Confucian Approaches to Intergenerational Ethics. Timothy Connolly (East Stroudsburg) @ Columbia University Religion Dept. 101
Mar 29 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Since Confucianism is an intergenerational phenomenon, it should have unique insights into ethical issues surrounding our obligations to future generations. In the first part of this discussion, I examine two contemporary Confucian perspectives on intergenerational ethics. Proponents of Confucian Role Ethics have developed an interpretation of xiao as “intergenerational reverence” that binds the community together over time by reference to shared cultural models and evolving ethical values. The Chinese thinker Jiang Qing in turn argues for a political constitution in which the state depends not just on the will of presently existing citizens, but also serves to preserve and transmit the values of the past for the sake of future generations. While both interpretations share in common a critique of Western individualism and rights-based ethical framework, Jiang’s account of Confucian intergenerationality rests on the authority of tradition, whereas Confucian Role Ethics prioritizes the uniqueness of the situation at hand. In the second half of the discussion, I develop an alternative Confucian approach that is aligned with virtue ethics. On this view, our present virtue is the point of departure for understanding our relations with the past and future. I examine passages in early Confucian texts that suggest a notion of intergenerational virtue, which brings together various dispositions to see our own flourishing as linked with both past and future generations.

With a response from:

Susan Blake (Bard College)

Promises and Perils of Neuroprediction @ Faculty House, Columbia U
Apr 16 @ 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Neuroprediction, the use of neuroscientific data to predict human behavior, can sound like science fiction. But with the advent of neuroimaging and the continuing rapid development of other non-invasive brain measurements, neuroprediction is increasingly a real-world phenomenon.

Deep philosophical, legal, and neuroscientific questions arise regarding the use of these methods to predict behavior. Like all scientific tools, whether or not these technologies are used responsibly depends on who uses them. For instance, recent research illustrates the potential use of neuroprediction to assess an individual’s risk of (re-)engaging in antisocial conduct in forensic contexts. While the use of brain-based data may add predictive value to existing risk assessment tools, at the same time, the use (or misuse) of neuroprediction in courtrooms may imply violations of individual rights and liberties under the pretext of enhancing public safety. In addition to these legal implications, neuroprediction presents several technological and neuroscientific challenges. The non-invasive measures currently available are only indirect measures of cognitive activity. Understanding the conceptual, ethical, and legal dimensions surrounding the use of neuroprediction technologies helps crystallize the issues at hand and potentially provides moral guidance for those who wish to capitalize on these new tools as their prevalence and specificity continue to advance.

In this seminar, four experts from neuroscience, law, and philosophy will discuss recent findings in neuroprediction research, the predictive power of brain-based evidence compared to behavioral evidence, as well as the ethical and legal concerns emerging from the entrance of neuroprediction in the courts of law.

Arielle Baskin-Sommers, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Yale University
Martha Farah, Annenberg Professor of Natural Sciences, University of Pennsylvania
Kent Kiehl, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of New Mexico
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics, Duke University

Jeffrey A. Fagan, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia University

Federica Coppola, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University

Free and open to the public, but RSVP is required via Eventbrite. This event is part of the Seminars in Society and Neuroscience series.

Critique 1/13: Foucault and Nietzsche with Amy Allen @ Jerome Greene Annex, Columbia Law
Sep 11 @ 6:15 pm – 8:45 pm
The first seminar in the Critique 13/13 Series.

About this Event

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 6:15 – 8:45 pm at Columbia University

With Professor Amy Allen and Bernard E. Harcourt

Readings include:

Foucault, Michel. “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History.” In The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow, 76-100. New York, Pantheon Books, 1984.

_____. “Nietzsche, Freud, Marx.” In The Essential Works of Michel Foucault: Power, ed. James D. Faubion, trans. Robert Hurley et al., 277-278. New York: New Press, 2000.

Harcourt, Bernard E., “The Illusion of Influence: On Foucault, Nietzsche, and a Fundamental Misunderstanding” (May 24, 2019). Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-627 (2019). Available at SSRN:

These events are free and open to the public. Please RSVP.

The syllabus is available here.

The Ethical Stance and the Possibility of Critique. Webb Keane @ Wolff Conference Room, D1106
Sep 12 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Critique is an assertion of values pitted against a state of affairs. To say that things should not be the way they are–to respond to questions such as ‘Why do I think this political or economic arrangement is wrong (and why should I care?)?’ implies an ethical stance. Critique thus draws together fact and value, domains that a long tradition of moral thought has argued exist on distinct planes. For there are dimensions of political life that are incomprehensible without this conjunction between ethical motivations and social realities. But if they are to have political consequences, such questions cannot be confined to private introspection. Scale matters. This talk looks at the articulation between everyday interactions and social movements to show the interplay among the first, second, and third person stances that characterize ethical life. Drawing ethnographic examples from American feminism and Vietnamese Marxism, it considers some of the ways in which ethical intuitions emerge, consolidate, and change, and argues that objectifications and the reflexivity they facilitate help give ethical life a social history.

Black Radical Kantianism. Charles Mills (CUNY) @ 302 Philosophy, Columbia U
Sep 20 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

This essay tries to develop a “black radical Kantianism” – that is, a Kantianism informed by the black experience in modernity. After looking briefly at socialist and feminist appropriations of Kant, I argue that an analogous black radical appropriation should draw on the distinctive social ontology and view of the state associated with the black radical tradition. In ethics, this would mean working with a (color-conscious rather than colorblind) social ontology of white persons and black sub-persons and then asking what respect for oneself and others would require under those circumstances. In political philosophy, it would mean framing the state as a Rassenstaat (a racial state) and then asking what measures of corrective justice would be necessary to bring about the ideal Rechtsstaat.

