Department Colloquium

Colloquium Series

2023-2024 Colloquium Schedule

September 22

Please join us for our first colloquium of the year! 

Speaker: Dr. Kristin Rodier, Center for Humanities, Athabaska University/University of Saskatchewan (Adjunct)

Title: Teaching in the Virtual Lyceum?: Strategies for Philosophers in the Age of AI and Mobile Learning

 Abstract: More and more philosophers are taking their teaching online, a trend accelerated by the pandemic's emergency remote teaching measures. While students don't always learn in our face-to-face classrooms, knowing whether they learn online is both a practical and epistemic question. In addition, with the advent of generative AI, how and whether we use standard teaching assessments online such as "The Philosophy Essay" is of increased importance. With philosophy's specific stated learning goals in mind—argument presentation, analysis, and evaluation, clarifying concepts, effective and clear communication, understanding historical schools of thought—there arises a question: How can philosophers harness technology to induce, support, and perhaps measure philosophical learning? Against the backdrop of a philosophical discussion of what it is to learn philosophy, this interactive seminar explores tech-driven strategies for inclusive, outcome-oriented teaching.

Further information on the presenter: 
Faculty page: 

 And please join us for refreshments after the event! 

Oct. 27

Speaker: Dr. Emer O'Hagan 

Title: On the Rational Demise of Grief
Abstract: Some have argued that the fact that grief fades over time is problematic because it signals a mismatch between the value of the loss, which remains constant, and the intensity of the emotional response, which does not.  If the fitting response to significant loss is grief, then given that the loss remains constant, the demise of grief seems inappropriate or not rationally defensible.  I will argue that this puzzle is grounded in confusion over grief’s object, and questionable assumptions about the relationship between love and grief.  The puzzle is resolved when we recognize that grief is a emotional process.
Date: Friday, Oct. 27
Time: 3:30-5:00pm
Location: ESB 103

And please join us for refreshments after the event!

Nov 24

Speaker: Dr Pierre-François Noppen, University of Saskatchewan

Title: Adorno’s Hamlet Problem: Modelling the Reflective Individual

Abstract: Adorno’s work testifies to a career-long interest for what he, along many others, termed the ‘Hamlet problem’. In short, the Hamlet problem refers in a very basic sense to Prince Hamlet’s hesitation to avenge the murder of this father. Needless to say, interpretations of this issue abound. Adorno, for his part, proposes a surprising and characteristically paradoxical interpretation of this problem. Indeed, he refers to Hamlet, the character, as the prototype of the reflective individual and claims that Hamlet, the play, “is as much the protohistory of the individual in its subjective reflection as it is the drama of the individual who, in the course of their action, is paralyzed by that reflection.”  In this paper, I will argue that to make sense of this complex and somewhat mysterious claim, one needs to read the play as a kind of modelling of one constitutive feature of the modern individual, namely reflectivity. 

Date: Friday November 24th

Time: 3:30-5:00pm

Location: ESB 112

Join us for refreshments after the event!

Jan. 19

Dr. Peter Alward , University of Saskatchewan

Feb. 2 

Dr. Daniel Regnier, Saint Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

March 15

Dr. Dwayne Moore, University of Saskatchewan







 Philosophy Colloquium Winter Series Schedule


Friday, March 31, 2023, 3:30- 5:00p.m.

Speaker: Pierre- François Noppen, Professor

Department of Philosophy, University of Saskatchewan

Title: Freud and the Logic of Delusion in horkheimer and Adorno's 'Elements of Anti- Semitism'

Abstract: In this talk I examine Horkheimer and Adorno's controversial account of "political anti-Semitism." In essence, my reading tracks their critical appropriation of Freud. I first show how they draw on Totem and Taboo to develop the view that the core of the Enlightenment process lies a prohibition on mimesis, or imitation. I then show how they rely on Freud's view on identification and ego formation to claim that imitation nevertheless what enables the formation of the rational self and the Enlightenment process. In my reading, it is this tension that creates the conditions for political anti-Semitism to emerge.



Friday, March 17, 2023, 3:30- 5:00p.m.

Speaker: Dwayne Moore, Professor

Department of Philosophy, University of Saskatchewan

Title: Do You Have Free Will?

Abstract: Libertarian free will is the view that the same agential states can cause different possible actions. Nonreductive physicalism is the view that mental states cause actions to occur, while these actions also have sufficient causes. Though libertarian free will and nonreductive physicalism have overlapping subject matter, there are few sustained expositions of a nonreductive physicalist model of libertarian free will - indeed some tell against such an admixture. This paper concocts such a blend by articulating and defending a nonreductive physicalist model of libertarian free will.




