Texas Tech University

Philosophy Talks 2018-19

Spring 2019 Speaker Series

Jason Turner (University of Arizona)

Department Colloquium: Holists Won't Learn: A Problem for (Global) Ontological Nihilism
Friday, March 8th, 4:00-6:00 pm

Abstract: Ontological Nihilism is the view that there's absolutely nothing at all. I know -- extreme, right? Still, a number of philosophers have argued, on broadly scientific grounds, that it is the truth. They hold, in a slogan, that the world is "all relations and no relata". I've argued against this view in previous work. In this paper, I'll present a version of the view that, I think, is immune to my earlier arguments. However, I will present a new problem for the view. The problem is that the view makes many of our ordinary epistemic practices utterly mysterious.


Fall 2018 Speaker Series

Brandon Warmke (Bowling Green State University)

Public Colloquium: Who's in Charge? How the World Around Us Threatens Our Freedom
Thursday, November 1st, 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Location: MCOM 75

Abstract: Suppose that, unbeknownst to you, the color of the walls or the smell in the air have a big impact on how you act. Would you be worried that you weren't in total control of your behavior? Would it be fair to blame and punish you for what you do if your actions were being covertly influenced by your environment? As it turns out, there is a lot of empirical evidence showing that insignificant features of our situations play a surprisingly large role in how we act. We will discuss some of these experiments and explore how the power of our situations might threaten our ability to act freely and be responsible for what we do.

Department Colloquium: Forgiveness for Free Will Skeptics
Friday, November 2nd, 4:00-6:00 pm

Abstract: Free will skeptics insist that we lack free will and, consequently, that there is an important sense in which we are never morally responsible for anything. We argue that typical versions of free will skepticism are in tension with the practice of forgiveness as it has traditionally been understood. We then consider ways in which free will skeptics might try to alleviate this tension, thereby making room for forgiveness, or some analogue thereof, in their moral outlook. We reject one extant strategy for reconciling free will skepticism with forgiveness and suggest a more promising strategy in its place. We conclude by noting some implications of our proposed strategy for the norms governing forgiveness.


Chike Jeffers (Dalhousie University)

Public Colloquium: Du Bois on Art, Morality, and Truth
Thursday, November 15th, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
PHIL 260

Abstract: W.E.B. Du Bois' 1926 essay "Criteria of Negro Art" is a sophisticated
philosophical reflection on the artistic phenomenon known as the
Harlem Renaissance from the time of its flowering. It is remembered
often for its bold claim that "all Art is propaganda and ever must be,
despite the wailing of the purists." Many recoil at what they take to
be the subordination of art to political purposes in this phrase. I
will argue that Du Bois, in fact, offers us a very defensible and not
overly restrictive picture of the relationship between art, morality,
and truth.

Department Colloquium: Race and Egalitarianism in Du Bois' Darkwater
Friday, November 16th, 4:00-6:00 pm

Abstract: W.E.B. Du Bois' 1920 book Darkwater has not received as much attention
as his 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk but is a philosophically rich
work that rewards study. This paper will explore how its approach to
racial difference relates to its affirmations of human equality. After
explaining how the book's prefatory "Postscript" can be read as a kind
of manifesto for Africana philosophy, I identify its essays, which
defend the value of equality in relation to politics, economics,
gender, education, and other subjects, as representative of an
egalitarian turn in Du Bois' thought. I then turn to examine Du Bois'
attack on white supremacy in the chapter entitled "The Souls of White
Folk," explaining how it aims to decenter whiteness in order to
dethrone it. Finally, I discuss how Du Bois centers blackness
elsewhere in the book, not in order to enthrone it but to foreground
it in a manner that advances his overall egalitarian project.

Department of Philosophy