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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.
Here is the tentative schedule for this academic year. All talks will be delivered via Zoom.

Oct. 27th, 3:10-5:00pm: Dr. Jason Kawall (Colgate) Title: "“Of Carts and Horses: On the Explanation of Right Action in Virtue Ethics. To attend, register in advance.

Abstract: A prominent strand of contemporary work on virtue ethics focuses on whether virtue ethics can provide an adequate account of the rightness of actions. In particular, critics argue that virtue ethics cannot provide a plausible explanation for why right actions are right. In turn, without such an explanation, Frans Svensson argues that prominent forms of virtue ethics cannot provide adequate action guidance for virtuous agents themselves. In this paper I attempt to address these worries, drawing on empirical work on empathy (and related phenomena) in other social animals, and emphasizing the importance of the attitudes and dispositions of virtuous agents themselves in explaining rightness and other normative statuses.

Nov. 10th, 3:10-5:00pm: Dr. Daniel Conway (Texas A & M) Title: "When Philosophy Learns to Sing:The Case of Nietzsche’s Nachgesang"

Abstract: My aim in this presentation is to account for the place of Nietzsche’s “Aftersong” [Nachgesang] in the larger context of his efforts to educate and train the readers of Beyond Good and Evil (1886). Having urged his readers to foreswear the moral and religious “prejudices” that have stalled their progress, and having dangled before them his extra-moral hypothesis of the will to power, he urges them to take up the daunting “task” of “translating humanity back into nature” (BGE 230), which will involve them in discrediting the morality of good and evil. In their performance of this task, he promises, they may expect to revel in the experience—but not the reality—of having emigrated cleanly beyond good and evil. If they are successful in their efforts, or so Nietzsche believes, they may hasten the arrival of those “new” philosophers who will undertake a grand project of renewal that will return European culture to its accustomed position of global preponderance. In order to safeguard their experience of having emigrated beyond good and evil, Nietzsche treats his best readers to a lyrical valediction. That he now sings to them is meant to remind them of their ongoing access to the affective-somatic discipline in which he has enrolled them. The apparent point of this “Aftersong” is to prepare them to refuse the twin temptations—disgust and pity—they are likely to face, even as they take up the lonely, nomadic, iconoclastic existence that is their lot.

Nov. 24th, 3:10-5:00pm: Dr. Michael Brady (Glasgow) "Suffering and Meaning in Life."

Abstract: It seems clear that suffering threatens to undermine or even destroy the meaning in a person’s life: think of the effects of chronic pain, poverty, violence, political oppression. These and similar things can rule out the presence of those elements that are constitutive of a meaningful life – as Thaddeus Metz puts it, these include “intellectual reflection, moral achievement, and artistic creation”. (Meaning in Life, p. 60) In this talk I want to consider a number of ways in which suffering can have a positive relation to meaning, even for those who suffer greatly. One of the central ways in which this can happen is through the development of empathy, moral emotions, and moral achievement. To make this argument, I’ll first look at historical approaches, focusing on the thoughts of Nietzsche, alongside St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, and Aristotle. I’ll then consider religious approaches, and their secular counterparts. My conclusion will be that far from undermining meaning, in many cases suffering is vital to it.                  

Mar. 2nd, 3:10-5:00pm: Dr. Keith Ansell-Pearson (Warwick) Title: TBA


Previous Visiting Speakers (with Videos of Some Presentations)

  • “After Arendt: The Stakes of Narrative in the Age of Big Data”, Dr. Ewa Ziarek, Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature, Tuesday, March 3rd, 3:00-5:00 [Video]
  • "The Role of Order in Kant’s Justification of Morality”, ​Dr. Timothy Rosenkoetter (Philosophy, Dartmouth College), Tuesday, November 26th, 3:00-5:00. [Video]
  • "Where the Living Live: New Questions for Phenomenology and Religion", Dr. Karl Hefty (Theology, St. Paul's University), Tuesday, November 12th, 3;00-5:00, [Video]
  • “Wampum Diplomacy in the Early and Middle Encounter Period”, Dr. Douglas Sanderson (Faculty of Law, University of Toronto), Tuesday, October 22nd, 3:00-5:00pm.




  • 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.