NOTICE: Due to Covid19, the Philosophy Department is forced to cancel Philosophy in the Community for 2020/21.  Please continue to be philosophical on your own! 

While not a replacement for our public philosophy event, you are welcome to join the
Philosophy Department's Colloquium series which in the Fall of 2020 will be happening remotely. More infomation will be available in the coming weeks.


Information about Philosophy in the Community from the 2019/20 year:

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. 

For more information, contact:

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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, September through March 

2019 - 2020 Schedule

Sep. 13 Will Buschert  "Affective Computing: The Last Frontier of Privacy?" (Prof, Philosophy)
Information technology is threatening our privacy!” By now most of us are familiar with the idea – maybe so much so that we have become numb to it. But when we think of technological threats to privacy what seems to come to mind for most people is threats to data privacy (meaning, roughly, privacy regarding what can be known about our identity, location, or actions). Yet machines are also becoming increasingly good at inferring things about our emotions and dispositions – things that, for most of our history as a species, could at least sometimes be effectively hidden ‘inside our heads’. So-called “affective computing” technologies use facial microexpressions, eye movement, gait, galvanic skin response, and other factors in order to recognize and interpret human emotions. In this talk I argue that these technologies constitute a threat to our emotional (but not only emotional) privacy and that this threat is particularly revealing about why we value privacy in the first place.
Oct. 11 Tate Williams  “A Defense of Belief Without Evidence”  (MA Student, Philosophy)
Do our beliefs need evidence to be rational? I  will argue that there is an important subset of knowledge which is rational and not dependent on evidence: trusting in testimony. After defending this position I will explore what it is that makes a person or institution trustworthy and how this information might improve our communities.
Nov. 8  Emer  O’Hagan   “Buddhist Reflections on Forgiveness” (Prof, Philosophy)
The phrase “forgive and forget” suggests that in forgiveness we wipe the slate clean, and let go of anger or resentment concerning a misdeed.  Contemporary Western philosophers typically hold that forgiveness is nothing like forgetting on the grounds that forgetting is passive, and compatible with a failure to acknowledge the wrongness of misdeed.  Buddhist philosophy, by contrast, has room for an account of forgiveness that is much closer to ‘virtuous forgetting’. Because Buddhist philosophy takes anger to be a dangerous moral emotion, it emphasizes practices for overcoming anger at significant wrongs that challenge Western views.  In this talk I will outline the competing views, some problems with these views, and open things up for discussion.
Dec. 13 

Glen Luther  “Police Street Checks as a Roadblock to a Free and Inclusive Saskatchewan”  (Prof, Law)
In this talk I will discuss the controversy around so-called street checks. According to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Charter of Rights protects Canadians' privacy through s.8 (unreasonable search and seizure) and Canadians' “right to be left alone” through s.9 (arbitrary detention and imprisonment). I will explain that through two 2019 decisions the Supreme Court has shown itself to be increasingly aware of the need to challenge the status quo on the issue of street checks. I will discuss how the practice of street checks (recently relabeled in Sask. as “person contact interviews”) threatens Saskatchewanians’ rights and, in the process, alienates the very people the police should be protecting. I will review how this practice is not only ineffective in detecting crimes, but results in citizen mistrust of the police. By treating marginalized populations as “suspicious”, the police (and those supporting this unconstitutional practice) are telling those same people that they are not viewed as worthy of rights protection. Across the country street checks are being seen increasingly as inappropriate, unwise and damaging to citizens and to police forces, while Saskatchewan police continue to insist that this practice needs to continue and while they are creating ever expanding databases containing the private information of those stopped in street checks. I will argue that the “right to be left alone” is a right worthy of protection in a free and inclusive Saskatchewan and that banning street checks is necessary step to do so.

Jan. 10 Dwayne Moore  "Is The World Getting Better or Worse?"  (Prof, Philosophy)
Is life getting better or worse for humans? When polled on such questions, Hans Rosling points out that humans usually perform worse than chimpanzees. For example, when polled on whether the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has increased, decreased or stayed the same over the past thirty years, only ten percent correctly answer that it has decreased. In this talk I outline some data suggesting human life is getting better, as well as considering data suggesting it is getting worse. I then offer some considerations about why we tend to think life is getting worse, when it is actually getting better.
Feb. 14 Pierre-Francois Noppen  “What is Socialism? The Past and the Future of an Ideal”  (Prof, Philosophy)
Whatever happened to socialist ideals? Have they been definitively discredited by failed historical attempts at giving them a consistent form, or by the success of market-based regimes? It now seems that the Great Recession and its aftermath have rekindled an interest for socialism, both in academia and in the public sphere. In this talk, I will examine some recent perspectives on the idea of socialism in light of its history.
Mar. 13


Sarah Hoffman  “Enlightenment and Intoxication”  (Prof, Philosophy)

Can intoxication be a path to enlightenment? Intoxication is often conceived as a form of impairment or incapacity, a state that actually impedes knowledge. But there are also long traditions in human thought that associate states of intoxication with special knowledge and access to realms of the world not otherwise available. In this talk I will consider intoxication as a concept, and a state, draw out what generates these conflicting views of intoxication's epistemological status, and explore some reasons for thinking that the positive view of intoxication may have something important right.