Philosophy in the Community is a lecture and discussion series organized by the Philosophy Department at the University of Saskatchewan. It is in place as a public service, so that we may share the rewards and pleasures of philosophical reflection with the members of our community. Philosophical thinking, reading and analysis is part of the life well-lived.

This series is free, no registration is needed. No philosophical background is required; intellectual curiosity is. Coffee provided. 

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Location The Refinery

Emmanuel Anglican (formerly St. James) Church Basement
609 Dufferin Avenue
(at 12th Street, just off Broadway)

Time 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Dates Second Friday of each month (except for October, see below)
September through March 

2017 - 2018 Schedule

Sep. 8 "Is Chatting Cheating?"

Professor Sarah Hoffman

In a much discussed article, John Portmann argues that rather than facilitating a new way to have sex online erotic chat rooms simply allow for a new way to talk about sex.  Chatting, according to Portmann is thus not cheating. This raises interesting questions about the nature of sexual and romantic fidelity as well as the metaphysics of sex itself. What are the aspects of sex that make cheating or adultery morally problematic? Even if sex chatting has more in common with flirting than sexual intercourse, are these parallels enough to conclude that sex chatting outside of marriage is really no more morally objectionable than flirting?

Oct. 6 "What’s so great about modesty?"

Professor Emer O'Hagan

When we describe someone as "modest" we seem to be paying them a complement, acknowledging a morally admirable character trait. But what is it that makes modesty a virtue, and what exactly is modesty?  In this talk I will discuss several competing accounts of modesty, and some objections to them.  I will conclude by outlining my own position on modesty, and open things up for discussion.

Nov. 10 "Just Kidding - Philosophical Reflections on Humour"

Professor Peter Alward

In this talk, I will consider a number of philosophical issues concerning humour. First, I will discuss the nature of humour and how jokes differ from regular speech. Second, I will consider under what circumstances offensive speech can be excused by pointing out that the speaker was joking. And finally, I will address the question of whether and why it can be appropriate for an insider to make a joke targeting his or her community but inappropriate for an outsider to tell the same joke.

Dec. 8 "Reflections on the nature of psychological autonomy: Is it possible to be free in the unfree world?"

Professor Valery Chirkov 
(Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan)

This presentation is not about "free will" but about a more subtle and psychologically important phenomenon of our mental life – psychological autonomy.  We will discuss the history of the idea, reflect on the structure and function of psychological autonomy, its development and regulation, and finally its benefits and consequences for people’s everyday life.  The main propositions that I want to defend are the following. Potentiality toward psychological autonomy is an outcome of the emergence of human consciousness.  Consciousness interrupts a natural flow of behaviour regulation that exists in animals and poses, for humans, an existential problem.  Consciousness gives humans freedom for their actions.  Psychological autonomy is the concept that reflects those aspects of our consciousness and rationality that may help humans to deal with this existential problem.

Jan. 12 Professor Erika Dyck 
(Department of History, Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan)


Feb. 9 "Prejudice, Stereotypes, and Credibility: Understanding Epistemic Injustice"

Professor Susan Dieleman

We tend to think that prejudices and stereotypes are ethically problematic, but recent philosophical work has suggested that they are likely to be epistemologically problematic as well. In this talk, I will introduce the concept of "epistemic injustice," which refers to the phenomenon of being wronged in one's capacity as a knower, and explore its epistemological, ethical, and political implications.

Mar. 9 "Are Emotions Irrational?"

Professor Dwayne Moore

Ken is afraid of flying, even though he knows it is safe. Jen is falling for John, even though she knows he isn't right for him. Are emotions irrational? Is there a great chasm between the heart and the head? Or, perhaps emotions are rational? Perhaps the heart has its own reasons? In this talk, I will briefly define 'rational', and then assess whether emotions are rational or not according to this definition. I conclude that emotions bear marks of both rationality and irrationality.