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

Philosophy in the Community: 2016-17 Schedule

Sep. 9 "Is Life Absurd?"

Professor Emer O'Hagan

Many people find life to be absurd, at least sometimes. It seems that life is without point or meaning, and yet of utter significance. Can this attitude - that life is absurd - be explained? Are there good reasons to conclude that life is absurd?  In this talk I will outline the main arguments for and against and the claim that life is absurd and, I hope, spark a lively and fruitful discussion.

Oct. 14 "Positivism vs. Realism: Psychology's Struggle for Scientific Status"

Professor Valery Chirkov
(Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan)

I will start this presentation with a discussion of some problems of psychological research that limit psychologists’ capacities to move this science forward. Certain problems will be attributed to the dominance of positivism, which sometime has been labeled ‘statistism’ or ‘statistical positivism’. Main features of this form of positivism and their consequences for success of psychological research will be discussed. The realist philosophy will be introduced as an alternative position and its advantages for psychological investigations will be elaborated.

Nov. 11 "Magical Thinking, Anger and Forgiveness: Reflections on Nussbaum’s Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice"

Erin Delathouwer
(College of Education, University of Saskatchewan)

Martha Nussbaum urges us to consider how magical thinking fuels anger. She suggests that even when anger is well-grounded, its justification is often rooted in magical thinking, which makes anger irrational. Further, to the extent that anger is irrational, forgiveness too (at least, forgiveness of the transactional sort) is irrational. The common idea here is that both anger and forgiveness are motivated by payback wishes and down-ranking of relative status. Payback wishes are problematic insofar as they result from a belief in a kind of “cosmic balance”. Down-ranking behaviours are similarly grounded in unjustified, irrational, beliefs about the relative status, or unequal value, of persons. Therefore, neither anger nor forgiveness seem fully justifiable. And yet, insofar as forgiveness can propel relationships forward – even begin to heal wounds of oppression – it must be justifiable under at least some circumstances. Might anger, too, be justifiable when it is forward looking – when it is not focused on payback? Nussbaum argues that a very specific kind of anger – Transition Anger – is justifiable. Transition Anger stands apart from our ordinary concept of anger, and describes the kind of anger that propels interactions aimed at greater justice in an unjust world. As compelling as Nussbaum’s view of anger is, I’m left wondering if it is ‘magical thinking’ that leads us astray. Indeed, even Transition Anger, which moves us to possibly successful actions aimed at a more just world, seems to find its justification in some form of magical thinking. In this talk, I will sketch Nussbaum’s argument and articulate some of its formidable strengths, as well as a possible shortcoming.

Dec. 9 "Are We Living in a Post-Truth Society?"

Professor Susan Dieleman

A series of recent articles in venues like The New York Times and The Economist have either heralded or pushed back against the idea that we are living in a "post-truth society" where the public have neither the time nor the taste for facts and evidence. Brexit and Trump campaigns in particular have been identified as harbingers of a new political era characterized by "misinformation." In this presentation, I examine what commentators mean by "post-truth society," investigate whether there is any merit to the claim that we now live in such a society, and explore whether we should be doing anything about it.

Jan. 13 "Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful, or Are You Beautiful Because I Love You?"

Professor Dwayne Moore

This question, from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, captures the deep divide in classical theories of love. According to the Erosic model of love, “I love you because you’re beautiful,” or, the lover appraises the value of the beloved. According to the Agapic model, “You’re beautiful because I love you,” or, the lover bestows value onto the beloved. Both models correctly capture certain intuitions about the nature of love, but are also defective in other respects. I will survey the strengths and weaknesses of both theories, and consider the merits of various compromise positions.

Feb. 10 "Women’s Libbers and Radical Mothers: Indigenous Feminism during the Second Wave"

Professor Sarah Nickel
(Department of Indigenous Studies, University of Saskatchewan)

When did Indigenous women become feminists and what did that look like? What can 20th century Indigenous women’s political organizations tell us about Indigenous feminism and the nature of Indigenous politics? Here, I will explore the ways in which Indigenous women in the 1960s-1980s combatted their unique gendered and racialized political suppression through interactions with mainstream second wave feminism and the male-dominated Indigenous rights movement.

Mar. 10 "Sex Robots: The Good, the Bad, and the Weird"

Professor Will Buschert

In this talk I’ll be exploring some of the moral implications of (highly anthropomorphic, socially interactive, possibly artificially intelligent) sex robots. Some experts predict that such robots are a near-future possibility. According David Levy, for instance, by 2050 sex robots will be commonplace and socially accepted. And, at least on Levy’s analysis, this will be a good thing in that they will provide sexual and emotional gratification to millions of people who, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to enter into real life intimate relationships. Others are not nearly so optimistic. For instance, Kathleen Richardson and other proponents of the Campaign Against Sex Robots argue that sex robots ought to be outlawed, on the grounds that they will reinforce the objectification of women and children and replicate essentially exploitative client-john relationships. In my view, there may be no easy answers in this domain, but we probably can’t avoid asking the questions.

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