Category : ethics

Dogs, God, Goya, and Levinas

Goya’s “The Dog”

Here is an blog post on the connection between dogs and spirituality. It includes a touching anecdote from Levinas on a dog’s recognition of his humanity:

There were seventy of us in a forestry commando unit for Jewish prisoners of war in Nazi Germany. . . . We were beings entrapped in their species; despite all their vocabulary, beings without language. . . . How to deliver a message about one’s humanity which, from behind the bars of quotation marks, will come across as anything else than the language of primates.

And then, about halfway through our long captivity, for a few short weeks, before the sentinels chased him away, a wandering dog entered our lives. One day he came to meet this rabble as we returned under guard from work. He survived in some wild patch in the region of the camp. . . . He would appear at morning assembly and was waiting for us as we returned, jumping up and barking in delight. For him, there was no doubt that we were [human].

Allen Wood’s Interview on Kant, et al.

3 AM’s interview with Allen Wood

This is a incredibly rich interview with Kant scholar Allen Wood. There’s a lot in this interview (including a subtle discussion of utilitarianism, a plug for reading Fichte more, and a shout out to a deep cut from St. Anselm’s De Casu Diaboli). But the headline discussion is Wood’s interpretation of Kant that challenges the way we often teach him. Here are some highlights:

On the constructivist interpretation of Kant:

If you emphasize the ‘nomos’ (the law), then you get one picture: the objectivity of ethics. If you emphasize the ‘autos’ — the self — you get the idea that we make the law. Kant never hesitated in his choice between the two emphases. He emphasizes the nomos (the universal and objective validity of the law). The relation of the law to the self is only a helpful way of thinking about the law, that helps us better understand its validity for us….Kant says that we may regard ourselves as legislator of the moral law, and consider ourselves as its author, but not that we are legislators or authors of the law (G 4:431)…We can think of rational faculty…as the legislator or author of the law because reason recognizes an objective standard, and to that extent is already aligned with objective moral truth.

On the division of labor for the respective formulas of the categorical imperative:

Formula of Universal Law (FUL): “an aid to judgment…employed when we seek to exempt ourselves from this duty, and to rationalize doing this through the formulation of a maxim that would appear to justify making an exception of ourselves.”

Formula of Humanity as End in Itself (FH): “formula that specifies the motivating incentive for obeying a categorical imperative — that incentive is our respect for the dignity of rational nature as end in itself — and which also provides the means of interpreting or specifying the duties required by the moral principle”

Formula of Autonomy (FA): “the [law] resulting from the combination of [previous formulations] which presents the moral law in its fullest and most proper form…It is a conception of the law (the imperative) that constitutes the truth about what we ought to do….

“Kantian ethics has no decision procedure. It is grounded on a general principle (FA), which is then specified or interpreted (by way of FH) as a system of duties….Their use presupposes that we already recognize some specific duty, and their function is to keep us from being motivated by self-preference to misjudge in a particular case how the duty applies.

the relationship between reason and virtue:

Kant does not think there is anything wrong with being beneficent from sympathy. He thinks we have a duty to cultivate sympathetic feelings by participating in the situations of others and acquiring an understanding of them….He thinks we also have a duty to make ourselves into the kind of person for whom the recognition that something is our duty would be a sufficient incentive to do it (if no other incentives were available to us)…He thinks all is well if I act beneficently, realizing that it is my duty but also having sympathetic feelings for the person I help. But I ought to strive to be the sort of person who would still help even if these feelings were absent.

I’m curious if people who know Kant more than I do want to weigh in on where Wood is correct. But it’s certainly thought-provoking. Check it out!

Congratulations to Loyola’s Bioethics Bowl Team!

Loyola’s Bioethics Bowl team took home the championship trophy last Saturday, beating out the defending champions from Georgetown University.  The team consists of undergraduates Paul Kubicki, Noah Whitney, Monica Finke, Amanda Epstein, MaryKate Brueck, and coaches Dr. Jennifer Parks and Sarah Babbitt.

The bowl is part of the 2014 National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference (NUBC), which Loyola hosted from April 5th-7th at the Water Tower Campus.  Both events are sponsored in part by the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH).  Organizers, Dr. Parks and bioethics minor Graham Hale, worked very hard to bring students and faculty together to pull this event off.

