Saturday, January 28, 2006

Two Philosophy Conferences

I was at two philosophy conferences this week. The first one I went to in New York was the Kripke Conference. I was at the first day of the conference, missing what I hear were some good talks on the second day. The speakers were pretty good. I have heard Scott Soames speak many times (He was a teacher of mine). He was good though a bit difficult to follow, as he usually is. He spoke about two routes to Kripke's necessary a posteori, one that works and one that does not.

Kripke (who came late) left us in the dark as to his speaking topic till the last minute. When he got up to speak it was about Identity, and it was a pretty good talk, not ground-breaking, but not bad either. No one was sure what he has been thinking about these days. Surprisingly, the New York Sun had a columnist there who wrote this article. (If anyone has access to the whole thing and wants to send it to me, I'd appreciate it.)

The second conference was JSCOPE. That is a military acronym for Joint Services Conferences on Professional Ethics. The conference was all non-attributional, so that means that I cant really repeat what anyone said (or at least I can't tell you who said what). So I'll just give you some impressions.

The conference was comprised of about 70% military people. Mostly majors, a lot of chaplains, a few philosophers. A lot of the military personnel teach at military academies. Many even teach ethics. For the most part few of the military personnel understood professional philosophy. Some who did were not good at it. On the flip-side few of the philosophers gave useful information to the military people there. That is not a criticism, merely a fact. They each came looking for different things, and they would have all benefited from a brief lesson on the other people there. But two or three of the professional philosophers came off really well and I was really impressed with them. I was also impressed with some of the military people who made some bold indictments against military ethics in general. Things like Abu Ghraib came up a few times.

I met some real philosophers who were interesting and who I would not have gotten a chance to speak with under other circumstances. That was nice. I also got to speak to some chaplains frankly about the two chaplain scandals going on now. The first involves non-denominational prayer at military functions and the second involves missionizing in the Air Force. The chaplains I spoke with (all Christian) were mostly of the opinion that what is done in Church should be Christian, and what is done in one's capacity as a minister to all people as a chaplain, should be non-sectarian. Some went so far as to say that there are some people who are chaplains who should not be. It was a good conference overall, and I hope to go back next year, but I think I'll try to get the government to fund me next time.


Shosh said...

missionizing in the air force? you're kidding. have some respect for human dignity. what nads.

Karl said...

Hey, the conference was international. Them Canadian cadets have some pretty funny looking uniforms, eh?

Shosh said...

:) pathetic uniforms. But I wouldn't expect any less of a good canadian.