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Intermountain Philosophy Conference

From the organizers at SUU:

Please find attached the schedule for the 2020 Intermountain Philosophy Conference, hosted as a virtual conference by Southern Utah University, taking place next Saturday, November 21, 2020. 

We are very pleased to have Daniel Graham joining us as our keynote speaker, with the presentation, “Socratic Philosophy as Therapy.” The abstract for the presentation can be found after the schedule. 

Zoom links will be sent next week. If you wish to attend the conference and you have not yet done so, please use this link to register so that we can ensure that you get the appropriate zoom information (full text of link included below). Feel free to forward the schedule and registration link to others who may be interested in in the conference. We look forward to seeing you next Saturday.

What do an addictions nurse and a stand-up comedian have in common?

They both majored in philosophy at USU! On Thursday evening, 7 p.m., we’ll have the chance to meet with Eric Bottelberghe and Aaron Orlovitz, two philosophy majors who went on to careers not normally associated with philosophy. But both would say that philosophy is crucial to what they do.

Zoom link:

Come to a Philosophy Club Talk this Friday!

Here is the link to register for the talk:

Here is a description of the talk:

It Could’ve Been Beef

COVID-19 is linked to meat consumption, but it doesn’t seem to be causally connected to the meat that most Westerners eat. Rather, the cause of COVID-19 appears to be tied to the wildlife trade and not conventional animal agriculture. Nevertheless, animal advocates draw connections between pandemics and meat-eating in a way that seems to be designed to assign some kind of blame, or partial responsibility to, all meat eaters, including those with no connection to the wildlife trade, for the COVID-19 outbreak. Is this just confused, or can we make some sense of it?

In my talk, I’ll argue that Western meat eaters share responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic even if their behavior didn’t play a causal role in the production of this pandemic. In doing so, I’ll defend three different arguments: the argument from risky behavior, the argument from worsening impacts, and the argument from collective habits. I’ll moreover introduce and defend a new expansive notion of shared responsibility–non-causal counterfactual responsibility. As I will argue, because all meat eaters engage in pandemic-risky behavior, they are all part of the total “pandemic risk.” And because Western meat eaters contribute to the “pandemic risk,” they, too, are morally responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic (and factory farms, too, are morally responsible for the pandemic). After all, it could’ve been beef that caused a 2019 pandemic.

Hope to see you there!

“Gamification and Value Capture” by Dr. Thi Nguyen, University of Utah

Thursday at 4!

To register:

Value capture occurs when an agent’s values are rich and subtle; they enter a social environment that presents simplified — typically quantified — versions of those values; and those simplified articulations come to dominate their practical reasoning. Examples include becoming motivated by FitBit’s step counts, Twitter Likes and Retweets, citation rates, ranked lists of best schools, and Grade Point Averages. We are vulnerable to value capture because of the competitive advantage that such crisp and clear expressions of value have in our private reasoning and our public justification. But value capture poses several threats. First, value capture threatens to change the goals of our activities, in a way that often threatens to undermine the value of those activities. Twitter’s scoring system threatens to replace some of the richer goals of communication — understanding, connection, and the mutual pursuit of truth — with the thinner goals of getting likes and going viral. (See also, citation rates and impact factors). Second, in value capture, we take a central component of our autonomy — our ongoing deliberation over the exact articulation of our values — and we outsource it. And the metrics to which we outsource usually engineered for the interests of some external force, like a large-scale institution’s interest in bureaucratic management. That outsourcing cuts off one of the key benefits to personal deliberation. In value capture, we no longer adjust our values and their articulations in light of own rich experience of the world. Our values should be carefully tailored to our particular selves, but in value capture, we buy our values off the rack.

You are invited to a Philosophy Club talk!

First, please don’t forget that we’ll hear from Larry Udell on “Some Rawlsian Notes on Universal Basic Income” tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. on Zoom.

Here is the link for that event:

The second talk in our four-talk series will be “Challenging Expertise: When Specialization Meets Democracy” by Dr. Jamie Watson. The talk will be on Zoom on Thursday, October 22nd at 4:00 p.m. Click the link below to register.

Here is a description of the talk:

Expertise is a problem for democracy. Democratic processes give every view equal weight, but experts tell us that their views are better than others. Democratic processes presume individuals are the best judge of their own interests, but experts tell us that we often act against our own interests. Can we resolve this tension and save both democracy and expertise? I will explain three ways that philosophers and political theorists suggest we should understand the relationship between expert and non-expert citizens. Then I will describe some features of expertise that may point to a new solution to problem of expertise for democracy.

Hope to see you there!

You are Invited to the Mountain Plains Philosophy Conference!

Utah State philosophy students, there is a great opportunity this weekend for you to see what an academic philosophy conference looks like. The Mountain Plains Philosophy Conference will be held this weekend virtually and you are warmly invited to attend. In particular, I would suggest that you attend the keynote speech by Douglas Portmore, who is a prominent utilitarian philosopher. That talk is called, “The Right, the Good, and Our Ultimate Moral Concerns”, and it will take place Saturday from 5:00-6:00. You are also welcome to attend any other sessions that you wish. You can find information regarding the schedule and how to register below. Hope to see you there!

Philosophy Club Talk: “Some Rawlsian Notes on Universal Basic Income” by Larry Udell

We’d love to see you at our first philosophy club talk of the year, “Some Rawlsian Notes on Universal Basic Income” by Dr. Larry Udell from West Chester University. It will be held on Thursday, October 15th at 4:00 p.m. on Zoom. Follow the link below to register: