Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lunch Chat (10/17): Friendship: For Better or Worse?

Professor Lintott
The next Philosophy Lunch Chat will feature Sheila Lintott, Associate Professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Women's & Gender Studies), who will guide us through a conversation about friendship. Friendships are arguably the most important and formative relationships in human life. It is not an exaggeration to say that whether we have good friends helps determine whether we live good lives. Our friends and the quality of our relationships with them deeply affect us, influencing our habits, behaviors, and values, and we theirs. But what is friendship? What is a true or good friend? Why is friendship so important?

In addition to these general conceptual questions, we can also consider questions in the context of other traditional areas of philosophy; for example:

What are the social and political issues related to friendship?
  • Is friendship good for society or a potential source of schisms?
  • What societal forms are most conducive to friendships?  
  • If friendship helps make a society cohesive, should the state be responsible for fostering and improving friendships?
What ethical issues does friendship raise?
  • If bias and partiality are morally problematic, are friendships morally problematic?
  • If some partiality is okay, does it follow that the partiality that grounds friendship — that of perceived similarities — is okay?
What are the epistemic aspects of friendship?
  • Do we really know our friends better than anyone else or might our ideas about them be distorted by affection?  
  • How do our friends help us know ourselves and help us delude ourselves?  
What are the aesthetic issues of friendship?
  • Is there an "art of friendship"?  
  • How important are a friend's aesthetic tastes, for example her sense of humor or musical preferences?  
  • How important is our friend's attractiveness?  
  • How important should these aesthetic factors be?
So come enjoy some friendly philosophical conversation over pizza and salad on Thursday the 17th at noon in the Willard Smith Library.