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Department of Philosophy


The Department is active in sponsoring and hosting events for our students, faculty, and the public.  All are invited to publicly advertised events.  Past events can be seen via the links in the menu.



Thomas Kelly (Princeton University)

Bias, Perspective, and Introspection
Nov 18th, 3:30-5pm, Close-Hipp 202
email for details: Brett Sherman
In this talk, I sketch a general framework for theorizing about bias and bias attributions.  I attempt to show that the account illuminates a number of important psychological phenomena, including the following: (i) the fact that accusations of bias frequently inspire not only denials but also countercharges of bias (“you only think that I’m biased because you’re biased!”); (ii) the fact that we tend to see ourselves as less biased than our peers (the so-called ‘bias blind spot’); and (iii) the fact that we tend to see people who share our views as less biased than people who don’t. I explore the circumstances in which we’re rationally committed to believing that those who disagree with us are not only mistaken but also biased simply because they disagree with us in the way that they do.  In addition, I argue that the account also sheds light on another notorious and well-documented psychological phenomenon: the fact that introspection is an unreliable way of detecting our biases. On the account that I offer, the unreliability of introspection for this purpose isn’t a contingent fact that depends on the finer details of human psychology but rather holds of necessity: even God could not have made us creatures who reliably detect our own biases by way of introspection.

The following colloquium has been postponed, it will be rescheduled.

Rachel Barney (University of Toronto)

The Ethics and Politics of Plato's "Noble Lie"
email for details:
The Noble Lie proposed by Plato for the Just City in Republic III has been much misunderstood. Its agenda is twofold: to get the citizens of the City to see their society as a natural entity, with themselves as all ‘family' and akin; and to get the Guardians in particular to make class mobility, on which the justice of the City depends, a top priority. Since the second is taken to depend on the first, the Lie passage amounts to an argument (1) that the survival of a just community depends on the existence of social solidarity between elite and mass, which allows for full class mobility and genuine meritocracy; (2) that this solidarity in turn depends on an ideology of natural unity; and (3) that such ideologies are always false. So the Lie really is a lie, but a necessary one; as such it poses an awkward ethical problem for Plato and, if he is right, for our own societies as well.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.