Eunice Belgum Memorial Lectures

Each year for three decades the department has sponsored the Belgum Lectures, which honor the memory of Eunice Belgum, who graduated from St. Olaf College in 1967. The lecture series was established in the hope that Eunice’s tragic death in 1977 would not end her impact on the profession, teaching, and scholarship she loved so much.  While the lectures may be on any topic, the philosophy department makes a special effort to choose topics in areas of special interest to Eunice, namely ethics, philosophy of mind, and feminism.  These lectures are supported by a fund established by Eunice’s family and friends.

March 11-12, 2019   

Guest Speaker: Louise Anthony, Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts  

Series Title: The Importance of Being Partial: the Constructive Role of Bias in Human Life

Lecture 1: The Constructive Role of Bias in our Epistemic Lives
Monday, March 11, 4:00-5:30 pm
Room HH 501,
Reception outside of HH 501 following lecture
Click here for the streaming link

Lecture 2: The Constructive Role of Bias in our Affective Lives
Tuesday, March 12, 3:30-5:00 pm
Room HH 501
Click here for the streaming link

Previous Belgum Lectures

1979    Kathryn Pyne Parsons, Not Judge, Not Victim, Nor Savior
1980    Dagfinn Føllesdal, Understanding and Rationality
1981    Gareth B. Matthews, Conceiving Childhood
1982    Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness
1983    Georg Henrik Von Wright, Truth, Knowledge, and Freedom
1984    Naomi Scheman, Authority and Paranoia: The Social Construction of Gender
            and the Philosophical Self
1985    Merold Westphal, The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism
1986    Kenneth Sayre, Myths for Our Technological Future
1987    Rosemarie Tong, Feminist Social Philosophy
1988    Laurence Thomas, Living Morally: A Psychology of Moral Character
1989    Keith Gunderson, The Aesthetic Robot
1990    Allan Gibbard, Moral Meanings
1991    Nancy Sherman, Virtue and Ethics
1992    Arthur Caplan, Ethics and the Genetic Revolution
1993    Amelie Rorty, The Many Faces of Morality
1994    Helen Longino, Scientific Knowledge and Feminist Theoretical Virtues
1995    Georges Rey, Superficialism about Mind and Meaning
1996    Gary Iseminger, Aestheticism: Defined and Defended
1997    Hilary Putnam, Mind, Matter, and Making Sense
1998    Jean Bethke Elshtain, How Far Have We Fallen?
1999    James Harris, After Relativism
2000    Stephen Darwall, Two Dogmas of Empiricism in Ethics
2001    Lydia Goehr, Listening, Laughing, and Learning
2002    Frederick Stoutland, How To Believe in Free Will
2003    Margaret Urban Walker, Forgiveness and Moral Repair
2004    Bas van Fraassen, Seeing and Measuring: Connecting Science to Experience
2005    Jonathan Lear, Ethics and the Collapse of Civilization
2006    Galen Strawson, Episodic Ethics
2007    Julia Annas, Virtue and Happiness
2008    Barbara Herman, Making Motives Matter
2009    Elliott Sober, Philosophical Reflections on Darwin
2010    Thomas Carson, Lincoln’s Ethics
2011     Rachel Cohon, Hume on Virtuous Action and Character
2012     Lynne Rudder Baker, Persons: What We Are and How We Persist in Time
2013     Daniel Robinson, Consciousness, Again and Character
2014     Eleonore Stump, The Nature of the Atonement, Atonement and Shame
2015     John Cooper, Ancient Philosophy as a Way of Life: Socrates, Platonist Philosophy as a Way of Life
2016    Edward Langerak, Meanings of Life, Meanings of Death
2017    Charles Mills, Racial Justice, Black Radical Kantianism

Related News

Thomas Carson ’72, who was the Belgum Lecture speaker in 2010, has written a book entitled Lincoln’s Ethics, published by Cambridge University Press. He graciously mentions the St. Olaf Philosophy department, and the Belgum Lecture series, in his acknowledgements.  Thomas is a Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University, Chicago.

Martha Nussbaum, in the acknowledgements of The Fragility of Goodnessindicates that her 1983 Belgum Lectures of the same title inspired several chapters of the book.  She dedicates the relevant chapters to Belgum’s parents, Joe and Esther Belgum.  Martha Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.

Memories From A Fellow St. Olaf Student

The vivid impression I retain of Eunice Belgum was generated in a short period time, most of it over fifty years ago.  My most salient memories arise from our joint participation in an intensive January term advanced philosophy seminar on The Idea of Freedom directed by Professor Fred Stoutland.  Eunice quickly became a respected presence in that seminar, notwithstanding a certain Nordic reticence, perhaps amplified to some degree because she was a sophomore woman (though not the only woman) among primarily senior men.  She came to be admired for her sparkling intelligence, for a maturity of judgment beyond her years, for her tenacity in trying to get at what was fundamental, and for being unwilling to be satisfied by what she pointed out were weak or unfinished arguments passing themselves off as “solutions” that would merely end discussion prematurely.  This made her a formidable but, in the end, characteristically helpful interlocutor, as I discovered when she drew the straw to be a respondent to my presentation, as the seminar format required.  In the end, several sections of my senior thesis were much improved because of her criticism.  Regrettably, I talked with her only twice after St. Olaf, in the early 1970s, when she chanced to visit mutual acquaintances in New York and we chatted briefly about each other’s doctoral work.  She was writing a Harvard doctoral thesis, a significant contribution to the ongoing discussion of the notoriously complicated concept of akrasia in moral philosophy.  Her account apparently proved to be of considerable interest, though transmitted largely by word of mouth, among a number of her scholarly contemporaries.  It did not see the light of day as a published work until 1990, over a decade after her death.

The annual Eunice Belgum Memorial lectures have been a particularly fitting tribute to the brilliance and relentless spirit of inquiry of her work as a scholar and teacher, and a meaningful way of partially assuaging the deep sadness that arises from contemplating her untimely death.

— Professor Warren Funk, Class of 1965