Fall 2015 - Spring 2016 Speaker Series

We are pleased to host a series of speakers during the Fall 2015 - Spring 2016 acaemic year. Unless otherwise noted, these are free and open to the public, and each takes place at the Sacramento State Campus. Directions // Campus Map.


Event for Monday, May 9, 2016

Scott Klusendorff, "Abortion: Complicated Issue or Moral Wrong?" 7-9 PM, Redwood Room (University Union)

Abstract: Abortion. Is it right? Is it wrong? Shouldn’t women be allowed to choose? What is life? When does it begin? No matter what you believe, bring your questions, comments, and knowledge and join us for this free public event as Scott Klusendorf unpacks this extremely difficult issue.

Bio: Scott Klusendorff (BA, UCLA; MA, Biola University) is the founder of Life Training Institute and has taught at the graduate level at Trinity Law School and Biola University. He has debated or lectured at over 80 colleges and universities including Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Johns Hopkins, and MIT.

PDF with further links and details.

While this event is primarily sponsored and organized by the Sacramento State chapter of the student group Ratio Christi, the CPPE is one of several co-sponsors, and encourages interested members of the campus and community to attend and participate.


Events for Monday, April 25, 2016

Three panels on Marriage in a Liberal Democracy

Visiting Scholars Elizabeth Brake (Arizona State University) and Sherif Girgis (Princeton/Yale) will be participating in a series of talks and panels throughout the day in the Well (Terrace Suite, 2nd floor):


9:00am – 11:00am Panel #1

The State's Role in Supporting Relationships: The Case for Friendship and Polyamory

9-9:50 main presentation, 10-10:30 panel discussion, 10:30-11:00 Q&A with audience

video icon Main Presentation, Click to view/stream (MP4; 49 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)
video icon Panel and Q & A, Click to view/stream (MP4; 62 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

Main Speaker: Elizabeth Brake, Associate Professor of Philosophy, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, Arizona State University

Bio: Brake was educated at The Universities of Oxford (B.A.) and St. Andrews (M. Litt., PhD). She has been an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Arizona State University since 2011. From 2000-2011 she taught in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary, Canada. In 2007-2008 she held a Fellowship at the Murphy Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs at Tulane University. In 2005-2008 she held a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant. Her work is primarily in feminist ethics and political philosophy. Her book, Minimizing Marriage, was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. She has also written on parental rights and obligations, political liberalism, and the ethics of Kant and Hegel.

Other Panelists
Tom Pyne, Professor of Philosophy, Sacramento State
Christina M. Bellon, Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Sacramento State
Sherif Girgis, PhD (cand.), Department of Philosophy, Princeton University; JD (cand.), Yale University


12:00 noon – 2:00pm Panel #2

What Is Marrage? Man and Woman: A Defense

noon-12:50 main presentation, 1-1:30 panel discussion, 1:30-2:00 Q&A with audience

video icon Main speaker Girgis, Click to view/stream (MP4; 41 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)
video icon Panel and Q & A, Click to view/stream (MP4; 65 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

Main Speaker: Sherif Girgis, PhD (cand.), Department of Philosophy, Princeton University; JD (cand.), Yale University

Bio: Girgis earned his BA philosophy at Princeton in 2008 and a master’s degree in moral, political and legal philosophy at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He is pursing his PhD in philosophy at Princeton and his JD at Yale Law School. His paper “What Is Marriage?”, coauthored with Robert George and Ryan Anderson, was published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy in 2010. In 2012, Girgis, George and Anderson published an expanded version of the paper as a book, titled What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, which was quoted in the US Supreme Court’s 2013 marriage opinions.  In addition to publishing in more popular contexts, Girgis has given lectures and talks and engaged in debates on marriage and related topics throughout the United States and abroad.

Other Panelists
Kyle Swan, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Sacramento State
Dan Weijers, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Sacramento State
Elizabeth Brake, Associate Professor of Philosophy, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, Arizona State University


3:00pm – 5:00pm Panel #3

Marriage in a Liberal Democracy: Continuing the Discussion

3-3:50 main presentations, 4-4:30 panel discussion, 4:30-5:00 Q&A with audience

video icon Entire Panel, Click to view/stream (MP4; 120 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

Main speakers
Elizabeth Brake, Associate Professor of Philosophy, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, Arizona State University;
Sherif Girgis, PhD (cand.), Department of Philosophy, Princeton University; JD (cand.), Yale University [See Bios above for each.]

