January 2017 LRI Graduate Seminar, "The Notion of the Secular and the Flourishing of Religious Freedom"

What January 2017 LRI Graduate Seminar
When Friday, 27 January 2017 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

A panel discussing: “What does the notion of the secular have to do with establishing, promoting, or preserving religious freedom?” Featuring Anna Su (UofT Faculty of Law), Alex Hernandez (UofT Department of English), Nick Olkovich (University of St. Michael’s College), and Alex Llanera (Regis College).

LRI Graduate Seminar - Michael Buttrey (Regis), "Faster, Stronger, More Ethical? Moral Enhancement and Christian Virtue."

What Final Fall 2016 LRI Graduate Seminar
When Friday, 2 December 2016 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Is the cultivation of virtue compatible with moral enhancement, a proposal to use medical techniques affecting human cognition and emotions to help us become more ethical? Barbro Fröding suggests cognitive enhancements could enable more people to develop virtues, while Thomas Douglas advocates moral improvement through the medical modulation of emotions. I will argue that despite similar features, moral enhancement and Christian virtue address different aspects of the human person and aim at different ends for human beings. First, I will draw on contemporary virtue theorists like Philippa Foot and Julia Annas to suggest differences between virtue and moral enhancement, including the relative importance of the will and the common good. Second, I will explore the contrast between moral enhancement and distinctly Christian virtue, especially the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.

LRI Graduate Seminar - Hector Acero Ferrer (ICS), "Liberating Tradition(s): Religious Imagination, Scriptural Memory, and Latin America"

What 3rd Fall LRI Graduate Seminar
When Friday, 18 November 2016 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Where Regis College, 100 Wellesley St. W, Toronto, ON
Who Eric Mabry

2016 Annual Lonergan Lecture: "Cognitional Theory as Epistemic Disobedience"

What M. Shawn Copeland, "Cognitional Theory as Epistemic Disobedience"
When Friday, 21 October 2016 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Who Eric Mabry

We are elated that Professor M. Shawn Copeland will deliver this year’s annual Lonergan lecture entitled, “Cognitional Theory as Epistemic Disobedience.” Professor of Theology at Boston College, Dr. Copeland is well known for bringing Lonergan to bear on pressing questions of theological and philosophical anthropology, political theology, and African and African-derived religious and cultural experience. The author of more than 80 articles, reviews, and book chapters, her most recent monograph is Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being (Fortress, 2010). This year’s Lonergan lecture will take place on Friday, October 21st @ 7:30pm at Regis College. 

LRI Graduate Seminar - Daniel De Haan, "Is there a human nature?"

What Daniel De Haan, postdoctoral fellow in Philosophy and Neuroscience at Cambridge University
When Tuesday, 19 April 2016 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Who Jeremy Wilkins


Daniel De Haan is a postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University working on the neuroscience strand of the Templeton World Charity Foundation Fellowships in Theology, Philosophy of Religion, and the Sciences Project, directed by Sarah Coakley. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 2014 from the Center for Thomistic Studies, University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX and the De Wulf-Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, with a dissertation on “Necessary Existence and the Doctrine of Being in Avicenna’s Metaphysics of the Healing: On the Function of the Fundamental Scientific First Principles of Metaphysics.” 

The Seminar will follow the usual format, with a light reception to follow; free and open to the public.

Is There a Human Nature?

The topic is on the function of concepts of life, life-form, human, person, natural kind, etc. in our ordinary recognition and attribution of vital properties to living beings. A case has been made for the exigency of these concepts for all biological thinking, including evolutionary theorizing. Certain Aristotelians (Foot, Thompson, Lott) use this to argue for the ineliminability of “human nature,” i.e., that evolution does not eliminate the reality of human nature. There are a number of Kantian naturalists and other naturalists here in Cambridge that are arguing to the contrary that Darwinian evolution establishes that there is no such reality as human nature, but such concepts must be a la Kant necessary heuristics.

Aristotelians like Macintyre, Foot, Thompson, Micah Lott, (even McDowell to some degree) defend not only the reality of life-forms that correspond to these necessary conceptual representations of life-forms for human beings, but also for all living things. They then contend that such concepts also reveal the reality of natural normativity, that natural goodness and defect are non-eliminable features of all living things, and that human “morality” is simply a very special case of species-specific natural goodness involving rational animals goods and defects.

One of the problems with this view (which I think all Thomists are in some way committed to) is the failure of Foot, Thompson, and Lott to provide a clear account of how we acquire such necessary “concepts/representations” and how they are informed by the empirical science that supposes them, and can be verified, modified, and corrected in light of such empirical work.

I want to draw on Lonergan to help free this view of natural normativity from its unnecessary “conceptualism” and to clarify how biological notions can function as discoverable, acquired, conceptualized, verified, and revisable, and even quasi-invariant, heuristics for all biological inquiry. I also want to draw on Lonergan’s views about finality and ethics to help amplify these views.

Major issues:

1. Cognitional theory and Epistemology of philosophical and scientific notions of “species” “life-forms”

2. Metaphysics of stability and evolution of biological “species”

3. Metaphysics of natural normativity (natural goodness and defect) in biological species

4. Metaphysics and meta-ethics of the specifically human form of natural normativity