My experience at the SUNY Oneonta 23rd Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference was wonderful all around. It was well organized and the staff were very welcoming. The conference covered a wide variety of subjects from metaphysical to epistemological to ethical topics, such as my own. I learned much about the various subjects discussed and I hope to use that knowledge in my course work at Northeastern. Keynote speaker, Dr. Raymond Belliotti, was also very interesting. He spoke on the idea of love and sex in Plato’s dialogues.
The goal of my presentation was to explore the value theory between nature (i.e. other living organisms) and human beings, predicated on the ideas of active potential and a valuable future, in relation to rationality. I established that the active potential of rational human beings is more valuable than other living organisms including non-rational human beings. Second, I established that a valuable future is not predicated on rationality, but it is instead predicated on the idea of preforming natural function. From this I derived that both human beings and any other living organism preforming natural function can be considered equally valuable based on the valuable future consideration, regardless of rationality. I also derived that based on the active potential consideration, human beings would be considered more valuable than other living organisms.
After my presentation there was a 20 minute Q&A and I fielded some very challenging questions and critiques from the session attendees. One audience member suggested that my argument was a proponent of ‘natural slavery’, while others asked more tame questions with respect to the actual implications of my idea. All the questions helped me further my understanding of the topic and it gave me much to ponder.
Attending the conference encouraged me to continue writing and it has already sparked a few new ideas for exploration! I hope that the Philosophy department will continue to support students in these endeavors as they are not only vital to self-development, but they are also a great opportunity to represent Northeastern and the great work that we do.