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, Spring 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015, 4-6 p.m.
Lecture: Daniel Haybron, St. Louis University
"Does Happiness Make for a Good Life?"
Note: Lecture venue has been changed to Salomon 001 (main green). Reception to follow in Petteruti Lounge, Robert '62 Campus Center, 75 Waterman Street.

Saturday, March 7, 2015, 10 a.m.-noon
Seminar: Daniel Haybron, St. Louis University
"Measures of Well-Being for Policy: What Do We Want?"
Petteruti Lounge, Robert '62 Campus Center, 75 Waterman Street

Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 12-2 p.m.
Lecture: Sonja Lyubomirsky, University of California Riverside
"Happiness: Science, Practice, and Myths"
Salomon 001, 79 Waterman Street

Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 4-6 p.m.
Lecture: Iris Mauss, University of California Berkeley
"Less Can Be More: Paradoxical Effects on the Pursuit of Happiness"
Metcalf auditorium, 190 Thayer Street

 Recent events

David Webster, Subject Group Leader for Religious, Philosophical and Historical Studies at the University of Gloucestershire, gave the lecture "Fruits of the Pointless Life: Buddhist Thought in an Atheistic Future" in the Crystal Room, Alumnae Hall, 194 Meeting Street, on Friday, November 14, 2014, from 4-6 p.m.

Bernard Reginster, (Professor of Philosophy, Brown University); Susan Sauve-Meyer (Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania) and David Webster (Subject Group Leader for Religious, Philosophical and Historical Studies, University of Gloucestershire) presented the workshop "Desire-Cessation Theories of Happiness" on Thursday, November 13, 2014, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Corliss Brackett seminar room, 45 Prospect Street.

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, 2014 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, 2014 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, 2014, 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.