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Philosopher to Speak at WIU April 27-28

April 8, 2015

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MACOMB, IL – Stephen Asma, a philosopher from Columbia College-Chicago, will present two public lectures at Western Illinois University Monday-Tuesday, April 27-28.

Asma will present "Against Fairness" at 4 p.m. Monday, April 27 in Morgan Hall 109. This lecture is a University Theme 2014–2015 event. He will then present "On Monsters" at noon, Tuesday, April 28 in Waggoner Hall 003. Both lectures are open free to the public.

In "Against Fairness," Asma will address an ethical question that is fundamental to the operation of civil society: How "fair" should we be to others? Should we treat everyone fairly (i.e. equally)? Or, should some individuals and groups benefit from our favoritism?

In Asma's view, the most appropriate and achievable ethical standard of fairness would grant special privileges to individuals in a relatively small social circle (family, friends, and those with shared backgrounds and interests).

"On Monsters" will provide a natural history of monsters, including a description of monsters that humans have feared throughout history (for example, giants, witches, mass murderers, cyborgs and more). Although particular types of monsters may go out of vogue, "monsters," in general, do not seem to go away. So, they may perform some important function for human emotional and mental health.

Asma supports his arguments with comparative analyses of historical philosophies and religions, as well as the neurobiology of human emotion. His talks will be based on two of his books, "Against Fairness," from 2013, and "On Monsters," from 2009.

Asma is a distinguished scholar and professor of philosophy in the Department of the Humanities, as well as a founding fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science and Culture at Columbia College-Chicago. He is the author of several books, and he writes regularly for "The New York Times" and is a frequent radio and television guest.

The two lectures are co-sponsored by the WIU University Theme Committee, the WIU Visiting Lectures Committee, LASGO (Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduate Organization) and the departments of philosophy and religious studies and biological sciences.

For more information, visit or email Associate Professor Shawn Meagher at

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