All lectures are held at 4pm in the Philosophy Department Lounge on the 12th Floor of 5057 Woodward, unless otherwise specified.

Fall 2016

September 13            Neil Sinhababu, Unversity of Singapore

September 29            Rebecca Kukla, Georgetown

That's What She Said: The Linguistic Pragmatics of Sexual Negotiations

Rebecca Kukla argues that the language of 'consent' provides an impoverished framework for thinking about sexual autonomy and our social negotiations over when, how, and with whom to have sex. Drawing on speech act theory, she identifies a rich array of types of discourse that play an important role in sexual negotiations. Many of these types of speech have pragmatic structures that are interesting just from the point of view of philosophy of language. Furthermore, an adequate ethics of sexual autonomy and sexual negotiation needs to move beyond consent. It requires attention to the rich texture of sexual discourse, and the ways that power, pleasure, and agency are shaped by such discourse.

October 13                 Dan Korman, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaig

Debunking Arguments in Metaethics and Metaphysics 

Evolutionary debunking arguments abound, but it is widely assumed that they do not arise for our perceptual beliefs about midsized objects, insofar as the adaptive value of our object beliefs cannot be explained without reference to the objects themselves. I argue that this is a mistake. Just as with moral beliefs, the adaptive value of our object beliefs can be explained without assuming that the beliefs are accurate. I then explore the prospects for other sorts of vindications of our object beliefs—which involve “bootstrapping” from our experiences as of midsized objects—and I defend bootstrapping maneuvers against a variety of objections. Finally, I argue for an explanatory constraint on legitimate bootstrapping and show how some attempts to respond to debunking arguments (e.g., Hofweber 2016) run afoul of the constraint.

October 14
                 Jason Stanley, Yale
                                     Humanities Center Ideology Symposium (see Humanities Center website for details)

October 27
                 Derrick Darby, University of Michigan

Vindication of Voting Rights

The paper vindicates a legal system of rights that guarantees all citizens the right to vote by drawing on philosophical insights about dignity found in the work of Martin Luther King, Jr.


November 3               Sally Haslanger, MIT
                                     The 19th Annual Seymour Riklin Memorial Lecture
                                     Location: Bernath Auditorium

Culture and Critique

How do we achieve social justice?  How do we change society for the better?  Some would argue that we must do it by changing the laws or state institutions.  Others that we must do it by changing individual attitudes.  I argue that although both of these factors are important and relevant, we must also change culture.  What does this mean?  Culture, I argue, is a set of social meanings that shapes and filters how we think and act.  Problematic networks of social meanings constitute an ideology.  Entrenched ideologies are resilient and are barriers to social change, even in the face of legal interventions.  I argue that an effective way to change culture is through social movements and contentious politics, and that philosophy has a role to play in promoting such change.

November 17
             Gabriel Richardson Lear, University of Chicago


Winter 2017

February 10                Susanna Siegel, Harvard University
                                     The 39th Annual Gail C. Stine Memorial Lecture


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