"Punching the Nazi: On Civility and Its Limits"
Friday, April 16, 2021
4:00 pm via Zoom
Civility is normally understood to be a virtue. Punching someone is a paradigmatically uncivil act. Yet most people agree that Nazis should be punched. (Here, you may take “punching the Nazi” as a metaphor for any ostensibly uncivil act toward someone who ostensibly deserves it.)
Should we conclude, therefore, that some virtues are optional when dealing with Nazis? Or should we rethink civility, either by denying that it is a virtue or by denying that punching Nazis is uncivil? What is civility for, and what are its limits?
In this talk I propose some tentative answers to these questions by examining civility’s relationship to both moral virtue and community standards.
John Corvino is Dean of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College and Professor of Philosophy at Wayne State University. He is the author or co-author of several books, including most recently Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination (with Ryan T. Anderson and Sherif Girgis; Oxford University Press, 2017). An active "public philosopher," he has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, and other popular venues, and his YouTube videos have received nearly three million views.
Anita L. Allen
Privacy and Ethics in the Digital Age
Friday, March 29, 2019, 4:00 pm, 500 Hall of Languages
Abstract: Digital ethics is emerging as a field of practical or applied philosophy. Digital ethics are an occasion for exploring how, in relation to digital technology, the lives, interests and welfare of others make claims on us. The Digital Society is remaking the fields of commerce, education, public health, and everything else.What should be our goals be in relation to technology and innovation? How should we live our lives in the world shaped by social media, the internet of things, and AI?While big data analytics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things produce ample benefits, they also raise threats of surveillance, discrimination and profiling. These forces potentially erode human dignity, autonomy, privacy, equality and freedom. Who is responsible for protecting these essential values?
S. Matthew Liao
The Moral Status and Rights of Artificial Intelligence
Friday, May 4, 2018, 4:00 pm, 500 Hall of Languages
Abstract: Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more capable. In 2016, Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo played five games of Go against the 18-time world champion Lee Sedol, and AlphaGo won four out of five games, marking the first time a machine had defeated the world’s best player at this ancient game. More recently, a more sophisticated version of AlphaGo, which learned Go by playing against itself, beat AlphaGo 100 games to 0, after only four hours of training, demonstrating that AIs can learn at a rapid speed, unsupervised. As AIs acquire greater capacities, the issue of whether AIs would acquire greater moral status becomes salient. In particular, could AIs achieve human-level moral status and be rightholders? If AIs could be rightholders, what rights would they have? Could AIs have greater than human-level moral status? The goal of this talk is to provide a theoretical framework for thinking about these questions.
Free Will in the Age of Neuroscience
Friday, January 20, 2017, 4:00 pm, 500 Hall of Languages
Abstract: Philosophers have long struggled with the problem of free will; more recently neuroscientists have claimed to be able to speak to this longstanding problem. I review some of the recent work in neuroscience that purports to bear on the problem of free will, and argue that although neuroscience can contribute to our understanding, it cannot resolve the problem of free will without recourse to philosophy.
The Best Things in Life
Sunday, October 26, 2014, 7:00 pm, Temple Adath Yeshurun, 450 Kimber Road, Dewitt, New York
This presentation asks what aspects of our lives are good in themselves, or by themselves make life worth living. Against those philosophers who've argued that there's just one ultimate good, often pleasure or knowledge, it argues that there are many, including pleasure, knowledge, achievement, virtue, and love. It also discusses what each good involves and what makes it valuable.
'More Seriously Wrong'
Monday, October 27, 2014, 1:00 pm, 304 Tolley Building, Syracuse University (reception to follow)
Common-sense morality thinks that among acts that are wrong some are more seriously wrong than others; thus murder is more seriously wrong than breaking a trivial promise. This paper examines what makes an act more seriously wrong and argues that the answer is different for different types of wrong act. It also asks whether there's a parallel concept of more important rightness.
Does Neuroscience Undermine Moral Responsibility?
Sunday September 29, 2013, 7:00 pm, Temple Adath Yeshurun, 450 Kimber Road, Dewitt, New York
Many religions claim that humans at least sometimes have free will and are morally responsible. Neuroscience is often seen as challenging these assumptions. However, when free will and responsbility are properly understood, neuroscience does not really undermine free will or responsibility in general. Instead, what neuroscience challenges is only responsibility in particular cases, which are fascinating and important but do not generalize to all human action.
Are Psychopaths Morally Responsible?
Monday September 30, 2013, 4:00 pm, 500 Hall of Languages, Syracuse University
Psychopaths are less than 1% of the general population but commit over 30% of violent crime in the United States. In addition to these practical problems, psychopaths also raise fascinating theoretical issues about the limits of human nature and morality. In particular, we need to determine whether psychopaths are morally responsible, which depends in part on whether they appreciate the moral wrongfulness of what they do. Recent scientific research has revealed surprising facts about psychopaths and their moral judgments, and these discoveries point to new ways to handle and treat psychopaths.
Both events are free and open to the public, and are presented in conjunction with SU’s Department of Philosophy and College of Arts and Sciences.
Contact Roberta Hennigan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 315-443-4501 for further information.