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Tuesday, April 11th
3:45 PM

Convenient Ethics: Picking and Choosing One's Morality

Erick Franklund, Whitman College

Reid G02

3:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Ethics is the branch of philosophy that dictates how people should act based on certain moral principles. Debates have raged for millennia over what these principles are and why we should behave in accordance with them. This uncertainty over ethics has led authors to come to different, sometimes incompatible, conclusions. Does an action’s result determine its morality? Or is morality determined by an agent’s intent? To address these questions, I draw on my experience as a member of Whitman’s Ethics Bowl team. As a team, we utilize a variety of ethical frameworks to answer difficult questions. My presentation will examine these methods, questioning the ethics of picking and choosing one’s morality.

4:00 PM

Decapitated Monarchs, Thermonuclear Monarchs and the Future of Artificial Intelligence

Paul Minor, Whitman College

Reid G02

4:00 PM - 4:15 PM

In his seminal work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn coined the term “paradigm shift” to describe a fundamental change in a scientific discipline. I use Kuhn’s structure of paradigm shifts and apply it to fundamental changes in political subjectivity. Such changes arise due to socio-political events such as the French Revolution, or to technological advances such as the development of the atomic bomb. My presentation takes the prospect of Artificial General Intelligence as a prompt to critically analyze readings of 19th century conservative political theorist Edmund Burke, who offers important ideas for how we should orient ourselves towards this potential and impending paradigm shift.

4:15 PM

Solving Problems with Computer Science

Richard Farman, Whitman College

Reid G02

4:15 PM - 4:30 PM

My presentation is an overview of computer science, its role at Whitman and its future in our lives and in industry. From my experiences in the classroom to my internship at a tech startup in Seattle, I trace the journey of a liberal arts student into the tech world and share the exciting possibilities and opportunities that await. Computer Science provides an avenue for immediate change on a vast scale. Companies such as Facebook, Uber, AirBnB and other platforms are reshaping the landscape of our society. With modern tools to solve modern problems, students have all they need to engage in the world and make a difference. I share some of the products I've been working on, including a pet adoption service designed as part of a class, project management software created for enterprising individuals and a campus safety application soon to be released at Whitman.

4:30 PM

A Theory of Compulsory Humanity

Arthur Schemitz, Whitman College

Reid G02

4:30 PM - 4:45 PM

An emerging field of analysis links animal rights theory and disability studies. Scholars working at the intersection of these fields have focused on questions of embodiment, normalcy and the natural to illuminate how each oppression cannot be understood without the other. In my presentation, I apply insights from feminist and queer theory to critique the association of rationality with humanity. I also criticize legal scholar Steven M. Wise's attempts to win legal personhood for non-human primates due to their supposedly superior cognitive capacity. I ask: How can we develop an animal rights paradigm that does not rely on appeals to rationality, as well as one that does not threaten to exclude some humans with disabilities from legal personhood? Using theorists such as Robert McRuer, Sunaura Taylor and Judith Butler, I ask what animal studies can learn from disability studies and how we can build better coalitions between the movements.