Every year, the Colleges hold the Ann Palmeri Memorial Lecture as a tribute to one of the Colleges’ most celebrated feminist philosophers and her field of scholarship. This year, that tradition will continue when Louise Antony, philosopher and professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will deliver “Feminism without Metaphysics: On the Irrelevance of Human Nature to Normative Theory” as the 2009 Ann Palmeri Memorial Lecture at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26 in the Fisher Center (212 Demarest Hall).
Thinking about her lecture’s topic, Antony said that, “It’s a commonplace that an understanding of ‘human nature’ is necessary for students of ethics and politics. But why?”
“I’ll discuss two popular ways of thinking about the relevance of human nature to moral and social issues,” she said. According to Antony, both arguments involve a mistake about human nature and/or a mistake in reasoning.
Antony explained, “I do not deny the existence of human nature. But such natures as we have neither limit human possibility nor provide a guide for human development.”
Innovative, passionate and ground-breaking in her thinking: Antony was a natural fit for the annual lecture at the Colleges. “We asked Professor Antony to speak in the series because we want the very best feminist philosophers,” explained Assistant Professor of Philosophy Carol Oberbrunner, who organizes the lecture. Having seen Antony lecture previously, Oberbrunner described her as “very lively and funny and always has a good time with the topic.”
In addition to keeping her audience engaged and entertained, Antony will carry on the important tradition of the Ann Palmeri Lecture. “This annual lecture is designed to explore new ground, challenge views on gender roles and what it means to be a person,” Oberbrunner explained.
Antony studied at Syracuse University and went on earn her Ph.D. at Harvard University, where she studied feminist philosophy. She has taught at several universities, including Ohio State University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, State University of North Carolina, Bates College, Boston University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She specializes in feminist philosophy with particular interest paid to the philosophy of mind, ethics (especially human nature and gender).
Co-sponsored by the Philosophy Department and the Women’s Studies Program, this annual lecture is in remembrance of Ann Palmeri, a talented professor of philosophy who taught at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the 1970’s and 1980’s but tragically died at a young age.