Tag Archive for philiosophy

Rouse Leads Faculty Fall Luncheon Talk on Radical Naturalism

Joe Rouse, the Hedding Professor of Moral Science in the Philosophy Department and the Science in Society Program delivered a faculty fall luncheon talk Oct. 21 on "Radical Naturalism: A Philosophical Research Program."

Joe Rouse, the Hedding Professor of Moral Science, delivered a faculty fall luncheon talk Oct. 21 on “Radical Naturalism: A Philosophical Research Program.” Rouse has taught in Wesleyan’s Philosophy Department and Science in Society Program since 1981.

Rouse's primary research interests are in the philosophy of science, the history of 20th C. philosophy, and interdisciplinary science studies. Within these areas his primary foci include the philosophy of scientific practice; naturalism and anti-naturalism in 20th Century philosophy;

Rouse’s primary research interests are in the philosophy of science, the history of 20th-century philosophy, and interdisciplinary science studies. The sciences, Rouse explained, need no longer “defer to philosophy for their conceptual grounding. On the contrary, a broadly scientific conception of the world provides the horizons for contemporary philosophy,” he said.

In this talk, Rouse how he strives to situate scientific understanding in scientific practice.  "The experimental and observational systems and the practices and skills that the sciences develop are not just a means to scientific knowledge to which then stands on it own. They are integral to scientific understanding." 

In this talk, Rouse explained how he strives to situate scientific understanding in scientific practice. “The experimental and observational systems and the practices and skills that the sciences develop are not just a means to scientific knowledge that then stands on its own. They are integral to scientific understanding,” he said.

Abrell to Speak on the Future of Meat During 92nd Street Y’s Inaugural Food Summit

Elan Abrell, a fellow in animal studies and philosophy, will be a panelist at 92nd Street Y’s first-ever Food Summit on Nov. 9.

The Summit will explore the future of what and how we eat and will include some of the most dynamic and influential figures in the culinary world. Guests will discuss how food brings us together, the future of cookbook publishing, mental health in the food industry, how immigrant chefs continue to transform American cuisine, and much more.

Abrell’s panel will focus on the topic of “Meat: The Future.” He will join experts from the fields of anthropology, nutrition, and the emerging industry of cellular agriculture to explore the science, the implications, alternate sources of animal protein, and life after meat.

This fall, Abrell is teaching a course on Liminal Animals: Animals in Urban Spaces, which examines the major ways in which nonhuman animals influence and are influenced by human-built environments, with specific attention to the ethical, political, and social dimensions of human-animal interactions in these spaces.

For 145 years, 92nd Street Y has been serving its communities and the larger world by bringing people together and providing groundbreaking programs in the performing and visual arts; literature and culture; adult and children’s education; talks on a huge range of topics; health and fitness; and Jewish life.

Tickets are available online.

Gruen Edits New Book on The Ethics of Captivity

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen

The Ethics of Captivity

Book edited by Lori Gruen.

Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, professor of environmental studies, and coordinator of Wesleyan Animal Studies recently edited a new book, The Ethics of Captivity. The book explores the various conditions of captivity for humans and for other animals and examines ethical themes that imprisonment raises.  Chapters written by those with expert knowledge about particular conditions of captivity discuss how captivity is experienced.  The book also contains new essays by philosophers and social theorists that reflect on the social, political, and ethical issues raised by captivity.

One topic covered in many chapters in the book is zoos.  Gruen recently published on Oxford University Press’s blog about the high-profile killing of a two-year-old giraffe named Marius by the Copenhagen Zoo because his genes were already “well-represented” in Europe’s giraffe population. His body was autopsied in public and fed to lions. Those lions, an adult pair and their two cubs, were later killed to make room for a younger male lion that was not related to any of the captive female lions.

Gruen writes that while zoos were originally designed to entertain visitors, they have increasingly expanded their roles to include conservation and education due to the heightened awareness of endangered species and the danger of extinction. Zoos tend to place more value in the overall genetic diversity of a captive population than on the well-being of an individual animal. Gruen  suggests that seeing animals as disposable may undermine conservation efforts. That attitude towards animals is part of what has lead to so many wild animals to be threatened.  She reminds us that “Causing death is what zoos do. It is not all that they do, but it is a big part of what happens at zoos, even if this is usually hidden from the public. Zoos are institutions that not only purposely kill animals, they are also places that in holding certain animals captive, shorten their lives. Some animals, such as elephants and orca whales, cannot thrive in captivity and holding them in zoos and aquaria causes them to die prematurely.”  Some of the chapters in the upcoming book explore how zoos affect animals in the zoos and the people who watch those animals.

Click here to learn more about the book or to purchase it.

Gruen also wrote a post on OUP Blog based on the book.

Springer Authors Book on Communicating Moral Concern

Elise Springer ’90, associate professor of philosophy, is the author of the book, Communicating Moral Concern: An Ethics of Critical Responsiveness, published by MIT Press in September 2013. View photos of her recent book signing celebration in this Wesleyan Connection story.

Modern moral theories have crystallized around the logic of individual choices, abstracted from social and historical context. Yet most action, including moral theorizing, can equally be understood as a response, conscious or otherwise, to the social world out of which it emerges. In this novel account of moral agency, Springer accords central importance to how we intervene in activity around us. To notice and address what others are doing with their moral agency is to exercise what Springer calls critical responsiveness. Her account of this responsiveness steers critics away from both of the conventionally familiar ideals—justifying and expressing reactive attitudes on one hand, and prescribing and manipulating behavioral outcomes on the other. Good critical practice functions instead as a dynamic gestural engagement of attention, reaching further than expressive representation but not as far as causal control.

To make sense of such engagement, Springer unravels the influence of several entrenched philosophical dichotomies (active vs. passive, representation vs. object, illocution vs. perlocution). Where previous accounts have been preoccupied with justified claims or with end results, Springer urges the cultivation of situated critical engagement—an unorthodox virtue. Moral agency can thereby claim a creative and embodied aspect, transforming the world of action through a socially extended process of communicating concern.

Horst Receives Grant for Study on the Cognitive Psychology of Religion

Steven Horst

Steven Horst

Steven Horst, professor of philosophy, received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation on July 9.

The award, worth $55,000, will be applied over five years for his research on “Cognitive Psychology of Religion: Philosophical Implications.”

Horst’s areas of expertise are philosophy of mind, cognitive science, philosophy of psychology and moral psychology.

Lang Lectures on Holocaust

Berel Lang, visiting professor of philosophy, visiting professor of letters, has given lectures recently at a conference held at Boston University in honor of Elie Wiesel’s 80th Birthday; at a conference on “History and Memory of the Holocaust,” held in Berlin at the Adenauer Foundation; and at a conference on “Holocaust Denial” in Paris at the Ecole Normale Superieure. Lang’s new book, Philosophical Witnessing: The Holocaust as Presence, is scheduled for publication by the University Press of New England in 2009.