Lectures start promptly at 7:30PM and are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month September through May
9-12-2017: Computational Models of Ethics
Chris Davis, Ph.D.
From self-driving cars on our city
streets to drones and robots in the battlefield, autonomous machines
are becoming ubiquitous. As humans increasingly interact with them, the
ethical considerations of their behavior become more significant. But
how can machines act as moral agents? This talk examines computational
models of ethical reasoning that are currently being explored in A.I.
research. Examples of programs using first-order logic will be
demonstrated. A prior knowledge of programming is not required.
9-26-2017: Education in the U.S.: Historical Roots and competing Philosophies
Dr. Kathryn Shaeffer
Historical roots of free public
education for all students. How schools have responded to
different minority, cultural, and political/philosophical influences
.No Child Left Behind: the imposition of the business model on
education and its consequences. Current challenges with changing
demographics and globalization. The Democratic (Common Man) ideal vs.
Self-Reliance – two American philosophies in conflict playing out in
the classroom .
10-10-2017: Two Models of Meaningless Lives: Against the 'Failed Agent' Model of Meaninglessness
Dr. Kirsten Egerstrom
most philosophical approaches to the topic of meaningfulness in life, a
meaningful life is assumed to involve achievements of agency. If we
adopt this approach, it may follow that meaningless lives are
associated with failures of agency. In this paper, I argue against the
‘failed agent’ paradigm of the meaningless life because, in adopting
it, we exaggerate the extent to which we have control over the
meaningfulness of our lives.
10-24-2017: LIving on the Hinge of History
Mears has entitled his talk “Living on the Hinge of History.” He will
explore the rapid and radical changes in virtually every facet of human
existence that are unfolding throughout the planet at the onset of the
twenty-first century, suggesting how those changes have come about and
why they have not only generated tremendous innovations and
breakthroughs, but also disrupted familiar patterns of behavior as well
as deeply entrenched values and beliefs. Humanity, he will argue, has
experienced nothing comparable since the shift from hunting-gathering
to agriculture thousands of years ago. And he will conclude with an
explanation of why he is a short-term pessimist and a long-term
optimist when considering the future of humankind.
11-14-2017: The Edge of Tomorrow: Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence
discussion will focus on the philosophical and ethical dimensions of
artificial intelligence (AI). The technology is racing at a
breathtaking pace but the ethical, business, and legal issues and
dilemmas are struggling to keep pace. What are the up sides to
AI? And what are the dystopian possibilities down the road?
For example, what are the implications on the employment front when
robotics and AI seize more and more jobs? These and other
provocative topics will be addressed in this futuristic session.
11-28-2017: Fake News vs. Real Reporting: The Role of Ethics in Journalism
Dr. JIm Mueller
of journalism is at one of the lowest points since pollsters began
measuring such data. Much of the dissatisfaction relates to “fake
news,” a vague term that nevertheless reflects a general idea that the
press is unfair at best and untruthful at worst. The issue is further
complicated by the fact that anyone with access to a smartphone can be
a publisher distributing false stories that look real. Professional
journalists, however, are supposed to abide by a Code of Ethics and
think critically about the stories that they produce. This talk will
discuss how journalists are trained in ethics and apply it to their
work using real examples from current and historical cases. The talk
will conclude with a discussion of how to be media literate—evaluating
the quality of media sources—in the social media age.
12-12-2017: The American Dream: In HIstory, Politics and Fiction
Dr. Cal Jillson
In the years since Pursuing the American Dream
was published in 2004, the American Dream has fared poorly. The decline
of social mobility and the rise of income inequality—to say nothing of
the extraordinary social, political, and economic developments of the
Bush and Obama presidencies—have convinced many that the American Dream
is no more. This is the concern that Jillson addresses in his new book,
The American Dream: In History, Politics, and Fiction,
which juxtaposes the claims of political, social, and economic elite
against the view of American life consistently offered in our national