History of Conference; by Dr. Michael Koch

In this Twentieth anniversary of the Oneonta Undergraduate Philosophy conference it is fitting to do justice to those who blazed the way we now follow. In particular, gratitude beyond words is owed to Distinguished Teaching Professor Dr. Douglas Shrader who, along with Dr. Achim Koeddermann, in 1994, took a group of students to a scholarly conference at Binghamton University. The students who Dr. Shrader and Koeddermann were so inspired by the conference that they suggested that SUNY Oneonta host its own Philosophy Conference. A couple of rooms in the old Fitzelle were reserved. Some coffee was donated. A call for papers was put out to a few colleges within driving distance and out of this humble start todays conference was born. But the conference became what it is today because of Dr. Shrader’s commitment to reflective scholarship, discursive exchange and the notion that doing is a part of thinking. It was under his guidance that the Oneonta Undergraduate Conference developed and maintained its identity as a student organized and run conference where faculty would serve as guides and mentors, but students would make the key decisions and would be builders and architects of each year’s conference. Dr. Shrader passed away in 2010. Part of his formidable legacy is this conference that not only continues at Oneonta but, through the students who participated in the Oneonta conference, has led to the founding of undergraduate conference throughout the United States.

The faculty of the Philosophy Department at Oneonta supported Dr. Shrader from the start of this conference. Of particular note, in addition to Dr. Koeddermann, are Professor Dr. Anthony Roda who was the co-founder of the Philosophy Department and who shared Dr. Shrader’s commitment to discursive exchange. Dr. Roda founded the Dominick Roda Award to honor “discussants who present insightful, cogent, and thought-provoking analyses of other students’ papers.” Also worthy of note is Distinguished Teaching Professor Dr. Ashok Malhotra, who was the other co-founder of the Oneonta Philosophy Department. Dr. Malhotra contributed the annual Ninash Foundation East-West Awards that honor student presentations that exhibit special expertise and insight in Asian and Comparative Philosophy.

This Twentieth Anniversary conference adds a new name, Dr. Jean-Paul Orgeron, to the list of faculty members who have worked with students to make this conference a reality.

However, it is the students who are most important to making this conference. It is this two decade long commitment of generation after generation of students that should be celebrated in this twentieth anniversary. They are the soul of the SUNY Oneonta Undergraduate Conference.

Abstract for Keynote Speaker Berit Brogaard’s Presentation

Auditory Perception and Cognitive Penetration
Berit Brogaard
While much has been written about whether visual perception is cognitively penetrable, the analogous question with respect to auditory perception, in particular the auditory perception of language, has received little attention.

According to the hierarchical model of auditory information processing, sensory inputs are transmitted to higher-order cortical areas only after they are being processed in lower-order cortical areas. For example, auditory inputs are first processed in the primary auditory area A1 (a low-order cortical area) before being transmitted to superior, posterior, and lateral parts of the temporal lobes, which are involved in high-order auditory processing. On this model, auditory processing is primarily data-driven (bottom-up). However, recent findings indicate that feedback pathways carry higher-order information to antecedent cortical areas, which suggests a less hierarchical functional architecture of auditory processing, one that is primarily cognition-driven (top-down). For example, the sentence “The boat sailed down the river sank” is perfectly grammatical but this is difficult to hear until you come to realize that it means the boat that was sailed down the river by someone sank. The finding that audition is subject to top-down influences seems to threaten the cognitive impenetrability thesis (CIT), which has traditionally been understood  as a semantic thesis stating that the information a system computes is not sensitive (in a semantically-coherent way) to a subject’s cognitive states such as beliefs and cannot be altered in a way that bears some logical relation to the subject’s knowledge or reasons.

Here I argue that although auditory perception is subject to various forms of top-down influences, these influences are not instances of cognitive penetration of auditory perception, as the changes they may cause in the phenomenology of auditory experience are not due to the subject’s discursive thoughts. For example, John’s belief that Mary is smart does not make the sentence “The boat sailed down the river sank” sound grammatical, independently of knowledge of its meaning. So, while the auditory experience is subject to top-down influences, these influences are not cases of cognitive penetration.”

2014 Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to host Taine Duncan and Douglas Lackey as this years UPC keynote speakers. Both scholars come from very diverse backgrounds and fields and will present to us their work over the course of the conference.

