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Department of Philosophy

Visiting Speakers

Every semester, our department invites several guest speakers to lecture on various topics. All lectures are free, and are open to all members of the community and to the general public.

Title: “Wampum Diplomacy in the Early and Middle Encounter Period”
Speaker: Dr. Douglas Sanderson (Faculty of Law, University of Toronto)
Time: Tuesday, October 22nd, 3:00-5:00pm
Location: ENG 10
Abstract: Our sense of history frequently fails to align with the facts of history, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the shared history of Indigenous-Settler relations.  In this talk I will draw out the formal structure of treaty relations, known as the covenant chain, and conducted entirely according to Indigenous International law protocols.  This relationship of mutual respect and relative equality was neither short term nor a campaign of deceit.   This relationship of mutual respect lasted almost to the date of confederation in 1867.  In other words, the facts of history demonstrate an Indigenous-Settler relationship of mutual respect that lasted for more than three hundred years, and stands in sharp contrast to the racist and oppressive relationship post-Confederation.  I draw lessons from the historical relationship in order to provide teachings about the current relationship.
Title: "Where the Living Live: New Questions for Phenomenology and Religion" 
Speaker: Dr. Karl Hefty (Theology, St. Paul's University)
Date/Time: Tuesday, November 12th, 3;00-5:00
Location: KHE 321B    
: Michel Henry’s phenomenology of life makes it necessary to reassess certain basic questions in philosophy of religion: What is religion? What is religious practice? How is it related to ethics? Does a phenomenological treatment of these questions verify, qualify, or undermine other approaches? If we follow Henry’s path, where does it lead and what is at stake? Recent work in phenomenology has deepened our understanding of basic dimensions of the field while shifting its center of gravity in new directions (e.g., givenness, ethics, affectivity, flesh). While it is legitimate to question how far recent approaches remain consistent with the classical work of Husserl, Heidegger, or Scheler, it is also legitimate to investigate new avenues that now lay open. In this lecture, I will identify and explore several questions Henry’s phenomenology of life has provoked. Some of these questions are of the methodological order, some are historical, and some are properly phenomenological. 
Title: The Role of Order in Kant’s Justification of Morality” 
Speaker: ​Dr. Timothy Rosenkoetter (Philosophy, Dartmouth College)
Date/Time: Tuesday, November 26th, 3:00-5:00
Location: SLC508
Abstract: Kant takes order to be a feature of any manifold of objects or objective properties.  I begin by presenting what I take to be Kant’s general theory of order, while summarizing how this is related to his reception of Wolff’s broadly Leibnizian philosophical project, in which order likewise serves as a keystone.  After sketching and contrasting the ontic and aesthetic cases, I examine the objective property of goodness in greater detail.  My claim is that once we understand that defending the “objective validity” of propositions containing the concept <good> entails identifying a conception of practical order irreducible to ontic order, the central interpretative puzzle of Groundwork III’s deduction of the moral law (the circle problem) admits of resolution.  At various points in the paper I ask whether Kant’s theory of order is of independent philosophical interest, as well as whether it is plausible.  On both counts I am inclined to answer affirmatively.  



Previous Visiting Speakers (with Videos of Some Presentations)



  • Tuesday, March 26th, 3:00-5:00pm, Dr. Margrit Shildrick (Stockholm), “Rethinking the Temporality and Imaginaries of Death - Some Philosophical Considerations.” [Video]
  • Tuesday, March 5th, 3:00-5:00pm, Dr. Jeff Noonan (Windsor), “Notes Towards a Humanism from Below.” [Video]
  • Tuesday, February 26th, 3:00-5:00pm, Dr. Charles Goodman (Binghamton), “The Unfolding of Empiricism in India.” [Video]
  • Tuesday, November 20th, 3:00-5:00pm: Dr. Rohit Dalvi (Brock), "Against Understanding, Or How to Refuse 'Planetary Thinking'."
  • Tuesday, October 2nd, 3:00-5:00pm: Dr. William Clare Roberts (McGill), "Marx's Politics of Freedom".
  • Tuesday, September 25th, 3:00-5:00pm: Dr. Eric Sanday (Kentucky), "Myth and Concept in Ancient Greek Philosophy." [Video]
  • Tuesday, April 18th, 3:30-5:00, Dominic Martin (Université du Québec à Montréal), “Artificial Intelligence and Moral Decision-Making.”
  • Tuesday, April 10th, 3:30-5:00, David Barnett (Toronto), "Higher-Order Evidence is the Wrong Kind of Reason."
  • Tuesday, November 21st, 3:00-5:00, Wolfram Gobsch (University of Leipzig, Germany): "Kant’s Theory of Radical Evil".
  • Friday, November 17th, 11:00am-1:00pm, Eli Diamond (Department of Classics, Dalhousie): “Goodness, Beauty, and the Tragedy of Language: How to Read Agathon’s Speech in Plato’s Symposium”. [VIDEO]
  • Tuesday, October 17th, 3:00-5:00pm: Catherine Chalier (Universite Paris Nanterre): "The Invisible in Secular Society: Emmanuel Levinas".
  • Friday, October 13th, 3:00-5:00pm: Kelly Oliver (Vanderbilt) "Detaining Refugees: Deconstructing Carceral Humanitarianism”.  [VIDEO-Part 1] [VIDEO-Part 2]


