SEWing Circle Featured Speaker: Deborah Mower


 “Moral Conviction and Civility”
Thursday, December 6, UCHI Conference Room, 2:00 – 3:30 PM
 Deborah Mower is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Mississippi, and specializes in Moral Psychology, Applied Ethics, Moral Education, Virtue Ethics, and Asian Philosophy.
 American political discourse has always been combative but recent years have brought a marked increase in incivility, vitriol, and violence among both private citizens and public figures. While there are doubtless many causes for this increase, there is a corresponding rise in identity politics, polarization, information filtering and avoidance, heightened moral judgment, and adoption of outrage culture. Psychologists have studied the phenomenon of moral conviction and offer helpful ways to understand at least part of this recent rise of incivility. Moral conviction is a specific attitude subjects take toward some issue and is characterized by universality, objectivity, autonomy, and emotional intensity, yielding increased motivation and justification for action (Skitka 2010). Clearly, moral conviction matters for our individual choices and for motivating moral progress, but it also carries a dark side of incivility, intolerance, non-engagement (avoidance), and violence toward those who are thought to hold different moral views. I offer an account of civility as an orienting attitude toward the procedures and standards of dynamic exchange. As an orienting attitude, civility can moderate moral conviction by promoting its positive functions while limiting its dark outcomes.

UConn Forum: “Mark Twain and Political Corruption: The Gilded Age Today”

UConn Forum: “Mark Twain and Political Corruption: The Gilded Age Today”

November 13 • 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

The UConn Forum at the Mark Twain House is a panel discussion that examines current events through the lens of Mark Twain. Panelists are distinguished academics from the University of Connecticut College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The panel is chaired by Davita Silfen Glasberg, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The theme of the November panel will be political corruption, as framed through an excerpt from The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.  The Gilded Age was Twain’s first novel, which he co-authored with his Hartford neighbor Charles Dudley Warner.  Published in 1873, the book uses satire to criticize the greed and political corruption of the era, which subsequently became known as “the Gilded Age.”  It is the perfect lead-in to a discussion of the enduring issue of corruption and of the role that money has played, and continues to play, in society and the political system.

All of the panelists are from the University of Connecticut. They are:


Jeffrey W. Ladewig, Associate Professor of Political Science. Ladewig’s primary areas of research and teaching focus on the U.S. Congress and the American presidency.

Michael E. Wallace, Professor of Sociology. Wallace researches social stratification and inequality, the sociology of work and organizations, and the social organization of capitalism in the U.S. and other affluent democratic countries.

Maureen Croteau, head of the Department of Journalism.  Croteau was named New England Journalism Educator of the Year by the New England Newspaper & Press Association in 2014, and is a member of the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame.

Lewis R. Gordon, Professor of Philosophy. In addition to theories of social transformation, decolonization, and liberation, Gordon’s research in social and political philosophy also addresses problems of normative political concerns beyond justice.

This event is free. Click here to register.

Sponsored by CT Humanities.

Time’s Up: What Now? – Kate Manne

In the coming months, Amherst College, the University of Connecticut, and Wellesley College will be hosting speakers as part of the event series Time’s Up: What Now?

The first speaker will be Kate Manne, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University and author of Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny. Professor Manne will be visiting the three campuses for a variety of events from October 29-November 2.
Kate’s UConn talk will take place from 4 – 5 PM on Oct. 31 with Q&A and a reception to follow.
For more information, visit:

If you require special accommodations to participate, please contact 

Midpoint Forum: Talking About Faith and Politics

On April 25, 2018, Humility and Conviction in Public Life and CTForum hosted its Midpoint Forum “Talking About Faith and Politics: Navigating our difference with humility and conviction,” at the Wadsworth Atheneum museum in Hartford.  With an introduction by Philosopher, Project co-PI, and director of the UConn Humanities Institute Michael Lynch, and moderated by John Dankosky, the editor of the New England News Collaborative, the lively conversation included some of the nation’s leading thinkers about the intersection of religion and politics. The panel, political commentator and former presidential advisor David Gergen, educator and founding director of Resetting the Table, Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, and founding director of the Interfaith Youth Core, Eboo Patel, discussed a wide range of topics from intellectual and religious diversity on college campuses and humility amongst our political leaders, to the type of religious diversity intended by the founding fathers.


 Rachel Wahl: “Risky Talk: Public Deliberation Across Deep Divides”

 Rachel Wahl

“Risky Talk: Public Deliberation Across Deep Divides”

April 19, 4:00-5:30 Babbidge Library, UCHI Conference Room

Rachel Wahl is  an assistant professor in the Social Foundations Program, Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Policy at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. She is also a Fellow and member of the Council Trust at UVa’s Institute for Advanced  Studies in Culture and an affiliate of the University of Connecticut’s Human Rights Institute. Her research focuses on how state officials respond to human rights efforts to prevent torture as well as on learning through public deliberation between people  on opposing sides of political divides.

