Hale Ethics Series, 2014-15

Sponsored by the Hale Chair in Applied Ethics


Thursday, September 11th, 3:30-5, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

Ethics Across the Curriculum

Wade Robison (Philosophy, RIT)

The aim of ethics across the curriulum is to integrate ethics into existing curricula. Ethical considerations are internal to disciplines, and the aim of ethics across the curriculum is to make explicit the implicit ethical considerations that mark all disciplines. It is a presumption, and may be thought presumptuous, to claim that all disciplines at least implicitly embody ethical considerations, but it is a presumption that finds fruit when we examine engineering, for example, or history, or political science, or photography. Professor Robison will provide a general overview of the sorts of ethical considerations we find in all disciplines along with some examples he thinks telling for how ethical considerations enter into some disciplines that may be thought bare of such considerations.

Thursday, September 18th, 3:30-5, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

From Marx to Kant: Alienation and the 'Problem' of Justice

Lucy Ward (Philosophy, University of Melbourne)

This paper analyses Kant’s political and anthropological writings in relation to Marx’s early discussions of alienation. It is argued that Kant’s discussion of what he terms “passions” and “mania” provides a crucial framework shedding light on the normative and moral dimensions to Marx’s thesis concerning alienation. Kant describes Süchte or “hungers” (i.e. the desire for possession, for power, and for fame) as quantitative needs, ones that vacate and empty, rather than qualitatively fill, the human personality oriented towards them. The purpose of this analysis is to make a case for the continuing significance of the ‘problem’ of alienation–both as it is developed in the works of contemporary thinkers Jürgen Habermas and Agnes Heller–and as applied to theories of radical democracy and justice more broadly.

Thursday, October 16th, 3:30-5, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

Hume's Moral Theory

Geoff Sayre-McCord (Morehead-Cain Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina)

David Hume developed an extraordinarily powerful theory of morality, a theory designed both to explain and to justify fundamental principles of ethics. This lecture will offer a general overview of Hume’s theory with the aim of conveying why it has (properly) been so influential.



Wednesday, February 25th, 3:30-5, Liberal Arts, A205

How Practical Wisdom Unifies Aristotle's Ethical Theory

Kathleen Harbin (Philosophy, SUNY-Brockport)

Aristotle proposed that a good human life involves three things: happiness, virtue, and practical wisdom. At first glance, it does not seem clear how these notions fit together or why Aristotle insists that they are mutually dependent. The first is an overarching goal, the second is a set of character traits, and the third is a reasoning capacity that allows us to determine what to do in specific circumstances. I shall explain why it is plausible for Aristotle to make this claim: we only care about the goal because we have good states of character, and we can only experience that goal if we have the capacity to reason out how to achieve it.

Thursday, March 12th, 3:30-5, Bamboo Room, Alumni-Student Union

A Model for Theories of Distributive Justice

Theodore Everett (Philosophy, SUNY Geneseo)

This paper presents a simple mathematical model for theories of distributive justice. It reduces many complex considerations to a single question: imagining a distribution system that imposes a flat-rate income tax on earnings solely in order to provide a guaranteed minimum income to every citizen, which available pair of tax rate and guaranteed income is most just? Model versions of the four main current theories of distributive justice: libertarianism, egalitarianism, utilitarianism, and Rawlsian, can be represented as distribugrams, and these four graphically define the range of possbility for stable systems of distribution. Intermediate model systems can be seen as balancing the moral forces of liberty, equality, utility, and compassion for the least well-off which separately motivate the four main theories. Viewing the range of theories of distributive justice in this simple framework sheds light on political arguments over Western welfare systems, and may suggest reforms.

Thursday, April 9th, 3:30-4:50, 1-2000

Phenomenological Aristotles: Heidegger – Patocka

Golfo Maggini (Philosophy, University of Ioannina/Greece)

Numerous are the studies which strive to investigate into the considerable impact of Aristotle’s ontology, practical philosophy, and rhetorics upon the formation of Heidegger’s phenomenological project. Given the number and quality of brilliant scholarly works on this issue, our aim in the lecture will not be to trace the multiple facets of Heidegger’s reading of Aristotle, but to question the necessity of such a reading for phenomenological thought. For that reason, Heidegger’s multi-faceted confrontation with Aristotelian philosophy will be viewed in the light of another great representative of the phenomenological tradition, who had also a vivid exchange with the history of philosophy through his interpretation of Plato and Aristotle, Jan Patocka. In his recently translated into French collection of essays entitled Aristote, ses devanciers, ses successeurs Patocka offers us an original, phenomenologically rigorous account of the way in which Aristotelian philosophy shaped modern Europe through the leading idea of the mathematization of movement. Thus, Patocka would agree with Heidegger’s much debated claim that Aristotle’s metaphysics is just as much physics as physics is metaphysics. Notwithstanding, while both Heidegger and Patocka acknowledge the significance of kinesis and the need for its adequate treatment with the aid of phenomenological method, their reception of Aristotle witnesses a number of significant differences. On the one hand, the early Heidegger is much closer to the late Patocka on how kinesis and energeia should be viewed in Aristotle; on the other hand, Aristotle’s alleged belonging to the history of metaphysics due to his productionist metaphysics is strictly opposed to Patocka’s interpretation of Aristotelian kinesis. The latter is made explicit in Patocka’s powerful reading of Aristotle’s confrontation with the Platonic heritage, especially with the theme of the movement of the soul in late Plato, and also in his use of Aristotelian kinesis for the phenomenological elucidation of the three movements of human existence.

Thursday, April 30th, 3:30-5, 1-2000

Public History and the Public Interest: Teaching the Ethics of Telling the Past

Michael Brown (History, RIT)

To whom or what are public historians responsible when they interpret the past for audiences outside the academy?  In its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, the National Council on Public History states that “ethical practice” among public historians “implies a responsibility to serve the public interest.”  As teaching controversial cases in American public history brings home, however, both publics and their interests are plural and contested.  Rather than settling debates about how we ought to tell the past, the invocation of the public interest is itself an occasion for debate about which publics historians are responsible to and under what circumstances.  By entering such debates themselves, students present diverse ethical approaches to public history that, in a culture often characterized as galloping toward the future, point to the ongoing moral significance of the past.

Friday, May 8th, 3:30-5, Louise Slaughter, Rooms 2240 and 2230

Trust, Accountability, and Online Anonymity

Karen Frost-Arnold (Philosophy, Hobart & William Smith Colleges)

Wikipedia vandalism, Twitter pranks, and hoax blogs are now familiar features of our online lives. A common response to these perceived abuses maintains that mechanisms of accountability are necessary to ensure the epistemic value of internet communities. Some advocate for removing anonymity from online communication. Others demand more investigations into the real-world identities behind online personas. In this talk, I discuss some of the commonly overlooked pitfalls of such online accountability. I show that accountability mechanisms can damage communities’ ability to both disseminate true beliefs and weed out errors.



These presentations are free
and open to all.

If you need interpreting services, contact Cassandra Shellman as early as you can at 585.475.2057 or via e-mail.

Presentations for previous years