Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

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Talk at Boğaziçi: Yasemin Sarı (Northern Iowa)on “Refugees and Artificial Equality” (10/08/2018)

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Yasemin Sarı (Northern Iowa) will give a talk on:

Refugees and Artificial Equality

August 10th, Friday 17:00, JF 507.

Abstract: In this work, I examine the structural complexities at play in the ongoing refugee crisis by reassessing the rule characteristic of the nation-state and its exclusive logic of citizenship. Taking seriously Arendt’s conception of a “right to have rights,” developed in the Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), my work aims to reassess the principle of equality embodied in human rights discourse. In doing so, I deal with what is owed to the refugee by reassessing the principles of “non-refoulement” and “equal treatment” to understand what equality entails for the rights of the refugee; and explore the recognition of the refugee as a potential political agent in society. Such recognition invokes the need for “artificial equality,” a term referring to the preconditions for the political effectivity of citizens and refugees, understood as a means to allow the refugees to claim their human rights.


Written by Lucas Thorpe

August 9, 2018 at 11:03 am

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Talk at Boğaziçi: Angelica Kaufmann (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) ““Do animals represent the passage of time?”(07/08/2018)

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Angelica Kaufmann (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) will give a talk on August 7th, 17:00, at JF 507

“Do animals represent the passage of time?”

Abstract: Complex actions extend through time. The capacity to plan complex actions (perhaps, as opposed to basic actions), necessitates a capacity to represent objective temporal magnitudes (Peacocke, 2017), the fundamental of which are succession and duration (Zakay, 2016). These representational capacities are the building blocks of the experiential dimension of time. If the experiential dimension of time is characterized as the capacity to represent time, what does this capacity involve? What distinguishes genuine representation of such temporal magnitudes from mere sensitivity to these magnitudes? This is the Constitutive Question of the nature of temporal representation. An answer to this question is crucial to any empirical evaluation of the role of temporal representations (rather than mere sensitivities) in action planning. To make such empirical evaluation possible, we begin with an analysis of Peacocke’s (2017) criteria for temporal representation. We argue that a crucial feature of all genuine representation is missing in Peacocke’s account, namely, its context-independent operation. This provides us with a modified account of temporal representation, which we then test on a series of empirical findings that, we argue, Peacocke’s account fails accurately to describe as instances of genuine representation of temporal magnitudes (as opposed to mere sensitivity).

Written by Lucas Thorpe

August 3, 2018 at 12:43 pm

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Talk at Boğaziçi: Jakub Mácha (Masaryk University), “On the use and misuse of opium. Is religion the opium of the people, or maybe for the people?” (31/07/2018)

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On the use and misuse of opium. Is religion the opium of the people, or maybe for the people?

Jakub Mácha (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic)

July 31st, 17:00, JF 507

Abstract: Religion is the opium of the people, at least as maintained by Marx and Lenin. Yet, although in the same wording, they used this metaphor in different contexts. In this paper, I provide two interpretations of the religion as opium metaphor within Marx’ and Lenin’s thinking. I am going to argue for the following claims: In the Kantian tradition, the praxis of worship is primary, the existence of the object of belief and worship is dependent on it. In contrast to Kant, Marx as well as Lenin thought that historical religions did not acknowledge the true moral law. For Marx, the opium metaphor expresses a certain ambivalence of religion. Religion is an expression of social oppression and kind of consolation. But this is an illusionary happiness. A fight against religion is, indirectly, a fight against this oppression. For Lenin, religion is a kind of spiritual oppression. Religion is a tool being used by the ruling class to keep the oppressed classes submissive. A fight against religion is directly a fight against this oppression. For both, the first step in the abolition of religion is to get rid of its outer manifestation, i.e. of the praxis of worshiping. Religion has to be declared to be a private affair stripped of its political power, while the freedom of belief (in transcendent entities) can be preserved. Yet, if the praxis of worship is primary, getting rid of this praxis will eventually lead to abolishing religion entirely.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

July 30, 2018 at 1:20 pm

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Talk at Boğaziçi: David Kaspar (St. John’s University) on “INTUITIONISM AS A NORMATIVE ETHICAL THEORY ” (27/07/2018)