Other Panelists
Danielle Williams, Sacramento State Philosophy Major (2016) with a concentration in ethics, politics, and law, Weddle Student Essay Contest winner (2015)
M. Lance Kennix, Sacramento State Philosophy Alumni (2008), UC Hastings College of the Law graduate (JD, 2012), Attorney with Morgan Lewis, San Francisco


Events for Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Visiting Scholar Timothy Quandt will be giving two lectures open to the public.

Bio: Quandt is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Sacramento City College (2013 – Present).  Before joining the faculty at City College, professor Quandt was a Lecturer in Philosophy for many years at California State University at Fullerton, as well as an Instructor of Philosophy at Mt. San Antonio College, Fullerton College, Cypress College, Cerritos College, Chaffey College, and Rancho Santiago College.  He received his PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate University in 2012.  His teaching and research interests include early modern, specifically Berkeley, Virtue Epistemology, particularly Responsibilism within the context of religious belief, as well as studies of the Ethics of War and Peace, primarily investigations into the viability of a contemporary ethic of Pacifism.  He is active in the International Berkeley Society as well as the American Association of Philosophy Teachers.


First talk: “Of Monsters, Men, and Berkeley’s God.”

video icon Click to view/stream (MP4; 75 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

10:30 AM to 12:00 noon, Forest Suite (University Union, second floor)

Abstract: Berkeley’s concern to defeat skepticism not only targets the external world, but knowledge of God’s nature as well.  Because immaterialism vindicates knowledge of both, Berkeley concludes his Principles with an admonishment that in light of having “a pious sense of the presence of God”, his readers ought to go and live a virtuous life since such knowledge of God “is the strongest incentive to virtue and the best guard against vice”.  However, if the knowledge of God, given immaterialism, actually showed God to be less than infinitely good, omnipresent, holy, and just, then perhaps the ground offered for living such a life of virtue would be significantly weakened.  In this paper I analyze a problem raised by Berkeley in the closing sections of the Principles that may count against God’s goodness in the form of the problem of natural defect and surd suffering, viz., “monsters, untimely births, rains falling in desert places, [and] miseries incident to human life”. I will argue that Berkeley’s responses may not be adequate to preserve knowledge of God’s infinite goodness, and may in some cases even press the problem more forcibly upon him.


Second talk: "The Tree in the Forest and the Resin in the Tree"

video icon Click to view/stream (MP4; 73 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

1:30 PM to 3:00 PM, Forest Suite (University Union, second floor)

Abstract: In his most explicit treatise on ethics, Passive Obedience (1712), Berkeley encourages his readers to pattern their moral lives as free agents after the pattern of God’s actions evidenced throughout the works of nature. However, observations of the uniform workings of nature sometime include the existence and even prevalence of natural defect and suffering which challenge Berkeley’s ontology.  In this paper I propose two solutions to the challenge that may vindicate Berkeley, and consequently restore the example offered by him, in Passive Obedience, of God’s agency in nature serving as a reliable pattern which free moral agents ought to imitate.


Events for Monday, November 16 and Tuesday, November 17, 2015:

Tenth Annual Fall Ethics Symposium on "The Ethics of Nudges." For details, link here.


Events for Monday, November 23, 2015

Visiting Scholar Tina Rulli will be giving two lectures open to the public.

Bio: Rulli is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of California, Davis. Her research is in normative ethics, applied ethics, and bioethics. She has interests in applications of the duty to rescue, the ethics of procreation and adoption, population ethics, the demands of morality, and the possibility for moral options. She was an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Purdue University in 2013-2014, a postdoctoral fellow in the Clinical Center Bioethics Department at the National Institutes of Health in the Washington D.C. area, and received her Ph.D. in philosophy at Yale University in 2011. Her personal webpage is http://trulli.faculty.ucdavis.edu.


First talk: “What is the Value of Three-Parent IVF?”

10:30 AM to 12:00 noon, Terrace Suite (The Well, second floor)

video icon Click to view/stream (MP4; 1 hour 21 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

Abstract: In 2015, the U.S. Institute of Medicine will consider the ethical and social policy implications of three-parent in-vitro fertilization, also known as mitochondrial replacement. Three-parent IVF enables women with mitochondrial disease to have genetically-related children without transmitting the disease. This article argues that investment of public resources in bringing Three-Parent IVF to clinical trials in the U.S. is unethical because of its low social value. Contra the claims of its proponents, the technology will not eradicate mitochondrial disease, nor will it save lives. Its primary value is in maintaining the mother-child genetic connection. The significance of this aim is not sufficiently urgent to warrant use of resources that come at the opportunity cost of researching treatment for actual present and future mitochondrial disease sufferers. We cannot justify our investment of social and public resources into developing this technology.


Second talk: “On Conditional Obligations.”

