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Speakers & Conferences


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What is a Sound Natural Aesthetics for Conservation Policy and Land Management?

Allen Carlson, Department of Philosophy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Friday, April 12th

Recently a number of environmental philosophers, realizing the importance of aesthetic appreciation in our relationship with the natural environment, have claimed that, as one prominent environmental philosopher puts it: “a sound natural aesthetics is crucial to sound conservation policy and land management.” In light of such claims, the question of the nature of “a sound natural aesthetics” warrants consideration. The question has both historical and contemporary significance, since, as noted by environmental philosophers, our aesthetic appreciation of natural environments has greatly influenced and continues to influence how we treat such environments, in particular, which we preserve and which we allocate to various human uses, such as resource extraction and development. The question of the nature of “a sound natural aesthetics” has been addressed by several different accounts of the aesthetic appreciation of nature, ranging from time-honored approaches such as the picturesque tradition and landscape formalism to more recent points of view, which are typically associated with cultural pluralism and postmodernism. This presentation will review these different positions, arguing that, concerning the question of “What is a sound natural aesthetics for conservation policy and land management?” some of these approaches are more promising than others.

Allen Carlson is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Alberta. His research interests include aesthetics, environmental philosophy, and the aesthetics of nature. He has written numerous articles on the aesthetic appreciation of natural and human environments. Recently, he has published three books on environmental aesthetics and related areas of philosophy: Functional Beauty (2008, with Glen Parsons), which explores the role of function in aesthetic appreciation;Nature, Aesthetics, and Environmentalism: From Beauty to Duty (2008, with Shelia Lintott), an edited anthology of essays on the relationship between aesthetic appreciation of environments and ethics; and Nature and Landscape (2009), a short introduction to environmental aesthetics.

Past Events

Some of these past events are available via our podcast. You can subscribe to it by pasting our podcast feed URL into your favorite podcatcher:

  • October 18th: "Ethics and Wildlife Films" by Professor Chris Palmer, Distinguished Film Producer in Residence at the School of Communication, American University, Washington, D.C.
  • April 24th: "The Sublime Ugliness and Terrible Beauty" by Emily Brady: Held as part of the Environmental Speaker Series.
  • March 23-24: Character and Decision: Perspectives from Philosophy and Psychology—an interdisciplinary conference exploring the structure of human character and its role in choice-making.
    • Agnes Callard, Philosophy, University of Chicago, "Are We Aristotle's Enemies?"
    • Rachana Kamtekar, Philosophy, University of Arizona, "Two Conceptions of Character".
    • Larry Nucci, Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Institute of Human Development, Universtiy of California, Berkeley, "Reflections on the Moral Self".
    • Chandra Sripada, Psychiatry and Philosophy, University of Michigan, "Moral Responsibility and the Deep Self".
  • February 13th: Glenn Parsons (Ryerson University, Toronto), "The Norms of Nature Appreciation"
  • November 17: Keith Lehrer, "Art, Self and Knowledge" and dance by Karen Ivy
  • October 20: Thomas Wartenberg, "Wordy Pictures: Theorizing the Relationship between Image and Text in Comics"
  • April 22: Phillip Cafaro, "Making the Choice: Economic and Demographic Growth or the Flourishing of Life?"
  • April 21: Gary Kendall, "Challenging Assumptions: Energy Security and Climate Change".
  • April 1-2: Colloquium on Distributive Justice in Democracies. Speakers include:
    • Jennifer Hochschild, Professor of Government and African and African American Studies, Harvard University, "Individuals versus Group? The Moral Conundrum of Blurred Racial Boundaries".
    • David Estlund, Professor of Philosophy, Brown University, "Human Nature and the Limits (If Any) of Political Philosophy".
    • Michael McBride, Professor of Economics, University of California, Irvine, "Relative Income and the Sufficiency-Equality Debate".

Conference poster can be found here.

  • March 7: Brian Scholl, "It's Alive!: Perceiving Animacy, and Some Visual Roots of Social Cognition".
  • October 29: Colin Klein, "Pain and the Painful".

