Lecture: “Silence and Salience: The Ethics of Being Judgmental”

The Department of Philosophy is sponsoring a lecture, “Silence and Salience: The Ethics of Being Judgmental” by Neal Tognazzini, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Western Washington University. Here is an overview of the talk:

Abstract: Part of being adult is realizing that just because something is true doesn’t mean you should say it. But here’s a more controversial maxim: just because it’s true doesn’t mean you should think it. This is more controversial because although it’s reasonable to expect someone to have the self-control necessary to refrain from saying every little thing that crosses their mind, it’s unclear whether anyone has control over what crosses their mind in the first place. And yet we do criticize people for being judgmental, and it sure seems that sometimes such a criticism is warranted. In this talk, I plan to explore the way that our involvement in interpersonal relationships ought to structure our thoughts. My thesis will be that to care about someone is to be oriented toward them, or to see them through a particular mental lens, in a way that produces a particular pattern of salience and silence. That is: caring about someone (at least ideally) has the effect of making some features of that person particularly salient, and silencing or screening off other features from one’s consciousness. One is aptly described as judgmental when one’s thoughts do not display this sort of pattern, indicating a failure to fully adopt the orientation that constitutes properly caring about the person.

Date: February 9, 2018
Time: 4 pm
Location: Wyatt Hall, Room 109

Feb 9 poster

“My Friend, the Algorithm” — A summer research project by Jessica Chan Ugalde ’18

Jessica Chan Ugalde ’18, majoring in both Philosophy and Computer Science, spent the summer researching the importance of ethics and philosophy in the world of technology – namely intelligent agents. An article published on the University of Puget Sound website overviews her research:

“It is immoral to limit users’ purview so much that you only see what you want to see,” the philosophy and computer science major says…

“We must establish ethical frameworks to guide the development of “intelligent agents,” she says, referring to the algorithms that bring us Facebook and Web news….

Her solution was revealed in her research paper “My Friend, the Algorithm.” Jessica proposed that intelligent agents—just like friends—should have “free agency” to choose what to show you, and that they should help you attain wisdom. That means showing you what you like, and what you don’t like, or maybe never thought of….

“Technology plays such a huge role, not only in our everyday lives, but in forming our intuitions,” she says. She argues tech companies should take part in philosophical discourse—and that they would benefit from it. Highly ethical firms could attract the best workers, and thoughtful debate would hone the critical thinking skills needed in their collaborative industry….

Jessica’s own goal is to write, and to shine a light on contentious ethical issues. Should she succeed, the computing world may get no peace until it finds the algorithm that is, indeed, our friend.

During her research, Jessica was supervised by Sara Protasi from the Department of Philosophy and David Chui from the Department of Computer Science.

CALL FOR PAPERS – Sound Decisions: An Undergraduate Bioethics Journal

Sound Decisions: An Undergraduate Bioethics Journal is now taking submissions for peer review and subsequent publication for their Winter volume. Here are their guidelines for submissions:

All papers submitted should be 8-10 pages in length, and have been edited prior to submission to ensure quality work. Students can submit their final papers, which are typically cumulative of a student’s knowledge from taking a course in bioethics. Topics are at the discretion of the student, but some former publications have been on the topic of the ethics of euthanasia, moral considerations of animal testing, animal agriculture, feminist approaches to abortion, rethinking eugenics in genetic engineering, and more.

To submit an article, visit: http://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/sounddecisions/ , make an author account, and follow the instructions to complete the submission process.  If you have any questions about what to submit or the submission process, feel free to email the editors: cokeefe@pugetsound.edu and gpgarcia@pugetsound.edu

We look forward to editing and publishing your papers and widening the bioethics community with your participation!


CALL FOR PAPERS: Undergraduate Philosophy Conferences and Publication Opportunities

In the next few months, there are several opportunities to submit papers for publication and for undergraduate philosophy conferences. Visit their websites for more details on submitting.

Students whose work is accepted to present at a conference can apply for a travel grant from the university. More details about student travel awards are on the university website.