The philosophy department was instrumental in running this year’s bowl competition.  Several professors, including Drs. Pamela Lomelino, David Ingram, Hugh Miller, James Murphy, David Ozar, Victoria Wike, Christina Drogalis, and Brandon Morgan-Olsen, volunteered to serve as judges for the competition.  And several philosophy graduate students, including Corbin Casarez, Xin Chen, Kristina Grob, Mike Gutierrez, Kyoungnam Park, Merritt Rehn-DeBraal, and Joel Stenftnagel, served as judges or moderators. And Bryn Dugre provided vital administrative assistance for the competition.

Thanks to all of the volunteers at Loyola and beyond for putting on a great event!

Loyola ranks 3rd at the IEB Nat’l Ethics Bowl Championships 2014

dream team tshirt

We are very pleased to announce that LUC’s Ethics Bowl team placed 3rd at the 2014 IEB National Ethics Bowl Championships! Well done! The team consists of Paul Kubicki, Noah Whitney, Monica Finke, MaryKate Brueck, Alex Bravo, and Amanda Epstein, and is coached by Dr. Jennifer Parks and Sarah Babbitt. Congratulations!

We’d also like to congratulate the IEB champions at the University of Montana, the other finalists, and the University of California Santa Cruz, the winner of the Spirit of the Ethics Bowl award (and the creators of that snazzy t-shirt, above).

Ethics Bowl 2014 Finalists

Champion: University of Montana
Finalist: University of Oklahoma
Semifinalist: Loyola University of Chicago
Semifinalist: University of North Florida
Quarterfinalist: Oklahoma Christian University
Quarterfinalist: Providence College
Quarterfinalist: Union College
Quarterfinalist: Whitworth College

Lecture: Harry Gensler, SJ; “The Golden Rule,” LUC, Nov. 6

Visiting Professor Harry Gensler, SJ wil be delivering a talk, “The Golden Rule,” to the Philosophy department onWednesday, November 6th, at 2:45 pm, in Crown Center room 210.

All department faculty and students are cordially invited to attend.

CFP: Mental Illness and Power

“Mental Illness and Power”

A Philosophy Conference at the University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee

February 21-22, 2014

Deadline for proposals: November 15th, 2013

This and more information available online at:

As much historical and theoretical work has shown, the way people have understood mental illness throughout history is co-occurrent with shifting power relations within which human beings understand themselves. Mental illness manifests itself in different ways in different contexts and certain theoretical lines can be drawn between the way mental illness is understood and the forms of power which operate on the human mind, body and understanding.   Recently many issues surrounding mental illness have become  prominent in public discourse. To name a few examples, the controversial publication of the DSM 5; attempts by legislators to allow mental health professionals to refuse services based on values; the investigations of the mental health of mass murderers; and the expansion of mental health coverage intended by the Affordable Care Act.  These issues have all been featured prominently on the nightly news while at the same time drawing the attention of public intellectuals and politicians. With this in mind, it seems that now is an opportune moment to open a dialogue about the relationship of mental illness and power.

Philosophy provides a promising, critical, yet constructive space in which to open this dialogue.  Indeed, philosophy and the mental health professions have greatly influenced one another.  Some philosophers are critical of mental health practices while others use psychological insights to develop their own theoretical resources. Many psychological theories have historically been influenced by philosophers, whether John Locke, the positivists, or the existentialists.  Thus, philosophers and mental health professionals have much to share with one another, especially at this moment.

The Philosophy Graduate Student Association welcomes papers from philosophers of all stripes and theoretically interested scholars in other fields, including but not limited to: clinical mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, psychology, psychiatry, history, literature and the arts, and political science/studies.

To Submit:

Please prepare a proposal (500-700 words in length) for blind review in either .pdf or Microsoft Word file format.  Send the file as an attachment to an e-mail with a body containing the title and the author’s name, contact information, institutional affiliation and status (graduate student, faculty member, independent researcher, etc.)  If accepted, final papers need to be suitable for a presentation approximately 20 minutes in length.

Proposals should be submitted to<>.

The deadline for submissions is November 15th, 2013.

This conference is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, the Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence, and the Philosophy Graduate Student Association at the University of Memphis.