 Friday Feb. 10, 2023: 3:30 -5:00pm, ESB 116

Speaker: Matt Dean, PhD Candidate

Department of Philosophy, University of California Irvine

Title: Meaning and Social Phenomena

Abstract: Can groups like labor unions, baseball teams, and philosophy departments lead meaningful lives as groups? And if they can, what does talk of "meaning" amount to in this context? In this talk, I address these questions. The project has two parts. The first develops an objectivist account of meaning in life, according to which meaning is a matter of narratable relations that are evaluable from both a first- and a third-person perspective. The second applies this account to various social phenomena -- including group well-being and group immortality -- to show that recent work on meaning in life that focuses on individuals can naturally be "scaled up" to investigate new questions at the intersection of ethics, social ontology, and political philosophy.






 January 20, 2023:

Speaker: Dr. Ali Mirza

Ph.D. History and Philosophy of Science

Postdoctoral Fellow 

Department of Geology 

University of Saskatchewan


Title: Chimeras and the Epistemology of Paleontology: Heuristics for Reconstructing Anomalous Ancient Animals (1830-1930)


Abstract: Paleontology can involve asking difficult questions about the deep-past. Due to this, claims made by paleontologists can have quite distinct aims when compared to those stemming from research on the present. In this talk, I develop concepts from philosophy of science to reveal how paleontologists between 1830 and 1930 used bold ontological claims to express unique epistemic strategies for reconstructing ancient animals from fossils. These fossil animals were found in increasingly chimeric forms, pushing zoological theories to their breaking point. The claims discussed here are: Georges Cuvier’s “laws of correlation,” stating that changing one part of an animal requires changes in all other parts; the panpsychist paleontology of Edward Drinker Cope, seeing the entire fossil record as embodied by mind; and the single-character approach of Henry Fairfield Osborn, which suggested that even a single tooth had creative powers.





Fall 2022 Colloquium Series

November 2022:

Fri. Nov. 18, 2022

Room 103 ESB

Edwards Schhol of Business

3:30 - 5:00 pm

Dr. Sarah Hoffman


Title: Psychedelic Transformation and Kantian Aesthetics

Abstract: in this talk I explore some aspects of Kant's understanding of aesthetic experience and moral ideas in connection with psychedelics. Kirkham and Letheby have recently argued that psychedelic experience can contribute to the aquisition and consolidation of specifically enviromental virtues through the weakening of self-boundries and increased identification with nature. I argue that this view can be helpfully expanded by considering Kant's suggestion that the disinterested nature of aesthetic experience prepares us for mortality. Even if we do not fully agree with Kantian aesthetic theory, his idea that the beautiful can be a symbol or the good and his account of experiences of the sublime provide a useful beginning for thinking about how and why psychedelic experience is transformative in the ways it seems to be.




Fall 2022 Colloquium Series

October 2022:

Fri, Oct. 21, 2022

Room 103 ESB

Edwards School of


3:30-5:00 pm

Dr. Emer O'Hagan

Title: Bad Faith? Animals and the kingdom of Ends

Abstract: Christine Korsgaard argues that non-human animals have moral standing as passive citizens in the Kingdom of Ends. She claims that Kant's argument for the value of autonomous beings like us also shows that animals are ends in themselves, and thus we have direct duties to them. The normative consequences of her position are significant, ruling out factory farming, humane farming, and animal experimentation. In this work in progress, I will explain how moral standing of animals poses an intriguing problem for Kant, and go onto to challenge Korsgaard's main metaethical argument supporting direct duties to animals. I will consider whether her normative conclusions are in bad faith insofar as their significant demands call for a contestable and unexplained revisioning of human value. If time permits, I will consider the relative merits of another Kantian account of duties to animals.


Fall 2022 Colloquium Series:

September 2022:

Fri, Sept. 23, 2022

Room 103 - ESB

Edward's School of



Dr. Peter Alward

Title: Musical Works as Situated Heir Lines

Abstract: there are three core phenomena that an adequate musical ontology needs to explain: musical multiplicity – the fact that there can be multiple versions and performances of a single musical work; musical flexibility – the fact that there can be structurally distinct versions of a musical work; and musical audibility – the fact that appreciators can hear musical works by means of listening to performances of them. In this paper, I develop a novel account of musical works according to which they are situated heir lines, functions from worlds to structural types that are situated in specific musical-historical contexts. And I argue that this view better explains the core phenomena adumbrated above than the alternatives.


