Author: hkg13001

The Quiet Power of Humility | Peter Wehner at NYTimes

The Quiet Power of Humility

April 15, 2017

“Over breakfast with a social psychologist I know, I asked him what constructive contribution Christians could make to public life. An atheist who finds much to admire in religion, he answered simply: “Humility.”

That is a perfectly reasonable hope. Unfortunately, however, humility is a neglected Christian virtue. This is rather odd, given that humility should be a defining trait of Christians. The resurrection, celebrated by Christians throughout the world on Easter Sunday, was made possible only by an act of unsurpassed humility…”

Read the full piece by Peter Wehner at the NYTimes here.

Congratulations to Associate Prof. Micki McElya (H&C Core Faculty) whose book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

Finalist: The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery, by Micki McElya (Harvard University Press)

For a luminous investigation of how policies and practices at Arlington National Cemetery have mirrored the nation’s fierce battles over race, politics, honor and loyalty.Politics of Mourning, McElya

April 11th, 2017. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Ufuk Topkara (H&C Fellow, University of Paderborn)

Title: Wounded certainty: Is God dead or can we break through the barriers between theology and philosophy in Islam?

Time & Place: 4-5:30pm, Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209.

Abstract: Modern times have witnessed a severing of the linkages between scientific knowledge and Islamic theology, not least of all in the lived public sphere. A misperception or rather misconception of this severing as a “natural” divorce has been further promulgated.

This presentation will instead elaborate how a religious tradition can learn and grow through the challenges posed by philosophical reasoning, compelled to search for meaning of, and humility within, the human experience. By elucidating not only similarities but the actual integration of key philosophical ideas into the “mainstream” Islamic, one can encourage a rethinking of the widespread assumption that these traditions should be in conflict. At the end, these inquiries can introduce a new paradigm to Islamic-Philosophical Theology debates, in which the human subject—his/her shortcomings, hopes and anxieties—takes center stage.

‘Intellectual humility’ could be key to becoming a better person, scientists say | Andrew Griffin at the Independent

The study is rare in looking at the ‘wallflower among personality traits’

“Showing “intellectual humility” – recognising that you might be wrong about what you believe – is a reliable marker of how good people are at making choices and understanding, according to a new study.

The personality trait is little studied but doing so could shed light on how people make decisions in politics, health and other arenas, according to the researchers from Duke University.”

Read the full article by Andrew Griffin here at the Independent.


Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with Maura Priest

Maura Priest is a residential research fellow with the Humanities Institute’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project

H&C: What is your academic background and what is your current position in UCHI/at UConn/Your Home Institution?

MP: I received my PhD and Master’s Degree in philosophy from the University of California, Irvine. I received my BA in philosophy (political science minor) from California State University, Fullerton.

H&C: What is the project you’re currently working on?

MP: I am currently working on two projects. The first is a mix of epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy. I seek to understand how ethical virtues function at the group and collective level. I focus in particular on intellectual humility, epistemic greed, and disagreement. I am also working on a project on manipulation. I want to define manipulation and explain the different variants of the character trait. I then explain how this trait can cause epistemic and moral harm in interpersonal relations. Lastly, I look at manipulation in respect to both private and governmental institutions. I am particularly interested in political manipulation and manipulative advertising.

H&C: How did you arrive at this topic?

MP: I have always been interested in the intersection of ethics, politics, and epistemology. I believe that the epistemic enterprise is an ethical enterprise, and that political institutions are bound by ethical and epistemic constraints. Hence ethics, epistemology, and political theory interact in important and underdiscussed ways. We cannot, for instance, fully understand moral virtue unless we understand epistemic virtue. Neither can we form moral and just political institutions without a clear understanding of the ethics of epistemology. This is because political institutions are highly epistemic in nature, i.e., electing the proper governing officials and creating just and fair laws supervenes on knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

H&C: What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?

MP: I think my work is particularly relevant given the current political environment. For instance, although this might seem a time for academics to become cynical about the public and their ability to make just democratic choices, it is important to remain humble and listen to the perspectives of those with whom we strongly disagree. Unfortunately, at times like this, it is especially tempting to throw epistemic norms to the wayside for what might seem like the greater epistemic and moral good. However, a world in which manipulation and epistemic dishonestly become common in and around the university is a world even worse than the one we live in today. It is important to not let despair impede intellectual humility at the individual or group level. It is also critical that we are able to recognize vices like manipulation and epistemic arrogance for what they are. With this recognize such traits can be justly condemned by persons who refuse to stoop to the same level.

February 7th, Political Theory Series | Nancy Fraser

The Crisis of Care

Nancy Fraser, The New School

  • Paper workshop, 2/7/12, 1:30-3pm. UCHI Conference room, Babbige Library 4th floor.
    Please contact Fred Lee <> for a copy of the paper.

From Exploitation to Expropriation: On Racial Oppression in Capitalist Society

  • Public Lecture, 2/7/17, 3:30-5pm, Class of 1947 Room.

Abstract: Exploitation-centered conceptions of capitalism cannot explain its persistent entanglement with racial oppression. In their place, I suggest an expanded conception that also encompasses an ongoing but disavowed moment of expropriation; in so doing, I disclose (1) the crucial role played in capital accumulation by unfree, dependent labor and (2) the equally indispensable role of politically enforced status distinctions between free, exploitable citizen-workers and dependent, expropriable subjects. Treating such political distinctions as constitutive of capitalist society and as correlated with the “color line,” I demonstrate that the racialized subjection of those whom capital expropriates is a condition of possibility for the freedom of those whom it exploits.