Taine Duncan

“Remembrances: Cultural Memory as a Form of Resistance.”
Taine Duncan

Abstract:Integral to Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project is the careful analysis of a bygone age.  Rather than analyzing his personal experiences in Paris, the central location of Benjamin’s own exile, Benjamin offers an exposé of the culture and space of 19th century Paris.  Why Paris of the 19th Century?  Why not use his personal experiences as fodder for his magnum opus of aesthetic theory?  Perhaps even more curiously, Benjamin creates a collage of poetry, art, and commentary as though they were his own memories and thoughts on the Parisian experience.  In this paper, I provide a possible explanation for Benjamin’s curious treatment of history, culture and memory.  Through an analysis of Benjamin’s article “A Berlin Chronicle” alongside his Arcades Project, I argue that Benjamin’s distancing from personal experience in the Arcades Project is not only deliberate, but the only option available to Benjamin in the critical technique of aesthetic remembrance.  Then, I will offer evidence for a Benjaminian project in contemporary literature via Mary Gaitskill’s Veronica.  Whereas Benjamin must account for a cultural memory that informs a personal response to capitalism, Mary Gaitskill turns this formulation on its head by providing a universal account of contemporary culture through the personal memory of her protagonist.  Finally, I will offer a possible synthesis of both approaches using Frantz Fanon’s autobiographical approach to explaining the bodily effects of racism.  The act of remembering, whether personal, historical, or both, provides a bridge between the personal and the universal, the individual and socio-cultural.  This bridge offers the possibility for understanding philosophical cultural criticism in a new light.

Douglas Lackey

Professor and Chair at Baruch College, NYC

“Mitosis and Abortion”
Douglas Lackey
Abstract: Various thought experiments are proposed leading to the conclusion that it is possible for two separate persons, X and Y, to share a common past, that is, for the same events to make up their shared past history. On the same grounds, it is possible for two separate persons to share a common future, that is, for that the same events to make up their shared future. X and Y might even share a common past and a common future, sharing a past, fissioning into two, and then fusing together at some later moment in time to share a future.

Let us call entities that share pasts and/or futures “superentities,” because they have stretches of shared superimposed histories. If such entities are possible, then the entity that is a first a human zygote, then a blastocyst, and then an embryo, is a superentity, fissioning after the zygote stage and then fusing after the blastocyst stage. Every human being is thus a superentity, the history of which begins at conception.

But there are in fact no such superentities. The postulate of superentities violates the metaphysical postulate that each entity exists wholly at each point in its history. There cannot be entities X and Y that were both  Z in the past: either X is wholly Z or Y is wholly Z.  The metaphysical argument against superentities is stronger than the arguments given on their behalf.

Call For Papers

We are now calling for papers for the SUNY Oneonta 19th annual Philosophy Conference.

Any undergraduate student may submit a paper on any philosophical topic. The papers should be about 10-15 pages in length. If your paper is accepted, you will be invited to the conference to present and discuss your paper and participate in our full conference. The presentations should last about 20 minutes. We honor several topics and papers with awards. You can find the submission guidelines and cover page information in the menus on the left.

Submissions due by Sunday February 9th, 2014 to Oneontaphilconference@gmail.com

Good luck!

Undergraduate Philosophy Conference Program

In the Morris Conference Center, SUNY Oneonta.

Thursday, April 11

7-9pm: Reception

Friday, April 12

8-9am: Breakfast

9-10:30am: SESSION I 

IA:                  Corporate Markets: Morris 130

                      Session Chair: Douglas Goldberg

Presenter: Kelsey Smith, College of the Holy Cross; “Corporation’s Fulfillment of Conditions of Personhood”

Discussant: Robert Tracey

Presenter: Kim, Kung Min, Pennsylvania State University; “Problems of Market Values Placed in the U.S. Education”

Discussant: Gregory Talamini

IB:                   Ayering with Freud: Craven Lounge

                       Session Chair: Daniel Dillman

Presenter: Shipman, Chad, Hartwick College; “A Critique of Ayer: Verifying Religious Propositions”

Discussant: Matthew McLain

Presenter: Vega, Katrina, Ithaca College; “An Examination of the Conclusiveness of Freud’s Critique of Religion and its Relation to the Psychoanalytic Theory”

Discussant: Michael Lindquist

10:45-12:45pm: SESSION II

IIA:                 Becoming Free: Morris 130

                       Session Chair: Lynn Golan

Presenter: Mosa, Alexander, University of Toronto; “On Determined Indeterminacy”

Discussant: Kelsey Smith

Presenter: Annunziata, Anthony, Elmira College; “An Ethics of Becoming”

Discussant: Meaghan Haugaard

IIB:                 Wonderful Horror: Craven Lounge

                       Session Chair: Emily Knapp

Presenter: Gleim, Joshua, Penn State University; “I Want to Live Again”

Discussant: Matthew McLain

Presenter: McLain, Matthew, College at Oneonta; “An Analysis of Noel Carroll’s Paradox of Horror: A Neo-Analytic Interpretation”

Discussant: Joshua Gleim

12:45-2:00pm: Lunch

2-3:30pm: SESSION III

IIIA:               Skeptech: Morris 130

                        Session Chair: Matthew McLain

Presenter: Braunscheidel, Zachariah, SUNY Fredonia; “The Skeptics of Science”

Discussant: Devin Williamson

Presenter: Lodato, Michael, College of the Holy Cross; “Attitudes Towards Technology in Heidegger and Dewey”

Discussant: Stephen Allard

IIIB:                Miraculous Design: Craven Lounge

                       Session Chair: Aaron Segal

Presenter: Siden, Rachel, University of Massachusetts Amherst; “Science and Miracles”

Discussant: Michael Lodato

Presenter: McCarthy, Jillian; “Hume’s Critique of the Argument from Design in the Dialogues”

