Events (2016-2017)


2016-2017 Forry and Micken Lecture Series on "Speech and Harm"

A lecture series funded by the Forry and Micken Fund in Philosophy and Science

Mary Kate McGowan (Wellesley College)
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 5:00pm, Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather Hall
“Speech and the Constitution of Harm: Some Case Studies”

 Daniel Jacobson (University of Michigan)
Thursday, Thursday, April 13, 2017, 5:00 p.m., Paino Lecture Hall, Beneski
"Freedom of Speech Under Assault on Campus"

Lynne Tirrell (University of Massachusetts, Boston)
Thursday, April 20, 2017, 5:00 p.m., Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather Hall
"toxic speech"

 Ishani Maitra (University of Michigan)
Thursday, April 27, 2017, 5:00 p.m., Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather Hall 

The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy

Susan Wolf (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil)
Thursday, December 8, 2016, 5:00 p.m., Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather Hall 

The title of  the Eleventh Annual ALP Lecture is:

"Aesthetic Responsibility"


Philosophers often suggest that the fact that we are morally responsible is an important mark of our distinctive humanity.  But people are responsible for much more than the moral qualities of their actions.  Artists, for example, are typically aesthetically responsible for the qualities of their artistic creations. The talk will discuss similarities and differences between aesthetic and moral responsibility and speculate on what a consideration of aesthetic responsibility tells us about both responsibility and humanity.

Reception will follow

Other Events & Lectures Scheduled 2016-2017

Elliot Samuel Paul (Barnard College)
Thursday, September 29, 2016, 5:00 p.m.  Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather Hall

"Clarity First: Descartes on Clear and Distinct Perception"


Clear and distinct perception is the central concept in Descartes’s philosophy – it’s the source of all certain knowledge – but what he means by it is generally thought to be a mystery.  I argue that it’s really not mysterious.  We all know what it means to see something clearly as opposed to obscurely.  We just forget that we know it when we demand a definition.  This demand is doubly misplaced, because the meaning of ‘clear’ is best learned through examples (so a definition isn’t needed) and ‘clear’ is a ‘primitive notion’ (so a definition isn’t possible).  A distinct perception is just a clear perception ‘sharply separated’ from anything unclear.  So, clarity is a primitive concept; distinctness is defined in terms of clarity; and furthermore, I argue, clarity explains indubitability and infallibility, and thus explains certain knowledge.  In a slogan: Clarity First.

For further information, please phone Dee Brace at (413) 542-5805 or send e-mail to


Danielle Macbeth (Haverford College)
Thursday, October 6, 2016, 5:00pm. Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather Hall

"Sellars on the Rationality of Empirical Inquiry"


Given that the aim of inquiry is to discover what is so as contrasted with, for example, what merely seems to be so or what one would like to be so, inquiry, whether or not empirical, is rational just in case it answers to what is. But what is it to answer to what is? In particular, what is it to answer to what is in the case of empirical inquiry? In Mind and World McDowell suggests that what it is for empirical inquiry to answer to what is is for it to answer to the tribunal of experience. For McDowell, the rationality of empirical inquiry lies in the fact that experience serves as a tribunal to which empirical inquiry answers. In “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind” Sellars has a different idea insofar as he holds that “empirical knowledge . . . is rational, not because it has a foundation but because it is a self-correcting enterprise which can put any claim in jeopardy, though not all at once” (EPM § 38). For Sellars, empirical inquiry is rational, answerable to what is not because it answers to the tribunal of experience but because it is self-correcting. My aim is to develop and defend this intriguing Sellarsian idea.

For further information, please phone Dee Brace at (413) 542-5805 or send e-mail to