Nancy Fraser is Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor at the New School for Social Research and is Vice-President and President-Elect of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. She is also Professor II at the Centre for Gender Research at the University of Oslo and holds the Chair in «Global Justice» at the Collège d’études mondiales, Paris. Her most recent books are Domination et anticipation: pour un renouveau de la critique, with Luc Boltanski (2014); Transnationalizing the Public Sphere: Nancy Fraser debates her Critics (2014); and Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (2013).

Sponsored by the Political Theory Workshop, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, Asian/Asian American Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, Sociology, and the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute.

February 14th, 2017. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Catherine Elgin

Date & Location: February 14th, 2017, UCHI seminar room, Babbige 4th Floor.

Title: Deweyan Democratic Deliberation

Abstract: According to Dewey, democracy is not just a form of government: it is a way of life– a way of interacting with one another to promote our common ends and resolve our differences.  Democracy thus extends beyond the political arena into all areas where we reason and act together. The mode of deliberation proper to Deweyan democracy is non-adversarial. We should see those who disagree with us not as opponents to be bested in argument, but as resources whose diverging perspectives extend our epistemic range. To engage in democratic deliberation requires a variety virtues that are at once moral and epistemic.

Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with Ufuk Topkara

Ufuk Topkara is a residential research fellow with the Humanities Institute’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project

H&C: What is your academic background and what is your current position in UCHI/at UConn/Your Home Institution?
UT: I received a master’s degree in history from the Humboldt University, Berlin and am completing my doctoral dissertation with the Graduate School of Islamic Theology in Germany. I am a 2017 residential fellow at UCHI.
H&C: What is the project you’re currently working on?
UT: My research centers on the convergence of reason and revelation. I bring Islamic Theology into discourse with Modern Philosophy. This is both the subject of my doctoral dissertation, as well as theoretical and methodological articles that I am currently preparing for publication.
H&C: How did you arrive at this topic?
UT: Both my academic and personal background draw from multiple traditions. I have always been interested in how disciplines can inform and strengthen one another. I also remain dedicated to the translation of academic work for diverse broader populaces, which is a key aspect of my major intellectual project.
H&C: What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?
UT: I believe that my work could help society to look at two intellectual and social traditions often misperceived as diametrically opposed to one another (Islamic Theology and Modern Philosophy) as both complementary and complicating simplistic discourses on religion and secularity. I also feel that by providing an initial methodological model that unites these two disciplines, other theologians could apply and expand our understandings of the interrelation between reason and revelation. This is especially important at a time in which much of European and American society feels discomfort with/disconnected from the religion of Islam.

Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with Louise Richardson-Self

Louise Richardson-Self is a residential research fellow with the Humanities Institute’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project

H&C: What is your academic background and what is your current position in UCHI/at UConn/Your Home Institution?
R-S: I am a tenured lecturer at the University of Tasmania and teach units which contribute to both the Philosophy and Gender Studies majors. Prior to taking up my post at the University of Tasmania, I was a lecturer at the University of Wollongong, and was awarded my PhD in Philosophy from the University of Sydney in June 2014. I am the author of Justifying Same-Sex Marriage: A Philosophical Investigation (Rowman & Littlefield Intl. 2015), which emerged from research undertaken during the course of my PhD. Broadly speaking, my area of specialty is Feminist Philosophy, but I am particularly interested in events and issues that have contemporary political and ethical significance, privileging intersectionality. I am a Visiting Fellow to the Institute’s Humility & Conviction in Public Life project and will be in residence from mid-January to mid-February 2017.
H&C: What is the project you’re currently working on?
R-S: Currently I am researching hate speech. I’m interested in a variety of overlapping issues, but my main concern is to think through the problem of misogynistic hate speech against women. Little is said about women as targets of hate speech in philosophy, and I want to rectify this issue. That said, I am also interested in the evolution of hate speech alongside emerging technologies and integration of technology in our daily lives: how has the problem of hate speech changed with the emergence of the internet, smart devices, and social media? What are the harms of hate speech online and (how) do they differ from hate speech offline? Why do people disagree about what to do about hate speech (or whether anything should be done at all)? What new strategies can we devise to combat hate speech when legislation is too limited/limiting? These are all questions that I hope to work through. While I’m visiting UConn, I’ll be concentrating on an analysis of hate speech through the framework of social imaginaries – I hope that doing so will permit me to consider whether there is true understanding of the harms of hate speech amongst persons who are rarely, if ever, targeted.
H&C: How did you arrive at this topic?
R-S: Proposals to weaken Australian legislation forbidding hate speech initially sparked my interest in the topic. In my previous research (on LGBT rights and same-sex marriage) I had begun to consider and develop literature on social imaginaries, so it was with this framework in mind that I started to consider the contemporary problem of hate speech. Most philosophical analyses of hate speech utilise ‘speech act theory’ as a method for explaining the harms of hate speech (and sometimes, for justifying the need for legislative prevention/remedy). I hypothesize that applying a different theory to the issue may contribute new insights and provide a more robust understanding of the problem at hand. I do not want to see legislative protections weakened, but I am keenly aware that the law is not the solution to hate speech. We need to find alternative strategies which complement the law if we ever hope to reduce or eradicate the problem.
H&C: What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?

R-S: I hope that my research will achieve a few things: I hope that my research will help people to better understand the harms of (misogynistic) hate speech, and how to identify it. I hope that my research will build scholarship on social imaginaries, and that this concept might begin to find greater purchase in the public sphere as a means for thinking through issues of racism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, classism, and so forth. I also hope that my research will enable greater empathetic connections with victims of hate speech and target groups, and greater recognition of each individual’s own intersectional location in the world. Of course, I hope that politicians, activists, and the general public will read and be moved by my scholarship, since the point of thinking through the problem of hate speech is to begin to build real-world strategies for change.