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Philosophy Speaker Series

All talks will be held in person in South Ross 421. All talks will be on Fridays 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. except for Kimberley Brownlee’s talk, which will be on a Wednesday. All are welcome! For more information contact or

Upcoming Events

Friday October 6, 2023

John Hacker-Wright (University of Guelph)

Title: The Practical Unity of Practical Wisdom

Abstract: Practical wisdom is the sine qua non of good conduct for Aristotelian virtue ethicists. Aristotelians conceive it as the virtue responsible for the intellectual side of good conduct, which involves having the right goal and deliberating well about what fulfills that goal, among other tasks. But is there any such trait as practical wisdom? Given the diversity of jobs practical wisdom is asked to do (seven goals are often enumerated), there may be a cluster of traits corresponding to what Aristotelians are talking about, so there really isn't one trait. Some scholars have adopted the position of skepticism about practical wisdom. In this paper, I defend a traditional Aristotelian position on practical wisdom, arguing that it is one thing despite having different functions. Following Thomas Aquinas, we can see practical wisdom as having parts. Those parts may be psychological components (integral parts) of the trait, or they may be derivative functions (virtual parts), things that someone with practical wisdom is also able to do because they have practical wisdom. Still, practical wisdom is one because it is a trait that functions to enable us to pursue the good as good; it possesses what I will call here ‘practical unity’ as the master virtue of praxis or acting well full stop.

Friday October 30, 2023

Andrew Sepielli (University of Toronto) 

Title: How Should We Conceptualize the World for the Purposes of Moral Theory?: The Case of Doing and Allowing

Abstract: In this talk, I take some steps towards articulating and adjudicating a split among normative ethicists that is rarely held up for explicit debate, but that profoundly shapes the ways they pursue ethical theory. As Jonathan Bennett, following Richard Rorty, put it, the split is between those ethicists who propose to “take warm, familiar aspects of the human condition and look at them coldly, and with the eye of a stranger”, and those who wish to resist this enterprise. This is not a split within moral theory itself — e.g. between utilitarians, deontologists, and virtue ethicists — but rather a distinction that manifests, if you will, earlier in our theorizing. It is a distinction between ways of conceptually “carving up” the to-be-evaluated aspects of the world. Bennett's own analysis of the doing vs. allowing distinction serves as a case study. 

Wednesday November 15, 2023

Kimberley Brownlee (University of British Columbia)

Title: The Razian’s Elephant in the Room: When Do Interests Give Rise to Rights?

Abstract: Many rights theorists rely on Joseph Raz’s version of the interest theory of rights. Specifically, we use rights-talk when we believe that some party’s interest has the requisite moral importance to justify holding others to be under duties to serve it. We tend not to dwell on the fact we can conceive of both interests and the importance of interests in different ways which yield different answers about the interests that ground rights. This paper explores four factors that can alter our assessment of the importance and rights-grounding capacity of interests. Those factors are: 1) the possibility or not of securing an interest; 2) the importance of an interest viewed in isolation or in aggregation with the person’s other interests; 3) the importance of an interest as a type or as a token; and 4) the relevance or not of the interest-holder’s own perspective. These factors pose challenges we must confront if we are to draw determinate boundaries around rights-grounding interests. This paper unpacks these challenges and sketches out an inclusive, person-specific set of preliminary solutions. 

Friday November 24, 2023

Neil Levy (Macquarie University, Sydney, and University of Oxford) 

Title: Measuring misbeliefs and their harms

Abstract: It’s widely held that misinformation is harmful because it leads to false belief. Claims that the US presidential election was stolen, for example, cause people to believe that Biden is illegitimate and motivate movements to overthrow the government by causing the belief that the election was stolen. In this paper, I argue that misinformation is believed less often than is thought: reports of belief often don’t reflect genuine belief. The fact that misinformation is not widely believed does not entail that it is harmless, however. I sketch several reasons why it might be harmful despite rarely deceiving anyone.

