Département de philosophie

Schedule of Talks

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The Thumos Seminar takes place on Thursdays, 16h15-17h45 at the Bastions (seminar room will be communicated by email to the members).

The Quodlibeta takes place on Thursday, 18h15-20h00 at the Bastions (room A106).

The Phileas talks usually takes place on Thursday in place of the Quodlibeta at the Bastions (room B108), 18h15-20h00.

The CISA Lecture series take place on Tuesday, 12h15-13h15 at the Campus Biotech (seminar room will be communicated by email to the members).

Archives are available here.


Fall 2017


September 19, 2017 - CISA Lecture serie

Carlos Crivelli (Leicester)

On Extraordinary Claims Requiring Extraordinary Evidence: Basic Emotions Theory and the Doctrine of Facial Expression Universality.

The idea that humans “express” and “recognize” a set of emotions pan-culturally based on their facial expressions has become canonical in many fields of research. This view—popularized since the late 1960s by Basic Emotions Theory (BET)—has also become “received truth” among lay people, educators, and policy makers. Careful scrutiny reveals that the foundational studies for BET were technically flawed and their conclusions were either overstated or erroneous, yet. In the current state of affective science, evidence challenging BET propositions is severely scrutinized, whereas shaky evidence favoring BET is rarely challenged. BET’s 50-year grip on inquiry into basic issues on emotion and facial expression has suppressed inquiry by imposing important limitations in the diversity of samples, methods and theories being tested. My research to date has focused on overcoming the ideological barriers BET imposes by gathering data out of the Western lab, using a variety of methodological approaches and study designs, and testing alternative explanatory frameworks to BET. This approach has led to instances that support Carl Sagan’s celebrated dictum by supplying “extraordinary evidence” that support “extraordinary claims,” instances of facial expressions and emotions that do not accord with the culture-bound presumptions and proscriptions of BET.

N.B.: The talk will take place at the room 144.165 (Campus Biotech)

October 03, 2017 - CISA Lecture serie

Riikka Rossi (Helsinki)

On the poetics of disgust in naturalist fiction

The lecture explores disgust in literature and focuses on naturalist fiction in particular. In the nineteenth-century, naturalist literature received adverse publicity as “disgust literature,” inciting moral indignation and accusations of indecency in reading audiences. By analyzing case studies in French and Finnish literature, I offer an overview to disgust-triggering topics in naturalism and decadence, to their natural, aesthetic and moral aspects and the constellation of emotions within this literary movement. I consider my fictional examples to be illustrative of the complexity of “negative” emotions. While disgust has sometimes been considered as a morally suspect emotion per se, it also unveils a “cathartic” potential; triggering disgust in art can be used for critical purposes. Literature not only depicts emotions but also adjusts our emotions and understanding of reality, thus shaping the emotional communities we live in.

N.B.: The talk will take place at the room 144.165 (Campus Biotech)

October 5, 2017 - Quodlibeta

Fabrice Correia (Geneva)

Tense Realism in Relativistic Spacetime

It is widely thought that relativistic physics is inhospitable to tense realism (aka the A-theory of time), because the latter presupposes an absolute temporal ordering which relativistic physics fails to recognise. If this is correct, and if relativistic physics should be taken seriously, then what should the tense realist do if she is reluctant to abandon the spirit of her view? I argue that she should opt for "spacetense" realism, the natural relativistic version of tense realism. I conclude with a brief discussion the prospects of tense realism in the context of physical theories in general. (The talk will substantively draw on joint work with Sven Rosenkranz.)

October 12, 2017 - Thumos seminar

Constant Bonard (Geneva)


October 19, 2017 - Thumos seminar / PhilEAs talk

Fritz-Anton Fritzson (Geneva)

Good/Good For Dualism: A Defence

Both the notion of ‘good for (someone or something)’ and the contrasting notion of ‘good period’ have been criticised by rival camps of philosophers. Some hold that the relational notion of ‘good for’ is problematic and that only the non-relational ‘good’ makes sense. Others hold that it is instead ‘good’ that is the problematic notion and that only ‘good for’ makes sense. I will call the latter camp relational monists and the former non-relational monists. Opposed to both kind of monist are dualists who recognize both ‘good’ and ‘good for’ as equally coherent and intelligible parts of our evaluative thought and discourse, none of which can be eliminated or reduced to the other. In this talk I will defend the dualist position against challenges from both kinds of monist. The structure of my argument is to treat dualism as the default position and then to argue that none of the challenges coming from the different monists are strong enough to warrant abandoning dualism.

