Phronesis Luncheon Series

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

Fall 2018

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“For Baubles and Trinkets”: Adam Smith and the Remaking of Society

Danilo Petranovich / 12pm, December 7, 2018

Danilo Petranovich will examine Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments and his much-misunderstood notion of the invisible hand.

Danilo Petranovich is Director of the Abigail Adams Institute in Cambridge, MA.

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Abstraction in Motion: Interpreting Modernism

Cécile Guédon / 12pm, November 13, 2018

Cécile Guédon will offer an interpretation of modernism through the lens of choreography.

Cécile Guédon is a Visiting Lecturer in Theatre, Dance and Media and a Research Associate in Comparative Literature at Harvard University.

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Our Decadent Politics

Ross Douthat / 12pm, November 8, 2018

New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat will examine our present political moment in light of broader trends in modern political life.

Ross Douthat is Opinion Columnist at The New York Times and Writer-in-Residence at the Elm Institute.

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How to Argue (and Not Just Quarrel)

Peter Wicks / 12pm, November 2, 2018

Peter Wicks will show how social psychology can help us understand why arguments about matters that are important to us so often become unproductive, and offer some strategies for having arguments that are more constructive.

Peter Wicks is Scholar-in-Residence at the Elm Institute.


Leo Strauss and his Catholic Readers

Geoffrey Vaughan / 12pm, October 26, 2018

Geoffrey Vaughan, editor of the recently published Leo Strauss and His Catholic Readers, will discuss the reception of Leo Strauss’ thought among Catholic intellectuals from Strauss' day through to our own. Leo Strauss was an influential teacher and author, leaving his intellectual mark on his students and readers across the political spectrum.  This book considers Catholic encounters with his work and is based upon a conference that hosted three of his surviving Catholic students.  Strauss’s portrayal of the philosophic life presents Catholic readers with a particular challenge.  At the same time, his revival of Platonic political philosophy opens possibilities for developing a more sophisticated approach to politics among Catholics.

Geoffrey Vaughan is Associate Profession of Political Science at Assumption College.

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Crime and Punishment: Legacies of the British Reformers

Courtney Long / 12:30pm, October 19, 2018

Courtney Long will discuss the changes in the theory and practice of punishment in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain and their legacy in the contemporary prison system.

Courtney Long is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Yale Center for British Art.

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Edmund Burke on Commerce, Virtue, and Civilization

Gregory Collins / 12pm, October 12, 2018

Gregory Collins will discuss Edmund Burke’s political economy and his understanding of the relation between commerce and virtue. Can Burke’s insights shed light on contemporary debates surrounding the relationship between capitalism and community?

Gregory Collins is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science, Yale University.


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. 

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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.

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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.