Past Events

Friday September 15
Johann Frick (University of California, Berkeley): The Value of Life, the Value of Virtue

September 30, 2022
Chike Jeffers, Dalhousie University: Eloquent Responses; An Interpretation of Some Great Works of Ancient Egyptian Philosophy

October 21, 2022
Allauren Forbes, McMaster University: Scudéry’s Portraits: Gender, Agency, and Genre

November 11, 2022
Rima Basu, Claremont McKenna College: Epistemic Ethics: Methods, Motivations, and the Malcontents

November 11, 2022
Sabine Tsuruda, Queen’s University: The Right to Strike

November 27, 2020
Nikhil Krishnan (University of Cambridge) Does Clarity Matter?

October 30, 2020
Michael Lynch (University of Connecticut) Truth as a Democratic Value

October 19, 2020
Tim Connolly (East Stroudsburg University) Doing Philosophy Comparatively with Zhuangzi

October 2, 2020
Emmalon Davis (University of Michigan) A Tale of Two Injustices: Epistemic Injustice in Philosophical Discourse

September 25, 2020
Agnes Callard (University of Chicago) Mandatory Questions

Fall Term Talks

September 13, 2019

Daniela Dover (UCLA) "Identity and Inquiry".

October 4, 2019

Bana Bashour (American University of Beirut) Title TBA.

October 25, 2019

Liam Murphy (NYU) "Nonlegislative Justification: Against Legalistic Moral Theory".

November 22, 2019

Devlin Russell, "The Three Dogmas of Action Theory"

Winter 2019 Talks

Wednesday, Jan 23, 4-6 pm

Sukaina Hirji (Virginia Tech)

"How Virtue is a Means to Contemplation"

Friday, Jan 25, 4-6 pm

Francey Russell (Yale University)

"Kantian Self-Conceit and the Two Guises of Authority"

Friday, Feb 1, 4-6 pm

Nicholas Smyth (Fordham University)

"Structural Injustice and the Emotions"

Friday, February 8, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Dale Matthew (York University)

"Racial Integration and the Problem of Value".

Friday, Feb 15, 3:30-5:30 pm

William Seager (University of Toronto)

"The Woke World: A Panpsychist Manifesto"

Friday, March 1, 3:30-5:30 pm

Charles Goodman (Binghamton University)

"Buddhism, Retributivism, and the Reactive Attitudes"

Friday, April 5, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Matthew Leisinger (PhD Yale, post-doc at Cambridge)

“Cudworth on Freewill”

Tuesday, April 23, 2:30 - 4:30 p.m.

William Child (University of Oxford)

"Meaning, Use, and Supervenience"

Fall 2018 Talks

Sept 21: Nomy Arpaly (Brown) “Deliberation and Fetish”

Oct 19: C. Thi Nguyen (Utah Valley) “Games and Autonomy”

Oct 26: Lori Gruen (Wesleyan) “Challenging Disposability”

Nov 23: Daniel Silvermint (UConn) “Costly Bodies in an Ill-Fitting World”

Winter 2018 Talks

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Denis Buehler (University of Antwerp)

"Guidance of Visual Attention"

Friday, January 26, 2018

Kevin Lande (University of California, Los Angeles) "The Spatial Commitments of Perceptual Structure"

Monday, January 29, 2018

Ben Phillips (University of the Pacific) "Visual Perspective Taking and Gaze Perception"

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jona Vance (Northern Arizona University) "Visual Precision and Representation"

Friday, February 2, 2018

Peter Epstein (Cambridge University), "A Priori Concepts in Spatial Experience"

Friday, March 9, 2018  (Talk cancelled due to the strike)

Vitaly Kiryushchenko (York University), "Signs, Maps, and Diagrams: Charles Sanders Peirce on Science, Virtuality, and Character"

Friday, March 23

Adam Pautz (Brown University), "Are Sensory Qualities in the Head or in the World?"

