Previous Public Philosophy Events

Harold Stoner Clark Lectures, 2021

Racialized Forgiveness

I shall introduce a concept that I refer to as ‘racialized forgiveness.’ Cases that exemplify certain conditions which I take as paradigmatic of the problem of racialized forgiveness includes instances in which: (a) Who is forgiven and not is determined by the race of the offender; (b) Praise and criticisms of forgiveness are determined by the race of the victim; and (c) Praise and criticisms of forgiveness are, at least implicitly, racially self-serving. I argue that the practice of it is morally objectionable because of its psychological origins, moral failures, and negative effects. Accordingly, in order to dodge these dimensions, I’ll claim we need to practice forgiveness differently.

There is no charge to attend and everyone from the campus and community are welcome!


Spencer Photo

Dr. Cherry is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside with research interests at the intersection of moral psychology and social and political philosophy. Cherry is also the host of the UnMute Podcast, a podcast where she interviews philosophers about the social and political issues of our day.

When: Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021 (11:20a)

Where:  Virtual Webinar; Please register in advance HERE

Facing Down Climate Despair:
Anxiety, Grief, and Action in the Age of Crisis

Jennifer Atkinson, PhD in English and Literature from the University of Chicago and Senior Lecturer at the University of Washington-Bothell, discusses the emotional resilience needed to come to terms with environmental loss and work toward a just and sustainable future.

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When: Monday, March 9, 2020 (7:00p)

Where: Samuelson Chapel

Harold Stoner Clark Lectures, 2020

The Metaphysical Problem in Race Theory

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When Population Genetics Meets the Metaphysics of Race

The Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP) obtained the first large-scale sample of human genomes in the history of genetics. The results of the first study of HGDP genomes appeared in a now landmark paper in Science in 2002. The most famous and controversial result from this paper—and that we now know is robust—is that the human species naturally subdivides into five groups based on genomic similarity: Sub-Saharan Africans, East Asians, Caucasians, Native Americans, and Oceanians.

However, it didn’t take long before geneticists started asking what else are these groups? A consensus quickly arose that these groups are biological populations. However, geneticists are still split on whether these groups are races. In this talk, I argue that these five human populations are races because they are, in fact, identical to the US government’s official races. After defending my argument, I explore implications for NIH-funded clinical research in medical genetics.

A Radical Solution to the Race Problem 

In this talk, I use the results of the first lecture to show that the US government’s official race talk is about a biological division of people that’s biologically real. After defending this position, I turn to applying this result to the US race debate—the debate about the nature and reality of race according to US race talk. Since its inception, the US race debate has been completely dominated by monist race theories insofar as philosophers have always argued that there is a single, correct way to characterize what race is and its reality status.

For example, the social constructionists have argued that race is a non-biological social construct that’s socially real. However, using my previous results, I show that all monist US race theories are incorrect. Instead, I show that the correct race theory for our country is one that has a radically pluralist form and content.

Pre-lecture Discussion: "What is Race and Why is the Question Important?"

Join us for a pre-lecture discussion with Assistant Professor Brian J. Collins. The goal of this presentation and discussion is to offer an introduction to the topic and help familiarize everyone with the theme of this year’s lectures.


Quayshawn Spencer

Quayshawn Spencer, Robert S. Blank Presidential Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in metaphysical problems in philosophy of science, biology, and race. Spencer has published several journal articles on the topic of race & biology, but he’s best known for authoring “What ‘biological racial realism’ should mean” in Philosophical Studies (2012), and “A Radical Solution to the Race Problem” in Philosophy of Science (2014), What is Race? Four Philosophical Views,

Tuesday, Feb 18, 2020 (11:10a)

Where:  Samuelson Chapel






When: Tuesday, Feb 18, 2020 (4:00p)

Where: Samuelson Chapel












When: Friday, Feb 14, 2020 (2:15p)

Where:  Overton Hall

Lifting the Colonial Curtain:
White Supremacy in STEM

Kat Cecil, Department of Science and Technology Studies University College London 

"No one ever wants to talk about race, about racism, especially not in science, where everything is supposed to be objective."

Environmental Ethics


When: Monday September 16, 2019 (4:00p-5:30p)

Where: Humanities 116

Environmental Ethics: Getting Our Values Straight

Brian J. Collins, Founder & Director of the SoCal Philosophy Academy, will be giving a talk on Environmental Ethics. 

Environmental Ethics


When: Wednesday Mar 13, 2019 (2:00p-4:00p)

Where: University Village, Thousand Oaks 

Ethics and Legal Theory

Brian J. Collins, Founder & Director of the SoCal Philosophy Academy, will be giving a talk on Ethics and Legal Theory for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners - Ventura County Chapter.

 Legal Ethics


When: Thursday February 21, 2019 (5:00p-7:00p)

Where: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners - Ventura County Chapter

Surfing & Philosophy Talk

Brian J. Collins, Founder & Director of the SoCal Philosophy Academy, will be giving a talk on Surfing & Philosophy as part of Ventura City Library's 'One County, One Book' series. 

surfing & philosophy


When: Wednesday Oct 24, 2018 (6:30p-7:30p)

Where: E.P. Foster Library (651 East Main Street, Ventura, CA) 
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Harold Stoner Clark Lectures, 2018

Humanizing Machines: AI, Ethics and the Future

Artificial intelligence poses profound ethical questions for humanity’s future. What will a world filled with intelligent machines mean for the human family? Will the immense benefits of AI be shared with us all, or reserved for an elite few? Can our collective humanity be enriched, expanded, refined and liberated by smart machines? Or will long-held ideals of a more humane future instead be degraded, marginalized and replaced by narrower machine values of optimization, prediction and ruthless efficiency? What would a future with humanized and humanizing technologies look like, and how can we get there? 

