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.
Reformation Without End: Religion, Politics and the Past, Then and Now.
This talk considers polemical divinity in Enlightenment England and its potential relevance for public debate today. The talk explains why we should think of the English Enlightenment not as the first chapter in the story of secular modernity but rather as a late chapter in the story of the Reformation. In addition, it considers how conceiving of England’s Enlightenment in that way might help us to think differently about public discourse today.
Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209
Title: Epistemic Greed
Abstract: My paper argues that epistemologists and ethicists have overlooked the importance of a dangerous vice (epistemic greed). I explain what this vice is and why it is a problem. In so doing my paper sheds light on the following questions: Is the behavior of epistemic elites, (a) really much different from billionaires discussing expensive wines on a millionaire dollar yacht, and (b) do epistemic elites have the same sort of (imperfect) obligation to share in their epistemic wealth as the rich have to share in their economic wealth?
Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209
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.
Date & Location: January 24, 2017, UCHI seminar room, Babbige 4th Floor.
Title: Humility and Helpfulness
Abstract: Dispositionally humble persons (i.e., people with characteristically low self-focus and a comfortably accurate perception of one’s strengths and limitations) may be more likely to sacrifice some of their limited resources to help others in need. In several experimental studies we find that dispositional humility predicts willingness to help someone in need – particularly in situations where social pressure to help is low. We will investigate several possible mechanisms by which humility may promote helpfulness, and explore mechanisms for promoting the development of humility and intellectual humility (e.g., education, perspective-taking exercises).
Babbdige Library 4th floor room 4/209 meeting
Title: Giving Birth in the Public Square: Dialogue as a Maieutic Practice
If we are living in a “post-fact” age, and if deliberation relies on facts, how are we to conceive of public discourse? Must one either futilely shout the facts louder and louder or else turn away from facts, and thus rational discourse, altogether? This paper initiates a way to conceive of public discourse that avoids the facts versus violence dilemma. I begin with a close reading of the opening scene of Plato’s Republic that, I claim, demonstrates dialogue as a third way beyond force or rational persuasion. I then consider Allan Bloom’s and Hannah Arendt’s interpretations of the political relevance of Socratic dialogue. In concluding, I argueagainst Arendt that it is the tension between wonder and opinion lying at the heart of dialogue that renders dialogue a relevant political activity, one that connects us with others and in so doing creates a viable, pluralistic polis.
Paul Bloom (Psychology and Cognitive Science, Yale)
Location: UCHIm Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209
Title: Against Empathy
Many psychologists, philosophers, and laypeople believe that empathy is necessary for moral judgment and moral action-the only problem with empathyis that we sometimes don’t have enough of it. Drawing on research into psychopathy, criminal behavior, charitable giving, infant cognition, cognitive neuroscience, and Buddhist meditation practices, I’ll argue that this is mistaken. Empathy is a poor moral guide. It is biased, short-sighted, and innumerate-we should try to do without it. We are much better off, in both public policy and intimate relationships, drawing upon a combination of reason and distanced compassion.