Philosophy department and club host conference

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The Department of Philosophy and Humanities and the Philosophy Club held their sixth annual G. Lawrence Anderson Memorial Undergraduate Philosophy Conference in the Sorenson Student Center on March 21 and 22.


The keynote address, given by Dr. Shaun Nichols, professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona, had more than 120 students in attendance. The student presentations had decent attendance as well. Both the department and the club collaborated on the conference this year, whereas in years past, faculty mostly organized the event.


“It seems like we had significantly larger attendance this year and consistently better papers as well,” said Adam Wilson, an intern in the Philosophy and Humanities Department who organized the conference. “We also had submissions from SUU, USU, BYU and even Florida State.”

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Adam Donahoo was the first-place winner of the student presentations. He presented “The Philosophical Re-Enchantment of the World: Science and Correlationism in the thought of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger.”


“It’s important to note Cecily Stephen,” Wilson said about another award winner from the conference. “Her paper was an Intro to Philosophy paper and we really wanted to make sure got honorable mention for how fantastic it was, especially for a student who’s never done that before,”


Dr. Nichols gave a presentation on work he has done at the University of Arizona: “Two Senses of Self.” The experiments Dr. Nichols conducted focused on the Buddhist idea that if you change your idea of the self from a stagnant entity into an ever-changing one, you will become more generous and less afraid of death and future pain.


“I wanted to find out that if you change a person’s view of the self, it would change their [generosity], and it would also change their fear of death and anxiety about future pain,” Nichols said, detailing his initial hypothesis. “I wanted it to work across the board with everything the Buddhist said would change, but we didn’t get that.”


What Dr. Nichols did find was that people did become more generous, however it did not affect their fear of pain at all. He said his next step with the project is to take it into cross-cultural and cross-religious differences. He mentioned India as a possible location to compare with the findings he has already gathered.


Wilson addressed the future of the conference and said the department could hold one again this upcoming fall, possibly making the conference an annual event.