Lecture Series

The Department of Philosophy sponsors a speaker series featuring visiting and guest lecturers, and commentators from other colleges and universities who present new work to students, faculty, and other campus members.

The speakers series includes the Nancy K. Rhoden Lecture that presents an invited lecturer speaking on a current topic in philosophy and related fields. The speaker series alternates with the Colloquium in Philosophy.

Rhoden Lectures and Speaker Series

"Finite Valuers and the Problem of Vulnerability to Unmitigated Loss"

Sharon Street
Professor of Philosophy
New York University

Friday, November 9, 2018
4:30 - 6:15 pm
King Building, Room 306


In my view, our best hope for vindicating a strong form of ethical objectivity, while avoiding metaphysical and epistemological mystery, is what I call the “generic metaethical constructivist strategy.” We may think of this strategy as consisting of three steps. The first is to explain what is constitutively involved in being a valuer. The second is to try to identify a universal problem that every valuer faces, by her own lights, simply in virtue of being a valuer at all. The third step is to try to show that the best, and perhaps only, solution to the relevant problem is to adopt an ethical principle or standpoint.

In this talk, I briefly summarize a larger project in which I am seeking to implement each of these three steps, in part, by appealing to insights from meditative traditions such as Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. After this brief summary, I focus on my attempt to implement the second step.

I argue that a universal problem faced by every finite valuer is what I call the “problem of vulnerability to unmitigated loss.” I close by comparing the problem I have in mind with the problem that the Buddha focused on, namely the problem of suffering.

Read more about Sharon Street


"Arguing for Vegetarianism:
The Easy Part and the Hard Part"

Tristram McPherson
Ohio State University

Many people become vegetarian or vegan after coming to understand the horrifying lives and deaths inflicted on animals by the industry that provides us with meat and other animal products. I argue that it is possible to construct a highly plausible argument that animals should not be treated this way. This, I suggest, is the 'easy part' of arguing that one ought to be a vegetarian. But, you might wonder, does this mean that you should not eat meat? After all, when you order the veal cutlet, the calf is already dead, and ordering the veggie burger instead won't bring it back! This may sound like a crass objection, but I suggest that answering it is the most challenging part of the argument for vegetarianism, requires complex and controversial ethical theorizing. I discuss three approaches to accomplishing the 'hard part' of the argument for vegetarianism, and suggest that despite the difficulties, they amount to a compelling case that we ought to adopt this lifestyle.

More about Tristram McPherson