Lectures and Events

“An Analysis of the Moral Law and Moral Pathology in the Work of Martin Luther King, Jr.”


Talk by Charles Watson , III

on Tuesday, February 25

at 3:45 p.m.

in Viking Theater

Charles Watson, III (M.A., Ph.D Stanford University) is a leading philosopher on race, culture, and personal identity. He is the author of The Existential Imperative (Verlag Press, Germany) and taught ‘Race and Social Justice’ during interim 2014 at St.Olaf College.

Sponsored by Phi SIgma Tau (Philosophy Honor Society) and the Kirkegaard Library

Professor Jason Marsh: Why the Locked-In Patient Case is Hard

February 19, 2014

IMG_0931Many people think that the worst thing that could happen to them would be to become entirely paralyzed and yet to remain fully conscious from the inside. But recent work in neuroscience, when combined with certain philosophical insights, implies either (1) that our beliefs about patients with locked-in syndrome are mistaken or (2) that we may be notably mistaken about our own wellbeing. This presentation, in exploring the above tension, brings together various themes in ethics, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and medicine.

On the Distinction Between Despair and Depression in Kierkegaard’s Writings

Gordon Marino, Professor of Philosophy and Kierkegaard Library Curator at St. Olaf
Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Professor and Kierkegaard Scholar Gordon Marino delivered a lecture on the distinction between despair and depression in Kierkegaard’s writings in honor of the 200th birthday of the philosopher poet, shedding light on the question, “have we effaced the difference between psychological and spiritual disorders?” Marino engaged directly with the text, bringing to life not just the wisdom itself but Kierkegaard’s unique literary style. Following the talk was a substantial question/answer period that stood testament to the self-reflection that Kierkegaard continues to inspire. Thank you, Professor Marino, for a wonderful lecture!


Fall 2012 Member Induction
The Minnesota-Beta chapter of Phi Sigma Tau inducted three new chapter members as well as many new chapter associates on November 7th. After the official induction ceremony, the chapter officers and faculty advisor briefed everyone on upcoming opportunities to look forward to this year including visiting speakers, student colloquia, and philosophy conference calls for papers. Welcome, all new members and associates!


What Are We Doing When We Vote?
Michael Fuerstein, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at St. Olaf

On November 5th, the night before the election, Professor Michael Fuerstein gave a lecture in Viking Theater titled “What Are We Doing When We Vote?” The lecture was a great success, drawing a variety of philosophically and politically interested attendees who listened to Professor Fuerstein dive deep into his specialty, the epistemology of liberalism and democracy. Debunking the myth of preference voting and settling into a much more nuanced theory of voting on the proper use of coercive power, Fuerstein’s impressive rhetorical skill grabbed the audience’s attention and never let go, using everything from an incredible Borat impression to belly button lint references. Needless to say, “What Are We Doing When We Vote?” was profoundly educational and extremely entertaining. Thank you so much for a great lecture, Professor Fuerstein!

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Spring 2012 Member Induction
On May 4, the Minnesota-Beta of Phi Sigma Tau had the privilege to induct nine new members and two new chapter associates.  The chapter also elected new officers: Stephanie Jones ’13, president; Emelia Carroll ’13, vice-president; and Thomas Churchill ’14, secretary-treasurer.  Outgoing president Patrick J. Behling ’12 announced that the college’s Student Organizations Committee recently awarded the chapter a $250 grant to bring a professional philosopher to speak on campus next fall.  In keeping with the tradition of the chapter, members and associates celebrated all these happy developments with cake, coffee and conversation.  Congratulations to all the new members, associates and officers!



Caste of Color and the Dyeing of a Black Soul: On the Factuality of Race
Dr. Charles Watson

CharlesWatsonOn February 23, St. Olaf’s Phi Sigma Tau chapter had the privilege of welcoming Dr. Charles Watson to speak about “The Caste of Color and the Dyeing of a Black Soul” in honor of Black History Month.

Dr. Watson, a specialist in existentialism, philosophy of race and African-American philosophy, addressed the ways that even 45 years after the civil rights movement, the cast of roles in society available to African-Americans continues to be limited.  On his view, this experience leaves scars on the black soul which must be valued and appreciated rather than hidden and denied.  After his engaging talk, the large audience had a number of questions for Dr. Watson about his views.

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2011 Member Induction
October 2011


First Phi Sigma Tau student colloquium
Thursday, May 12, Fran Deram presented her paper at the first Phi Sigma Tau student colloquium and Dayna Jondal commented.


Phi Sigma Tau Induction Ceremony
On March 16, 2011, the Minnesota-Beta chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, the international honor society in philosophy, was installed at St. Olaf College with twelve charter members and eleven chapter associates.  Students are eligible for membership on the basis of their outstanding academic achievement and particular interest in and aptitude for philosophy.  The philosophy faculty are also eligible for membership.


The St. Olaf chapter plans to hold a monthly colloquium series at which student members will present their papers to their peers for discussion and constructive criticism.  Planning is also underway to bring in a student-selected professional philosopher to speak to the chapter each year.