Critical Reflections 2016

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Friday, March 11th
9:00 AM

Life-Value Ethics and Disability

Emily Dobson, University of Windsor

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Life-grounded ethics aims to ground the basis for value in life. In order for a universal application of an ethical code to be possible, it ought to be grounded in the needs that are required for life itself, whether the needs are those of human beings, other animals, or the environment. However, while life-grounded ethics takes a wide approach to satisfying those needs, and allows for the independence and diversity of all cultures and backgrounds, often the conception of a good life is bound up with with ideas of meaningful work that tend to limit contribution to labour. The concept of contribution being linked exclusively to work denies those who are unable to work from being seen as contributors in their communities, and thus fails to recognize that they too can lead a good life. A life-grounded approach, which broadens the conception of what counts as contribution, can not only remove the stigma from those who may be unable to work, but can help to break down the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in their communities.This approach acknowledges that the ways in which those with disabilities are active in their communities will depend on their own experiences, and that meeting the specific avenues through which they access life-needs will take equal consideration.

Keywords: life-value, disability, contribution, interdisciplinary

9:30 AM

Developing a Wittgensteinian Ethic

Tucker Dowell, Belmont University

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Wittgenstein is notorious for his lack of discussion on ethics. An entire crowd of people eager to hear the great Wittgenstein speak were famously disappointed when his special talk on ethics lasted less than ten minutes. As it is, we generally think of Wittgenstein as an incredible philosopher of language and logic, beginning with his first work, Tractatus, and changing the way we think about language with the publication of Philosophical Investigations, bringing with it the invention of the language-game theory of language. In these two works, Wittgenstein does not talk much about ethics directly, except to say that we should not be talking about it; however, if we piece together comments from his entire body of work (much of which was published posthumously) with the details of his life, we can start to get a picture of the ethic by which Wittgenstein lived his life. In this paper, I will argue that Wittgenstein’s ethic was one centered around living life with as much authenticity and integrity to the self as possible. I will also argue that the method of communication most suited to discussing ethics is art, using more comments from Wittgenstein with outside references to aesthetics, phenomenology, and existentialism. Many problems and questions will arise from our investigation. How do we reconcile an ethic of authenticity coming from someone who’s manner of “being himself” led to him boxing children’s ears as a school teacher? How can we talk about ethics at all? Should we take a philosopher’s life into consideration when reading their work? At the conclusion of the presentation, we will ask ourselves whether we should implement such an ethical view into our own lives.

10:00 AM

Recognizing the Queer: The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Queer Subjectivity

Quinn I. McGlade-Ferentzy, Trent University

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

The deliberate rejection of heteronormative values presents both a challenge and an opportunity to enrich ethical life. Drawing heavily from the critique of Hegel present in Butler's Giving an Account of Oneself, this paper examines the impact of the queer subject in the scene of address. What are some complications of establishing a “queer” ethic? My paper explores this by asking what is a queer attitude and how does one complicate reciprocal recognition? From there, the paper examines Maria Lugones on coalitionism to examine how different vested interests can become mutually enriching instead of destructive. This is complicated by a consideration of Michael Foucault as well as Didier Eribon’s discussion of Foucault and the damage of the homophobic insult on the formation of the gay "self." This consideration of the "queer" subject is used to examine the rampant misogyny that is alive and well today, as described by Phillip Kimmel in Guyland. In summary, antagonistic normative values complicate the scene of address between the "queer" and the "normal" and, negative beliefs about identities like queer make coalitions and community difficult as homophobia instills an unwillingness to associate with what we identify with.

11:00 AM

Do You See What I See? Integrating Hallucinogenic Drug Effects with Haack’s Foundherentism

Denish Jaswal, Saint Louis University

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM

In this paper, I argue that the organizational cognitive concepts that provide structure for visual perception can be systemized in a hierarchal model based on the invariance of these concepts when perception is altered by hallucinogenic psychoactive drugs. This thesis will be supported by first explaining the basics of the normal visual perception model in current neurobiology. This will be followed by a brief summary of the state of visual perception as altered by psychoactive hallucinogenic drugs. Following this discussion, I will present Susan Haack’s hierarchal model of credible truths contained in her theory of foundherentism. From foundherentism, I will utilize the ideas of invariance theory (delineated by Jim Woodward) to establish my thesis which states that the cognitive concepts that confer the most invariance will be higher on Haack’s established hierarchy. Lastly, I will address a counterargument concerning the short-term nature of hallucinogens and its potential nullification of the ability to derive this hierarchy. This paper works to integrate neuroscientific research with epistemic philosophy such that: 1) Haack’s hierarchal theory is supported by scientific data; 2) this data provides a tentative hypothesis of the specific ordering of her hierarchy; and 3) Haack’s hierarchy can be utilized to provide a potential explanation of the stability of certain cognitive concepts when the brain is influenced by hallucinogenic psychoactive drugs.

11:30 AM

Kropotkin, Expropriation, and Technologies of Oppression

Brigham Bartol, University of Windsor

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Beginning with revolutionary political theory, drawing heavily on the anarcho-communism of the late nineteenth-century author Peter Kropotkin, this paper explores the problem of liberation from within oppressive technological systems.

