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Vitz: Philosophy week a success

UNF hosted the 12th-annual Northeast Florida Student Philosophy Conference Feb. 7 as professional speakers and two UNF philosophy students presented their papers on interdisciplinary philosophies.

The unifying theme for this year’s conference, Philosophy of Religion in Latin America, fostered submission of interdisciplinary topics varying from moral psychology, world languages, ethics, logic and the philosophy of mathematics, said Dr. Rico Vitz, assistant professor at the department of Philosophy.

The philosophy department received more than 25 papers from students from all across the country. The selecting process was executed in two phases.

In the first phase, judges, who are faculty members and graduate students, evaluated papers.

Less than a half of the papers were passed onto a committee set by the Philosophy Club, which selects the final nine who get to present at the conference, said Alexander Hetzel, president of the Philosophy Club.

Besides the nine students, the event featured two special speakers: Manuel Vargas, a professor at the University of San Francisco/Harvard-Radcliff Institute, and Guillermo Hurtado, a professor at the University of Mexico.

Sean Armil, a senior undergraduate student at UF who gave a presentation on free will and moral responsibility, went to last year’s Philosophy Conference in Daytona Beach. He found the audience at UNF very stimulating.

“They asked some very good questions,” he said. “But the main difference is in who is presenting. “

Two active members of the UNF Philosophy Club, Andrew Brenner and Meghan Orman, got to present their papers to the audience as well, Hetzel said.

Vitz believes this year’s conference, which was fully funded by the College of Arts and Sciences, was an improvement from last year, especially pertaining to attendance, he said.

About 100 people attended one of the 11 speeches and 20 listened to each of the three concurrent
sessions. In addition, the variety of student presentations allowed for more disciplines to engage in the discussions.

“We were able to unify the theme that brought together the history, world languages and the department of religion that hosted several panelist speakers,” Vitz said.

The philosophy department wanted to get all majors to benefit from the conference, which is the reason for such a broad topic to be presented, Hetzel said.

Besides the ability to socialize and connect with professionals from philosophy field, these conferences help others understand the scope of what philosophers are trying to address today, he said.

“We want to create a culture where the college population expects the event every year,” Vitz said. “This can be partially achieved by more interdisciplinary papers.”

E-mail Andrea Farah at [email protected].

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