[Department of Philosophy, University of Saskatchewan, 100 Years]

Philosophy in the Community: 2011-2012 Schedule

Sep. 14 "Equality and Respecting Differences"

Professor David Crossley

There seems to be a conflict in our political attitudes. On the one hand, we hold that, in a liberal democracy, each individual should be treated as an equal and enjoy the same rights as others. No one should be at a disadvantage – in seeking a job, for example – because of her religion, gender, or ethnic or cultural background. On the other hand, we think that the demands of certain groups for recognition should be respected. Thus, we believe in respecting cultural differences – to the extent of wondering whether a common school curriculum should be replaced with one that recognizes and accommodates the cultural and other differences of the students. And we have endorsed affirmative action programs that make special provisions for groups thought to have been subject to systemic discrimination.

But, are these views in conflict? Does a policy of recognition, demanding that we respect differences among citizens, undermine our attempts to insure that all are treated as equals? These questions are the focus of tonight’s discussion.

Oct. 12 "Authority, Obedience, and Respect for the Law"

Professor Mark Capustin

The law can secure obedience by various means, including threat of punishment, and (more ideally) by gaining the respect of its subjects. The former of these reasons implies only power, and not all power is legitimately authoritative. The latter raises an obvious question: What kinds of reasons might we have to respect the law?  I will argue that authority is not an all or nothing matter; rather, the extent to which it is legitimate varies with the particular situations of those subject to it.

Nov. 9 "Romanticism, Modernism & Genius: the Role of Art and Artists in Society"

Professor Mona Holmlund
(Department of Art & Art History, U of S)

Many of our attitudes regarding artists and what constitutes art are pre-conceptions which go unexamined.  This talk will look at some of the historical origins of the idea of artistic genius and try to untangle the sometimes fraught relationship between contemporary art and its audience.

Dec. 14 "How Should We Think About Hate Speech?"

Professor Ken Norman (College of Law, U of S)

The Supreme Court of Canada currently is deliberating  the Whatcott case.  During the arguments several of the judges peppered counsel with questions revealing a strong distaste for s.14 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code’s project of protecting minorities from hateful speech.  For the purposes of our discussion let’s look at one of William Whatcott’s pamphlets, “Sodomites in our Public Schools” which asserts: “If Saskatchewan’s sodomites have their way, your school board will be celebrating buggery too!” and, “Our acceptance of homosexuality and our toleration of its promotion in our school system will lead to the early death and morbidity of many children”.  So far, in the three tiers of adjudication leading to the Supreme Court, the answer to the question whether this message amounts to hatred that can be limited by a human rights code without infringing freedom of expression under the Charter has been yes, yes and no. The arguments in the national controversy surrounding Whatcott as to the wisdom of limiting any speech deserve our attention.

Jan. 11 "Atheist Spirituality: An Oxymoron?"

Professor Eric Dayton

It is a common view that by giving life meaning and direction, religion offers a good that is unavailable to the unbeliever. In this talk I will ask whether this view is true or reasonable, by examining and untangling some of the issues concerning spirituality, religious belief and atheism. I will argue that atheism is no barrier to a spiritual practice.

Feb. 8 "Søren Kierkegaard: Existentialist Critic of the Present Age "

Professor Leslie Howe

Søren Kierkegaard was the first existentialist philosopher and a trenchant critic of the superficialities and excesses of modernism. His critique of modernity has made him a favourite of postmodernists but he would have given them equally short shrift. This talk will present an overview of Kierkegaard's critique of triviality, bombast, and pusillanimity in philosophy, religion, and society, a critique that remains as pertinent to us as it was to 1840s Europe.

Mar. 14 "The Stoic Art of Living Well"

Professor Daniel Regnier (Saint Thomas More College)

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