Conference: Contemporary Moral Theory and the Problem of Evil, Notre Dame, Nov. 15-16

Conference Announcement: Contemporary Moral Theory and the Problem of Evil

November 15-16, 2013
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

On Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16, the University of Notre Dame will host the first of two conferences on contemporary moral theory and the problem of evil. These conferences seek to advance discussion of the problem of evil by examining how different views about ethics and morality affect how we understand and respond to the problem. The second conference will be held at Notre Dame on March 21-22, 2014.

The November conference will include talks by Marilyn AdamsStephen Wykstra, and Linda Zagzebski. The talks will take place at 3 pm and 7 pm on Friday, and 10 am on Saturday, with receptions after the first Friday talk and before the Saturday talk. The location of talks is TBD, and will be listed on the philosophy department events website closer to the date of the conference.

The conference is being organized by Jim Sterba and funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

There is no official registration required, but if you are interested in attending, we would appreciate it if you would E-mail Nevin Climenhaga to give us an idea of how many attendees to expect. If you have any questions, you can contact Nevin or Meg Schmitt for more information.

Nevin Climenhaga
Meg Schmitt

(Our very own!) CFP: LUC Graduate Conference: “Philosophy, Virtue, and Personhood”


Philosophy, Virtue, and Personhood

A Graduate Student Philosophy Conference at Loyola University Chicago April 11-12, 2014

Submission Deadline: December 15, 2013 Keynote Speakers:

 Gabriel Richardson Lear (University of Chicago) ␣ Hanne Jacobs (Loyola University Chicago)

Ancient to contemporary thinkers have struggled with questions about the transformation of the self and what it means to live well. Are multiple conceptions of the good life compatible with more univocal doctrines of goodness and wellbeing? We want to explore what role, if any, philosophy can play in helping us to constitute ourselves as persons, become better selves, or live better lives. The philosophy department at Loyola University Chicago invites papers from a broad range of philosophical perspectives, operating in both continental and analytic traditions, on topics pertaining to the role of philosophy in shaping the self and in living a good life.

All submissions should be submitted for blind review by December 15, 2013. Full papers (up to 3,000 words), with 100 word abstracts, should be sent to in .DOC or .PDF format.

CFP: HERA Conference, “Humane, Inhumane, Human”


Call for Papers

Humanities Education and Research Association

Annual Conference, February 27- March 1, 2014

Washington D.C.



Humane, Inhumane, Human


In keeping with HERA’s mission of promoting the study of the humanities across a wide range of disciplines and interdisciplines, we invite presentations for the 2014 conference. The wide range of disciplines and areas of study for the conference include but are not limited to Aesthetics, Anthropology, Architecture, Art, Classics, Communication Studies, Composition, Cultural Studies, Dance, Design, Digital Technology, Education, Environmental Issues, Ethics, Ethnic Studies, Family, Film Studies, Gender Studies, Geography, Geology, Globalization, History, Languages, Literature, Media, Museum Studies, Music, Performance Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sexuality, Sociology, Theater and all sciences relevant to the topic.


Creative presentations, readings, and exhibitions are also welcomed. Submissions are encouraged from educators at all levels (including advanced graduate students) as well as all those with an interest in the arts and humanities.


Proposals for papers, panels, or workshops must be submitted through the conference web portal on the HERA website at


Questions may be directed to the conference organizers, Marcia Green (, Sarita Cannon (, and Erin McCoy (


Presentation time for individual papers is limited to 15-20 minutes.


Deadline for submission: no later than October 24, 2013.

The Fairfax Hotel Embassy Row (Starwood Luxury Collection) is the host of HERA’s 2014 conference.  The guest room rate is $139 plus tax.  The hotel is a short walk from the Dupont Circle Metro stop.



Dr. Marcia Green                        
Executive Director/CFO                  
Humanities Education and Research Association
P.O. Box 715                           
Pacifica, CA 94044-4206               
Phone: 650-359-2660


Lecture: “Eating Meat: Good or Bad? You Decide,” Dr. Mylan Engel, Marquette, Sept. 26

CFP: [Extended Deadline] 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology, Ethics’2014

2014 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology, Ethics’2014


Friday-Saturday, 23-24 May, 2014 Chicago Marriott O’Hare, Chicago, IL, USA



Ethics – A Challenge to the Scientific and Engineering Community  
Second Announcement and Call for Papers – Deadline Extended



With the evolution of science, technology and engineering, ethical problems often arise. Ethics and ethical conduct have become a critical issue in the 21st Century.


