Phronesis Luncheon Series

September 2018

An ongoing series of luncheon discussions with Yale faculty and visiting speakers on timely and timeless questions.

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Political Philosophy & The Dark Arts

Steven Smith / September 7, 2018

How are political philosophy and political education related? Smith considers this by posing the question of the social responsibility of philosophy and its relation to the city. This problem, most famously explored in Plato’s image of the cave, forms the backdrop to Michael Walzer’s influential conception of philosophy as connected criticism. Smith seeks to show how this idea of philosophy requires an appreciation not only for the high principles of justice and freedom but for the problem of order which remains the first and primary political good. Order in turn requires attention to the dark arts of politics ― espionage and intelligence-gathering ― without which political life would not be possible. How are such activities justified? Standards of political justification derive not from some top-down moral theory but from the art of practical judgment by never forgetting the most important question, rarely asked by the philosophers, namely, ―what would I do?

Steven Smith is Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science and Professor of Philosophy at Yale University.

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In Between the Erdoganists and the Secularists: Reflections on Contemporary Turkey

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins  / September 21, 2018

This talk aims to discuss religion and secularism in contemporary Turkey. It will particularly be focused on the recent elections there, as well as offering reflections on cultural memory, and how religion and secularism is imagined by those on the opposite side of the religious/political spectrum in Turkey. 

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins is Lecturer at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University. Website.


The Limits of Humanity: The Ethics of Crispr Technology

William Hurlbut / September 28

The redevelopment of CRISPR/Cas9 technology has dramatically increased our ability to edit the human genome, allowing for targeted genetic modifications of human gametes and embryos. CRISPR's therapeutic potential is vast, but this new technology also raises profound ethical questions: How will CRISPR-based biomedical research affect human life, especially at its earliest stages? And how will it affirm—or undermine—the dignity of the human person?

William Hurlbut is a physician and Consulting Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University Medical Center.