  • Peter van Inwagen (Notre Dame / Duke): "What Are We Talking about When We Talk about Free Will?", Friday, April 28th, 2017.
  • Gabriel Citron (University of Toronto): " ‘The Problem of Life’: Wittgenstein on the Difficulty of Honest Happiness", Wednesday, March 15th, 2017.
  • Tom Spector (Oklahoma State): "When the Better it is, the Worse it is: On Architecture and Moral Agency", Tuesday, March 7th, 2017. [VIDEO]
  • Graeme Nicholson (Toronto): "The Essence of Truth", Tuesday, Feb 28th, 2017. [VIDEO]
  • Joel Michael Reynolds (Emory University): "The Future of Bioethics: Ableism and the Life Worth Living", Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2017. [VIDEO]
  • Timothy Stock (Salisbury): "(A Very) Weak Martyrdom: The Comic as Public Philosophy", Tuesday, Jan 24th, 2017.
  • Rebecca Comay (Toronto) "'Our Heritage Was Left to us Without a Testament’ — or is it the Other Way Around?”, Tuesday November 15th, 2016.
  • Samantha Brennan (UWO), “Ethics and Our Early Years: Making Decisions for Children as if Childhood Really Mattered", Thursday November 10th, 2016. [VIDEO]
  • Eric Marcus (Auburn), "Reconciling Practical Knowledge with Self-Deception", November 1st, 2016.
  • Matthias Fritsch (Concordia), "Do Gifts Obligate a Return? Indirect Reciprocity in Deconstruction and Intergenerational Economics", October 4th, 2016.


  • Jonathan Parry (Birmingham), "Consent and the Justification of Defensive Harm", March 24th, 2016. [VIDEO]
  • Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern), "Experts and Peer Disagreement", March 22nd, 2016. [VIDEO]
  • Kirsten Jacobson (Maine), “The Living Arena of Existential Health: Space, Autonomy, and Embodiment", March 15th, 2016. [VIDEO]
  • Francisco Gonzalez (Ottawa), "The Other Plato: Heidegger's Reading of the Parmenides, the Phaedrus, and the Theatetus in the 1930s", February 9th, 2016. [VIDEO]
  • Allen Patten (Princeton), "How to Justify Religious Accommodations: A Liberal Egalitarian Approach”, February 2nd, 2016. [VIDEO]
  • Frank Cunningham (University of Toronto), “Public Space and Walter Benjamin's Philosophy of Cities”, December 1st, 2015. [VIDEO]
  • Emily Carson (McGill), “The Mathematical Method from Leibniz to Kant”, November 24th, 2015.
  • Alia Al-Saji (McGill), “A Past that Lines the Present: Bergson, Merleau-Ponty and the Politics of the Past”, November 18th, 2015.
  • Daniel C. Russell (Arizona), “Putting Ideals in Their Place”, November 3rd, 2015. [VIDEO]

  • Joan Tronto (Political Science, University of Minnesota), “Democracy and Care”, March 13th, 2012.
  • John Lysaker (Emory University), “The Constellational Self: An Outline”, February 28th, 2012.
  • John Hacker-Wright (University of Guelph), “Human Nature, Virtue, and Rationality”, February 7th, 2012.
  • David Morris (Concordia University), “Sense, Development, and Passivity: Merleau-Ponty’s Transformations of Philosophy”, November 25th, 2011.
  • Adrian Haddock (Stirling University), “Self-Consciousness and Rule-Following”, November 22nd, 2011.
  • John Turri (University of Waterloo), “Suberogatory Assertions”, October 18th, 2011.
  • Bruce Gilbert (Bishop’s University), “Contradiction and the Fluidity of Life: Case Studies from Logic and Ethics”, September 27th, 2011.
  • Sarah Stroud (McGill University), “They Can't Take That Away From Me: Restricting the Reach of Morality's Demands”, September 20th, 2011.