Scientists, technologists and engineers of all ages, students as well as senior professionals, encounter ethical challenges in their professional and personal lives. Often, an answer to such challenges arises from brainstorming sessions and intense discussions. Are ethics and morals the same? Are ethics and laws consistent? Could professional ethics in one discipline conflict with ethical conduct of another discipline? Should ethics be sacrificed for global “competitiveness”?


Furthermore, ethical conduct has global and cultural perspectives. Could unethical conduct in one culture be acceptable in another? What is the difference between ethics and codes of conduct? Are there principles that could be considered as valid through all cultures? Could we claim that the fundamental bases of ethics are independent of our origins?


With all these questions (and many others) in mind, we are delighted to announce that the first

IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, Technology (IEEE Ethics 2014)


The IEEE Ethics 2014 Symposium aims to respond to the needs and aspirations of a rising global professional community and to promote highest standards of ethical conduct among its members.


The Symposium will offer a rich scientific program of highest quality with invited speakers from all over the world and intends to bring together scientists, engineers, ethicists and practitioners from different disciplines to discuss questions and concerns related to ethics in science, technology, and engineering. Issues will be explored both from a scientific point of view and from a social or individual aspect, including global, multicultural perspectives. The Symposium will enable participants to debate and reflect on issues facing scientists and engineers, and to address the importance of ethics in a diverse scientific and professional global community. Scientists, engineers and other professionals who have relevant experience to be shared are encouraged to participate in the Symposium which will provide a platform for exchange of views in three different formats: formal presentations, panel discussions, and small group discussions.


Workshops, tutorials, “Birds-of-a-Feather” provokquium panels and special invited sessions will be organized on stimulating topics. The Symposium will be accompanied by an exhibition.


The Theme of the Symposium is: “Ethics AND…”


Ethics isn’t practiced in a vacuum. At this symposium, we want to put ethics into different perspectives, put ethics to work in different contexts, and look at ethics from different vantage points. To that end, each of our tracks is labeled ‘Ethics and… X.’ We hope that you will find several of these X’s particularly interesting.


For the latest information, please visit our web site at:


Prospective authors are invited to submit original, unpublished papers on their latest research results covering all aspects of Ethics in Science, Technology and Engineering.


We also solicit proposals for special paper sessions, panels, workshops and tutorials. Workshops and tutorials provide fundamental exposure to topics ranging from introductory through intermediate to advanced levels. They will be presented in two-to-three hour in-depth sessions at the Symposium.


Join us in the vibrant city of Chicago, IL, where you can combine “business with pleasure,” share your insight, ask questions and learn from the experts/innovators at the IEEE Ethics 2014 Symposium. Your published paper will be seen by thousands in the professional community and across the wide array of disciplines. In addition, all papers presented at IEEE Ethics 2014 Symposium will be submitted to IEEEXplore with unlimited exposure.


We invite you to take this opportunity to share your research – theoretical, practical and case studies. Plan to submit your paper proposal now.


Prospective authors are invited to submit original, unpublished English-language abstracts and session proposals. PDF format is preferred for all submissions.


Authors’ and Session Proposers’ Submission guidelines and Schedule – SUBMISSION DEADLINE EXTENDED


Please check the Symposium website, for detailed Authors’ Instructions on submitting paper and poster abstracts and proposals for special paper sessions, panel sessions, open forums, workshops, and tutorials, and for templates for the Final Paper Manuscripts.

§ Abstracts for individual papers (500 words), Posters (500 words), Special Paper Session Proposals, Panel proposals, Tutorial proposals, and Workshop proposals are due by October 15, 2013

§ Notification of Acceptance: November 30, 2013

§ Final Paper Manuscripts for the Symposium Proceedings: January 12, 2014


CFP: The Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Oppression, Autonomy, and Biomedical Ethics

The Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World (SPCW) invites abstracts for 30-minute talks/papers to be given at the Pacific APA in San Diego, April 2014 on topics related to oppression, autonomy and biomedical ethics.  Send your abstract (or questions) to Tim Christie ( with the subject heading “2014 Pacific APA”.  Deadline: September 30.

CFP: Transatlantic Research Group: “Sexuality, Human Rights and Public Policy”

The 3rd International Conference of the Transatlantic Research Group in collaboration with the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and Women and Gender Studies Program, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, presents the Conference on Sexuality, Human Rights and Public Policy.


