The Rutgers Institute for Law and Philosophy will be hosting a one day conference on global justice this coming May 5th at the Rutgers School of Law-Camden. Participants include Charles Beitz, A. J. Julius, Ethan Kapstein, George Letsas, Stephen Macedo, Jamie Mayerfeld, Mathias Risse, and Gerardo Vildostegui. (This would be utterly shameless self-promotion if I were participating; as it is, its just shameless self-promotion.) The schedule as well as registration details are here: Hope to see some PEA brains there!

3 Replies to “Global Justice conference at Rutgers

  1. Given the nature of the conference topic, i.e., its philosophical importance, ethical significance and practical urgency, we can forgive any mixed motivations in the promotion of such a conference! Indeed, this is especially true if one shares the perspective of the Hellenistic philosophers that philosophy ‘exists for the sake of human beings, in order to address their deepest needs, confront their most urgent perplexities, and bring them from misery to some greater measure of flourishing…’ (Martha Nussbaum in Therapy of Desire, 1994). Some of us might even go as far as to subscribe to the following from Epicurus (which sounds uncannily like the Buddha [although of course there is ‘no soul’ in Buddhism]): ‘Empty is that philosopher’s argument by which no human suffering is therapeutically treated. For just as there is no use in a medical art that does not cast out the sicknesses of bodies, so too there is no use in philosophy, unless it casts out the suffering of the soul’ (Qtd. in Nussbaum above).

  2. Patrick,
    You might go so far as to accept Epicurus’ claim, but I certainly would not! The relief of suffering is a valid purpose, at least in most contexts; but it isn’t the only valid purpose, and I don’t think it is the purpose philosophy is best suited to achieve. Indeed I think we should accept the possibility that the increase of understanding—which I take to be philosophy’s main purpose—might, in some cases, increase suffering. At any rate, I certainly think it goes too far to say that philosophy that does not serve the particular use glorified by Epicurus has “no use” whatsoever.

  3. Philosophy may of course, in the short term, cause suffering, but I would understand that on the order of something like ‘one step backwards, two steps forward,’ not unlike, to stay with the analogy, various medical treatments a patient must ‘suffer through’ in order to get well. And not without reason did I not say I endorsed Epicurus’ thesis….

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