Colloquium Series: 2023-2024

Talks in the Fall are scheduled for 3:30 pm in the Danielsen Room, Rabb 338, unless otherwise noted. Events are updated throughout the semester. Please check back often.

Fall 2023

December 1, 2023

Sam Berstler is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at MIT.  Her talk is titled,

The Structure of Open Secrecy

"Non-acknowledgment practices are an utterly pervasive feature of our lives.  When we talk to each other, we regularly ignore and take ourselves to be required to ignore huge swathes of information that we know and know that we know and know that we know that we know...Here I identify and limn the structure of a particularly powerful type of non-acknowledgment norm.  I call them open secrecy norms.  I argue that just because of their structure, these norms are more insidious than other non-acknowledgments.  Open secrecy norms are principally distinguished by their iteration principle: when p is an open secret, then it's an open secret that p is an open secret.  Idiomatically, when p is an open secret, we don't talk about p, and we don't talk about the fact that we don't talk about it.  I use the standard common ground framework in order to illustrate the holistic ways in which these norms shape our interactions.  My analysis sheds new light on the nature of collective denial, the management of taboo information in conversation, and the wrongs that groups can impose on "inconvenient" victims.  (Content note: Participants should be aware that this talk includes some discussion of sexual violence and interpersonal abuse.)"

December 8, 2023

Dana Francisco Miranda is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UMass Boston. His talk is titled,

The Conspiracy of Peace

“In the 1968 documentary drama, Tell Me Lies, the Pan-African organizer Kwame Ture states: 'There is a difference between peace and liberation, is there not? You can have injustice and have peace. Isn’t that correct? You can have peace and be enslaved. So, peace isn’t the answer. Liberation is the answer.'  The notion that a political order free from disturbance or conflict 'at peace' has long served as the ideal and optimal community. Being 'at peace' is thus synonymous with the well-functioning of political orders. Yet, states themselves can be functional, even thrive, through the production of social interactions wherein one’s contemporaries are treated as non-relations, or nonbeings. Moreover, the maintenance of non-relation often requires the subjection and violent subordination of such groups. Peace in other words is maintained through disorder. Drawing on the works of Martin Luther King, Jr, Frantz Fanon, and Nelson Maldonado-Torres this work will interrogate how 'peace' functions in conspiracy with domination and oppression and describe the type of solidarities necessary to combat and upend dysfunctional orders.”

Spring 2024 - Spring talks start at 3:45 PM!

January 26, 2024

Jens Timmermann is Professor of Moral Philosophy at St. Andrews' School of Philosophical, Anthropological, and Film Studies. His talk is titled,

Kant's Theory of Sympathy

Kant is often seen as a critic of sympathy – now commonly called empathy – because he dismisses sympathetic action as non-moral in the 1785 Ground- work of the Metaphysics of Morals. But close look at his later writings, particularly the 1797 Doctrine of Virtue, reveals a much more nuanced, if puzzling view. Kant there dismisses a certain passive, mechanical form of sympathy while championing another, which he calls ‘active’ and ‘rational’. Agents are encouraged to cultivate sympathy and to use it for practical purposes. Kant has, it turns out, supplemented his earlier view with a rich account of sympathy that deserves to be explored in detail both as an exercise in the history of philosophy and as a philosophical theory in its own right. 

Celebrate Kant's 300th Birthday!

April 18, 2024

Stand by for details.

April 19, 2024

Sukaina Hirji is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. She writes,

"I work in ethics and ancient philosophy. My work seeks to illuminate the often subtle ways in which material conditions and oppressive structures can limit our ability to fully be what we are, to fully express the parts of ourselves central to our identity."