Stance: An International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal

Submission Deadline: December 15, 2017

Aporia Volume 18, Issue 1 (and Essay Prizes)

Submission Deadline: December 15, 2017

Third Annual Conference of The Mudd Journal of Ethics

Submission Deadline: December 31, 2017
Conference Dates: March 10–11, 2018

22nd Annual Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Submission deadline: February 1, 2018
Conference Dates: April 20–21, 2018

11th Annual DePauw Undergraduate Ethics Symposium

Submission Deadline: February 9, 2018
Conference Dates: April 19 –21, 2018

2nd Annual Gonzaga Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Submission Deadline: February 18, 2018
Conference Dates: April 21-22, 2018

MSU Denver’s Third Annual Undergraduate Women’s Philosophy Conference

Submission Deadline: February 19th, 2018
Conference Dates: April 13–14, 2018


CFP: 2018 DePaw Undergraduate Ethics Symposium

The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University has announced a call for papers for their 2018 Undergraduate Ethics Symposium. Here is information from the Institute about the event:

The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University is proud to announce the 11th Annual Undergraduate Ethics Symposium.

The Undergraduate Ethics Symposium will take place from April 19-21, 2018, on the theme of “Representing Disability.”

This symposium is highly inter-disciplinary. In addition to traditional analytic essays, we welcome submissions from undergraduate creative writers, artists, and filmmakers. We believe the arts are an important component to the exploration of ethics in society.

Scholars should submit a paper on a topic of ethical inquiry or exploration. Writers, artists and filmmakers may submit a short story, series of poems, short play, short screenplay or short film in which an ethical topic and/or dilemma is central.

The symposium is held at The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University, located in a 500 acre nature park. Participating undergraduate students attend seminars with visiting scholars and artists and also hear presentations on the symposium’s theme.

Students who are accepted to the symposium will receive free lodging and meals. Need-based assistance is available for travel. Submissions in all areas of ethical inquiry are encouraged and will be accepted using our online submission form below until February 9, 2018

You can find out more about the symposium and get answers to FAQs on our website. We look forward to receiving submissions from undergraduate students across the U.S.

  • Keah N. Brown, journalist and Senior Entertainment Writer at Cliche Magazine.
  • James Emmett, Owner/CEO at James Emmett Corporation, a disability consulting firm
  • Kevin Timpe, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College and President of 22 Advocacy, a non-profit advocacy group for children with disabilities

Event on Nov. 3: Philosophy and Beyond

Philosophy and Beyond

Join philosophy faculty members and students to find out where philosophy can lead you! This event will feature a presentation, “From Philosophy to Law,” by alumna Maia Bernick ’15.

Philosophy majors are well-prepared to pursue a wide variety of career interests, because studying philosophy teaches you how to think critically, how to write clearly, and how to reason effectively. Philosophy majors do exceptionally well after graduation— the proof is in the outcomes!

Friday, November 3rd, 4 pm
Wyatt Hall, Room 109

All majors, minors, and all students interested in philosophy are welcome.
Pizza and beverages will be provided.



SHOT: A Performance by Spectrum Dance Theater

On Wednesday, November 1st at 6 pm in Schneebeck Concert Hall, SHOT will be performed by Spectrum Dance Theater. The performance will be followed by a conversation with choreographer Donald Byrd and the dancers. The event is free and open to the public. Here is a description of the event:

Through visceral and urgent contemporary dance theater, you are invited to contemplate the alarming and continuous murder of black people by American law enforcement. With the police’s ever-expanding authority, supported by recent rulings of the Supreme Court, we ask – when will it stop?  “SHOT” is an unapologetic critique of the current American landscape, where black people find themselves in an intense cycle of fear, intimidation, aggression, and death.

This event is sponsored by the Chism Lecture in Humanities and Arts Endowment, the Matthew Norton Clapp Visiting Artist Fund, the Department of Philosophy, and the Center for Intercultural and Civic Engagement. This event is also supported by African-American Studies, Theater Arts, CWLT, and Gender Queer Studies.