[Department of Philosophy, University of Saskatchewan, 100 Years]
[Socrates: The unexamined life is not worth living. Fortunately there's...

The Philosophy in the Community
Lecture & Discussion Series
@ The Refinery



Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the College of Arts and Science


Philosophy in the Community is a lecture and discussion series organized by the Philosophy Department at the University of Saskatchewan, with the support of the College of Arts and Science. It is in place as a public service, so that we may share the rewards and pleasures of philosophical reflection with the members of our community. Philosophical thinking, reading and analysis is part of the life well-lived.

This series is free, no registration is needed. No philosophical background is required; intellectual curiosity is. Coffee provided.

For more information, contact: emer.ohagan@usask.ca

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Location: The Refinery

Emmanuel Anglican (formerly St. James) Church Basement
609 Dufferin Avenue
(at 12th Street, just off Broadway)

Time:   7:00 – 9:00 PM
Dates:  Second Wednesday of each month,
September through March





2014 Schedule

Sep. 10 "Self-Unity, Action and Identity"

Professor Emer O'Hagan

If a person is not united over time by an essential self, or a soul, then must we give up on thinking of ourselves as selves? Some have argued that selves are united over time by action. When we decide what to do we identify with a reason and create a sense of what we are like that continues into the future. On this view selves are pragmatically real and constructed. I will outline the arguments in favour of this view and then complicate matters by advancing some examples which seem to count as cases of self-constitution and involve identification, but do not involve action. I’ll suggest that the unifying force of identification is also present in cases of accurate self-recognition, when we come to see ourselves from a new perspective.

Oct. 08 "Philosophical Urbanism"

Professor Avi Akkerman
(Department of Geography and Planning)

Some recent reflections upon the built environment have related urban design with what has been termed Dionysian and Apollonian dispositions of the arts. The Dionysian is an artistic expression that emphasizes time or temporal flows as its medium, and these include poetry and other literary forms, music, or dance. The Apollonian is an artistic expression that emphasizes space, such as painting, sculpture, or architecture. The Dionysian often represents femininity, while the Apollonian often represents masculinity. Where does urban design or urban planning fit? This question is not of a merely scholastic nature. The Philosophical Urbanism of Walter Benjamin has shown almost a hundred years ago that there is linkage between city-form and mind. Benjamin points out that this linkage suggests a psychoanalytic discourse related to foundational gender aspects in the process of urban design. In the contemporary milieu of urban society, policy and politics, such a discourse has its own significance. Its implications upon gender representation in the built environment, i.e. our own city-form, are of particular significance.

Nov. 12 "Multiculturalism, Individuality, and State Neutrality"

Devin Ens

In a liberal democracy the state does not mandate a conception of the good life for its citizens, but instead leaves individuals to pursue the good as they see fit. This commitment to both individual freedom and state neutrality can lead us to ask whether there can be conflicts between individual rights and group rights. Does multicultural accommodation, for example, allow for discrimination in certain cases? What is a culture, anyway? How is a "culture" to be distinguished from a "subculture"? In this talk I will address some of the philosophical problems behind these issues and promote discussion of them.

Dec. 10 "Robot Ethics: Can Machines Be 'Moral'?

Professor William Buschert

Ever since the term “robot” was first introduced by Karel Čapek in 1920 science fiction has been preparing us to believe that robots are capable of morally bad behaviour. Yet while fictional robots are often portrayed as fully-fledged moral agents, capable of self-directed, autonomous action and possessing distinctive moral character, many people continue to believe that, in actuality, robots will never be capable of ‘real’ moral agency. For many years this was an essentially speculative, ‘merely philosophical’ topic. In recent years, however, it has assumed increasing practical significance. In the already-upon-us world of driverless cars, military robots, and automated financial software systems, questions about how (or whether) morality can be programmed into machines are becoming more and more acute. This talk will explore some of those questions, including questions about what the investigation of machine ethics might be able to tell us about the nature of morality generally.


Jan. 14 TBA 
Feb. 11 TBA 
Mar. 11
TBA


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Last updated: 19-11-2014

Department of Philosophy
9 Campus Drive,
Saskatoon, SK
Canada S7N 5A5

Tel:  (306) 966-6382
Fax: (306) 966-2567

[University of Saskatchewan]