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David Kaspar (St. John’s University)
Philosophy Colloquium at Boğaziçi
Friday, July 27, 2018.
16:00, JF 507
Abstract: Recent years have seen a resurgence of moral intuitionism. Most of this work has been metaethical in character. However, intuitionism is a theory that naturally spans metaethics and normative ethics. In this talk I’ll first outline intuitionism as a normative ethical theory, and reveal some of its hidden normative ethical virtues. The remainder of the paper shall show how, in comparison with intuitionism, rival normative theories have several overlooked vices. According to intuitionism agents in moral situations always encounter incomplete moral information. What we can know in moral situations is based on our recognition of prima facie duties. More specifically, we recognize moral kinds. Moral kinds are the explanatory properties I’ve introduced to explain phenomena in the moral domain. We’re familiar with moral kinds such as lie, theft, murder, and so on. Here I show how these properties help explain action-guidance and the stringencies of various duties, and show that theories that eschew moral kinds are not in as good an explanatory position as intuitionism.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

July 26, 2018 at 10:45 am

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Workshop at Boğaziçi on Kant, Normativity and Religion (29/06/2018)

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The workshop will take place at Boğaziçi University, on Friday June 29th from 1pm until 6.30pm in JF507. Everyone is welcome.


1.00 – 2.15:    Martin Sticker (Dublin) “Kant on Beneficence”

2.15 – 3.30     Emine Hande Tuna (Brown) TBA

4.00 – 5.15     Taylan Susam (Brown) “Upon this rock: Kant on the Churches Visible and Invisible”

5.15 – 6.30     Saniye Vatansever (Bilkent) “Kant on Miracles”

The conference is organised a part of the joint Boğaziçi -Southampton Newton-Katip Çelebi project “Agency and Autonomy: Kant and the Normative Foundations of Republican Self-Government”, run by Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi) and Andrew Stephenson (Southampton).


Written by Lucas Thorpe

June 22, 2018 at 2:29 pm

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Joint Şehir University/Boğaziçi University Conference on: Modern Pluralism and the Clash of Values: Kant, Max Weber, and Carl Schmitt, and the Impossibility of a Rational Grounding of Values

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Modern Pluralism and the Clash of Values: Kant, Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and the Impossibility of a Rational Grounding of Values


June 11th and 12th, 2018 at Boğaziçi University


Convenors: Manuel Knoll (Şehir), Enes Güran (Boğaziçi), Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi)


Monday 11th June  (John Freely Hall, JF507)

10:00-10:30 Opening speech by Manuel Knoll, Professor of Philosophy at İstanbul Şehir University.

10:30-11:30Between Tolerance and Universality”, Jovan Babić (Belgrade).

Break: 11:30-11:45

11:45-12:45 “When Angels Go to War: Kant on Pluralism and Moral Conflict”, Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi).

12:45-14:15 Lunch

14:30-15:30: Cosmopolitanism without Commensurability: Why Incommensurable Values are Worthless”, Kenneth R. Westphal (Boğaziçi).

Break: 15:30-15:45

15:45-16:45 “Habermas and Max Weber: About the Legitimation of Public Norms”, Gilles Marmasse (Poitiers).

Break: 16:45-17:15

17:15-18:15 The Impossibility of a Rational Grounding of Values and Normative Theories: Max Weber on the Clash of Approaches to Ethics”, Manuel Knoll (Şehir).

19:00 Dinner at Hisarüstü, Bakar Meyhane


Tuesday 12th June (John Freely Hall, JF507)

10:00-11:00 The Ethics of World Religions: Weber’s Eurocentric Perspective on the Problem of Salvation, Lütfi Sunar (Istanbul Medeniyet)

Break: 11:00-11:15

11:15-12:15 Max Weber, Secularization, and Turkey: An Uneasy Relationship, Nurullah Ardıç (Şehir).

Break: 12:15-12:30

12:30-13:30 The ‘Impure’ Origin of Values. A Non-Logocentric Perspective on Weber’s Conception of the Clash of Values”, Nihat Ülner  (Hacettepe).

