George F. Hourani Lecture Series

The UB Philosophy Department is indebted to a former chair of the Department, George F. Hourani, whose generous endowment allows us to bring to our campus many talented philosophers. The Hourani lecturers include to date—David Velleman, Philip Pettit, John Martin Fischer, Jeff McMahan, Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbaum, Onora O’Neil, Shelly Kagan, Michael A. Smith, David S. Oderberg, Rae Langton, and Julia Driver—virtually a Who’s Who in moral philosophy today.

Hourani Lectures hosted by the Department of Philosophy since 2009

George F. Hourani Lecture Series and Conference 2018

Mark Schroeder, "Relationship Pathologies" 2018

Mark Schroeder (USC).

Mark Schroeder (USC)

On Friday, November 2, 2018,  Mark Schroeder (University of Southern California) delivered the George F. Hourani. His lecture is the keynote for the NiCE (Nickel City Ethics) Conference. The a day-long event centers on topics in moral philosophy. Organized by UB Philosophy faculty and graduate students, the event is free and open to the public. See the conference program, below.

Abstract: Sometimes people get you down.  Worse, often it’s our friends and loved ones who get us down.  And worst of all: sometimes it’s us who get them down.  In this talk I’ll explore one of the ways in which loved ones can bring us down – and we can bring them down – and see how some of the worst things that we can do to one another can actually – sometimes – come from a good place – our ability to lift one another up.

About the speaker: Mark Schroeder's interests range across areas of philosophy that are connected with metaethics, including topics in epistemology, metaphysics, normative ethics, practical reason, and the philosophy of language. He has published on the history of ethics, and is currently at work on a book, Reasons First, exploring the role of reasons in epistemology. Learn more.

Nickel City Ethics (NiCE) Conference 

Friday, November 2, 2018


8:00-9:00, Breakfast/Coffee

9:00-10:10, Paper 1: Macalester Bell on Vida Yao,
Grace and Misanthropy.

10:30-11:40, Paper 2: Jonathan Way on Justin Snedegar,
Competing Reasons.

11:40 - 1:00, Lunch (onsite)

1:30-2:40, Paper 3: Tom Dougherty on Hallie Liberto,
Coercion, Consent and Moral Debilitation.

3:00-4:10, Paper 4: Ryan Muldoon on Barry Maguire,
Market Exchange and Alienation.

4:30-6:30, The 2018 George F. Hourani Lecture
Mark Schroeder (USC Faculty Fellow)
Relationship Pathologies

7:00, Hourani Banquet for participants (onsite)

Hotel Henry Urban Resort
444 Forest Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14213

Nicolas BommaritoLewis Powell,
Angela Menditto,


Saturday, November 3
9am-12 pm: Working Brunch with UB Graduate Students
Afternoon: Excursion to Niagara Falls

George F. Hourani Lecture Series 2017

Julia Driver, "Wronging, Blame, and Forgiveness"; "Schadenfreude"; "Regret" — 2017

April 18, 2017

"Wronging, Blame, Forgiveness"

April 19, 2017


April 20, 2017


About the Speaker

Julia Driver is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis.  She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Johns Hopkins University.  She works in Ethical Theory and Moral Psychology,  and is the author of three books:  Uneasy Virtue (Cambridge, 2001), Ethics: the Fundamentals (Blackwell, 2006), and Consequentialism (Routledge, 2011), as well as a number of articles.  She is currently working on a book manuscript, Blame and the Moral Emotions.

Driver has published articles in Journal of Philosophy, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Philosophy, Ethics, Nous, Philosophy & Phenomenological Research, amongst other journals. She has received a Laurance S. Rockefeller Fellowship from Princeton University, a Young Scholar's Award from Cornell University's Program on Ethics and Public Life, an NEH Fellowship, and an HLA Hart Fellowship at Oxford University.

Julia Driver, Professor of Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis.
Hourani Lecture Series 2017.

George F. Hourani Lecture Series 2016

Rae Langton: "How to make authority with words" — 2016

April 20, How to make authority with words.
April 21, How to make a norm with words.
April 22, How to make counter-speech with words.

Time: 4:00 to 6:00pm
Days: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
Place: Capen Hall 107, Honors College, UB North Campus

Rae Helen Langton is an Australian and British professor of philosophy in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and taught previously at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Langton's areas of research include History of Philosophy, Ethics, Political Philosophy, Metaphysics and Feminist Philosophy.

Rae Langton.

Rae Langton

"I am inspired by the power of philosophy to help us question prejudice. This goes back a long way. Think of Socrates and his irritating questions. Think of Descartes, whose meditations tried to escape ‘the habit of holding onto old opinions’. Think of pioneer feminist Mary Astell, who saw prejudice about women as a long-standing error: and ‘Error, be it as ancient as it may, [cannot] ever plead prescription against truth’. Prejudice is still alive and well, and philosophy can still help."

George F. Hourani Lecture Series 2013

David S. Oderberg: "The Metaphysics of Good and Evil" — 2013

A series of lectures on "The Metaphysics of Good and Evil" was presented September 23 to 27, 2013 by the acclaimed ethicist David S. Oderberg, Professor of Philosophy, University of Reading, U.K.  The lectures were titled, 'Good: A Theory of Fulfillment',  'Evil: A Theory of Privation', and, 'Morality: A Theory of Orientation'. The series also featured a debate between David S. Oderberg (Reading, UK) and Patrick Toner (Wake Forest, NC) on the question: What survives death: the person or just the soul?  The debate was sponsored by the Christian Philosophy Reading Group.

George F. Hourani Lecture Series 2012

Michael Smith: "A Constitutivist Theory of Reasons" — 2012

Graduate student seminar.

2012 Hourani Lecture Series, presented by Michael Smith, McCosh Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.

The 2012 Hourani lectures were presented by Michael Smith, McCosh Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. Smith has written widely in ethics, moral psychology, philosophy of mind and action, political philosophy and philosophy of law. During the 2012 Hourani Lectures, he presented a series of lectures entitled “A Constitutivist Theory of Reasons,” “The Standard Story of Action,” “Reasons for Desires,” and “Constitutivism, Reasons, and Rationality.” The lectures took place from April 10-13, 2012.



George F. Hourani Lecture Series 2011

David Velleman: "Solitude and Sociality" — 2011

The 2011 Hourani lectures were given by J. David Velleman, New York University. The series, which took place in UB’s Center for Tomorrow Ballroom, was entitled "Solitude and Sociality". It included a presentation defending reasonable relativism, another, “Regarding Doing Being Ordinary”, about socially constructed action-types, and a final presentation on personhood.

George F. Hourani Lecture Series 2009

Philip Pettit: "The Conversational Imperative: Communication, Commitment and the Moral Point of View" — 2009

The 2009 Hourani lectures were given by Philip Pettit, Laurence S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values, of Princeton University. The lectures, titled "The Conversational Imperative: Communication, Commitment and the Moral Point of View," took place over three days during the second week of November. Pettit argued that on the basis of norms of communication we commit ourselves to networks of mutual respect, networks that, in turn, give reason to adopt norms of morality. The lectures will be published with Wiley Blackwell under the title, Reconstructing Morality: A Genealogy of Commitment and Respect.