Two SUNY Geneseo philosophy majors, seniors Eva Reda-Kendrick and Brian Pattison, are presenting papers at the Gonzaga Undergraduate Philosophy Conference in Spokane, Wash., April 20–21. The theme of the second annual undergraduate conference is “on difference and disagreement.” Reda-Kendrick and Pattison based their papers on essays they wrote for different philosophy courses taught by Professor Theodore (Ted) Everett.
“It’s extremely rare for two students from the same college to present papers at the same conference — especially when the conference is on the other side of the country,” says David Levy, associate professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy.
Reda-Kendrick, a Pembrook, N.Y. native who is also majoring in sociology, is presenting her work, “Should Speech Be Productive,” originally written for Everett’s “Ethics of Speech” seminar. In her paper, Reda-Kendrick considers John Stuart Mill’s criteria for permissible speech, arguing that how individuals present disagreements via social media challenge us to think more clearly about notions such as harm, productivity, and disruption.
Pattison, who hails from Glen Cove, N.Y., and is also majoring in political science, is presenting his paper “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Know?” Pattison wrote the paper for Everett’s Theory of Knowledge class. Anchoring his argument in the epistemological work of William Alston, Keith Lehrer, and Thomas Paxson, Pattison argues that animals such as dogs and capuchin monkeys engage in behaviors which strongly suggest that they possess the kind of knowledge philosophers usually reserve for humans.
Reda-Kendrick said she was surprised that both hers and Pattison’s papers were selected for the Gonzaga conference, “I didn’t know he submitted a paper until Professor Levy told me his was accepted, too.” The students have applied for undergraduate research travel grants offered through the Office of Sponsored Research.
“All of us in the department are extremely excited for Eva and Brian. It is a real testament to the kind of mentorship available to students at Geneseo,” says Levy. “Ted is especially talented at working with students to develop their ideas. It is remarkable that Geneseo has a philosopher of his caliber on its faculty.”
Reda-Kendrick and Pattison both plan to attend law school. Pattison hopes to attend in the fall, and Reda-Kendrick will take a gap-year before starting her graduate career.