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Department of Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts
Rochester Institute of
92 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester NY 14623-5604


Copyright ©
Department of Philosophy,
Rochester Institute of Technology

Last updated 13 February 2017

Coming Events

Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public.

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Philosophy Club

Philosophy Club

Taking a philosophy course and want to know more about what this philosophy thing is about? Simply interested in philosophical discussion? Join us for informal conversation and student presentations. Our goal is to make philosophy inclusive and accessible to all levels of experience… newbies and seasoned philosophers alike.

Fridays 5:00–7:00
Eastman lounge

(in front of the ID office;
for any latecomers, if you cannot find us there,
go to the end of the hallway, turn right, and we’ll
be in the first room on the right)

Next meeting: TBA

If you wish to stay up to date with the club, here is our Facebook group:

Thursday 23 February 2017
Fall 2017 (date TBA)
Benjamin Banda

“ ‘The Sort of War They Deserve’?
Interwar Air Power Ethics and
the Debate over Lethal Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles”

Grounded in a desire for the ethics of war to have some practical effect, ethicists are beset by a dual anxiety: too restrictive and no one with power will listen; too permissive and the powerful gain destructive moral cover. One of the primary challenges of this ethic-building-to-practical effect is the way new military technologies change the character of war by empowering agents in new ways. Indeed, there is at present an ever-growing literature that seeks to apply, defend and/or update the ethics of war in light of what is often argued to be an unprecedented period of rapid advance in military technology. To add to our confidence in whether our ethical approach to one particularly important new military technology, lethal Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), will find success in effectively and appropriately constraining war, this article examines the somewhat analogous historical case of the ethical debate over the rise of air power during the interwar period. That historical case presents a real failure to ethically constrain war in the face of a potentially revolutionary new weapon. By highlighting the interrelated processes of technological change, ethical debate, and the eventual reconciliation of war practice and war ethics, key elements of this failure are leveraged to offer theoretical advice that might help ethicists maintain their “critical edge” as lethal UAVs continue to mature and proliferate.

Sponsored by the Hale Chair in Applied Ethics

Thursday 2 March 2017
4:00 pm
Student Innovation Hall (USC, 87-1600)

Jill P. Gordon
(Charles A. Dana Professor of Philosophy, Colby College)

“Myth, Memory, and Homecoming:
A Homeric Reading of Phaedo

Homer’s Odyssey depicts the many obstacles, challenges, mishaps, and temptations that threaten and delay the return home, or nostos, of Odysseus and his men. Drawing on mythic narrative patterns and the play of language, I argue that in the Phaedo Plato draws on the tradition of nostos narratives, most notably Homer’s, in his depiction of the return home of Socrates’s soul. This reading of Phaedo demonstrates how the journey, forgetting, nostalgia, and the desire for return to origins all motivate the philosophical life.

Thursday 23 March 2017
Eastman 2000

Richard Dees
(University of Rochester)

Primum Non Nocere Mortuis:
Bioethics and the Interests of the Dead”

Despite the apparently paradoxical nature of the claim, I will defend the idea that we can harm the dead. Positing that the dead have interests both makes sense of our practices, and it accords with the ways that we create value in our lives. Moreover, I argue that the reasons we can harm the dead shed light on many issues in bioethics, including organ donation, posthumous reproduction, end-of-life decisions, and advance directives for dementia.

Sponsored by the Hale Chair in Applied Ethics

Thursday 20 April 2017
Eastman 2000

David B. Suits

“Miguel’s Choice:
Killing Innocent Persons for the Greater Good”

If one must take reasonable precautions to not harm people, and if the intentional use of violence against a person requires justification, and if self-defense can be such a justification, then even in one’s act of self-defense, one must take reasonable precautions to not harm innocent persons. Even unintentionally and mistakenly harming innocent persons can sometimes be grounds for moral criticism. But what of unintentionally and knowingly harming innocent persons in one’s pursuit of a significant “higher good” (such as freeing one’s society from the yoke of an oppressive tyranny)? Can the goal of a “higher good” relax the reasonable precautions rule?

Sponsored by the Hale Chair in Applied Ethics

Friday 28 April 2017
Innovation Hall (Simone Center)

8th R.I.T. Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Keynote Speaker:

Paul Horwich
(New York University)

“Progress in Philosophy”

Questions? Contact Dr. Colin Mathers at

For further information on upcoming events, contact

Professor Silvia Benso, Chair
Department of Philosophy
Office: 1305 College of Liberal Arts
Phone: (585) 475-4116