Philosophy Colloquium Series

FALL 2023

MEETING TIME: 3:00PM-4:30pm


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Fall 2023

Date: Fall, 2023


Gaslighting: In Defense of an(Qualified) Analysis

Andrew Spear (GVSU Philosophy)


Don’t You Trust Me? Gaslighting: A Defense of an(Qualified) Analysis

Talk Description: The central argument of this talk is that what is definitive of gaslighting, properly so-called, are certain mental states, motives, or intentions on the part of the perpetrator of gaslighting. It is not enough for a person, the victim, to feel profound self-doubt or a sense of “being crazy”, even if this feeling or perception is in some sense unjustly inflicted by other(s) or by social conditions. For it to be gaslighting, the purported gaslighter must in some sense intend or mean to bring this state of profound self-doubt or “being crazy” about. Gaslighting is hot right now. Originating in a 1938 play of the same name by Patrick Hamilton and immortalized in a 1944 Hollywood film starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, the term and the concept have played a role in popular culture and academic discussions ever since. The American Dialect Society voted ‘gaslighting’ the word most useful/likely to succeed in 2016 and it was Merriam Webster’s word of the year in 2022. Philosophical discussion of gaslighting is relatively recent and has resulted in analyses of the phenomenon that diverge in a number of ways. The phenomenon has philosophical interest for ethical, epistemological (relating to knowledge, belief, and rationality), and likely also political reasons. The general tendency in philosophy, and to some extent in popular usage, has been to move to ever-more expansive understandings of gaslighting. In this talk I will survey some of the popular and philosophical uses and understandings of the gaslighting, and argue that overly expansive conceptions of it, specifically those that do not make any reference to gaslighting-related motives or intention on the part of the perpetrator, are unmotivated or duplicate existing important concepts while distracting attention form features central to gaslighting itself. 




Regenerate Response: Philosophical Reflections on Generative AI, Including ChatGPT Panel Discussion

Corey Anton (GVSU Communication Studies), Jeffrey Byrnes (GVSU Philosophy), Laurence José (GVSU Digital Studies and Writing), Andrew Spear (GVSU Philosophy)



Aaron Schultz (MSU, Philosophy)



From Hannah Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’ to the Confucian idea of ‘banality of good’

Peimin Ni (GVSU)

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