This conference draws on a broad range of academic fields—including anthropology, sociology, political philosophy, history, political science, and cultural studies—to investigate the dynamics of public policy, human rights, and sexuality as they relate to inclusion and exclusion globally.


Panels, papers, creative presentations, and roundtables that employ diverse, interdisciplinary and inter-generational perspectives are especially welcome in these areas:


Public policy, Law and Sexuality

Human body, Gender and Sexuality

Culture, Identity and Sexuality

Religion, Culture, and Sexuality

Christianity and Sexuality

Islam and Sexuality

Social Media and Sexuality

Sexual Orientation, Sexual/Gender Identity

Sexuality and Reproductive Rights

Human Body and Cultural Meanings

Human body, Stereotypes and Sexualities

Homosexuality, Homophobia, and Violence

The Female Body and Gender-based Violence

Heterosexuality and “Other” Sexuality


Abstracts should be around 300 words and include the paper title and the name and contact details of the presenter. Abstracts should be submitted by October 25, 2013. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Monday January 20, 2014.

Please send abstracts and papers to Chima Korieh, Marquette University:


2013-14 Ethics Bowl and Bioethics Bowl Orientation Session: 9/9, 9/10 (pick one)

CFP and Essay Prize: Moral Nonnaturalism

Special Issue of Res Philosophica on Moral Nonnaturalism
Essay Prize: $3,000
Guest Editor: Terence Cuneo (University of Vermont)
Deadline for Submission: April 1, 2014
Call for Papers
Res Philosophica invites papers on the topic of moral nonnaturalism for the 2014 Res Philosophica Essay Prize. The author of the winning paper will receive a prize of $3,000 and publication in the special issue of the journal on the same topic. Submissions for the prize will be automatically considered for publication in the journal’s special issue unless otherwise requested.
The recent history of moral nonnaturalism has been both tumultuous and unpredictable. In the early 20th century, thanks to the work of philosophers such as G. E. Moore and W. D. Ross, nonnaturalism was arguably the dominant metaethical position in Anglo-American philosophy. By mid-century, however, the view had fallen into disfavor, eclipsed by various versions of expressivism and moral naturalism. Indeed, by century’s end, most philosophers had given up nonnaturalism for dead. The view seemed to be of historical interest only.
Few, then, could have predicted that nonnaturalism would receive fresh and vigorous defenses in the early 21st century. Philosophers such as Russ Shafer-Landau, Ralph Wedgwood, David Enoch, and David Parfit each offered book-length defenses of the view, developing the case that moral nonnaturalism is a far more resilient, resourceful, and plausible position than most had assumed.
While nonnaturalism is now, once again, a view that philosophers take very seriously, challenges remain. Some of these challenges concern the view’s ontological commitments: How ought we to understand what a nonnatural property (or fact) is? What are the best reasons for holding that moral features (or facts) are not reducible to natural features (or facts)? Are these reasons persuasive? Moreover, what should nonnaturalists say in response to the charge that their view requires us to believe that ontologically discontinuous entities such as natural and nonnatural facts bear necessary connections to one another?
Other challenges concern the view’s epistemological commitments: Given the fact that our moral views have been heavily influenced by contingent cultural, historical, and evolutionary forces, how could nonnaturalists plausibly hold that we reliably track the moral truths? Moreover, nonnaturalists have tended to defend intuitionist views in moral epistemology, maintaining that some moral propositions are self-evident. To what extent, though, is nonnaturalism committed to a version of ethical intuitionism? And are these views defensible?
Still other challenges are broadly semantic: If nonnatural features (or facts) do not enter into the causal flow of nature, how could we get them in mind or refer to them? Are nonnaturalists committed to broadly descriptivist accounts of reference? Or can they join forces with naturalists in championing nondescriptivist accounts of reference?
These are just a sample of the sorts of issue that submissions might address. Papers that address other topics in the neighborhood are welcome.
All papers will be triple anonymously reviewed. Please format your submission so that it is suitable for anonymous review. (Instructions available here.)
Papers may be up to 12,000 words long (including footnotes).
We accept pdf and Microsoft Word documents. Papers may be submitted in any standard style, but authors of accepted papers will be required to edit their papers according to the journal’s style, which follows The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition). Style instructions are available here.
Please use the online submission form for submitting your essay, available here.