Discussant: Douglas Goldburg

3:30-4:00pm:       Break

4:00pm-6: SESSION IV

IVA:               Post-Traumatic Philosophy: Craven Lounge

                       Session Chair: Michael Lindquist

Presenter: Johnson, Lindsey, RIT; “A Poem After Aushwitz”

Discussant: Daniel Dillman

Presenter: McGinn, Mark, Webster University; “Instrumentalism and Poetic Thinking”


Presenter: Watson, John, University of Hawai’i at Manoa (David Hall Prize); “Forgiveness in Action is Lovely”

Discussant: Chelsea Cleary

IVB:                Serious Phish: Morris 130

                       Session Chair: Antoinette Astuto

Presenter: Segal, Aaron; “Knowing that One Knows”

Discussant: Dominique Petit-Frere

Presenter: Ziff, Joseph, Haverford College; “Reconfiguring the Realm of Law”

Discussant: Aaron Segal

Presenter: Marrone, Stephan, University of Chicago; “Losing the Forest for the Trees”

Discussant: Christopher Teter

6-7:30pm: Dinner

7:30-9pm: Keynote: Carol Adams, Independent Scholar

9-11pm: President’s Reception

Saturday, April 13

8-9am: Breakfast

9:00-10:30am: SESSION V

VA:                 NC-17: Craven Lounge

                       Session Chair: Devin Williamson

Presenter: Ueberroth, Jordan, Michigan State University; “Possible Parthood and Modal-Mereological Composition”

Discussant: Johnson, August

Presenter: Johnson, August, SUNY College, Oneonta; “Epistemic Dimensions and Direct Reference”


VB:                 Aristotle’s Slavery: Morris 130

                       Session Chair: Greg Talamini

Presenter: Hardy, Shaun, Belmont University; “Aristotle’s Slavery and Slavery in the Modern World”

Discussant: Tim Clark

Presenter: Jennings, Emily; “The Gentleman is Not a Vassal: Confucius, Aristotle, and the Ruler Exemplar”

Discussant: Andrew Gelb

10:45-12:15pm: SESSION VI

VIA:               Confucius, Taoism and Ethics: Morris 130

                        Session Chair: August Johnson

Presenter: Arias, Laura, SUNY Oneonta; “Taoist Thought, Confucian Ideals”

Discussant: Keegan Nicholas

Presenter: Nichols, Keegan, Lehigh University; “A Bridge Between Two Worlds: The Tao of Immanuel Kant”

Discussant: Chelsea Cleary

VIB:                Playing with Graffiti: Craven Lounge

                    Session Chair: Lynn Golan

Presenter: Hassan, Caitlin, West Virginia University; “Graffiti: Defacement of Property or the Revival of Art?”

Discussant: Lindsey Johnson

Presenter: Sblendorio, Andrew, SUNY Fredonia; “When You Play, You Have To Mean It”

Discussant: Emily Jennings

12:15-12:45pm: Break

12:45-2:45pm: SESSION VII

VIIA:           Bodies in Space: Craven Lounge

                       Session Chair: Chelsea Cleary

Presenter: Griffey, Allison, Belmont University; “Al Ghazzali’s Treatment of the Body in The Alchemy of Happiness”

Discussant: Lynn Golan

Presenter: Meimaris, Alkiviades, SUNY Purchase; “Enclosed Spaces”

Discussant: Laura Arias

Presenter: Demopoulos, Monique, SUNY New Paltz; “The Meaning (or Lack Thereof) of Love”

Discussant: Matthew Williams

2:45-4:15pm: Provost’s Banquet

Here’s what you need to know about the conference…

1.Discussing a paper

Your role as discussant is to lead the questioning and commenting after a presentation is over. It is your duty to spark an intriguing and intelligent discussion that not only suffices in answering any unanswered questions but also takes the presentation to a further level of insight and reflection.
Check out the “guidelines” tab for more information about discussants.


2. There will be an informal discussion session with Carol Adams in Thursday at 5pm in the Morris Conference Center. This is open to all so come by to take part in stimulating discussion!


3. Dress code

We hope you will take this opportunity to get a little dressy. Doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but lets give this formal conference the integrity it deserves.

Call For Papers

➢ Undergraduate students are invited to submit papers about any philosophical topic or period.
➢ 10-15 pages in length (20 minute presentation)
➢ Submissions due by  February 8th, 2013

Dr. Michael Koch: faculty (Michael.Koch@oneonta.edu)
Matthew McLain: student chair (mclamj69@oneonta.edu)

To submit a paper, please send the file to this email address:


Carol Adams is coming to SUCO!

I am happy to announce that Carol J. Adams will be a keynote speaker at this years Philosophy Conference. She is the author of the pro-feminist vegetarian critical theory book The Sexual Politics of Meat and a well known activist for the rights of animals, women and men alike. SUNY Oneonta and the SUCO Philosophy Conference is happy to invite her onto our campus and into our movement for human and animal rights. CarolFor more information please visit Carol Adam’s website