Skip to Content

Weather Update: UofSC Columbia campus to close Friday, Jan. 21 due to inclement weather. See for updates.

Department of Philosophy


The Department is active in sponsoring and hosting events for our students, faculty, and the public.  All are invited to publicly advertised events.  Past events can be seen via the links in the menu.



Marion Boulicault (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 

Gender, Time and the Measurement of Fertility
January 31st, 1:00, 2022, EST  CLHIPP 005
email for details:
Human fertility is in an apparent state of crisis. In July 2017, scientists reported that sperm counts among men from so-called "Western" countries have decreased by 50 – 60% since 1973, with no sign of halting. For women, the story is bleak and familiar: women’s fertility decreases with age, yet women are waiting longer than ever to have children. In this paper, I investigate this crisis by analyzing the seemingly mundane practice of measurement, i.e. the standards, methods and instruments by which the phenomenon of fertility is quantified. By comparing two widely-used measures—semen analysis in men, and ovarian reserve testing (ORT) in women—I argue that socio-cultural ideas about gender and race play a significant role in constructing fertility as a measurable phenomenon. Different temporal assumptions implicit in semen analysis and ORT reflect and enforce a view of women as more responsible for—and therefore more to blame for—infertility than men. I conclude by arguing that, with respect to semen analysis and ORT, it’s not just fertility that’s being measured, but degrees of adherence to entrenched racialized norms of masculinity and femininity.

The following colloquium has been postponed  until Spring 2022.


Barry Loewer (Rutgers University) 

Are Humean Laws Flukes?
email for details:
Contemporary philosophical discussion of the metaphysics of laws of nature is dominated by two approaches Necessitarian and Humean.  The first holds that reality  includes at its most fundamental level a kind of  necessity in virtue of which laws are able to play their roles in explanation, prediction, confirmation, counterfactuals and causation. In contrast, Humean accounts deny the need for fundamental necessity and say that laws are regularities that possess some other feature which enables them to play their roles. There are many complaints that anti-Humeans make against Lewis’ Humean BSA. Two will concern me here. One is that Humean laws since they summarize their instances they  do  not explain them.  The second is that since Humean laws are do not involve necessary connections they are coincidences or hold by accident and further, if Humeanism  is true there  is no explanation  of  why  there are any lawful regularities and at all. if Humeanism were true worlds that contain regularities and  patterns and  in particular to be systematizable by a Lewisian best system are a rarity. It would be a fluke  if our world is systematizable. In my talk I will defend a version of David Lewis’ Humean BSA against these objections.

The following colloquium has been postponed (due to COVID-19), still to be rescheduled.


Jeanette Bicknell (Independent Scholar) 

The 'Crack in the Voice' and Joe Turner's Blues
Great art has been created under conditions of immense suffering and
social injustice. What is less clear is how responsively and sensitively
to make sense of and appreciate such art. How do we acknowledge the
suffering that must have gone into making the art, while seeing the
creators as something other than victims of circumstance? How to make
sure that the feelings of pity or compassion we are likely to have for
those who have suffered injustice does not manifest itself in a
patronizing or condescending attitude to their work? I offer some
reflections on the challenge of appreciating African American music. My
central example is the song, "Joe Turner’s Blues."

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.