A new series draws seminal figures to campus
Some of the world’s greatest philosophers will visit Rutgers University–New Brunswick over the next five years to present public lectures, hold workshops with faculty and graduate students, and meet with undergraduates.
The Rutgers Lectures in Philosophy is a newly-created annual lecture and book series organized by the university’s philosophy department and Oxford University Press to showcase the trailblazing work of some of the world’s most influential thinkers.
“We are bringing to Rutgers a broad constellation of superstars who are pathbreakers in their respective areas of philosophy,” says Larry S. Temkin, the series founder and chair of the philosophy department in the School of Arts and Sciences. “They are also incredibly dynamic and engaging speakers who can be counted on to make their thoughts come alive and inspire an audience.”
The inaugural lecture takes place Nov. 30 and features Kit Fine, a New York University (NYU) professor and one of the world’s foremost experts on the philosophy of language, metaphysics, logic, and the philosophy of mathematics.
Other philosophers scheduled to visit Rutgers as part of the lecture series include: Sir Richard Sorabji (Oxford University, 2017); Robert Stalnaker (MIT, 2018); Jeff McMahan (Oxford University, 2019); Béatrice Longuenesse (NYU, 2020); and Martha C. Nussbaum (The University of Chicago, 2021).
Each lecturer will spend several days on campus, delivering a public lecture followed by two additional specialized lectures. They’ll also engage in some give-and-take with Rutgers faculty and graduates students in a workshop setting, and meet with undergraduate philosophy majors and other interested students.
“It’s not simply a one-off lecture,” Temkin said. “They stay for a few days, giving the university community and the philosophy community a unique opportunity to interact with and to get to know their thinking and their work.”
Philosophy students said they’re thrilled to get up-close access to the major figures in their field.
“This series is like a dream come true,” says graduate student Eddy Chen. “It’s not often you have the opportunity to engage in sustained and in-depth conversations with the greatest living philosophers about their work.”
Undergraduate student Aaron Jaslove agreed. “I just wish I was here for the next five years to catch all of them,” he said.
The scope of the series highlights the prominence of the philosophy department at Rutgers, which is routinely ranked among the top three departments in the English-speaking world.
“It’s really a huge vote of confidence in our department,” Temkin said. “Oxford trusts us to make outstanding choices. They figured that anyone we might invite would meet the highest possible standards.”
Ultimately, Temkin hopes that the series will extend well into the 2020s and beyond, and will soon be among the most prestigious lecture series in contemporary philosophy.
The lectures are expected to present fresh material that will form the basis for a book to be published by Oxford. “We expect the work presented in this series to play a major role in shaping the philosophical direction of the 21st century,” Temkin said.
The Rutgers Lectures in Philosophy will begin Nov. 30 with a lecture by Kit Fine, Silver Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics, New York University. The lecture, titled “The Problem of Vagueness,” will takes place at 6:15 pm in Room 4225 of the Rutgers Academic Building, 15 Seminary Place.
Fine will present two additional lectures: “The Possibility of Vagueness,” 4:30 pm, Dec. 2, Alexander Library Teleconference/Lecture Hall; and “The Phenomenon of Vagueness,” 4:30 pm, Dec. 5, at the Alexander Library Teleconference Lecture Hall.