Philosophy Department Colloquium Fall 2022

“What Lyric Poetry Shows Us about the Fiction-Nonfiction Distinction” - Hannah Kim, Macalester College

Thursday, September 29, 4 p.m. | Armstrong Hall 222

Hannah Kim is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Macalaster College. She specializes in Aesthetics, Philosophy of Language, and Asian Philosophy.

Abstract: Philosophers debate whether lyric poems are fiction or nonfiction, but there's also a third intuition that lyric poems transcend those categories. What's behind this third intuition? In this talk, Professor Kim will go over some considerations for thinking of lyric poems as fiction and/or nonfiction and see what lessons we can draw from lyric poems being neither. Among other things, we'll discover the preconditions of qualifying as either fiction or nonfiction and learn when we are, and aren't, tempted to ask about the fiction-nonfiction status. Professor Kim will finish by offering a new category that might help us catch the kind of works that don't neatly fit into the current categories and provide a more nuanced account of lyric poetry as a result of the lessons we've drawn.

“Two Puzzles about the Ethics of Divestment” - David Boonin, University of Colorado at Boulder 

Wednesday, October 26, 3 p.m. | Zoom

David Boonin is Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the Cuniversity of Colorado at Boulder. He is the author of Thomas Hobbes and the Science of Moral Virtue (Cambridge University Press 1994), A Defense of Abortion (Cambridge University Press, 2003), The Problem of Punishment (Cambridge University Press, 2008) Should Race Matter? (Cambridge University Press, 2011), The Non-Identity Problem and the Ethics of Future People (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Beyond Roe: Why Abortion Should be Legal Even if the Fetus is a Person (Oxford University Press, 2019), and Dead Wrong: The Ethics of Posthumous Harm (Oxford University Press, 2019) as well as a number of articles on such subjects as animal rights, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and our moral obligations to future generations. 

Abstract: Suppose you own stock in Acme Corp. and you learn that it consistently acts in seriously immoral ways. What should you do? A common answer maintains that owning stock in Acme Corp. makes you complicit in its immoral behavior and that you should therefore divest yourself of it. But as Steven M. Cahn has argued, there seems to be something puzzling about this answer. If you sell your stock to someone, then they will own it. If it’s wrong to own the stock, then they’ll be doing something wrong. So if you divest yourself of the stock, you’ll be helping someone do something wrong. But it seems wrong to help someone do something wrong. So how can a company’s immoral behavior make it wrong for you to own stock in the company but not make it wrong for you to get rid of the stock by selling it to someone else? In this talk, Professor Boonin will present two versions of Cahn’s divestment puzzle and explain the reasoning that leads to each of them. He will then discuss the published responses that have appeared since Cahn first presented the puzzle and argue that none of them are successful. Professor Boonin will conclude by defending an alternative response.

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“The Universal Union and the Recovery of the Commons” - Alan Thomas, University of York

Thursday, November 10, 3 p.m. | Zoom

Alan Thomas is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of York. His research is moral and political philosophy, political economy, and social epistemology. He is the author of Republic of Equals: Predistribution and Property-Owning Democracy (Oxford 2017) and, with Alfred Archer and Bart Engelen, The Moral Psychology of Inequality (Oxford, 2023).

Abstract: What is the normative justification for trade unionism? Hitherto the focus of this debate is on the compatibility of individual liberty interests with the legal enforcement of 'closed shop' (or 'union shop') arrangements. It is argued that this focus is misleading as, in the order of justification, the private labour market is a permissible extension of a public labour market guaranteed, by default, by the state playing the role of employer of last resort. This is, in turn, a reflection of the monopoly powers of the modern state overland, labour and money. Every citizen of a monetarily sovereign state is a member of the public union. This suggests a general strategy for defending membership of unions, qua private associations, located in the private sphere. The argument is historically contextualised in the work of Fichte, Keynes, and Rawls.

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These presentations are part of the Philosophy Department Colloquium Series. For questions, reach out to Professor Joshua Preiss.