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February 12th, 2016

  • Image preview 3:30pm: The Ethical Dimensions of Understanding in Gadamer’s Hermeneutics, Monica Vilhauer (Roanoke College)
    In this colloquium presentation, Dr. Vilhauer introduces the field of philosophical hermeneutics (the philosophy of interpretation developed by Hans-Georg Gadamer), and argues for the ethical dimensions of genuine dialogue, in which communication and a common understanding take place.  Such dialogue is central to all efforts of understanding, whether one is trying to grasp a work of art, a text, historical events, or another in living conversation.  It is also central to philosophy, whose aim is not to out-argue one’s interlocutor, but to come to a shared grasp of our world and its truths. In her accessible presentation, Vilhauer aims to illuminate the practical value of hermeneutics for the humanities and for life at large, while also highlighting her original work.

October 23rd, 2015

  • Image preview 3:30pm: “A New Paradigm of Anti-Racism: Why Discourse of White Privilege, Justice, and Equality Does Not Work” by Naomi Zack (University of Oregon)
    Naomi Zack’s recent books are White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of U.S. Police Racial Profiling and Homicide​ (2015), The Ethics and Mores of Race: Equality after the History of Philosophy  (2011), and Applicative Justice: A Pragmatic, Empirial Approach to Racial Injustice (2016). She now presents a new way to think about racial oppression and other forms of present injustice. She rejects White Privilege discourse, Rawlsian Ideal Theories of Justice, and the idea of Equality. Instead, Zack proposes a comparative approach––blacks should not be treated as whites are not treated.


October 16th, 2015

  • Image preview 3:30pm: “Knowledge as Justified Stable Belief” by Avram Hiller (Portland State University)
    Epistemologists are (almost) in agreement that Edmund Gettier (1963) refuted the account of knowledge according to which knowledge is justified true belief (JTB). This paper provides a novel explanation of why the JTB account was wrongheaded from the outset. Using an analogy between knowledge and soundness, I argue that knowledge should never have been understood as having an independent truth condition, although I do not deny that knowledge is factive. The post-Gettier move to pursue a theory of warrant – whatever it is that must be added to true belief to yield knowledge – is thus misguided, as is the longstanding debate about whether warrant entails truth. Instead of modifying or jettisoning the J condition on knowledge, or adding a fourth condition, we ought simply to replace the T condition. And so rather than seeking an account of warrant, epistemologists should seek an account of what I will call stability, which can be defined at the outset as that condition, whatever it is, that must be added to justified belief to yield knowledge. Knowledge is thusjustified stable belief (JSB). Unlike other approaches, the K=JSB view clearly distinguishes internal and external components of knowledge, and I show that it is thus salutary for fallibilist internalist accounts of justification. I then take some steps in explaining what stability is and in differentiating the JSB account from alternative views. One of the main goals of this paper is to provide a framework of a theory of knowledge which is an alternative to Timothy Williamson’s view that knowledge is prime, and so I also show how Williamson’s arguments fail to undermine the reductive nature of the K=JSB account.

September 25th, 2015

  • Image preview 3:30pm: Schellenberg’s Evolutionary Religion: How Evolutionary and How Religious? by William A. Rottschaefer (Lewis & Clark College)

    In Evolutionary Religion, J. L. Schellenberg formulates an account of religion supported by a Darwinian evolutionary theory understood as a science of the deep future.  The possibility of such a future enables the realization that our present understandings of religion are immature and that the future may bring radically altered understandings of divine reality and a time when religious practice is at the center of human well-being.  In this paper, I argue that Schellenberg’s evolutionary religion represents at best but half the evolutionary story, its epistemic side.  Ontologically, it remains fundamentally non-evolutionary.  Positively, I suggest a naturalistic alternative to Schellenberg’s Ultimate, Darwin’s Hegelian Spirit.  In sum, I conclude that Schellenberg’s evolutionary religion is neither sufficiently evolutionary nor religious.

April 10th, 2015

April 9th, 2015

  • 12:00pm: An Investigation of Moral Supervenience and Projectivism from the Perspective of Burning Cats by Kaitlin Louise Pettit (Lewis & Clark College)

    Simon Blackburn claims that we hold two statements about moral possibility that jointly lead to moral anti-realism. The first of these statements is a supervenience claim that says that if a moral state supervenes on a natural state, when the natural state occurs necessarily the moral one will as well. The second statement is a non-entailment claim, which says that the relationship between the natural state and the moral one is not one of logical entailment. In other words, the natural states do not lead to the moral ones by any laws of logic and it is possible that the natural states occur without the moral one. In this paper, I argue that Blackburn’s supervenience argument against moral realism fails. Specifically, he has solved the problem for the realist by smuggling in a supervenience claim, or his argument for anti-realism fails. I show how the way in which Blackburn has defined his terms hurts his argument and aids the realist. By his definitions of his terms, his non-entailment clause is incomprehensible and his underlying notion in his supervenience claim either aids the realist or leaves anti-realism on too shaky of a ground. 

April 8th, 2015

  • Image preview 5:00pm: Philosophy Extravaganza: Are You Ready To Die?
    Come to this year’s Philosophy Extravaganza to hear LC Professors discuss the topic, “Are You Ready To Die?” There will be a free dinner and a discussion following the short presentations. Beth Szczepanski from the Music department, Jessica Starling from Religious Studies, Tamily Weissman-Unni from Biology, and Jeff Jones from the Law School will be joining us to present and stimulate our discussion.


March 20th, 2015

  • Image preview 3:30pm - 5:00pm: Moral Disagreement and the Importance of Meta-Ethics by Joel Martinez (Lewis & Clark College)
    According to moral cognitivists, moral judgments express beliefs and are, thus, truth-apt.  According to moral non-cognitivists, moral judgments do not express beliefs and, thus, are not truth-apt.  Instead, when one makes a moral judgment, one expresses an attitude that is more like an approval or dis-approval.   One common argument for moral non-cognitivism relies on the phenomenon of moral disagreement.   In this paper, I trace the history of the non-cognitivist argument from moral disagreement.  I also raise objections to this argument.   I argue that the non-cognitivist’s explanation of moral disagreement fails to explain how some moral disagreements are genuine disagreements.  Further, I argue that the cognitivist has the resources for a better explanation of moral disagreement than the non-cognitivist.  Since I do not claim to offer a decisive defense of cognitivism, I then consider what evidence would help us make progress in this debate.  I argue that recent, empirically minded philosophers mis-characterize the role that the natural and social sciences should play in solving this and other problems in meta-ethics.   Instead, Philosophy plays a distinctive role in solving meta-ethical disputes and cannot simply rely on the results of the sciences.

March 6th, 2015

  • Image preview 3:30pm - 5:00pm: Implicit Bias and the Circumstances of Moral Responsibility by Manuel R. Vargas (University of San Francisco)
    Implicit bias is a partially unconscious, partially automatic, and often negative evaluative tendency directed at individuals, based on their apparent membership in a socially salient category or group. The phenomenon of implicit bias raises interesting questions for a theory of moral responsibility, in part because implicit bias and our reaction to it provide reasons for both blaming and not blaming agents who act on the bases of those biases. For example, on the one hand, implicit biases can appear to be largely outside the direct control of agents, and not expressive of their values or true selves. On the other hand, it is difficult to shake the sense that one’s discovery of, say, racist bias should give rise to a sense of guilt. How we should navigate these issues, and what they suggest about responsible agency more generally, is the subject of this talk.


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