1:30 PM to 3:00 PM, Terrace Suite (The Well, second floor)

video icon Click to view/stream (MP4; 1 hour 26 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

Abstract: Some obligations seem to be conditional in the following way: some act A is morally optional, though if one chooses A, one is required to do act B rather than some other otherwise valuable act C. That is, if one chooses A, B is required. Conditional obligations, so defined, arise frequently in research ethics, in the philosophical literature, and in real life. For example, many of us think it is morally optional for a manufacturer to build a factory in the developing world (A); but if they do so, they must provide livable wages and work standards (B), even though without such higher standards (C) people in that country might still be better off than having no factory at all (not-A). Conditional obligations are controversial: how does a morally optional act give rise to demanding requirements to do the best, when it was optional to do anything at all in the first place? How can it be forbidden to do C when C brings about better outcomes than not-A, which is optional? And if the people affected by the choices between A, B and C can agree to C as mutually beneficial (pareto superior), why should C be forbidden? For these reasons, some people think that the fact that a putative obligation has a conditional structure, so defined, is a strike against it being a real obligation. And some argue that we should be able to contract around conditional obligations. I argue in this paper that the fact that some obligation is conditional, so defined, is not a strike against it. Rather, I explain how conditional obligations are to be expected in a moral theory that has moral options. I then address the possibility for contracting around conditional obligations, showing that this proposal makes several illicit moral assumptions about what offers people are permitted to make one another. My argument aims to dissolve whatever puzzlement we may have about conditional obligations.


Events for Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Matthew Jordan (10:30, 1:30), Weddle Winners (3:15)

Visiting Scholar Matthew Carey Jordan will be giving two lectures open to the public.

Bio: Jordan was educated at The Ohio State University (PhD, Philosophy) and has been teaching at Auburn University-Montgomery since 2010; where he is currently Honors Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of English and Philosophy, and Deputy Dean, College of Arts and Sciences. Before that he taught at Quincy University, Capital University, Ohio University, and Ohio Dominican University.  His published work is primarily in moral philosophy, both at a theoretical level and at various applied levels affecting religion, politics, medicine, and marriage.


First talk: "The Virtue of Civility"

10:30 AM to 12:00 noon, Terrace Suite (The Well, second floor)

video icon Click to view/stream (MP4; 1 hour 18 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

Abstract: In the first part of this essay, I offer an account of the nature of civility as a social virtue which is of particular importance in pluralistic democratic societies.  I argue that all of us have good reason to value and promote civility, both for its own sake and for our benefit.  In the second part, I identify a number of prominent threats to civility in our present social context.  Some of these threats are posed by mainstream American culture; others, perhaps surprisingly, find their principal home in the American academy: radical empiricism, moral relativism, and the hermeneutics of suspicion.  I suggest that a keener awareness of these threats may enable us to stand against them in defense of civility and to be increasingly civil ourselves.


Second talk: “Theism, Atheism, and the Weirdness of Morality”

1:30 PM to 3:00 PM, Terrace Suite (The Well, second floor)

video icon Click to view/stream (MP4; 1 hour 27 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

Abstract: The idea that there are objective moral facts seems to be presupposed in much of our moral discourse and practice, yet it is not easy to see how such facts could exist. Consideration of the nature of putative moral facts leads fairly quickly to the “normative framework problem”—roughly, the question of whether there is any objectively valid reason to prefer one ultimate set of principles (e.g., the principles of morality) to any other (e.g., pure self-interest). I suggest that morality is philosophically vexing by virtue of being presented as a uniquely ultimate normative framework. It is sometimes thought that this makes morality more at home in a theistic universe than in an atheistic one. I argue that this may be true, but if it is, it is not for the reasons usually given.


2015 Weddle Student Essay Event

3:15 PM to 4:45 PM, Terrace Suite (The Well, second floor)

video icon Click to view/stream (MP4; 1 hour 26 min; works best using Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox)

The Center for Practical and Professional Ethics is proud to partner with the Philosophy Department in celebrating the winners of the 2015 Weddle Student Essay Contest:

  • Danielle Williams, Gettier's Problem
  • Justin Tews, Analysis of "Immaterial Aspects of Thought" 
  • Christian Green, The Existence Requirement for Death
  • Joe Gurrola, Critique of Quassim Cassam's "Knowing What You Believe"

The winners will present their papers and receive commentary and feedback immediately afterwards. This will be professionallly videotaped and made available online on this Ethics Center website. For further details about this contest, please link HERE.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Academic Technology and Creative Services; Event Services Office (University Union); Visiting Scholars Program (Center for Teaching and Learning) Sacramento State