Friday, April 6

Daniela Dover (UCLA), "Conversation and Self-Constitution"

Fall 2017 Talks

Friday, Sept 22, 2017
Ron Mallon (Washington University, St Louis)
"Accumulation Mechanisms and the Construction of Social Kinds"

Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017
Peter Langland-Hassan (University of Cincinnati)
"Attitude Agnosticism"

Friday, Oct 13, 2017
Laura Franklin-Hall (New York University)
"Why Are Some Kinds Historical, and Others Not?"

Friday, Oct 20, 2017
John Doris (Washington University, St Louis)
"Talking to Our Selves: Reflection, Ignorance, and Agency"

Thursday, Oct 26 and Friday, Oct 27
Workshop on Normative Folk Psychology: Tad Zawidzki (George Washington University), Raymond Mar (York), Victoria McGeer (Princeton, ANU), Kristin Andrews (York), Shannon Spaulding (Oklahoma), Heidi Maibom (Cincinnati)

Friday, Nov 10, 2017
Ishani Maitra (University of Michigan)

"Lying and Deception: A Happy Marriage"

Friday, Nov 17, 2017
Sandford Goldberg (Northwestern University)
"Value-Reflecting Reasons"

January 20, Michael Hannon, Queen’s University
"What's the Point of Understanding?"

Wednesday, Jan 25, at 2:30 pm in Ross S 421, Shyam Ranganathan (York University)
Interpretation vs. Explication; Truth vs. Objectivity

February 3, Anandi Hattiangadi, Stockholm University
"Is  Intentionality Determined by Phenomenology?"

March 3, Dorit Bar-On, University of Connecticut
"Crude Meaning, Brute Thought (Or: What Are They Thinking?!)"

March 10, Alex Miller, University of Otago
"Rule-Following Quietism"

March 31, Charles Siewert, Rice University
"Consciousness and Self-Expression"

All talks will be held from 3.30–5.30 pm in Ross Building S421.

Johann Frick (Princeton), "Conditional Reasons and the Procreation Asymmetry"

Friday, October 7, 3:30-5:30 pm in Ross S 421

Sharon Street (NYU), "Meditation, Metaethics, and the View from Everywhere"

Friday, October 14, 3:30-5:30 pm in Ross S 421

Paul Katsafanas (Boston), "Fanaticism and Sacred Values"

Friday, November 4, 3:30 - 5:30 in S421 Ross

Krister Bykvist (Stockholm), "Values, Norms, and Changing Attitudes"

Friday, November 11, 3:30 - 5:30 in S421 Ross

Friday, September 25, 2015, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m., 010 Vanier College, Senior Common Room
Barry Stroud, Univesity Of California At Berkeley
"Davidson And Wittgenstein On Meaning And Understanding"

Friday, October 9, 3:30-5:30, S421 Ross Building
Victor Kumar, University of Toronto
"Empirical Vindication of Moral Luck"

Friday, November 6, 3:30-5:30, S421 Ross Building
Stephen Yablo, MIT
"How (not) to Derive an Is from an Ought"

Friday, November 13: Full day symposium (in S421 Ross)
Title: Beyond Critical Thinking

Catherine Hundleby, University of Windsor
Michael Gilbert, York University
Chris Tindale, University of Windsor
Harvey Siegel, University of Miami

Tuesday, November 17, 4:00-5:30, S421 Ross Building
Wayne Sumner, University of Toronto
"The Worst Things in Life"

Friday, November 27, 3:30-5:30, S421 Ross Building
Julia Nefsky, University of Toronto
"Individual Consumption and Collective Impact"

Wednesday, May 11 at 3:30 pm, in Ross S 421

Regina Rini (New York University), "The Science of Values and the Values of Scientists"

Thursday, May 19 at 3:30 pm, in Ross S 421

Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij (University of Kent, Canterbury), "Procedural Justice and the Problem of Intellectual Deference"

Wednesday, May 25, 3:30-5:30 pm in Ross S 421

Wesley Buckwalter (University of Waterloo), "Epistemic Injustice in Social Cognition"