  • April 12: Daniel Jacobson, "Moral Dumbfounding and Moral Stupidity".
  • April 9: Don Loeb, "Moral Disagreement Revisited".
  • March 22: Stephen Darwall, "Demystifying Promises".
  • Feb. 19: Bryan Norton, "Sustainability: At What Scale?"
  • Sept. 24: Keith Lehrer (University of Arizona), "Knowledge, Art and Consciousness".

conference schedule.

  • Oct. 31: Lyn Moore, "Costly Signaling and the Origins of Religion"
  • Oct. 23: Aysu Suben, "Prinz vs. Fodor: What the Duck/Rabbit Illusion Can Tell Us about the Mind" (Ed Reed Prize talk)
  • Conference (March 28-29, 2008): Human Action and the Natural World. This conference aims to bring together philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists to investigate the place of human agency in the natural world. Speakers include:
    • Jennifer Hornsby (Professor of Philosophy, University of London; co-director Rational Agency section, Center for the Study of Mind in Nature, Oslo), "The Influence of Reasons and the Causes of Science"
    • Mark Bickhard (Henry R. Luce Professor in Cognitive Robotics and The Philosophy of Knowledge, Lehigh University), "From Agency to Social Agency"
    • Carsten Hansen (Associate Professor of Philosophy, Oslo University), "Linguistic Agency and Understanding"
    • Alfred Mele (William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University), "Free Will and Neuroscience"
  • February 22: Tony Chemero, "Consciousness is Not in Your Brain"
  • February 11: Michael Murray, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Sociobiology: Religion Naturalized"
  • September 6: Ben Caplan (Ohio State University), "On the Ontology of Music"
  • October 18: Edward J Larson (Pepperdine University), "The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion."
  • October 31: Noel Carroll, "The Philosophy of Horror"
  • Nov. 9: Evelyn Rosset (Boston University), "He meant to do it: Adults' preference for intentional explanations."
  • Allan Silverman (Ohio State University), "Ascent and Descent: The Philosopher's Regret." Audio Recording (22 MB)
  • Justin Barrett (Centre for Cognition and Culture, Oxford University), "Why Would Anyone Believe in God." Audio Recording (20 MB)
  • Ted Davis (Messiah College), "Intelligent Design on Trial." Audio Recording (20 MB)
  • February 6: John Bickle (Neuroscience, University of Cincinnati), "The 'Ruthlessly Reductive' Core of Molecular and Cellular Cognition."
  • February 9-10: Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives on Love. For details of times and places, please download the conference poster.
    • Walter Freeman (Neurobiology, UC-Berkeley), "Societies of Brains: A Study in the Neuroscience of Love and Hate"
    • Bennett Helm (Philosophy, F&M), "Love and Intimacy"
    • William Hurlbut (Stanford University Medical Center), "Empathy, Evolution, and Ethics"
    • Jeff Schloss (Biology, Westmont College), "The 'Matter' of Love: Evolution, Religion, and the Internalization of Altruism"
    • Eleonore Stump (Philosophy, St. Louis University), "Love By All Accounts
  • February 22: Paul Bloom (Yale University), 4:30 talk, "But is it art?"
  • March 29: Thomas Nadelhoffer (Dickinson College), "Intentions and Intentional Actions in Ordinary Language and the Criminal Law," 4:30 talk.
  • April 12: Anjan Chatterjee (University of Pennsylvania), 4:30 talk, title TBA.
  • April 16: Stephen Davies (University of Auckland): 4:30 talk, "Life Is a Passacaglia"
  • Moral Psychology Workshop. Participants included:
    • Talbot Brewer (University of Virginia), "What Virtue Epistemology Might Be."
    • Ruth Chang (Rutgers University), "Personal and Impersonal Reasons."
    • Bennett Helm (F&M), "Paternalistic Love and the Development of the Self."
    • Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto), "Good and Good For."
  • Danielle Macbeth (Haverford College), "Striving for Truth in the Practice of Mathematics".
  • Sean Kelly (Princeton University), "Content and Constancy: Questions for the dual content theory of perception".
