Philosophy conference keynote speaker discusses being reasonable

Carrie Whalen

Marcia Baron, a philosophy professor at Indiana University Bloomington, told an audience Saturday at the annual Kent State Philosophy Graduate Student Conference about the traits that can make someone either a reasonable or unreasonable person.

“Being reasonable involves not blowing things out of proportion,” Baron said. “It involves recognizing that one might be able to learn from others. Thus it involves not dismissing others’ suggestions.”

Common sense closely relates to reasonableness by compatibility with mistakes, Baron said.

“Being reasonable or acting reasonably is at odds with the following: demanding too much of others, or even just making a request that is unreasonable, that ask more of another person that is appropriate,” Baron said. “It can be an unreasonable request without being large.”

Often, an unreasonable request asks something of another person that the requester has not done or would not do for the person he or she is asking, Baron said.

Cara Griffiths, a graduate assistant and one of the main graduate organizers of the conference, chose Baron for the keynote speech.

“I work in ethics, and she is a big name in Kantian ethics,” Griffiths said. “I’ve always wanted to meet her.”

Griffiths worked with seven other graduate students over the course of the academic year to organize the conference. The graduate students selected politically relevant papers people submitted, said David Pereplyotchik, assistant professor in the department of philosophy. Last year, David Wood, a professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt University, gave the keynote on the social effects of climate change.

Following the speeches, the audience could attend a tour of the May 4th site, led by Frank Ryan, an associate professor in the department of philosophy.

“The students were the majority driving force of all of it,” Pereplyotchik said.

The conference also provided an opportunity for feedback on philosophical papers and ideas.

“Philosophy doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Griffiths said. “It’s meant to be shared with other people. Philosophy has to be a dialogue: You have to share it.”

Carrie Whalen covers social sciences. Contact her at [email protected].