Monday, June 6, 3:00 pm, in Ross S 421

Kourken Michaelian (University of Otago), "Collective Mental Time Travel: Ontology and Epistemology"

Wednesday, April 6, 3:00-5:00 pm in Ross S 421

Paul Simard Smith (University of Connecticut), "Pluralism As A Bias Mitigation Strategy"

Monday, April 11, 3:00-5:00 pm in Ross S 421

Janelle Derstine (Rutgers University), "Material Object Metaphysics and the Special Composition Question"

Monday, April 18, 3:00-5:00 pm in Ross S 421

Gülberk Koç Maclean (Mount Royal University), "Bertrand Russell's Bundle Theory of Particulars"

Wednesday, June 8, 2:30 pm in Ross S 421

Sarah Vincent (York University), "Death's Harm and the Subject's Life"

Friday, June 10, 2:30 pm in Ross S 421

Alex Manafu (University of Paris-1), "Is the Theory of Everything a Theory of Every Thing?"

Wednesday, September 10, at 3:00 in S421 Ross Building
Otavio Bueno, University of Miami
"What does a mathematical proof really prove?"
(joint session with the Cognitive Science Speaker Series)

Friday, September 12, at 3:30 in S421 Ross Building
Christoph Lumer, University of Siena
"An epistemological approach to argumentation-the practical theory of

Friday, September 19, at 3:30 in S421 Ross Building
Michael Bratman, Stanford Univerity
"Acting and Thinking Together"

Friday, November 7, at 3:30 in S421 Ross Building
Stefan Sciaraffa, McMaster University
"Collectivist Authority: It's Not Personal"

Friday, November 14, at 3:30 in 001 Vanier College, Senior Common Room
David Copp, University of California at Davis
"Normative Concepts; Natural Properties"
(co-sponsored with Vanier College)

Friday, February 6, 3:30-5:30 pm, Ross Building S421*
Ernie Lepore (Rutgers University)
"On the Perspective-Taking and Open-Endedness of Slurring"

Wednesday, March 25, 3:30-5:30 pm, Ross Building S421* CANCELLED

Peter Pagin (Stockholm University)
"Semantic Theory and Linguistic Processing"

Friday, March 2

Workshop: Wittgenstein and Davidson on Mind and Language

William Child (University of Oxford)
Kathrin Glüer (Stockholm University)
Paul Horwich (New York University)
Asa Wikforss (Stockholm University)
Meredith Williams (Johns Hopkins University)

October 4, 2013: Frank Cunningham (University of Toronto)

October 11, 2013: Susan Haack (University of Miami)

November 6, 2013: Rick Benitez (University of Sydney)

November 8, 2013: Harvey Cormier (State University of New York, Stony Brook)

November 15, 2013: Workshop on Intuitions and Reference
Hermann Cappelen (University of St. Andrews)
Daniel Cohnitz (University of Tartu, Estonia)
Imogen Dickie (University of Toronto)
Jussi Haukioja (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

December 6, 2013: Stephen White (Northwestern University)

January 24, 2014: Jason Bridges ( University Of Chicago)

January 31, 2014:  Robert McCauley (Emory University)

February 12, 2014: Marc Champagne (York University)

March 5, 2014:  Roslyn Weiss (Lehigh University)

March 14, 2014: Slobodan Perovic (University of Pittsburgh/University of Belgrade)

March 28, 2014: Henry Jackman (York University)

September 14, 2012: Kirk Ludwig (Indiana University)

September 19, 2012: John Heil (Washington University, St. Louis)

October 26, 2012: Dan McArthur (York University)

November 16, 2012: Christine Tappolet (University of Montreal)

January 25, 2013: Kerah Gordon-Solmon (Queen's University)

March 6, 2013: Hakob Barseghyan (University of Toronto)

March 22, 2013: Victor Tadros (University of Warwick)

April 5, 2013: Tyler Burge (University of California, Los Angeles)