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

Philosophy in the Community: 2012-2013 Schedule

Sep. 12 "What, if anything, is Human Nature?"

Professor Emer O’Hagan

Assumptions about human nature are prevalent and greatly influence the shape inquiry takes in numerous disciplines. Yet it is not entirely clear what we mean when we use the phrase “human nature”. In this talk I will consider several different views of what “human nature” could mean and possibly be, as well as objections to these views. I will frame my discussion of the concept by posing two questions: If we were to understand human nature, what good would it do us? If we failed to understand human nature, how might we be disadvantaged?

Oct. 10 "Is the Truth Just What it is Useful to Believe?"

Professor Eric Dayton

When William James writes that the truth is what it is useful to believe, it is easy to find reasons to disagree.  But is there a deeper, more subtle point that we are missing in so doing?  In this talk we will attempt to take seriously the radical character of James’s commitment to the importance of human needs, aspirations and passions in giving shape to a conception of truth.  We will examine his controversial examples from science, ethics and religion in order to understand his rejection of a transcendentally independent realm of truth.

Nov. 14

"No One Here Gets Out Alive: Death, Survival, and Personal Identity”

Professor Peter Alward
(Department of Philosophy, University of Lethbridge)

A common view is that the death of one's body need not be the end of one's existence, that in some sense one can survive the death of the body. In order to survive bodily death, however, one needs to stand in a relation of personal identity to a person existing some time after the death of one's body. And it is not entirely clear that any defensible account of personal identity is compatible with the survival of bodily death. As a result, it may turn out that survival is not even possible.


Dec. 12

“Love and Games”

Professor Sarah Hoffman

Some have argued for the impossibility of romantic sexual love on the grounds that it is conceptually contradictory, or at least includes very deep tensions. In this talk I take up this question, explore how a narrative account of love may help us get around the problem and speculate about the ways pretense, role play and other game-related activities may be essential to romantic, sexual love.

Jan. 9 "Can Evil be Banal?"

Professor Ria Jenkins
(Department of Philosophy, St Thomas More College)

Feb. 13 "Occupying Philosophy in Neoliberal Canada"

Professor Len Findlay
(Department of English, University of Saskatchewan)

In this talk I will explore the philosophical underpinnings of the Occupy Movement with three goals in mind:

To see how this Movement stands up to philosophical scrutiny, bearing in mind that there are many forms of such scrutiny;

To explore how philosophy stands up to activist scrutiny, bearing in mind Marx’s celebrated stricture in his Theses on Feuerbach: “The philosophers have in their various ways merely interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it”;

And to suggest how philosophy and social activism face a common enemy--that neoliberalism currently working so hard in Canada to discourage both the kind of independent reflection that philosophy demands and nourishes and that kind of critically engaged citizenship the Occupy Movement seeks to model and propagate.

Mar. 13 "Moral Theory and Judicial Independence"

Professor Brian Zamulinski

This talk will examine the connections between legal theory, the ethical limits to parliamentary power, and why it is good for a liberal democracy to enforce such limits.


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