Past PHRE Conference – 2013

About the Conference

24th Annual Undergraduate Philosophy & Religion Conference

Saturday, November 9, 2013
9 a.m – 5 p.m.
Alumni Room, Student Union Building

Hosted by the Truman State University Department of Philosophy & Religion


Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Evan Williams

Keynote talk abstract

Much as some actions—e.g. risking one’s life for a total stranger—are morally good but not morally required, there is conceptual space for other actions to be morally bad but not morally forbidden.  I propose that environmentally harmful actions could usefully be viewed as falling within this category; morality cannot credibly forbid us from engaging in any polluting activity, but it can encourage us to avoid or offset pollution when possible.


Conference Schedule

9:05 am
Welcome to the conference

9:10 am
Ni Addo Abrahams, Missouri State University, “A Fool’s Wisdom (1st Corinthians 1:18-25)”

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 is an intriguing discourse by Paul on the wisdom of the world versus the wisdom of God. On the surface, it appears to be a rhetorically beautiful argument for the power of the Christian cross. However, Paul hides within this passage an attempt to undermine the authority of Apollos, a fellow apostle. This paper seeks to draw out both of these themes, as well as offer an explanation as to why Paul goes to such lengths to assert his authority as the head of the Corinthian church.

9:45 am
Adam Stroud, Lindenwood University, “Moral Philosophy in Giordano Bruno’s The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast”

The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, written by Giordano Bruno in 1584, is a complex philosophical dialogue that contains many thematic layers.  In the outermost layer, it tells the story of Jove and his heavenly council expelling beasts (vices) and replacing them with virtuous deities (virtues).  More importantly, the deeper philosophical layers are numerous, clandestine, and their meanings are highly contested among Brunian scholars.  This study argues that Bruno’s piece is an allegorical dialogue that presents a particular moral philosophy and several commentaries on religious beliefs, cultures, and individuals.  The opinions of the current leading Brunian scholars are dissected and compared.

10:20 am
Emma Prendergast, Millikin University, “Mo Tzu’s Law of Universal Mutual Love and the Prisoner’s Dilemma”

Ancient Chinese philosopher Mo Tzu endorsed a moral theory in Universal Love requiring universal and impartial love for all persons. Aspects of universal love compare with ethical theories in the western tradition, including utilitarianism and Kantian ethics. This paper will address a common objection to universal love and to impartiality in ethics generally, which is that it is too difficult for moral agents to follow. Drawing from game theory, I aim to show that universal love presents rational, self-interested agents with a version of the prisoner’s dilemma. I will argue that the impartiality required by universal love and comparative ethical theories cannot be justified on the grounds of rational self-interest.

10:55 am
Kenny L. Maese, University of Nebraska at Omaha, “A Truth Carried by the Wave: Curving the Perception of Traditional Western Religion”

In western culture traditional religion is not only defined, but accepted through its ritualizing, ethics, morals, beliefs, and history. Keeping with this understanding, there is a legitimate spiritual movement being embraced within surfing culture in America. Both non-surfers and surfers alike inherently recognize surfing as a legitimate spiritual path. The purpose of this paper assumes this otherwise, unorthodox adaptation from hobby to spiritual/ritual observance, largely resemblance’s traditional western religion within today’s society. In support of this theses attention will be lent to the environmentalism, history, modern rituals, observance, discourse, sacraments, and healing associated with the culture of surfing in the west.

11:30 am
Ben Conover, Saint Louis University, “The Spooky Metaphysics of Causal Powers”

Contemporary metaphysicians such as Stephen Mumford have been defending an ontology of powers which “accepts necessary connections in nature, in which causal interactions of a thing, in virtue of its properties, can be essential to it…we have power and its manifestation, which remain distinct existences but with a necessary connection between” (2009, 266). This ontology takes dispositions or powers to be fundamental to the things in the world and the basis for causal interaction. This paper explores the notion of causal powers using both philosophical literature and relevant real-life examples to illustrate the appeal and ultimately rejection of this ontology.

12:05 pm: Lunch
Keynote Talk: 12:30 pm
Dr. Evan Williams, Truman State University
Topic: Can Environmental Damage Be Both Morally Permissible and Morally Bad?

Much as some actions—e.g. risking one’s life for a total stranger—are morally good but not morally required, there is conceptual space for other actions to be morally bad but not morally forbidden.  I propose that environmentally harmful actions could usefully be viewed as falling within this category; morality cannot credibly forbid us from engaging in any polluting activity, but it can encourage us to avoid or offset pollution when possible.

12:30 pm Georgian Room B, Student Union
Lunch provided

2:00 pm
Anson Tullis, Washburn University, “Fictional Characters and Meinongian Theory of Objects”
This paper provides a characterization of Meinong’s Theory of Objects and contrasts its capacity to recognize fictional objects and truthfully predicate something of them with two ontological systems of Quine and Thomasson. To address criticisms of Meinong’s explanation of being- less objects, a key conceptual distinction is made to clarify the difference between the fictional character of x and the mere object x itself. This defense allows for the conclusion that Meinong’s theory has greater explanatory value and is more closely aligned with normal discourse than Quine or Thomasson’s theories because of its modes of existence and its accommodations for scientific, literary, and religious discourse.

2:35 pm
Sean Marren, Drury University, “Heraclitus’ Stratified Ontology alongside Nietzsche’s Neutral Ontology”

In Part I, I will elucidate Heraclitus’ stratified cosmos, showing how it is a natural order and that ascent in this order is superior to descent. In Part II, I will take a look at Nietzsche’s neutral ontology and the extent to which it contradicts his ideas of higher living. Based on my findings, I will proceed to advocate that reading Heraclitus in supplement to Nietzsche contributes a solution to the apparent contradiction without dependence on otherworldly idealism.

3:10 pm
Summer Jensen, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, “Globalization and Islam: A Look at ART Integration in the Muslim Middle East”

Although Islam and globalization are often portrayed as opposing forces, they are actually complexly intertwined especially in the field of biomedicine. Today Muslim communities all over the world are embracing modernity within the context of Islam. Many religious leaders are leading the way in promoting the integration of hi-tech biomedical services to address issues like morbidity, mortality infertility. This paper explores how Islam as a religion is deeply influenced by culture and technology and how Islamic scholars use processes within Islamic jurisprudence to legislate biomedical fertility technologies like Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) within a culturally and religiously appropriate Islamic legal framework.

3:45 pm
Ian Jones, University of Nebraska at Omaha, “From Asteroids to Skyrim: Ritual Practice and the Gaming Community”

The purpose of this paper is dual-natured. One of the primary goals to show a link between what is traditionally known as ritual practice and the act of playing video games. The second, grander goal is to reveal how video games can show one of the most dominant aspects of human experience – our capacity to create and destroy. To accomplish this, similarities between ritual practice and playing will be addressed, followed by a brief account of how the worlds inside video games have changed over the years. Finally, the creative and destructive aspects of human experience will be revealed by observing the relationships between gamers and game designers, and how they work in tandem to create newer and better video games to make the experience of playing them more immersive and satisfying.

4:20 pm
Elisabeth Bancroft Wessel Meindl, Principia College, “Redefining History, Redefining God”

Through the redefinition of history and infinity as applied to God—from the 4thcentury into the 19th— man unintentionally separates himself from his faith by trying to define these concepts as manmade. This paper explores the roots of the Dispensationalist Movement, based in the Scientific Revolution, through an analysis of linguistic constructs of history and infinity and how the shift in thought changed man’s understanding of God. Man applied finite terms to infinite concepts and began to explain God as existing in a “spiritual” time but under the limitations of man, placing God, the infinite, within history, the finite.