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.
2023-2024 Academic Year
The 44thrd Annual Eunice Belgum Lectures will take place on April 15th and April 16th, 2024.
Belgum Lecturer: Simon Critchley is the Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. His work engages in many areas: continental philosophy, philosophy and literature, psychoanalysis, ethics, and political theory, among others. His most recent books include The Problem with Levinas and ABC of Impossibility, though he has written on topics as diverse as David Bowie, religion, and suicide. As moderator of The Stone at The New York Times, Critchley asked many philosophers to weigh in on contemporary issues in art, literature, politics, and popular culture. Additional information about Professor Critchley is available at his personal website.
*reception to follow
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
2018 Louise Anthony, The Constructive Role of Bias in our Epistemic Lives, The Constructive Role of Bias in our Affective Lives
2020 Meghan Sullivan, Directing Our Inner Lives, Love as a Moral Reason (Held Virtually)
2021 Costică Brădăţan, Going against the Grain, The Art of Failure. From the Gnostics to Cioran
2022 Jay Garfield, Māyā and Mokṣa: KC Bhattacharyya’s Vedāntin Response to Kant, Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity: KC Bhattacharyya on the Problem of Other Minds
2023 Simon Critchley
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 Goodness, indicates 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