Winter 2021 Colloquium Series

February 2021:

Feb. 18, 2021

Arts 206

Dr. Daniel Regnier


Al-Farabi's Philosophy of Music: Science, Art and Politics


In his Great Treatise on Music (Kitāb al-Mūsīqī al-Kabīr) the philosopher Al-Fārābī offers an account of music as a “science” (‘ilm) and as a “theoretical art (discipline)” (ṣinā‘a naẓariyya). Al-Fārābī attempts to account for music in the terms outlined by Aristotle in his Posterior Analytics.  But this, Al-Fārābī admits, is not as easy as it seems, for the principles of music are not obvious. Al-Fārābī argues – not without an element of polemic – that music is primarily an empirical science, the object of which is an already existing body of music.  He thus takes issue with theories that put musica speculativa before the actual practices of music.  But since the object of musical study is created by people, it turns out that the science of music is in some sense what we might call a “social science.”  In fact, Al-Fārābī himself explicitly asks the question if music is a “natural” phenomenon. Although Al-Fārābī does trace music back to natural dispositions in human beings, he also suggests that it emerges in historical processes; that is, Al-Fārābī is aware that music is in some sense a product of what we would call “culture.”  In general, Al-Fārābī’s view of music as science is very complex, subtle and almost completely unstudied. Al-Fārābī’s view of music as science raises many issues which are relevant to discussions in contemporary musicology, ethnomusicology and philosophy of music. In this paper, I attempt to provide an outline of Al-Fārābī’s basic understanding of music as science.  I argue that his emphasis on and particular understanding of the relation between theory and practice in music can be understood as being elaborated from what I call the “composer’s perspective.” 

Winter 2022 Colloquium Series:

January 2022:

Jan.21, 2022

Dr. Ian Macdonald



 Did Peirce Misrepresent Descartes? Reinvestigating and Defending Peirce’s Case.


One of the more controversial issues in the literature on Charles Peirce (pragmatism’s founder), and a matter of towering importance for Peirce himself, concerns his claim that we cannot begin philosophy where Descartes tried to: with complete doubt. Rather, Peirce insists that we must begin philosophy with the beliefs we really have, since many of them won’t be open to real doubt (at least not if we try to doubt them all at once). However, several commentators hold that Peirce misrepresents Descartes (Meyers, 1967; Haack, 1982). After all, they say, Descartes’s method of doubt uses hyperbolic doubt, not real doubt, and so, it looks like Peirce attacks a straw target. In this talk, I will defend Peirce from the charge that he misrepresents Descartes. My crucial contention will be that Descartes’s method of doubt is supposed to serve several functions, and that Peirce is targeting a function different from the one his critics are focusing on. That is, I will be contending that Peirce and his critics are, essentially, at cross-purposes. I will close the talk by taking a closer look at why Peirce concludes that the pragmatist must recognize that doubt is a difficult art.

Fall 2021 Colloquium Series:

Novenmber 2021:

Nov. 19, 2021

Dr. Dwayne Moore

3:30- 5:00pm


Two Problems with Kane’s Model of Libertarian Free Will  


Two Problems with Kane’s Model of Libertarian Free Will   Abstract: Do humans have free will, or are we completely determined to behave as we do, or both? Advocates of libertarian free will typically answer as follows: yes, humans do have free will, so no, humans are not completely determined to behave as we do. The leading contemporary advocate of libertarian free will is Robert Kane. In this talk I introduce two objections to his model, namely, the doubled responsibility objection and the physical indeterminism luck objection. I argue that Kane is able to overcome the first objection, but not the second.

Fall 2021 Colloquium Series:

September, 2021

Sept. 24, 2021

Dr. Peter Alward

3:30- 5:00pm



 In Defense of Words


Georges Rey has recently defended “Folieism” – the view that words and other standard linguistic entities (SLE’s) simply do not exist. In this paper, I defend the existence of words against Rey’s arguments. I defend a conception of words according to which their occurrences must be recognizable as tokens of orthographic or phonetic types. And I argue that Rey’s arguments do not count against the existence of words so conceived. 


November 2021

Nov. 20, 2021


Dr. Pierre-François Noppen



How do affects factor into our moral agency?


Adorno proposes a controversial and puzzling account of moral agency. The cornerstone of this account is what he elusively terms das Hinzutretende. This new term – translated as “the additional factor”, or “the jolt”– means to express his view on the role that affects play in moral agency. In this paper, I will defend two main claims: first, I will argue that the standard translations of the term betray an interpretation of Adorno’s views on moral agency. Second, I will propose that more literal translations of the term – such as “what steps is” or, “what factors in” – best capture the gist of Adorno’s position on moral agency, which, as I see it, isn’t so much about correcting our view about the normative underpinnings of moral assessments as it is about reimagining the role that assessments as such play in moral agency.

Phil Colloquium

Dr. Sarah Hoffman

Oct. 22, 2021

Psychedelic Drugs, Therapeutic Efficacy, and the Self 

3:30-5:00 pm

Psychedelic Drugs, Therapeutic Efficacy, and the Self


Could intoxication be a path to (the) enlightenment?  Intoxication is typically conceived as a form of impairment or incapacity, a state undermining our capacity for reason and knowledge. And the Enlightenment period is also the so-called ‘Age of Reason’, a moniker clearly suggesting its hostility to 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 the thus surprisingly central historical role that the search for and use of intoxicating substances appears to have played in the Enlightenment. I briefly investigate intoxication as a concept, and a state, to draw out what generates conflicting views of intoxication's epistemological status and I explore reas ons for thinking that a positive view of intoxication may have something important right.