  Description: Trump voters and Clinton voters. The police and people of color.  Supporters and critics of immigration. The deepest divisions have roiled the American political landscape, cutting so deeply as to include fundamental questions about whose lives matter. Often these divides seem to foreclose any possibility of mutual  understanding.  Yet calls persist for a more civil civic culture where competing views are exchanged. Many people worry however that such civility will cloak continued oppression by dominant groups. Others may feel it is a waste of energy better spent on political  resistance. But what actually happens when deeply divided groups sit down together to talk?
This presentation will report on findings from two studies: one  of deliberative dialogue in the most challenging circumstances, occurring between groups who occupy unequal positions and concerning the highest of stakes: police and communities of color. The second study examines deliberative dialogue between university  students who voted for opposing candidates in the 2016 presidential election. The presentation examines whether and how people learn from each other in these exchanges, as well as the political and ethical implications of asking people to learn from their  adversaries through deliberation.


SEWing Circle Featured Speaker: Jennifer Saul

Jennifer Saul Professor of Philosophy

“Dogwhistles and Figleaves: Techniques of Racist Linguistic Manipulation”

April 5, 4:00-5:30 Babbidge Library, UCHI Conference Room

Jennifer’s primary interests are in Philosophy of Language, Feminism, Philosophy of Race, and Philosophy of Psychology. Her most recent book was Lying, Misleading and What is Said: An Exploration in Philosophy of Language and in Ethics (Oxford University Press 2012). Currently, she is working on racism in political speech. In 2011, she received the 2011 Distinguished Woman Philosopher Award in Washington, DC; she has also been chosen as Mind Association President for 2019-20.

Abstract: Until recently, it was widely believed that explicit expressions of racism would doom a political candidacy in the United States. Yet nonetheless racism was a frequently used tool that won many elections. This talk examines one of the methods, the dogwhistle, that allowed such racist electoral victories. It then turns to the present day, in which explicit racism is proving remarkably successful. Here I explore a different linguistic technique, the fig leaf, which I take to have enabled this success.

Working Group

SEWing Circle Featured Speaker: Sanford Goldberg

Sanford Goldberg
“Your Attention Please!  (The Ethics of Address)”

March 26, 4:00-5:30 Babbidge Library, Heritage Room (4th Floor)

Sandy Goldberg (PhD Columbia University, 1995) works in the areas of Epistemology, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind. Goldberg’s interests in Epistemology include such topics as reliabilism, the epistemology of testimony, the theory of epistemic justification, social epistemology, self-knowledge, and skepticism. In the Philosophy of Mind and Language, his interests center on the individuation of the propositional attitudes, externalist theories of mental content and linguistic meaning, the semantics of speech and attitude reports, and speech act theory. A good sample of his work can be found in his four recent books, Anti-Individualism (Cambridge University Press, 2007), Relying on Others (Oxford University Press, 2010), Assertion (Oxford University Press, 2015), and To the Best of Our Knowledge (Oxford University Press, 2018).

There are various ways through which we try to capture another person’s attention. One of these ways – a particularly sophisticated way! – is to address them. After trying to highlight what it is to address another person, I argue that doing so generates a reason (for you, as addressee) to attend to the act. When the act of address is a speech act, matters are further complicated by the expectations parties bring, and (I argue) are entitled to bring, to an (anticipated) speech exchange.  The upshot is that speakers who address an audience have a defeasible claim on the audience’s attention. To fail to attend to a speaker who addresses you and whose claim on your attention is not defeated, I argue, is to disrespect her as a rational subject. ​That this is an underexplored topic in social epistemology is unfortunate, since if I am right addresses form the foundation of most, if not all, attempts at joint action, including those that arise in the course of our attempts to share information with one another.

Working Group

Political Polarization & Epistemic Arrogance Workshop

People on all sides of the political spectrum often view their opposites as arrogant know-it-alls—as not really being willing to listen to alternative voices. The goal of this workshop is examine the role that a certain kind of arrogance—arrogance about one’s view or beliefs—plays in divisive, polarized political debate. Is arrogance or perceived arrogance a consequence or a cause of polarization? Could promoting a more open-minded or intellectual humble attitude help make politics less divisive? A dozen researchers from around the world will gather in Hartford to discuss these questions and the broader issue of whether reasonable, constructive public dialogue is even possible in our political moment – and if it is, what concrete interventions and/or strategies might be helpful in addressing this problem.

The workshop is sponsored by Humility and Conviction in Public Life (HCPL), an applied research project funded by the John Templeton Foundation and the University of Connecticut, which aims to shed new light on how democracies can balance the value of strong moral conviction with the need for citizens to dialogue with one another, to have some sense of humility about their own values. The hope is that the workshop will be a launching pad for future collaborations and practical interventions.

Register here! Registration is free, but limited.