Upcoming Events for Fall 2023:Sarah McGrath (Princeton University) USC First-Year Experience Thursday, October 12th, 6-7:30 p.m., LeConte Room 102 email for details: Kathryn Lindeman
The philosopher Bernard Williams once observed, “There are, notoriously no ethical experts…anyone who is tempted to take up the idea of there being a theoretical science of ethics should be discouraged by reflecting on what would be involved in taking seriously the idea that there were experts in it.” Is Williams right that there is no such thing as an ethical expert? If he is right, what does this imply about whether ethical questions can have objective answers? What does it imply about how hard they can be? If he is wrong, then who are the experts?
Sarah McGrath (Princeton University)USC Philosophy Department Colloquium Series Friday, October 13th, 3:30-5 p.m., Close-Hipp Room 303 email for details: Kathryn Lindeman
Christopher Tollefsen (University of South Carolina)USC First-Year Experience Friday, November 3rd, 3:30-5 p.m., Close-Hipp Room 303 email for details: Christopher Tollefsen
Michael Schur asks a lot of moral questions in How To Be Perfect, and enlists a murderers’ row of philosophers to help answer them: Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Rawls, Scanlon and others. But where is Plato, author of philosophy's single greatest work, The Republic? Attending to Plato uncovers a further question that I'll argue is central to morality. In this talk, I'll identify that question and say something about what an answer to it might look like.
Thi Nguyen (University of Utah)USC Humanities Collaborative Talk Series Thursday, November 30th email for details: Tyke Nunez
Thi Nguyen (University of Utah)USC Philosophy Department Colloquium Series Friday, December 1st, 3:30-5 p.m. email for details: Tyke Nunez
Regina Rini (York University) Cancelled!!! - Rescheduled for Spring 2024
We live in a time of science-denial. From the realities of covid-19 to climate change, childhood vaccines and even the shape of the earth, many people now seem to actively reject the authority of scientific experts. Philosophers often bemoan populist ignorance, but I will argue that this response evades the fundamentally rational core of science-denial. I will show that modern specialized sciences have a Hobbesian epistemic structure, one that makes resentment of scientific elites both predictable and (partly) rational. Modern sciences are so specialized that they force non-experts into a deep form of epistemic dependence, such that experts play the Hobbesian role of Leviathan, with unquestionable authority over certain epistemic norms. This parallel to political theory helps us see the tragic dilemma built into the reception of science in democratic societies. While we rightly resent and reject the unquestionable authority of Hobbesian politics, epistemic dependence makes rejecting similar authority in science untenable. But here the rational grounds for accepting scientific authority come apart from the rational grounds for resenting Leviathan. What remains is a rational residue of resentment, directed against the democratic inequality of scientific expertise. Failing to acknowledge the rationality of this resentment has left us poorly equipped to respond persuasively to science-denial.