Phil. Colloquium

Dr. Peter Alward

The Fictional Road not taken



 The Fictional Road not Taken


Nathan Salmon is a prominent proponent of Fictional Realism – the view that fictional characters exist and are the referents of at least certain uses of fictional names. Salmon’s advocacy of this view, however, is somewhat surprising given that it is introduced in the context of a very different approach to the semantics of nonreferring terms. In particular, he argues that it is true of certain non-referring terms that there might nevertheless have been something to which they actually referred and, as a result, that sentences containing such terms express propositions that do not actually exist but might have. Moreover, he argues that such propositions can have (actual) truth-values despite not actually existing. In this paper, I intend to develop a theory of fictional names based on this account of non-referring terms and to argue that there are reasons to prefer it Salmon’s own view.


 Phil. Colloquium
Dr. Sarah Hoffman

Feb. 12, 2021

Could intoxication be the path to (the) Enlightenment?



Sarah Hoffman

Intoxication and (the) Enlightenment

Abstract: Could intoxication be a path to (the) enlightenment?  Intoxication is typically conceived as a form of impairment or incapacity, a state undermining our capacity for reason and knowledge. And the Enlightenment period is also the so-called ‘Age of Reason’, a moniker clearly suggesting its hostility to 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 the thus surprisingly central historical role that the search for and use of intoxicating substances appears to have played in the Enlightenment. I briefly investigate intoxication as a concept, and a state, to draw out what generates conflicting views of intoxication's epistemological status and I explore reas ons for thinking that a positive view of intoxication may have something important right.


Phil. Colloquium

Dr. Emer O'Hagan

Reflections on Gratitude and Morality

February 26, 2021

Emer O'Hagan

Reflections on Gratitude and Morality

Abstract: What is gratitude and what role does it play in moral life?  In this talk I will take up some recent work on gratitude that considers both its nature, and the conditions under which it is appropriate.  I will suggest that the significance of gratitude in moral life has not been adequately captured; gratitude can play a significant role in the development of moral character.  

Visiting Speakers

Speaker Image Placeholder

Walter Murray Lecture Series 2023/24


March 26-7

Public talk - Friday March 26, 3:30 pm

Figleaves and Their Kin: Mechanisms for Getting Away With Racist Speech

Abstract: It used to be accepted wisdom that overt, explicit expressions of racism would doom a national political campaign in the US or the UK.  Recent years have seen this wisdom overturned with the rise of the racist, xenophobic far right.  This paper uses pragmatics to explore the mechanisms and developments that have enabled this change in acceptable discourse, drawing on work in political psychology, sociolinguistics, and philosophy of language.  The mechanisms include utterances from politicians like fig leaves, that lend deniability to overt expressions of racism.  They also include ones specifically related to a new sort of conversational context-- social media.  This context is one that upends many of our old assumptions about how conversations work, providing new methods of deniability, but also new methods of altering mass opinion, and new barriers to challenging overt expressions of racism.

Meeting link:

Meeting number:145 634 2586

Password: MtevXh735Sz


 Department Talk - Friday March 26, 12:30 pm

Visual and Linguistic Dogwhistles (co-authored with Ray Drainville)

Abstract: With the recent political turn in philosophy of language, several philosophers of language have begun to examine dogwhistles, albeit not always under that name. The exact definition of 'dogwhistle' is a matter of debate, but-very roughly-these are utterances which function by concealing their meaning or intended effect from at least some of the audience.  Undoubtedly because they have been conducted by philosophers of language, the focus of the philosophical discussion of dogwhistles has been on the linguistic.  This is unsurprising, but it nonetheless represents a very important lacuna.  We propose to rectify this oversight, with a detailed examination and taxonomy of the workings of visual dogwhistles, both on their own and as they interact with linguistic utterances.

Meeting link: (Links to an external site.)

Meeting number: 145 065 3329

Password: Ns44TjiM6QN

Department Talk - Saturday March 27, 10:00 am

Figleaves for Racism and for Incitement to Violence

Abstract: A racial figleaf, as I have previously defined it, is an utterance that provides cover for another utterance which would otherwise be seen as racist.  In earlier work I have explored how figleaves have contributed to the rise of explicitly expressed racism in the US and the UK.  This paper begins from that analysis, and then explores the way that Donald Trump has used fig leaves to cover for his incitement of violence.  I argued that thinking about the case of incitement to violence sheds important new light on the figleaves that cover for racism.

Meeting Link:

Meeting number145 668 7050

Password: jsCZ2MpJQ28