Welcome to the Ethical Inquiry site. For more information or to be added to our email list, please send a message to aimee_mcdermott@brown.edu.

Upcoming events, Fall 2014

Thursday, November 13, 1 p.m.
Workshop: "Desire-Cessation Theories of Happiness"
Featured speakers: Bernard Reginster, Brown University; Susan Sauve Meyer, University of Pennsylvania; David Webster, University of Gloucestershire
Corliss Brackett seminar room, 45 Prospect Street 

Friday, November 14, 4-6 p.m.
David Webster, University of Gloucestershire
Public Lecture: "Fruits of the Pointless Life: Buddhist Thought in an Atheistic Future"
Crystal Room, Alumnae Hall (194 Meeting Street)
Reception to follow on site. 

Recent events

Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, gave the lecture "Injustice and the Dubious Value of Anger" on Monday, March 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Salomon 001. Read the Brown Daily Herald article on Nussbaum's talk here.

You can download an audio recording of Nussbaum's lecture here.

William Irvine, Professor of Philosophy at Wright State University, gave the lecture: "Old Wine in New Bottles: How to Practice Stoicism in the 21st Century" on Friday, February 28 in Alumnae Hall, Crystal Room, 194 Meeting Street. He led the seminar "The Case for 'Intellectual Tithing'" on Saturday, March 1 in the same location.

In his lecture, Irvine shared some of the insights he has gained trying to practice Stoicism in the 21st century. Among his recommendations: Stop doing pointless things. Make sure your bucket list is properly Stoical. Practice courage. Laugh off other people’s insults, and their praise, as well. Embrace the life you find yourself living, even as you try to change that life.

The purpose of Irvine's seminar was to discuss the (almost non-existent) role philosophers play in our culture, to contrast it with the role they played in the ancient world, and to explore the reasons for this change. How should we understand, and should we condone, the tendency of many modern philosophers to disparage “philosophies of life”? Should professional philosophers engage in “intellectual tithing" by devoting a portion of their intellectual effort to doing things that will have a positive impact on our culture?

Suggested reading for the seminar: Making Philosophy Matter -- Or Else (Lee McIntyre, Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 11, 2011)


Susan Wolf, Edna J. Koury Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, gave the lecture "Love and Revolution: Why Love Makes the World Go Round" on Friday, February 7 in Smith Buonanno 201, 95 Cushing Street. She led the seminar "Meaningfulness: A Third Dimension of the Good Life" on Saturday, February 8 in the Petteruti Lounge, Robert '62 Campus Center, 75 Waterman Street.

Ask anyone to name the most important things in life, and "love" will come up in almost every answer. But what is love, and what makes it so special? This lecture will take up these basic questions, and propose some answers.

Here is Wolf's paper for the seminar: Meaningfulness: A Third Dimension of the Good Life

For a full list of events, go to our Events page.