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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: emer.ohagan@usask.ca

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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 

2018 - 2019 Schedule

Sep. 14.

What is Forgiveness?
Prof. Emer O’Hagan (Philosophy)
Although we forgive each other, and ourselves, on a regular basis, it can be difficult to explain exactly what forgiveness is.  In forgiving we acknowledge but ‘move past’ a misdeed, we ‘let it go’, or ‘wipe the slate clean’.  Philosophers have noted that forgiveness differs from other ways we can move past a misdeed: by simply forgetting it, or excusing it (eg. ‘it wasn’t actually his fault’), or justifying it (eg. ‘it wasn’t actually wrong’).  So what does forgiveness amount to?  In this talk, I will present some of the key philosophical concerns regarding what forgiveness is, raise some objections, and then open things up for discussion.

Oct. 19

Re-envisioning the Liberal Arts
Prof. Derek Postnikoff (Mathematics and Statistics)
For much of history, pursuing higher education meant studying the liberal arts.  Many people still endorse this viewpoint, considering liberal arts education to be the bedrock of a democratic society.  On the other hand, a growing faction views liberal arts programs as elitist, subversive, and detrimentally impractical, championing vocational and professional training instead.  But what exactly are the liberal arts?  This talk will consider past, present, and possible meanings of this term, and make several positive suggestions aimed at reaching a mutually satisfactory understanding of the place of the liberal arts in education.

Nov. 9. 

The Stoic Way to Inner Resilience, Peace, and Harmonious Living
Prof. Valery Chirkov (Psychology)
In this presentation, Dr. Chirkov will focus on discussing psychological applications of the Stoic recipes for developing inner resilience, internal peace, and establishing harmonious lives.  He will start with a brief history of the Stoic philosophy and then focus on the prescriptions for the art of living provided by Epictetus, with some additions from Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.  He will discuss the Stoic ontology of the Universe, Divine, and Human Mind and then will cover the primary ethical and behavioural principles that rational and virtuous persons should follow in order to find balance and harmony in their lives.

Dec. 14 

Role Models: A Really Bad (Faith) Idea
Prof. Leslie Howe (Philosophy)
Many people, particularly athletes, are encouraged or even required to be role models.  Often a misdeed by a prominent sportsperson is decried as especially wrong just because of their place in the public eye, even though the same action by a private person might pass without comment.  Do sportspersons, just because of their celebrity, have an obligation to be better than the rest of us?  Should anyone strive to be a role model to others?  Should anyone have a role model whom they seek to emulate?  What would that mean?  I shall argue that the conventional understanding of a “role model” is not very coherent, and that either having or being a role model in the usual sense is an exercise in bad faith that is morally problematic for the admirer and frequently destructive for the role model.

Jan. 11

Will AI Take Over the World?
Prof. Dwayne Moore (Philosophy)
Films such as The Terminator and The Matrix have long foretold of the day when artificial intelligence systems would take over the world. Leading experts in the field, such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates, have recently warned humanity that, due to accelerating developments in machine intelligence, such a scenario is increasingly plausible. This leads to the question: is it possible for humans to create an artificial intelligence system powerful enough to take over the world? In this talk I outline recent developments in machine learning with a view to concluding that machines are not close to taking over the world. In fact, the rise of artificial intelligence will be of benefit to humanity.

Feb. 8 What is Capitalism? The Point of Marx's Critique
Prof. Pierre-Francois Noppen (Philosophy) 
The global economic crisis and its aftermath have generated a surge of interest in Marx’s analysis. What was Marx trying to do, exactly? Can his work still help us understand our current predicament? In this talk, I will discuss a set of key concepts and issues at the heart of Marx’s Capital, such as labor, use, value, surplus-value and capital, and I will do so against the broad backdrop of contemporary capitalism. I will propose that Marx’s Capital is perhaps best understood in terms of an examination of capitalism as a mode of socialization.

Mar. 8 Why Legal Aid Matters for Justice
Prof. Sarah Buhler (Law)
In this talk, I discuss the vital importance of publicly funded legal aid in the context of a justice system and legal regime that disproportionately impact members of marginalized communities. The talk will include some history and background about legal aid programs in Canada and will argue that legal aid can both mitigate harm, and promote justice, for people who find themselves drawn into the system.