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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.



Suzanne M Love (Georgia State University & Tulane University) 

The Right to Freedom
November 5th, 3:30, 2021, EST  CLHIPP 335
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The right to freedom is a powerful tool in politics and human rights, as so many of us take there to be a fundamental right to live our lives as we choose. This intuitive idea of the right to freedom is heavily associated with libertarian and classical liberal views that rely on a conception of freedom as negative liberty, where one is free to the extent that others do not interfere with one doing as one chooses. Here, I argue against the negative liberty view. As I argue, with a conception of freedom as negative liberty, freedom is either defined by reference to other values and so cannot itself be a foundational moral value, or it is so far from the intuitive idea of freedom we began with that it is hard to see why we would want it to be a foundational value. I argue instead that only the Kantian conception of the right to freedom can capture this intuitive idea of freedom. On the Kantian view, the right to freedom is a right to live your life as you choose, consistently with the rights of others to do the same. You have the right to direct your own will in the world, but you do not have the right to direct the wills of others. As I argue, this additional aspect of the right to freedom provides the conceptual resources to differentiate those actions that violate the right to freedom from those that do not without appealing to other values while also coherently capturing what it is to have the right to live your life as you choose. I conclude by noting that once we take this additional aspect of the right to freedom into account, the right to freedom is no longer intrinsically opposed to robust socioeconomic rights.

The following colloquium has been postponed  until Spring 2022.


Barry Loewer (Rutgers University) 

Are Humean Laws Flukes?
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Contemporary philosophical discussion of the metaphysics of laws of nature is dominated by two approaches Necessitarian and Humean.  The first holds that reality  includes at its most fundamental level a kind of  necessity in virtue of which laws are able to play their roles in explanation, prediction, confirmation, counterfactuals and causation. In contrast, Humean accounts deny the need for fundamental necessity and say that laws are regularities that possess some other feature which enables them to play their roles. There are many complaints that anti-Humeans make against Lewis’ Humean BSA. Two will concern me here. One is that Humean laws since they summarize their instances they  do  not explain them.  The second is that since Humean laws are do not involve necessary connections they are coincidences or hold by accident and further, if Humeanism  is true there  is no explanation  of  why  there are any lawful regularities and at all. if Humeanism were true worlds that contain regularities and  patterns and  in particular to be systematizable by a Lewisian best system are a rarity. It would be a fluke  if our world is systematizable. In my talk I will defend a version of David Lewis’ Humean BSA against these objections.

The following colloquium has been postponed (due to COVID-19), still to be rescheduled.


Jeanette Bicknell (Independent Scholar) 

The 'Crack in the Voice' and Joe Turner's Blues
Great art has been created under conditions of immense suffering and
social injustice. What is less clear is how responsively and sensitively
to make sense of and appreciate such art. How do we acknowledge the
suffering that must have gone into making the art, while seeing the
creators as something other than victims of circumstance? How to make
sure that the feelings of pity or compassion we are likely to have for
those who have suffered injustice does not manifest itself in a
patronizing or condescending attitude to their work? I offer some
reflections on the challenge of appreciating African American music. My
central example is the song, "Joe Turner’s Blues."

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.