Presenters and Abstracts


Dr. Diane Enns –– Ryerson University –– “The Pandemic and Social Failure”

Dr. Jean-Philippe Ranger –– St. Thomas University –– “The Binding Character of Justice: An Epicurean Response to Cicero”

Graduate Papers:

C. E. Spies–– Villanova University
–– “Thinking Coronavirus Beyond the Binary”

This paper explores how we might shift our lines of inquiry and take seriously the aporia of coronavirus, without lapsing into untenable—if tidy—binary solutions. We need not choose between the options that our government offers, or take for granted that social and economic systems must be predicated on the existence and reproduction of unequal and otherwise vulnerable populations, or entertain a notion of subjectivity that requires us to constantly be on guard against the others who would encroach on our autonomy. In relinquishing easy military metaphors and grappling with our inexorable vulnerabilities in the face of COVID-19, we find ourselves called to a way of thinking that does not lock us into a lifetime of fear in the face of what threatens us, but that instead awakens us to a more robust sense of our obligations to each other, shifting the horizon of what we find to be thinkable, actionable, possible in these troubling times.

Dylan Skurka –– York University
–– “Protecting Prisoners from Social Deprivation”

Kimberley Brownlee argues that there is a human right against social deprivation and that, consequently, to actualize this right in prisons, prisoners ought to be spared from being held in solitary confinement and being exposed to prison conditions that are extremely brutal, hostile, degrading and cruel. In this paper, I argue that taking such courses of action would not be sufficient in actualizing a prisoner’s right against social deprivation. Firstly, utilizing the research of Brownlee, neuroscientist John Cacioppo and William Patrick, I explain what social deprivation is and why it is so harmful. I then outline Brownlee’s position that there is a human right against social deprivation and how this right is violated in prisons when prisoners are subjected to solitary confinement and prison conditions that are extremely brutal, hostile, degrading and cruel in this paper’s second section. In the third section of this paper, making use of a thought experiment and a couple of empirical studies on prison systems across several different countries, I argue that prisoners consistently are faced with social deprivation even when they are not isolated from others, live in pleasant prison conditions and in fact are housed in what are known as the most progressive and humane prisons in the world in Scandinavia. Next, I consider and respond to an objection to my position which asserts that what I define as “social deprivation” is merely social unpleasantness which prisoners are not owed protection against. After defending my position from this objection, I conclude this paper by briefly considering some ways social deprivation can be minimized in prisons as much as possible.

Malavika Suresh –– Ashoka University
–– “I Wish I Swiped Left: A Theory on Why Men Send Unsolicited Sexual Images on Dating Apps”

I believe a philosophical psychology lens that focuses on narcissism can add valuable insights as to why men engage in this act. To illustrate this, the paper focuses on heterosexual dating app users in India between the ages of 18-25. I argue that Indian patriarchal masculinity resulting from a societal and political fixation on the male body can lead to secondary narcissism which results in masculine males cyber-flashing females on dating apps. Given this, six factors are at play: gender, equality, sex, Indian culture around dating, gender and sex, technology, and violence. Defense of the argument follows the following structure: (1) describing the scope of the paper and the relevance of enquiring why men cyber-flash through showcasing its rise during the pandemic. (2) Establishing that it is in fact men who are largely the perpetrator of this type of violence through gender theory, by exploring how cultural domination of and fixation on the male body over the female body results in the patriarchal understanding of masculinity. (3) Illustrating the strong correspondence between the Indian male and patriarchal masculinity. (4) Defining the concept of narcissism and the difference between primary narcissism and secondary narcissism. (5) Showcasing how the design and functioning of dating apps allow for narcissism to flourish in all users due to the phenomenon of ‘reduced cues.’ (6) Highlighting similar features between secondary narcissism and masculinity and through these, map out how fixation on the male body can lead to secondary narcissism that results in men cyber-flashing women. (7) Illustrating the conclusion through exploring two (of many) features common to Indian masculinity and secondary narcissism.