Fall 2017 - Imagining the Good: Community, Equality, Environment


September 13: Is God Dead?

In the 5th of 6 E/RS interviews, Waleed El-Ansary (Theology), Tim Quinn (Philosophy) and Kristine Suna-Koro (Theology) will discuss Nietzsche’s infamous claim “God is dead,” and, more broadly, the significance and role of God in our modern world. E/RS interviews provide an opportunity for us to get to know members of the Xavier community in a more informal way. 

Location: Kennedy Auditorium

Time 7 p.m.


October 11: Michael Brownstein on Implicit Bias

Michael Brownstein is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at CUNY/John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has published numerous papers on implicit bias, and with Jennifer Saul, he is the co-editor of the two-volume book Implicit Bias and Philosophy. He will give a talk, “The Habit Stance: Cultivating Ethical Implicit Attitudes,” in the evening and a workshop on implicit bias and higher education during the afternoon in the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Lecture (7 p.m.): “The Habit Stance: Cultivating Ethical Implicit Attitudes”

While it is clear that implicit attitudes are malleable, there is much to learn about the most effective techniques for changing them. Brownstein argues for treating implicit attitudes as if they are habits.  The cultivation of ethical habits involves at least three elements: pre-commitment to plans; rote practice; and attention to situational influences on behavior.  He considers current research on these techniques, identifies open questions for future experimentation, and addresses conceptual concerns about the nature of ethical action.

Location: Kennedy Auditorium


CTE Workshop (3 p.m.): "Simple Strategies for Complex Problems: Implicit Bias and Higher Education"

Research suggests that implicit biases affect higher education in a number of ways: in faculty hiring, grading, classroom atmosphere, and more.  While there is no single easy fix for these problems, university faculty and staff can embrace simple solutions to combat unintended biases.  Brownstein will present both “institutional” and “individual” tactics for promoting more inclusive and egalitarian outcomes in higher education. Room CLC 309.


October 25: Adam Konopka on Sustainability and Philosophy

Adam Konopka is the Besl Chair in Ethics/Religion and Society. He is currently completing his manuscript Ecological Investigations: A Phenomenology of Habitat (Routledge, forthcoming) and teaches courses on ethics and environmental philosophy at Xavier. 

Lecture (7 p.m.): "What is Sustainability? A Philosophical Perspective."

Sustainability has become the central theme of recent mainstream environmental discourses and practices and has been defined in various economic, scientific, and policy terms.  A common element in the various definitions of sustainability concerns an inter-temporal relationship to future human generations.  The Brundtland Commission, for example, defines sustainable development as "the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability the future generations to meet their own needs."  This talk examines the relationship between present and future generations and clarifies some of the philosophical assumptions involved in this relation.  In particular, the clarification of the some of the structures of intergenerational relationships helps address some of the interdisciplinary puzzles involved in sustainability discourses and imagine newer and more authentic sustainable practices.

Location: Conaton Board Room


November 15: Carlos Eire on "Mysticism as Anit-Protestantism"

Carlos Eire is T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University. His award-winning scholarship examines religion from the Late Middle Ages through the Early Modern eras from both Protestant and Catholic perspectives. His latest book Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 (2016) has won numerous prizes, and his memoirs, most notably Waiting for Snow in Havana (2003), has garnered Eire recognition outside academic circles.
The year 2017 marks the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation. This quincentennial is being commemorated both internationally and locally with talks, concerts, art exhibits, courses and symposia. The Reformation was a momentous era in European history, with far reaching consequences across the globe. It gave birth to the Protestant denominations, but it hardly left the Catholic Church unchanged. Some ongoing reforms gained new urgency, while others were discarded as new priorities emerged. As part of its own effort at renewal, the Catholic Church embraced new initiatives and orders, such as the Jesuits. Professor Eire’s lecture offers insights into interpretations of direct, emotive experiences of God within the context of this 16th century schism within Christendom. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Location: Conaton Board Room, Schmidt Hall
Time: 7 pm

November 16: Sally Haslanger on Feminism and Racism

Sally Haslanger is Ford Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT, and an affiliate in the MIT Women's and Gender Studies Program. Her research interests include analytic metaphysics and epistemology, ancient philosophy (especially Aristotle), and social and political philosophy, feminist theory and critical race theory. Haslanger’s book Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique (Oxford 2012), collects papers published over the course of twenty years that link work in contemporary metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language with social and political issues concerning gender, race, and the family.  It was awarded the 2014 Joseph B. Gittler Prize for "outstanding scholarly contribution in the field of the philosophy of one or more of the social sciences."

Lecture (7 p.m.): "Disrupting Racism: Social Meaning and Social Movements"

Description: Racism and other forms of injustice are more than just bad attitudes; after all, such injustice also involves unfair distributions of goods and resources. But attitudes play a role. How central is that role? The cognitivist argues that racism is an ideology that consists in false beliefs that arise out of and serve pernicious social conditions. In this lecture Haslanger agrees that racism is an ideology, but in her view, ideology is deeply rooted in social practices. Social practices are patterns of interaction that distribute things of value, guided by cultural meanings.  Unjust practices rely on social meanings that are internalized as habits of mind that distort, obscure, and occlude important facts and result in a failure to recognize the interests of subordinated groups. How do we disrupt such practices to achieve greater justice? Haslanger argues that this is sometimes, but not always, best achieved by argument or challenging false beliefs, so social movements legitimately seek other means.

Location: Kennedy Auditorium


In addition to the evening talk, Dr. Haslanger will offer an afternoon workshop on Feminist Epistemology at 2pm in CLC 308.