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Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Presentations

Presentations are listed in alphabetical order by the presenter's last name.

Materialism and Fascism
In the past century or so, no political term has been used as frequently and without abandon, with so little understanding of or consensus on its meaning, than fascism. In modern politics, “fascist” just seems to be a term synonymous with “anyone who disagrees with me.” The term, at least in American politics, also seems to be much more widely used on the left to describe conservatives, the latter having little defense because of the nebulous meaning of the word. Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, argues that fascist movements are strongly anti-market, and involve strong state power. In this paper I will argue that fascism is largely the product of the same forces as Marxism—Mussolini’s brand of the system was simply a revision of the Communist emphasis on class struggle, claiming that a strong state with immense power over industry could claim the loyalty of its people, eliminating internal conflict. More broadly, the materialist dismissal of the value of spiritual resources and human capital allows fascist regimes to rise and even thrive, as we saw in the 20th century. This paper explores the complex relationship between materialist social thought and fascist politics.
Presenter: Andrew Eastman / Mentor: John Larrivee, Ph.D.
The Rational and Free Subject: A Critical Investigation of the Neurophilosophy of Free Will
The purpose of this project is to explore the immediate connection between human action and the realities of freedom, rationality and the potential to be a subject. The project will employ Henrik Walter’s Neurophilosophy of Free Will as both a contrast to the thesis which affirms the initial position and as an example of the materialist framework through which contemporary behaviorists study the motivations and consequences of human action. The impetus for this project is to fulfill, and hopefully exceed, a requirement of a firmly rooted liberal arts education: a deeper understanding of human action through the lens that persons have at least some free will. The notions of creativity, continuity and unity will all be defined and explored to answer this foundational question. After it is explained that these valued realities are intimately connected to the potentially hard but elevating truths of freedom, intentionality and the potentiality to be a subject, the limitations of reductionist materialism and radical behaviorism will be examined. Through the use of philosophical consideration, cultural observation and convincing anecdotal parallels, the implications of this reductionism will be clearly identified as a limitation on the breadth of human creativity and potential. The conclusion of the project will lay out some ideals and benefits of recognizing the freedom, rationality and the potential to be a subject of every human person.
Presenter: Harry Scherer / Mentors: John Larrivee, Ph.D., and Layton Field, Ph.D.

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Faculty Presentations