Leftist theory often calls for the expropriation of the means of production, meaning, in practical terms, the seizure of technical systems. A clear conception of technology, however, must recognize that technical systems themselves have political values embedded into them. A clear revolutionary praxis must, therefore, account for the oppressive politics embedded in technology, and provide a scheme for the liberation from those systems, which nonetheless fulfills the goal of economic liberation by means of distributing the products of those systems. This paper begins the work of constructing this scheme by reconciling Kropotkin's views on technology and technological inheritance with theories drawn from more recent philosophy of technology.

1:30 PM

A Fish By Any Other Name Would Taste as Sweet: Applied Ethics of Transgenic Fish Commercialization

Basem Al-Shayeb, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Modern aquaculture has grown into a vital industry over the past half-century, such that it now supplies half of all the fish we consume. Nevertheless, it has been found to cause significant economic, environmental, and health problems, while commercial fishing has led to the decline in wild fish stocks. In response to this dilemma and the growing demand, AquaBounty Technologies has created a genetically modified “AquAdvantage” Atlantic salmon using foreign genetic elements from the ocean pout and Chinook Pacific salmon, in hopes to improve their fish farming efficiency. These modifications allow the AquAdvantage salmon to grow twice as fast as their domesticated counterparts and four times as fast as their wild brethren, The recent approval for commercialization of the AquAdvantage Salmon as the first genetically modified animal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US market has sparked substantial controversy, with no small number of people urging for a moratorium or ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) altogether. The significance of this approval cannot be overstated, as it sets a regulatory precedent for other pending commercializations of genetically engineered animals and future axioms of molecular and synthetic biology. In this article, I identify and evaluate some of the leading arguments for and against the adoption of GM salmon on store shelves, and this product’s position in terms of deep ecology, the precautionary principle, virtue ethics, and non-anthropocentrism. I rely on this pluralistic presentation to ensure that the key aspects are recognized, and that possible consequences are assessed from a plurality of positions to avoid a one-eyed perception of the topic and allow judgements to be made on a rational and informed basis, all ethical concerns considered.

2:00 PM

"On Γίγνων"

Faith D. McFadden, Duquesne University

2:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Abstract for On Γίγνων

This paper will examine C.D.C Reeve’s use of ἀγάλματα as a birth metaphor in the dialogue the Symposium, and compare it to the other birth metaphors as found in the Theaetetus. This paper posits that there is a difference betwixt the ἀγάλματα found in Socrates and the διάνοια with which certain men are found to be pregnant[1]. The relationship of ἀγάλματα and διάνοια are commensurate to the relationship of διάνοια and νοήσις as found in the hierarchy of understanding in the soul in the line metaphor of the Republic.

The paper will seek to prove this thesis by means of close philological and philosophical examination of the selection and use of words chosen in birth metaphors in the dialogues of first the Theaetetus, then in the Symposium.[2] Having established the difference and connection of the birth metaphors in the prior dialogues, the paper will then move into a comparison of the birth metaphors to the line metaphor in the Republic.

This paper ultimately seeks to clarify the role and meaning of διάνοια within the Platonic dialogues, and how it will consequentially affect the philosophic ideas and ideals.

[1] As is described as offspring in the Theaetetus.

[2] Although other dialogues will be mentioned to further elucidate a point, these will be the three main dialogues used.

3:00 PM

Identity as the Rudimentary Essence of Discrimination

Jesse Winton, Ryerson University

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM

This paper brings into question the ethical implications of identity, and argues the point that the root of discriminatory acts is identity; rather than arbitrary selection, instilled prejudices that stem from how humans typically identify themselves in relation to others cause such behavior. I maintain that not only is the practice of self-identifying with a particular social, political, or religious ideology a form of intellectual self-imprisonment, but that it actually alienates an individual more from those outside the group than it includes those within it. Prejudice is derived by ascribing the identity of a group to an individual. This I argue is the result of our habits of self-identification, whether it is on the individual level of subscribing to a religious or political ideology, or at a much larger social level where we self identify by our nationality, race, or gender. By identifying oneself as a member of a particular race, while grouping you with those who also share that race, it simultaneously omits you from everyone else, as if they were of a different species. Therefore, even though we are all humans, this inevitably creates a notion of us versus them. Another argument is that of sentimentality, and that we are all not actually that different. If individuals of one group focused on identifying and seeing themselves as having the same aspirations as individuals from another group – although their underlying ideology may be different – perhaps there would be a significant decrease in animosity between such groups, as they would have a unified identity. This would require sentimentality training where we are taught to look beyond one’s self-interested views and towards caring for the totality of humanity, as if it was just important as our own. Without having a unified collective identity, truly understanding the issues, and thinking conceptually and acting pragmatically, it will not be possible to truly realize a fair and just world absent of discrimination. What is important to remember with regards to realizing a discrimination- and prejudice-free society is that such a society will not arise immediately. In order to fix a form of inequality persistent in society, it is imperative that we truly understand the nature of the issue. It is important to note that even in conceptualizing a world where all laws and rights are in place and enforced such that everyone has equal protection under the law, this will not necessarily eradicate the issue of inequality as it pertains to people living a life of quality and respect. Only when we achieve such a collective global identity will we ever truly realize a fair and just world absent of discrimination.

Key words: identity, self-identification, prejudice, discrimination, sentimentality

3:30 PM

The Power of Negative Thought: Exploring the Role of Negativity in “One-Dimensional Man"

Dominic Pizzolitto, University of Windsor

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM

The Power of Negative Thought: Exploring the Role of Negativity in “One-Dimensional Man