2010 Fall Philosophy Lecture Schedule

09/14/2010: Thought and Action: Reflections on Philosophy and Policy.
Adam Briggle, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
University of North Texas
We live in an age of accountability in which even philosophers are being asked to demonstrate their relevance to social goals. I will argue that philosophy is indeed of utmost relevance for our high-tech society that is rushing ever forward without a clear sense of where it is going or why.

09/28/2010: How Smart Languages Learn to Teach Themselves to Stupid Children.
Justin Fisher, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Southern Methodist University
Traditional views have held that human babies acquire language quickly and easily because babies are very smart: they either have clever general purpose learning algorithms or else innate knowledge specifically about language. I will argue for a third possibility, namely that languages themselves have (culturally) evolved to be easily acquirable by not-so-smart human babies.

10/12/2010: The Ephemerality of Knowledge in an Epistemological Sense.
Robert Berman, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Retired
California University of Pennsylvania
Philosophy lecture: With the development of non-systematic philosophies of the late 19th and 20th centuries and the emergence of post modernism, evolutionary psychology and advances in neuroscience, biology and physics the Greek concept of knowledge and truth as absolute and attainable has changed. We will examine the consequences of the unattainability of epistemological certainty.

10/26/2010: The Life, Times, and Philosophy of Thomas Paine.
Robin K. Olson, MLA
Adjunct Professor
Southern Methodist University
Philosophy lecture: Often called the “Father of the American Revolution,” Thomas Paine’s political writings had a profound impact on 18th Century America as well as France. In addition, his extraordinary philosophical examination of religion in the Age of Reason was one of the most influential writings to question the legitimacy of the Bible and to promote deism. His life and times, with a particular emphasis on his political and theological writings, will be presented.

11/09/2010: What Does it Mean to Popularize Philosophy? Moses Mendelssohn’s Phädon (1766).
Martin Yaffe, Ph.D
Professor of Philosophy
University of North Texas
Philosophy lecture: Popularizing philosophy could mean either introducing a complicated issue by simplifying it for non-experts (as Plato's Phaedo does about death and dying), or recasting it for purposes of moral edification (as Moses Mendelssohn's Phädon [1766] does with Plato's dialogue), or both (as in my own scholarly discussion of the foregoing). I compare and contrast these three possibilities.
The popularizing of philosophy could mean (1) that a technical or specialized philosophical discussion presented with those features modified so that the result is accessible to non-experts or semi-experts. An ancient example of this sort of popularizing would Plato’s Phaedo. Or it could mean (2) recasting a discussion like the foregoing and redirecting it to another sort of popular audience whose primary interest is moral edification. An example of this sort of popularizing would be Moses Mendelssohn’s Phädon (1766). Or, finally, it could mean (3) a scholarly introduction to either or both of the foregoing, where the interest could be either philosophical or moral. An example of this sort of popularizing is my own remarks here and now. I compare and contrast the first two examples, and conclude by considering briefly whether my own remarks are more like the first sort of popularizing or the second.

11/23/2010: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.
Lawrence Boakye, Ph.D
Holy Cross University; Rome, Italy
The Nichomachean Ethics is Aristotle’s greatest work on ethics. He discusses in this work the meaning of happiness. The presentation on this work will explain how and why the Aristotelian life of virtue is contingent for human happiness.

12/14/2010: The Ideas of Abraham Lincoln: An American Philosophy of Life and Leadership.
Lisa Morales, Ph.D
Honors Program Coordinator
North Central Texas College
Unlike Lincoln, most of us will not be asked to make life and death decisions affecting hundreds of thousands of people. All of us, however, will face our own convictions and limitations, knowing that the best outcome for a particular situation may not be possible. How do we navigate these important life moments? Abraham Lincoln offers a philosophical perspective unmatched in American history, and his life provides some guideposts to contemplate.

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