In Memoriam: Claudia Card (1940-2015)

Our condolences go out to the surviving family and colleagues of noted Dr. Claudia Falconer Card, who passed away September 12, 2015.

Card was the Emma Goldman Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her research interests included ethics and social philosophy, including normative ethical theory; feminist ethics; environmental ethics; theories of justice, of punishment, and of evil; and the ethics of Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. Her work also deeply involved Women’s Studies, Jewish Studies, Environmental Studies, and LGBT Studies.

Claudia Card

Dr. Card’s obituary is linked here.

Additionally, philosopher Kate Norlock, a former student of the professor, beautifully reflects on the life and work of Dr. Card here.

Instead of mourning her death per her own request, the University of Wisconsin-Madison will honor Dr. Card with A Celebration of Life, which will take place Sunday, Oct. 11 from 1:00pm-4:00pm at the Pyle Center Alumni Lounge.

We have joined in celebrating the life and career of Claudia Card by making free a special collection on her articles.


Rape as a Weapon of War

Hypatia | Volume 11, Issue 4, November 1996

Against Marriage and Motherhood

Hypatia | Volume 11, Issue 3, August 1996

Gay Divorce: Thoughts on the Legal Regulation of Marriage

Hypatia | Volume 22, Issue 1, February 2007

Genocide and Social Death

Hypatia | Volume 18, Issue 1, February 2003

Selected Bibliography of Lesbian Philosophy and Related Works

Hypatia | Volume 7, Issue 4, November 1992

Removing Veils of Ignorance

Journal of Social Philosophy | Volume 22, Issue 1, March 1991

Review Essay: Sadomasochism And Sexual Preference

Journal of Social Philosophy | Volume 15, Issue 2, May 1984

The Road to Lake Wobegon

Journal of Social Philosophy | Volume 30, Issue 3, Winter 1999

What’s Wrong with Adult-Child Sex?

Journal of Social Philosophy | Volume 33, Issue 2, Summer 2002

Stoicism, Evil, and the Possibility of Morality

Metaphilosophy | Volume 29, Issue 4, October 1998

Women, Evil, and Grey Zones

Metaphilosophy | Volume 35, Issue 1, October 2000

The Paradox of Genocidal Rape Aimed at Enforced Pregnancy

The Southern Journal of Philosophy | Volume 46, Issue S1, Spring 2008

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The Real Problem of Evil

The 17th century German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz famously argued that this world of ours is “the best of all possible worlds”, and in doing so founded the philosophical study that he named ‘theodicy’ – the attempt to answer the question of why we suffer in a world supposedly watched over be an all-powerful and benevolent God. The scenes of devastation created by the tsunami that recently hit the east coast of Japan make these kinds of proclamations hard to swallow to say the least. Some philosophers after Leibniz made a point of how blindly indulgent and insensitive such claims can seem in the face of these reminders of the relentless and destructive powers of nature. Voltaire’s famous literary lampoon Candide: Or, the Optimist mocked the academic sophistry of such arm-chair speculation about suffering, and fellow German Schopenhauer, philosophy’s eternal pessimist, was perhaps the most damning of them all, saying once that:

 

…I cannot here withhold the statement that optimism, where it is not merely the thoughtless talk of those who harbour nothing but words under their shallow foreheads, seems to me to be not merely an absurd, but also a really wicked way of thinking, a bitter mockery of the unspeakable sufferings of mankind. Let no one imagine that the Christian teaching is favourable to optimism; on the contrary, in the Gospels world and evil are used as synonymous expressions. Continue reading “The Real Problem of Evil”

The (Super-)Power of Good and Evil Intentions

Science news website Livescience recently featured an article that may give hope to aspiring superheroes (and supervillains) everywhere. Recent research, the article reports, suggests that acts of kindness or malice – real or envisioned – can boost one’s willpower and even one’s physical strength. In other words: we can all be ‘super’ if we want to be!

The research, carried out by Kurt Gray from the Department of Psychology at the University of Havard, involved volunteers being asked to hold on to a 5lb weight for as long as they could, for which they would be paid a dollar. Half of the participants were asked if they would like to donate their dollar to charity (everyone did). It was found that the charitable folks held on to the weight for an average of 53 seconds, contrasted with 46 for those who did not donate. Continue reading “The (Super-)Power of Good and Evil Intentions”

Virtual Conference Report: Day Six (26 Oct, 2009)

Snapshot1_003By Paula Bowles

Welcome to the second week of the Wiley-Blackwell Virtual Conference. The first day back has started with a keynote speech from Peter Ludlow (Northwestern University) entitled ‘Virtual Communities, Virtual Cultures, Virtual Governance.’ Conference delegates also had the opportunity to meet Peter at the Second Life Cocktail Bar.

There were two other papers on Monday’s session Adam Brown’s (Deakin University): ‘Beyond ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’: Breaking Down Binary Oppositions in Holocaust Representations of ‘Privileged’ Jews’ and ‘A Hybrid Model of Moral Panics: Synthesizing the Theory and Practice of Moral Panic Research’ presented by Brian V. Klocke (State University of New York, Plattsburgh) & Glenn Muschert (Miami University).

In addition Wiley-Blackwell’s Vanessa Lafaye held a publishing workshop entitled ‘The Secret to Online Publishing Success.’ As you can see, this week promises to be as exciting and innovative as the previous one. All of the papers and workshops from last week are still available to download from the conference site, and both the ‘battle of the bands’ and the opportunity to contribute a ‘winning comment’ remain.

It’s not easy being evil

Lucifer sitting on a rock

Scientific American covers cognitive scientist Selmer Bringsjord’s efforts to program a thoroughly evil artificial intelligence.  As presented in the article, Bringsjord’s working definition of evil seems pretty confused.

To be truly evil, someone must have sought to do harm by planning to commit some morally wrong action with no prompting from others (whether this person successfully executes his or her plan is beside the point). The evil person must have tried to carry out this plan with the hope of “causing considerable harm to others,” Bringsjord says. Finally, “and most importantly,” he adds, if this evil person were willing to analyze his or her reasons for wanting to commit this morally wrong action, these reasons would either prove to be incoherent, or they would reveal that the evil person knew he or she was doing something wrong and regarded the harm caused as a good thing.

Parts of that paragraph read as describing a sadist, a psychopath, or someone who is badly confused. None of these things seem like a good stand-in for evil. But, then, evil is a notoriously difficult idea to define.

I wonder if this general approach– skip the rigorous definition, instead try to recreate the behavior– might appeal to experimental philosophers. Is there anything to be gained from trying to model confusing psychological phenomena like weakness of the will or self-deception? If we could program a computer to behave as if it were deceiving itself, could that possibly give us any insight into what’s going on when we deceive ourselves?

Related articles:

£1.99 - small Neuroethics: Ethics and the Sciences of the Mind
By Neil Levy, University of Melbourne (December 2008)
Philosophy Compass