Philosophers gather at Vanderbilt to examine implications of pluralism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Some of the nation’s top philosophers will gather at Vanderbilt for a two-day conference at Vanderbilt University to examine pluralism, a relatively new position in philosophy that has attracted attention for its application to a wide array of current issues.

All sessions of the Oct. 26-27 "Varieties of Pluralism" conference, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Flynn Auditorium of the Vanderbilt Law School.

"Pluralism stands today at the center of debates concerning multiculturalism, globalization, citizenship, feminism, identity, religious tolerance and the ‘science wars,’" said Robert Talisse, Vanderbilt assistant professor philosophy.

"Unlike the absolutist who sees only one proper way of relating to the world and the relativist who maintains no way is objectively better than any other, the pluralist contends that there are multiple distinct and worthy approaches to the human quests for knowledge, freedom and the good life," explained Talisse, who is organizing the conference with Lenn Goodman, Vanderbilt professor of philosophy.

Speakers include:

∑Nicholas Rescher, University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh where is served for many years as director of the Center for Philosophy of Science at Temple. He is the author of approximately 100 books ranging over many areas of philosophy and was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for Humanistic Scholarship in 1984.

∑Susan Haack, who has taught since 1990 at the University of Miami, where she is presently Cooper Senior Scholar in Arts and Sciences, Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law. She has authored numerous articles and books, including Deviant Logic, Philosophy of Logics, Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate and Defending Science — Within Reason: Between Scientism and Cynicism.

∑William Galston, Saul I. Stern Professor of Civic Engagement and director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy of the University of Maryland. A political theorist who both studies and participates in American politics and domestic policy, he has served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy during the first Clinton administration, executive director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal, director of economic and social programs at the Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., as well as positions with former presidential candidates John Anderson, Walter Mondale and Al Gore.

∑Nancy Rosenblum, Senator Joseph Clark Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government at Harvard University. The author of 1998’s Membership and Morals: The Personal Uses of Pluralism in America, she concentrates her research on both historical and contemporary political theory.

∑Joseph Margolis, Laura Carnell Professor at Temple University, whose main interests are in the philosophy of the human sciences, the theory of knowledge and interpretation, aesthetics, philosophy of mind, American philosophy and pragmatism. He is currently completing the third volume in a trilogy of books on contemporary American philosophy.

∑John Lachs, Centennial Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt. His philosophical interests center on human nature, which has encompassed the study of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics. He has continuing research interests in American philosophy and in German Idealism, along with research and teaching interests in medical and business ethics. He is general editor of Encyclopedia of American Philosophy.

∑Lenn Goodman, professor of philosophy and of religious studies at Vanderbilt. His philosophical interests center on metaphysics and ethics, and he has paid special attention over the years to Islamic and Jewish philosophical thought and their creative interactions. The author of numerous essays and publications, his most recently completed book is In Defense of Truth: A Pluralist Approach.

The conference is sponsored by the Vanderbilt University Department of Philosophy with support from the Matchette Foundation and Vanderbilt University.

For the full agenda and additional information, contact the Vanderbilt Department of Philosophy at 322-2637.

Media Contact: Elizabeth Latt, (615) 322-NEWS

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