Looking in the AI Mirror

Artificial intelligence is not a technology of the future, but of the present. We already reap immense benefits from AI systems, and they are already behaving badly: issuing judgments with harmful racial, gender and class biases; failing to “see” people at the margins of society; prioritizing efficiency over humane values; and exploiting unjust imbalances in power and privilege. These are familiar vices. Indeed, AI is a mirror reflecting images of our own humanity. In this talk, I explore what we can learn from the AI mirror and how the lessons can drive the development of a more humane future

How to Cultivate Humane Machines (and People)

The art of moral self-cultivation is perhaps the only unique capacity of our species, and failing to practice it has, today, increasingly devastating consequences on local and planetary scales. Reclaiming the art of cultivating our humanity—pushing ourselves toward ideals that lie beyond our present impulses and habits—may be essential to averting catastrophe for our species and for many others. I discuss how the creation of intelligent machines, including attempts to make them more humane, might serve as a source of inspiration for this endangered art.

Pre-lecture Discussion

Join us for a discussion in anticipation of the Harold Stoner Clark Lectures. Faculty, staff, students and classes are welcome! The goal of this presentation and discussion is to familiarize everyone with the topics of the Feb. 20 lectures.

The Harold Stoner Clark Lecture Series, endowed by the late Mr. Clark and sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, was established in 1985. Admission is free.


Shannon Vallor, Professor of Philosophy at Santa Clara University, focuses on the ethics of emerging technologies. She is the author of Technology and the Virtues:  A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting from Oxford University Press (2016) and editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Technology.  She serves on the board of the nonprofit Foundation for Responsible Robotics and regularly advises tech media, legislators, policymakers, investors, executives, engineers and design teams.


Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018 (11:10a)

Where:  Samuelson Chapel







When: Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018 (4:00p)

Where:  Samuelson Chapel







When: Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018 (11:25a)

Where:  Swenson 104

Harold Stoner Clark Lectures, 2017

Probing Future Foods

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The things that people eat have always undergone change, but today there are both technological innovations and novel environmental constraints that are driving change. How can we bring ethics to bear on the types of change that are shaping the food systems of the future? Paul Thompson will probe this question, emphasizing the way that we assess the risks of new food technology and scenarios for reshaping the food system in response to future challenges.

Four Archetypes for Future Food Systems

In the coming half century our food systems will be stressed by climate change, increased urbanization and growing scarcity of resources relative to human population. Four archetypal characterizations of how food will be produced, processed, distributed and consumed can help us generate scenarios to consider these changes. These archetypes help us consider the environmental sustainability and food justice of food system change.

Social Amplification of Risk: The Ethical Questions

Risk scholars have shown how assessments of biophysical hazards are influenced by social factors ranging from race and gender to stigma and outrage. But are there cases in which these influences should be regarded as legitimate factors that should be accounted for in our assessment and management of risk? The answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no and sometimes it’s hard to say. Each of these cases will be reviewed using examples from innovations in food production.

Pre-lecture Discussion

Join us for a discussion in anticipation of the Harold Stoner Clark Lectures. Faculty, staff, students and classes are welcome! The goal of this presentation and discussion is to familiarize everyone with the topics of the Feb. 21 lectures.

The Harold Stoner Clark Lecture Series, endowed by the late Mr. Clark and sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, was established in 1985. Admission is free.


Harold Stoner Clark Lectures

Paul B. ThompsonProfessor of Agricultural Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University. He has served in an advisory role to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and Genome Canada. His research explores ethical issues arising across the spectrum of food production, distribution and consumption. Thompson is a two-time winner of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Award for Excellence in Communication. 

Tuesday, Feb 21, 2017 (11:10a)

Where:  Samuelson Chapel







When: Tuesday, Feb 21, 2017 (4:00p)

Where:  Samuelson Chapel






When: Friday, Feb 17, 2017 (11:45a)

Where:  Lundring Events Center

Harold Stoner Clark Lectures, 2016

Corporate Realities and Democratic Ideals

Corporate bodies (businesses, religious organizations, colleges, etc.) exercise a great deal of power in our lives. For good or ill, they shape our social relationships and have a significant impact on our democratic processes. But to what standards should we hold them? What responsibilities and duties may we legitimately impose on them, and what rights and freedoms may they claim for themselves? Philip Pettit will discuss these questions in two lectures. 

Holding Corporate Bodies Responsible

Granting Corporate Bodies Rights

The Harold Stoner Clark Lecture Series, endowed by the late Mr. Clark and sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, was established in 1985. Admission is free. 


Harold Stoner Clark Lectures

Philip Pettit, Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University has published his most recent book The Robust Demands of the Good (2015). He is a fellow of the Australian academies of Humanities and Social Sciences as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy and the Royal Irish Academy. 

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2016 (11:10a)

Where:  Samuelson Chapel


When: Tuesday, Feb 16, 2016 (4:00p)

Where:  Samuelson Chapel