Emerson kicks off ‘Adventures in Ethics’ lecture series


Photo: The Berkeley Beacon Archives

Emerson’s downtown Boston campus.

By Kaitlyn Mettetal

Emerson commenced its fifth iteration of “Adventures in Ethics,” a series of lectures centered around concurrent philosophical topics, with this year’s discussions focusing on sex and power.

Students and individuals gathered in the Beard Room in Piano Row residence hall to listen to Sally Haslanger, professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She gave a powerpoint-based lecture about sex, gender structures, and empowerment.

Haslanger talked about how oppression is embedded in our culture, how to notice when we are buying into oppressive attitudes, and how to change those mentalities.

“Oppression is a public health issue,” Haslanger said in her lecture. “The most toxic, persistent public health issue from what I’ve seen.”

Haslanger said she hoped to inspire through her lecture students to create an inclusive environment where individual voices are respected.

“I don’t think there’s a utopian vision to gear toward,” Haslanger said. “I am encouraging that culture is not homogenous — the structure of our society is so segregated that we don’t get to know each other.”

Associate Professor at the Institute of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies Pablo Muchnik organized Emerson’s ‘Adventures in Ethics’ lecture series five years ago with the intent of creating an intelligent and inclusive academic community.

“There are several institutional goals within the college,” Muchnik said. “Our goals are to provide the tools so students can think more thoroughly and inclusively on campus, and to get students to realize, that by being educated in philosophy, their actions can be carried out more intelligently.”

Hoping to be empowered by Haslanger’s lecture, sophomore Karigan Wright expressed her sadness and anxiety with womanhood in light of the sexual assault allegations towards Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“In light of the Kavanaugh hearings, I feel as if I’m losing hope,” Wright said during the lecture. “It’s disheartening as a woman, and I’m struggling with getting through it.”