NB: There will be a PhilEAs talk by Steve Humbert-Droz (Fribourg), untitled Contre l'imagination de masse, afterward at Uni-Bastions (B108).

October 26, 2017 - Thumos seminar

Clotilde Calabi (Milano)

Aesthetic appreciation as a cognitive feeling

When it was discovered that the "Man with the Golden Helmet" was not an authentic painting by Rembrandt (nor a portrait of his brother Adriaen), but (probably) a work of someone in his circle, its market-value diminished immensely. The painting is still exhibited in the Gemäldegalerie Berlin, though it seems safe to say that the note about the erroneous attribution will likely alter the beholders¹ attitude. Some philosophers who consider aesthetic appreciation an emotion would argue that the work that used to arouse marvel, silent admiration, or a kind of wonder, will now more likely give raise to reflections on the extravagancies of the art-market in a great number of visitors.

I discuss two theories of aesthetic appreciation that consider it a positive emotion. Kendall Walton argues that it is pleasure taken in admiring things and Jessi Prinz argues that it is wonder. Unlike Prinz and Walton, I contend that aesthetic appreciation is not necessarily positive and defend the hypothesis that it is a cognitive feeling. I propose the following:  S appreciates y if and only if S feels that s/he knows that y is valuable/takes y to be valuable within a particular category of objects.

November 2, 2017 - Thumos seminar

Cain Todd (Lancaster)


November 16, 2017 - Thumos seminar / PhilEAs talk

Juliette Vazard (Geneva)

Epistemic Anxiety, Unreasonable Doubt, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

NB: There will be a PhilEAs talk by Michal Hladky (Geneva) afterward at Uni-Bastions (B108)

November 23, 2017 - Thumos seminar / PhilEAs talk

Maria Silvia Vaccarezza (Genova)

An excess of excellence: on virtue ethics and supererogation

In 1958, a groundbreaking paper by J.O. Urmson on Saints and Heroes (Urmson 1958) challenged the traditional trichotomy of duties, indifferent actions and wrongdoing, deeming it inadequate to account for episodes of moral heroism and sanctity, and reintroduced in the moral-philosophical debate the ancient notion of supererogation. Since the publication of Urmson's paper, a lively debate has started on supererogation, especially among consequentialists and deontologists. In more recent days, virtue-ethicists have started asking themselves whether and how it is possible to accommodate such notion within a virtue ethical perspective. At first sight, reconciling virtue ethics and supererogation might appear problematic, and many interpreters take it as an impossible endeavour. However, within virtue ethics there has been recently a backlash against such incompatibilist positions (see, among others, Curzer 2012; Stangl 2016).

In this talk, my aim is that of arguing for an Aristotelian way of accounting for supererogation by retrieving an account of moral heroism, and providing a complete scale of the degrees of virtue. This, I claim, is the most appropriate virtue-ethical background allowing to talk about supererogation without falling prey of an overall anti-VE perspective. After summarizing the main attempts to deny the compatibility of virtue and supererogation, I will illustrate Rebecca Stangl’s recent proposal to accommodate supererogation and virtue ethics by giving an account of the former in terms of virtue, drawing on Christine Swanton’s account of right action; then, I will show which weaknesses Stangl’s proposal is committed to, and I will present an analysis of heroism and degrees of virtue, so to propose my own alternative definition of supererogation in 1st personal terms of heroic virtue.

NB: There will be a PhilEAs talk by Maude Ouellette-Dubé (Fribourg) afterward at Uni-Bastions (B108)

November 28, 2017 - CISA Lecture serie


November 30, 2017 - Thumos seminar

Antti Kauppinen (Tampere)

What is happiness about?

December 07, 2017 - Thumos seminar

Peter Poellner (Warwick)

Emotion and Nonconcpetual content

December 14, 2017 - PhilEAs talk

Raffaele Rodogno (Aarhus)


December 21, 2017 - Thumos seminar

Daniel Vanello (Geneva)

Emotions and Moral Development

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