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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.

Paper Title:     Myth and Concept in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Date / Time:    September 25th, 3-5pm. 
Location:          Paris-Vienna Room, in the ILLC.
Speaker:          Dr. Eric Sanday (Kentucky)

Abstract: Philosophy is a project of clarifying assumptions for the sake of better understanding a variety of fundamental truths. One of the most powerful aspects of that project is our explicit awareness of the conceptual structures that determine and explain things. However, as conceptual understanding becomes more powerful, images amass an equal and opposite power to arrest our attention, which is why Plato remains acutely aware of the power of images throughout his corpus. In this paper I use Hesiod’s philosophically inflected poetry as a lens through which to view the poetically inflected philosophy of Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Plato. My proposal is that if we can see and appreciate the distinction between imagistic and conceptual thinking in these authors, we can better see the sense in which both imagistic and conceptual thinking are equally but distinctively essential to philosophy.


Paper Title:     Marx’s Politics of Freedom
Date / Time:   October 2nd, 3-5pm. 
Location:        ILLC 212
Speaker:         Dr. William Clare Roberts (McGill)
: This paper examines and evaluates Marx’s commitments to three notions of freedom: (1) freedom as non-domination, (2) freedom as open-ended self-development, and (3) freedom as self-determination or autonomy. I argue that the first notion, freedom as non-domination, motivates Marx’s mature critique of capitalism and his embrace of the international workers’ movement. His commitment to the second notion, freedom as self-development or self-realization, is fundamentally a vision of ethical perfection, and plays no significant role in Marx’s political thought. Finally, the notion of freedom as self-determination is, despite a long interpretive tradition, at odds with Marx’s understanding and endorsement of democracy.

Paper Title:    Against Understanding, or How to Refuse “Planetary Thinking”
Date / Time:   November 20th, 3-5pm. 
Location:        Paris-Vienna Room, ILLC
Speaker:         Dr. Rohit Dalvi (Brock)
Abstract: The Europeanization of the Earth makes the facile opposition between the West and the rest, redundant.  Hindu and Buddhist texts, which were once read as manifestoes of transcendence by counter-culture seekers and rebels have now been transmogrified into resources, precursors and interlocutors for neurophilosophical preoccupations. The motifs of dialogue, respect and inclusion are routinely mobilized, to disseminate concepts as artifacts. A technocratic “image of thought” forestalls any attempt to think the logic of philosophical problems or for that matter the nature of philosophical discourse.  “Conversation” and “understanding” become devices to neutralize thinking and to deliver over its obsolescent residues to “planetary thinking”. How can this critique become the basis for a positive conceptual creation that can challenge the fetishization of the propositional and the self-understanding of philosophy as science manqué? Abandoning the positivist fixation on philosophy as knowledge production, allows one to rethink and recreate the “incommensurable and intransigent” reality of subjectivity in what has always been the bleakest of times for thinking: the Present. 
Paper Title:     tba
Date / Time:   February 26th, 3-5pm. 
Speaker:         Dr. Charles Goodman (Binghamton)
Paper Title:     tba
Date / Time:   March 5th, 3-5pm. 
Location:        Paris-Vienna Room, ILLC
Speaker:        Dr. Jeff Noonan (Windsor)


Previous Visiting Speakers (with Videos of Some Presentations)

  • 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.