Response by César Cabezas Gamarra.

Presented by the German Idealism Workshop

Critique 2/13: Horkheimer and Adorno with Axel Honneth @ Columbia Maison Française, Buell Hall
Sep 25 @ 6:15 pm – 8:45 pm
The second seminar in the Critique 13/13 Seminar Series.

About this Event

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 6:15-8:45 pm at Columbia University

Professor Axel Honneth and Bernard E. Harcourt discussing the early Frankfurt School, specifically Max Horkheimer’s 1937 essay, “Traditional and Critical Theory,” and Theodor Adorno’s 1931 essay, “The Actuality of Philosophy.”

This event is co-sponsored by the Columbia Maison Française.

Readings include:

Horkheimer, Max. “Traditional and Critical Theory, in Horkheimer, Max. Critical Theory: Selected Essays. New York: Continuum, 1992.

Adorno, Theodor W. “The Actuality of Philosophy.” Telos 1997, no. 31 (1997): 120-133.

These events are free and open to the public. Please RSVP.


The syllabus is available here.

The Moral Imagination of the Novel @ Columbia U Philosophy Dept.
Oct 4 – Oct 5 all-day

Columbia University’s Department of Philosophy, the Morningside Institute, and the Thomistic Institute invite graduate students in philosophy, theology/religious studies, literature, and related disciplines to submit papers for “The Moral Imagination of the Novel.” The conference will examine the ways in which individual novels and the novel as a literary genre can be understood both to depict the search for moral, philosophical, and religious truth and to engage in this very search themselves. Is the novel a realistic or idealistic genre? Can novels expand our sense of moral possibilities? Can they contract them?

The conference will begin with four twenty-minute graduate student papers on Friday, October 4, followed by talks that day and the next from faculty. Confirmed speakers include:

Paul Elie (Georgetown)

Ann Astell (Notre Dame)

Thomas Pavel (Chicago)

Lauren Kopajtic (Fordham)

Dhananjay Jagannathan (Columbia)

 Limited financial assistance is available to defray the cost of travel for student presenters, but students are encouraged to seek funds from their own institutions as well.

 One-page proposals should be emailed to Molly Gurdon at by Saturday, August 31 to be considered. Invitations to present papers will be sent by Friday, September 6. Submissions should not contain any identifying information except for a title, but the author’s institution and program, along with the title of their proposed submission, should be noted in the e-mail submission.

Pedagogy of Dignity Workshop @ Columbia University, Philosophy rm tba
Oct 12 all-day

Pedagogy of Dignity Workshop 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Workshop Organizer: Christia Mercer

Thinking Beyond the Annihilation of Nature: Conscientia and Schelling’s Ethics of Redemptive Epistemology. Bruce Matthews, Bard @ Wolff Conference Room, D1106
Oct 17 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

In 1804 Schelling diagnosed our impending “annihilation of nature” due to our conceptual detachment from and consequent economic exploitation of our natural world. His critique of Modernity’s Cartesian Idealisms, effected through his inversion of the Kantian categories, results in a philosophical project whose relevance to our ongoing climate crisis is difficult to overstate.

Bruce Matthews
Bard College/BHSEC, professor of philosophy, research in German Idealism and Romanticism, with a focus on life and thought of F.W.J. Schelling, whose recent work revolves around Schelling’s critique of modernity with its anticipation of, as he wrote in 1804, ‘the annihilation of nature,’ and its relevance to the Anthropocene.

“Schelling in the Anthropocene: A New Mythology of Nature,” (Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, 2015), “Schelling: A Brief Biographical Sketch of the Odysseus of German Idealism,” in The Palgrave Handbook to German Idealism (2014), and “The New Mythology: Between Romanticism and Humanism,” in The Relevance of Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Books include the forthcoming intellectual biography, Schelling: Heretic of Modernity (2018), Schelling’s Organic Form of Philosophy: Life as the Schema of Freedom (SUNY 2011).

Presented by the Philosophy Department at The New School for Social Research

New Materialist Approaches to Sound @ Music Department, Columbia U
Oct 19 – Oct 20 all-day

Scholars working under the broad umbrella of New Materialism have offered compelling reappraisals of the ways in which we know, interact with, and exist in the world. This scholarship also intersects with recent work on music and sound, which raises rich sets of questions regarding human agency, material, ethics, aesthetics, embodiment, and the subject/object dichotomy, among other issues.

We invite scholars working in the humanities, arts and sciences to submit proposals for papers and performances that engage with the themes of sound and new materialism, broadly construed.  We welcome work that adopts historical, technological, analytical, philosophical, materialist, and creative vantage points, among others. Overall, this conference will direct these diverse disciplinary and methodological perspectives towards convergent and critical issues, creating new, interdisciplinary lines of enquiry and generating original research.

The one-day conference will consist of panels that comprise of papers with short reflections by a moderator, as well as an evening concert that includes opportunities for discussion. The concluding concert of work that engages with these themes from creative perspectives will afford attendees with an opportunity to consider and discuss issues concerning sound, material, and agency in a forum that contrasts with, but also complements, our events during the day. Conference participants are strongly encouraged to attend both the daytime and evening portions of the conference.

Proposals are called for:

Paper presentations of 20 minutes with 10 minutes of Q&A.

Artistic presentation of 20 minutes with 10 minutes of discussion

Submission: Proposals of no more than 500 words (300 words for artistic presentation) should be submitted as a PDF by August 14th 2019 to

and include “NMAS Submission” in the subject line. If you’re applying for an artistic presentation please include three representative 2 minute audio/video examples. Please also include the title of your proposed paper and anonymize your submission.  Include your name, affiliation, and contact information in the body of the email, and also nominate any audio/visual requirements for your paper or performance.