Category Archives: Uncategorized

Philosophy Bowl and Philosophy Club

Two upcoming events to consider entering into your calendar:

  1. There will be an organizational meeting for Ethics Bowl: Wednesday, September 8, 3 pm, RWST 214. If you are interested but cannot attend, please contact Dr. Robison at rachel.robison@usu.edu. Ethics Bowl is sort of like Debate, arguing over questions of social ethics and applied ethics, though in a more constructive and collegial atmosphere.
  2. There will be a kick-off meeting for Philosophy Club: Wednesday, September 15, 3 pm, RWST 214. Again, let Dr. Robison know if you are interested but cannot attend!

Welcome to Fall 2021!

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A hearty welcome to students new or returning! We hope the semester is off to a good start for you. We are planning to have multiple kinds of events through the coming year to nourish your yearning for philosophy. Best wishes, good luck, and stay safe!!!

Are you interested in serving as a UTF in philosophy?

Undergraduate Teaching Fellows (UTFs) assist a professor in teaching a class. They are awarded $750 for the semester, and are expected to attend the class they are assisting with and work with the professor in helping the students with the material. For more information about USU’s UTF program, please see this site.

We will be looking for 7 UTFs in philosophy this fall. If you are interested, please complete the UTF application for philosophy.

NOTE: The deadline for applications is May 5th, 2021.

Philosophy events next week

Wednesday, March 31

3-4 p.m. — Panel Presentation. The topic of this event is Ethics in the Future. The speakers are:

Dr. Paul Neiman “Defining Refugeehood in a Changing World”
Dr. Rachel Robison-Greene “Emerging Technology and Conceptual Shift”

This event will be held via Zoom. You can register here: https://weber.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUkcuGgrzouG9Lxktw8aBekx-D9oq3lOhXJ

Thursday, April 1

6:00-7:30 p.m. — Ethics Slam! The topic is Radical Solutions to Environmental Problems.

This event will be held via Zoom. You can register here: https://weber.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwvf-qsqz8jHtZaFhaDJUgX54xn2YSUJHox

Philosophy Club Talk by Dr. Megan Fritts, “Gamified Pedagogy and The Crowd: Can Easy Learning Erase the Individual?”

We hope that you’ll join us on Thursday, March 18th at 4:30 p.m. on Zoom for a USU Philosophy Club Talk by our Visiting Assistant Professor, Dr. Megan Fritts. Zoom Link and Talk Description Below.

https://usu-edu.zoom.us/j/85881794026?pwd=Q3JoWkx4NHZPWXRZcnFDa2N1bFdrQT09

“In Thi Nguyen’s paper “How Twitter Gamifies Communication” (forthcoming), he argues that the algorithmic features of the social networking site Twitter make the site popular and addictive largely because it “gamifies” how we communicate with one another. This gamification occurs by providing users with artificial incentives and goals (e.g. likes and retweets), resulting in “value clarity”—namely, unlikely in real life, in games we have clarity about what to value, because the game designers tells us what to value. Nguyen argues that the artificiality of this value-clarity poses a problem for how we communicate with others. The problem is that, when users accept the “seduction” of value-clarity, we trade our original, complex goals of discourse for different, simplistic ends.In this paper, I build on Nguyen’s critique, shifting the focus to “gamified” pedagogy, and argue that his critique is similar to one offered by Kierkegaard against “the crowd” in the work The Point of View. Specifically, I argue that Kierkegaard’s description of crowds as “untruth” is similar to Nguyen’s description of gamification. Individual values, for both Kierkegaard and Nguyen, are too opaque and complex to be utilized by a collective. “Crowds”, therefore, involve group acceptance of a simplistic set of values that no individual in the group originally held. For both thinkers, accepting a simplified set of values can be dangerous, though they disagree on what this danger consists in. I further argue that this should make us wary of efforts to “gamify” pedagogy, despite the appeal of doing so.”



Fall 2021 courses

For interested students, below is a tentative sketch of what we will be offering in philosophy in the fall semester. I am also posting below a pdf with course descriptions – some generic, some more specific. Again, this is tentative, so realize that there may be changes!

PHIL 1000: Introduction to Philosophy (BHU)
PHIL 1000: Introduction to Philosophy (BHU)
PHIL 1000: Introduction to Philosophy (BHU)
PHIL 1120: Social Ethics (BHU)
PHIL 1120: Social Ethics (BHU)
PHIL 1320: The Good Life (BHU)
PHIL 2200: Deductive Logic (QI)
PHIL 2400: Ethics (BHU)
PHIL 3150: Kant and the 19th Century
PHIL 3530: Environmental Ethics (DHA)
PHIL 3580: Ethics and Economic Life (DHA)
PHIL 3600: Philosophy of Religion (DHA)
PHIL 3700: Political Philosophy (DHA)
PHIL 3800: Philosophy of Literature (DHA)
PHIL 4400: Metaphysics

Some value in the old verification principle

Philosophy students often hear about the logical positivists, or the logical empiricists, or the Vienna Circle, and wonder what all that’s about, and whether there is any value in it. Here is a recent article on finding some value in their cherished verification principle:

“In particular, the verification principle seems like it’s an interesting tool to apply when you’re suspicious of something – when you think things don’t quite add up…. One problem with conspiratorial thinking is that – while often motivated by a critical instinct which is fundamentally laudable – the conspiracy theorist is typically not … the sort of person who, as yet, knows how to think properly. Thus conspiratorial thinking often assumes nonsense epistemic principles like Jim Garrison’s time and propinquity – the idea, pioneered by the godfather of Kennedy Assassination conspiracies, that we can get to the truth by mapping how (for instance) two individuals are secretly linked by having been in the same place at the same time (the Pepe Silvia way of understanding reality).”

Here is the article!