Heavy Petting by Peter Singer
Wednesday 22 September from 5-6.30pm in ib3.307
Over the past few weeks the Deakin Philosophical Society has discussed a number of ethical issues, mining various approaches in moral philosophy in an attempt to solve these pressing problems. Last week we discussed virtue ethics as a solution to tragic dilemmas (where one is forced to choose between two morally repugnant options). This Wednesday 22 September we’ll continue to discuss practical ethics, focusing on Peter Singer’s 2001 essay questioning the (im)morality of bestiality. Heavy Petting challenges the taboo surrounding inter-species sexual relations. Find this brief essay (polemic?) online at www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/2001—-.htm. Here’s an excerpt:
…there are many ways in which we cannot help behaving just as animals do — or mammals, anyway — and sex is one of the most obvious ones. We copulate, as they do. They have penises and vaginas, as we do, and the fact that the vagina of a calf can be sexually satisfying to a man shows how similar these organs are. The taboo on sex with animals may … have originated as part of a broader rejection of non-reproductive sex. But the vehemence with which this prohibition continues to be held, its persistence while other non-reproductive sexual acts have become acceptable, suggests that there is another powerful force at work: our desire to differentiate ourselves, erotically and in every other way, from animals.
You may wish to take Singer’s position, or argue against it.
This should be an interesting discussion, if we can keep it philosophical.
In addition, a few of you were asking about the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy Spring Workshop. Here are the details:
MSCP Spring Workshop 2010
Humanism/Anti-Humanism: Philosophical Perspectives
Friday 1 October from 11am-4pm
The MSCP Workshops are free and open to all. No RSVP necessary.
11am-4pm, Friday, 1st of October
Room 109, New Law School Building,
University Square, 185 Pelham St,
Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
Dr Geoff Boucher, Deakin University
Bryan Cooke, Social Theory, University of Melbourne
Dr Cameron Shingleton, MSCP
Ricki Sebold, Latrobe University
Dr Andrea Leon-Monterro, MSCP
Dr Matthew Sharpe
(Chair), Deakin University
Since the end of the Second World War, an unmistakable feature of much moral, juridical and political discourse has been the near-constant appeal to “humanity” as the yardstick and sometimes the source of value, justice and “right”.
But what do we mean today when we speak of “humanity”? What image or concept of the human is invoked when we talk of “human rights”, or “humanitarian” intervention, (or, as in philosophy, of “human finitude”?) More importantly: what is the effect of our notions of and appeals to “the human” in the legal, metaphysical and ethical situations in which these ideas are not only invoked but deployed?
This year’s MSCP Spring workshop on the topic of “humanism” and “anti-humanism” in modern European thought will engage with these topics and many more. The panel will take the work of philosophers as the point of departure for a wide-ranging discussion of humanity and the inhuman, immanence and transcendence, finitude and infinity, as these oppositions are played out in the arenas of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and, in particular, politics.
From Emmanuel Levinas’s “humanism of the other man”, to Ray Brassier’s meditation on the power of thought and its relation to human extinction, we will address the question: can humanism have anything to say to the citizens of the twenty-first century? If so, which parts of its message should we listen to?
And don’t forget about the Deakin Camus Colloquium on Wednesday 13 October on the Burwood campus.
Deakin Camus Colloquium
Albert Camus, novelist and philosopher
Wednesday 13 October from 9.30am–5pm in room B-LT10 (L1.08), Burwood campus
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Albert Camus’ death. In commemoration, philosophy at Deakin University is holding a one day colloquium that brings together philosophers and literary scholars to reflect upon Camus’s philosophical legacy and literary achievements. The event is open and admission is free. For catering purposes we would like to know numbers (a light lunch will be provided), so if you plan on coming please send an email with Camus colloquium in the subject heading to Leesa Davis, email@example.com, who will also handle any enquiries.
9.30 Introduction and welcome
9.45 Ashley Woodward (Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy) ‘Camus and Nihilism’
10.45 Jean-Philippe Deranty (Philosophy, Macquarie), ‘Camus’ theory of the flesh’
11.45 Matthew Sharpe (Philosophy, Deakin) ‘“I rebel, therefore we are”: Camus as philosopher, Camus as contemporary’
1.45 Alistair Rolls (French, Newcastle) ‘Reading Camus inside out: L’Étranger as Paris’s other side’
2.45 Russell Grigg (Philosophy, Deakin) ‘Colonising Camus: or, the Arab as the true outsider in L’Étranger’
3.45 Justin Clemens (Culture and Communication, Melbourne) ‘Back up the hill again’
President, Deakin Philosophical Society.