Thursday, February 22, 2018

Visiting philosophy professor speaks at annual Means Lecture

 

By: Sonjay Singh ’15
The Blanchard William Means Memorial Lecture was given Thursday, April 5, at the Rittenberg Lounge. William Means was a distinguished professor of philosophy at Trinity College from 1932 to 1972. In honor of Means, Trinity welcomes a philosophy lecturer. This year’s lecturer, Mickaella Perina is a philosophy professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and is a renowned authority in political and legal philosophy, French philosophy, philosophy of race and Caribbean philosophy. 
Perina’s lecture entitled “Cosmopolitanism? Transnationalism, Freedom and Ethics of Exclusion” dealt with the issue of cosmopolitanism, a philosophical idea popularized by Immanuel Kant which considers human beings to be citizens of the world, rather than of a particular nation, bound by a common set of moral principles.  Perina postulates that cosmopolitan thought tends to focus on the positive attributes while ignoring the negative ones that stop people from truly being considered as real citizens of the world.  She claims that when looking at such documents as the UN Declaration of Human Rights, it is easy to claim that freedoms, such as those to travel and to move from an oppressive state make as all universal citizens who can choose their place of residence, but in fact, that this is untrue.
One example that Perina uses is that of the European Union states.  Although it may be easy to move between the different countries in Europe, Perina claims that for someone outside of the Union, it is still incredibly difficult to migrate.  Because of that, what the EU has created isn’t necessarily a more cosmopolitan ideal of the world, but instead, it has merely shifted the border outwards.  Rather than the border being between countries, it is now merely a larger EU border shelling Europe off from the world.  According to Perina, this kind of progress actually disguises the problem because it makes us think there is more freedom of movement when really, we are still dealing with the same problems, just on a different scale.
To remedy this, Perina hypothesizes that the way we look at political geography needs to be in regards to both existing power dynamics and protection for migrants, rather than just political rhetoric.  Ideally, new systems, rather than just pronouncing a human right to travel, would actually make provisions to aid migration.  Although there are some philosophers claiming that true cosmopolitanism is impossible, Perina is not among them and dreams of a day when we will all truly be world citizens.

The Blanchard William Means Memorial Lecture was given Thursday, April 5, at the Rittenberg Lounge. William Means was a distinguished professor of philosophy at Trinity College from 1932 to 1972. In honor of Means, Trinity welcomes a philosophy lecturer. This year’s lecturer, Mickaella Perina is a philosophy professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and is a renowned authority in political and legal philosophy, French philosophy, philosophy of race and Caribbean philosophy. Perina’s lecture entitled “Cosmopolitanism? Transnationalism, Freedom and Ethics of Exclusion” dealt with the issue of cosmopolitanism, a philosophical idea popularized by Immanuel Kant which considers human beings to be citizens of the world, rather than of a particular nation, bound by a common set of moral principles.  Perina postulates that cosmopolitan thought tends to focus on the positive attributes while ignoring the negative ones that stop people from truly being considered as real citizens of the world.  She claims that when looking at such documents as the UN Declaration of Human Rights, it is easy to claim that freedoms, such as those to travel and to move from an oppressive state make as all universal citizens who can choose their place of residence, but in fact, that this is untrue.One example that Perina uses is that of the European Union states.  Although it may be easy to move between the different countries in Europe, Perina claims that for someone outside of the Union, it is still incredibly difficult to migrate.  Because of that, what the EU has created isn’t necessarily a more cosmopolitan ideal of the world, but instead, it has merely shifted the border outwards.  Rather than the border being between countries, it is now merely a larger EU border shelling Europe off from the world.  According to Perina, this kind of progress actually disguises the problem because it makes us think there is more freedom of movement when really, we are still dealing with the same problems, just on a different scale.To remedy this, Perina hypothesizes that the way we look at political geography needs to be in regards to both existing power dynamics and protection for migrants, rather than just political rhetoric.  Ideally, new systems, rather than just pronouncing a human right to travel, would actually make provisions to aid migration.  Although there are some philosophers claiming that true cosmopolitanism is impossible, Perina is not among them and dreams of a day when we will all truly be world citizens.

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