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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.

February 6th, 2015

  • Image preview 3:30pm - 5:00pm: “Falling Through Time” by Craig Callender (University of California, San Diego)

    As we navigate through life, we adopt an implicit model of time that is very important to us. In this model the present is special and the past fixed, and this whole structure “flows” forward. Physics suggests that this conception of time is fundamentally wrong about time. It is commonly dismissed as an illusion and removed from their desks and placed on the desks of psychologists. However, psychologist don’t know it’s been put on their desks. So why we have no explanation of why we all naturally adopt this picture of falling through time. The cosmologist Gold emphasized that before we can dismiss the flow we need to explain the “self-consistent set of rules that would give a beast this kind of phoney picture of time.” Here I take up this interdisciplinary project. Appealing to the hard facts of life in a relativistic world, evolution, cognitive science and psychology, I develop a theory of why “beasts” like us feel like we’re falling through time.

January 30th, 2015

December 5th, 2014

  • Image preview 3:30pm - 5:00pm: A Guilt Trip: Moral Psychology, Expressivism, and the Basic Emotions
    Jay Odenbaugh, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

    According to moral sentimentalism, moral judgments necessarily involve emotions. The most sophisticated version of sentimentalism is that articulated by Allan Gibbard in his Wise Choices, Apt Feelings. On his view, a moral judgment that an action is wrong expresses acceptance of norms that permit guilt for having done it and resentment on the part of others. Shaun Nichols, in his Sentimental Rules, argues that Gibbard’s account is fatally flawed. First, children cannot experience or recognize guilt until they are six or seven years old. Second, children can make moral judgments as early as three or four years old as shown by their ability to pass the moral-conventional task. In this talk, I respond on behalf of Gibbard showing Nichols’ argument fails. Finally, I turn to a more pressing worry about guilt. Since guilt is so difficult to show sincerely, how can it coordinate our moral lives? Using evolutionary game theory, I show how one might respond to this worry.

    Visit his webpage here

November 7th, 2014

October 31st, 2014

  • Image preview 3:30pm - 5:00pm: Imagery, Expression, and Figurative Meaning - Mitchell Green (University of Connecticut)

    Metaphorical utterances are construed as arrayed along a continuum, on one end of which are semi-conventionalized cases amenable to analysis in terms of semantic content, speaker meaning, and satisfaction conditions, and where image-construction is permissible but not mandatory. I call these image-permitting metaphors (IPM’s), and contrast them with image-demanding metaphors (IDM’s) inhabiting the continuum’s other end and whose understanding mandates the construction of a mental image. This construction, I suggest, is spontaneous, is not restricted to visual imagery, and its result is typically somatically marked sensu Damasio. IDM’s may accordingly be used in service of self-expression, and thereby in the elicitation of empathy. Even so, IDM’s may also be vehicles of speaker meaning, and may reasonably provoke banter over the aptness of the imagery they evoke.


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