13:30-15:45 Lunch

16:00-17:00 “Carl Schmitt on Vocation and the Autonomy of the Political Sphere”, Enes Güran, (Boğaziçi).

Break: 17:00-17:15

17:15-18:15 “Politics and Law: Sources of Value in Weber and Schmitt”, Barry Stocker, (ITU).


19:30 – Dinner at Taksim, Müşterek Meyhane



Modern Pluralism and the Clash of Values: Kant, Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and the Impossibility of a Rational Grounding of Values

One central feature of the modern world is pluralism of values. Many of these values clash. As the German sociologist and philosopher Max Weber has put it, there is a constant struggle between different orders of life and their respective gods and values. From his background in a Christian culture Weber points out: “It is really a question not only of alternatives between values but of an irreconcilable death-struggle, like that between ‘God’ and the ‘Devil’. Between these, neither relativization nor compromise is possible”.

Weber’s diagnosis is of particular relevance for a country like modern Turkey that is still struggling to find a common ground. Not only are the values of the part of society that considers itself secular in conflict with the ones of the part that regards itself religious; the value of the nation is itself contested by the incompatible values of different social groups, which have conflicting world views, think in categories of “us” and “them”, and have opposing attitudes toward human rights and the universal value of life. This has become particularly evident when the moments of silence called for the victims of the Ankara and Paris bombings were interrupted by booing crowds in October and November 2015.

The workshop investigates modern pluralism and the clash of values by critically reexamining Max Weber’s insights on these topics with the aim of applying them to the Turkish reality today. The most challenging aspect of Weber’s philosophy of conflicting values is his claim that there “is no (rational or empirical) scientific procedure of any kind whatsoever which can provide a decision here”. For Weber, the struggle between conflicting values and ends in life cannot be arbitrated. Everyone is forced to take his or her own decision regarding which of the conflicting values is ruled by God and which by the devil. This attitude is closely related to the “Dezisionismus (Desicionism)” of Carl Schmitt, which will be included in the discussions of the workshop, since he argues that political and legal decisions “are born out of nothingness” which also means that they have no rational basis.

Despite Weber’s bleak diagnosis, the workshop will close by exploring options for reconciliation or compromise between values. How much room is there for negotiation between values? There are certainly values that derive from the same family of orientation or from the same foundations which should make negotiations and reconciliation easier. Is the dualism between people who consider themselves secular and those who regard themselves religious really an unchangeable opposition or a passing historical phenomenon and a difference that could be construed in alternative ways? To be sure, one appropriate response to modern value pluralism is tolerance as an attitude and virtue that allows people to permit those values that they don’t approve.

The conference is organised a part of the joint Boğaziçi -Southampton Newton-Katip Çelebi project “Agency and Autonomy: Kant and the Normative Foundations of Republican Self-Government”, run by Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi) and Andrew Stephenson (Southampton).

Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 25, 2018 at 12:17 am

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Talk at Boğaziçi: Kamarun Ozmanoglu (Kansas) “It Just Looks the Same: Differences in Racial Cognition among Infants and Older Humans” (15/05/2018)

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May 15, Tuesday, Kamuran Osmanoglu (Kansas) will give a talk on Racial Cognition.
Title: It Just Looks the Same: Differences in Racial Cognition among Infants and Older Humans
Date: May 15Tuesday
Time: 17-19:00
Place: JF 507
Abstract: Forms of racial cognition begin early: from about 3 months onwards, many human infants prefer to look at own-race faces over other-race faces. What is not yet fully clear is what the psychological mechanisms are that underlie racial thoughts at this early age, and why these mechanisms evolved. In this paper, we propose answers to these questions. Specifically, we use recent experimental data to argue that early racial cognition is simply the result of a “facial familiarity mechanism”: a mental structure that leads infants to attend to faces that look similar to familiar faces, and which probably has evolved to track potential caregivers. We further argue that this account can be combined with the major existing treatments of the evolution of racial cognition, which apply to (near-) adult humans. The result is a heterogeneous picture of racial thought, according to which early and later racial cognition result from very different psychological mechanisms.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 14, 2018 at 12:08 pm

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