  • Jonathan Kaplan (Oregon State University), "Evolutionary Innovations and Developmental Resources: From Stability to Variation and Back Again".
  • Sharyn Clough (Oregon State University), "Drawing Battle Lines and Choosing Bedfellows: Rorty, Relativism and Feminist Strategy".
  • Barbara Montero (CUNY - The Graduate Center and College of Staten Island), "Proprioception as an Aesthetic Sense".
  • William Blattner (Georgetown University), "Heidegger, Dewey, and the Primacy of Practice".
  • Joshua Knobe (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), "Folk Psychology, Folk Morality".
  • David Armstrong (CUNY), "New Thinking on Particulars and Universals."
  • Conference in Moral Psychology, February 4-5, 2005. Participants included:
    • John Cooper (Princeton University), "The Emotional Life of the Wise" (comments by Eric Brown, Washington University).
    • Niko Kolodny (Harvard University), "Why Be Rational?" (comments by Glenn Ross, Franklin & Marshall College).
    • Sigrun Svavarsdottir (Ohio State University), "Moral Motivation" (comments by Bennett Helm, Franklin & Marshall College).
    • Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto), "Changing One's Direction of Fit" (comments by Jeffrey Seidman, Vassar College).
  • Iakovos Vasiliou (Brooklyn College-CUNY), "Aiming at Virtue in the Republic"
  • Conference in Metaphysics and Mind. Speakers included: David Armstrong, "Particulars Have Their Properties of Necessity," John Heil, "Zombie Ontology," and William Lycan, "Science and the Immaterial Mind."
  • Moral Psychology Workshop. Participants included: Justin D'Arms (Ohio State), Bennett Helm (F&M), Pamela Hieronymi (UCLA), Daniel Jacobson (Bowling Green State University), David Merli (F&M), and Michael Thompson (University of Pittsburgh).
  • John Hawthorne (Rutgers University), "Vagueness and the Mind of God".
  • Conference in Moral Psychology. Speakers included: Michael Bratman, "Shared Valuing and Frameworks for Practical Reasoning" (with comments by Ted Hinchman), Andrea Westlund, "Authority and Deference in Joint Deliberation" (with comments by Bennett Helm), Amber Carpenter, "Immoral Psychology" (with comments by Michelle Mason), and Jennifer Whiting, "Love: Self-Actualization, Self-Propagation, or Ekstasis?" (with comments by Talbot Brewer).
  • Debate between Peter Atkins (Oxford) and Paul Davies (Adelaide) on the resolution: The More the Universe Seems Comprehensible, the More Pointless it also Seems.
  • Alvin Plantinga (Notre Dame), "Atheism v. Evolution."
  • John Hedley Brooke, "Revisiting Darwin on Origin and Design".
  • Debate: "Is Goodness without God Good Enough?" (Bill Craig and Paul Kurtz).
  • Peter Singer (Princeton University), "Is the Sanctity of Human Life Still Defensible?"
  • Moral Psychology Workshop, with Talbot Brewer (University of Virginia), Justin D'Arms (Ohio State), Bennett Helm (F&M), and Daniel Jacobson (F&M)
  • Conference in Metaphysics and Epistemology. Speakers included: Keith Lehrer, "Self, Consciousness, and Representation" (with comments by John Hawthorne), Fried Dretske, "Externalism and Self Knowledge" (with comments by Glenn Ross), David Lewis, "Things qua Truthmakers" (with comments by Ted Sider), David Armstrong, "Truth and Truthmakers" (with comments by Dean Zimmerman).
  • Moral Psychology Workshop, with Talbot Brewer (University of Virginia), Justin D'Arms (Ohio State), Bennett Helm (F&M), and Daniel Jacobson (F&M)
  • Conference in Metaphysics and Epistemology. Speakers included: David M. Armstrong, "A Naturalist Program -- Epistemology and Ontology", David Lewis, "Causation as Influence", Keith De Rose, "Knowledge, Assertion, and Context", Jonathan Vogel, "The Ingredients of Knowledge."
  • Taylor Carman (Barnard College)
  • Conference in Metaphysics and Epistemology. Speakers included: David M. Armstrong, "Truth and Truthmakers", David Lewis, "Void and Object", Dean Zimmerman, "Epiphenomenalism and 'The Given'", Trenton Merricks, "The Varieties of Vagueness (Fewer Than You Think)."
  • Timothy O'Connor (Indiana University)