CoryDoes human creativity complete a world that God left unfinished?  Or do our activities of making, building, and inventing mar the goodness of creation?  Thomas Aquinas helps answer these questions by reflecting on Divine creativity and its image in the human being.



Spring 2016 Speakers


Rethinking Art

March 1, 2016
Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus Philosophical Theology Divinity School and Religious Studies (Ph.D., Harvard University) at Yale University

Dr. Nicolas WolterstorffPhilosophers and theorists of art have focused almost all of their attention on "high art"-- museum paintings and concert hall music -- to the neglect of other kinds of art. After offering an explanation of why this is, I will argue that we should expand the scope of our inquiries and reflect on other ways of engaging art as well. I will give some indication of what such an expanded inquiry would look like. 


Is the Incarnation of God Impossible?

March 23, 2016
Dr. Tim Pawl,
Associate Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., Saint Louis University) at University of St. Thomas

Christianity teaches that God became man.  But how can that be? For, it would seem, some attributes God must have – maybe eternal existence and omnipotence - are attributes that a man can’t have.  How, then, can one person be both God and man?  In this talk, Dr. Pawl will present the fundamental philosophical problem for the doctrine of the incarnation, then provide some ways to respond to it.


Rethinking 'One Thought Too Many'

April 7, 2016
Dr. Marcia Baron, Rudy Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., University of North Carolina) at Indiana University

Dr. Marcia Baron“But that would be one thought too many.” This line occurs often in works in moral philosophy, ever since Bernard Williams’ “Persons, Character, and Morality” was published (in 1976).  It was there that Williams, commenting on an example from Charles Fried of someone who can rescue either his wife or a stranger, remarks that if the man’s motivating thought when he rescues his wife is not simply that it’s his wife, but instead that it’s his wife and that in situations of this kind it is permissible to save one’s wife, that would be one thought too many. What exactly is the problem? And how serious a problem is it?"