Texas Tech University

Philosophy Talks 2016-17

Fall 2016 Speaker Series

Laurie Shrage (Florida International University)

  • Public Colloquium: "Sex for Pay: Decriminalization vs. Legalization"
  • Thursday, September 22nd, 6:00-8:00 pm
  • MCOM 57

Abstract: Why are sex workers rights organizations advocating for decriminalizing, but not legalizing, sex work? What's at stake in this demarcation, and is decriminalization the best approach? In this talk, I will defend calls for decriminalization, but argue that we need to distinguish private acts of "prostitution" from public enterprises that involve sex for pay. The Lawrence v. Texas (2003) ruling raises the question of whether imposing criminal bans and penalties on cash-incentivized casual sex among consenting adults in private violates our constitutional rights. Yet, decriminalizing private acts of prostitution leaves open the question of how governments should regulate business enterprises that involve sex work.

Laurie Shrage (Florida International University)

  • Department Colloquium: Integration vs. Desegregation
  • Friday, September 23rd, 4:00-6:00 pm
  • ENG/PHIL 264

Abstract: Two prominent philosophers, Elizabeth Anderson and Tommie Shelby, are in substantial disagreement about what should be done to address pervasive and persistent racial segregation. In this paper, I will explore the philosophical sources of their disagreement, how far apart their views actually are, and the strengths and weaknesses of each thinker's views. I will try to show how the differences between their views can point the way toward better policies and programs for addressing ongoing anti-black discrimination and disadvantage.

John Haldane (St. Andrews)

  • Public Colloquium: "Taking History Seriously"
  • Thursday, October 13, 6:00-8:00 pm
  • HUMCSCI 69

Abstract: In a famous essay the logician Quine wrote of how "there are three different degrees to which we may allow our logic, or semantics, to embrace the idea of necessity". I will be proposing that there are three degrees to which we may allow our normative moral and social philosophy to embrace the idea of history. First, in taking full account of actual social practice and its implicit values when considering the need and legitimate role of political philosophy. Second, in noting the extent to which famous and influential philosophical ideas and arguments were fashioned in response to actual history, rather than being arrived at a priori. And third, in considering history as itself a medium of moral and political rationality. As I interpret them these require increasing levels of acceptance of the importance of history, and I shall claim that all three grades of involvement should be accepted.

John Haldane (St. Andrews)

  • Department Colloquium: "Some Problems for Virtue Ethics"
  • Friday, October 14, 4:00-6:00 pm
  • ENG/PHIL 264

Abstract:The last two decades have seen a considerable increase in discussions of the claim that virtue is central to morality and that ethical theory should find a prominent (and perhaps dominant) place for the ideas of moral character and virtue. There are, however, ambiguities in these claims. Additionally there are both longstanding and new challenges to 'virtue ethics' which need to be examined. I will clarifying what is at issue in giving a place to virtue in ethical theory and exploring a variety of issues arising from this as well as objections from other parts of philosophy and areas beyond it.

Jacoby Adeshei Carter (John Jay College, CUNY)

  • Public Colloquium: "Inter-American Philosophy of Race: José Vasconcelos, Alain Locke, and José Martí on Race and Nationality."
  • Thursday, October 27th, 6:00-8:00 pm
  • MCOM 57

Abstract: TBD

Jacoby Adeshei Carter (John Jay College, CUNY)

  • Department Colloquium: "Colonialism, Eurocentrism, and Racism"
  • Friday, October 28th, 4:00-6:00 pm
  • ENG/PHIL 264

Abstract: TBD

Jameliah Shorter Bournahou (Georgia College and State University)

  • Public Colloquium: "Universalism and Postraciality"
  • Thursday, November 10th, 6:00-8:00 pm
  • HUMSCI 69

Abstract: Whenever racism and racial equality are being discussed in my college classroom, the first thing that most of my students say is that, "we are all humans." My students do not know what they are actually saying. While they do not mean any harm by this statement, they do intend for this "fact", supported by biology and political correctness to quell any and all current concerns about racial equality.

In the 2014 MTV survey on millennials and bias, over 84% of respondents said that issues with race are in the past. With regard to personal encounters with racialized experiences such as microaggressions, young people of color were over twice as likely to say that they had been personally affected. However, despite their lived experiences, they were against affirmative action as firmly as whites because of their commitment to equality (65% and 70%, respectively). It is this commitment to a universalized notion of equality that is, at bottom, supported by a firm belief in universalism, despite being problematic. Namely, many young people support the ideal of universal equality in spite of the continued disenfranchisement of African-Americans.

In this paper, I explore one of the central tenets of postraciality, the claim that "we are all humans." I argue that this claim has its roots in a problematic understanding of universality that is in fact less equitable than it seems. I offer some ways in which we can reevaluate this statement that opens new possibilities for meaningful dialogue in the college classroom and in the public about racial equality.

Jameliah Shorter Bournahou (Georgia College and State University)

  • Department Colloquium: "The Illusion of Equality in Kantian Cosmopolitanism"
  • Friday, November 11th, 4:00-6:00 pm
  • ENG/PHIL 264

Abstract: Some scholars argue that Kant is universally egalitarian because in the essay "Toward Perpetual Peace" (1795), Kant offers new provisions that displace the racist views that he previously held in the essays on race of the 1780s. This argument presumes that Kant's cosmopolitan philosophy is synonymous with universal egalitarianism because it is understood to be opposed to inequality. In this paper, I argue that Kant's cosmopolitan philosophy is not universally egalitarian and in fact allows for inequality. I refer to a lesser recognized discussion Kant has in "Toward Perpetual Peace" where he argues that the cosmopolitan goal is to unify the nations and not the moral improvement of the species which would presumably establish universal egalitarianism.

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Department of Philosophy