Upcoming Club Meeting: Tues, Nov. 9th!

Philosophy Club will be meeting next Tuesday (November 9that 3:00 PM in room 313 (i.e., on the 3rd floor) of the University Student Union building. Discussion will center around the short article, “Five Reasons Why Moral Philosophy Is Distracting and Harmful,” by Ronnie de Sousa. Undoubtedly, the very pretense that moral philosophy could be harmful will strike many of you as ridiculous. Good! I hope you’ll come ready to defend moral philosophy from de Sousa’s ridiculous — or sensible, depending what you think — insinuation 🙂 

Here’s an opening snippet from de Sousa’s case:

I have taught moral philosophy for several decades. I have come to regard the very idea of morality as fraudulent. Morality, I now believe, is a shadow of religion, serving to comfort those who no longer accept divine guidance but still hope for an ‘objective’ source of certainty about right and wrong. Moralists claim to discern the existence of commands as inescapable as those of an omniscient and omnipotent God. Those commands, moral philosophers teach, deserve to prevail over all other reasons to act – always, everywhere, and for all time. But that claim is bogus.

By ‘morality’, I refer to the sort of rules the transgression of which common sense decries as ‘immoral’, ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’. Such rules are generally regarded as obliging us without qualification. They prescribe duties not in virtue of your goals or role – such as ‘the duties of the secretary include taking minutes of the meeting’ – but without qualification. They are claimed to ‘bind’ us merely in virtue of our status as human beings. And philosophers have constructed a vast industry devoted to the elaboration of subtle theories designed to justify them. Against morality thus conceived, I have five complaints.

1st Philosophy Club Meeting of Sp. 21! Join Us!

We’re having our first meeting of the semester next Thursday, October 21st, in Room 420A of the Engineering and Technology building at 6:00 PM

TL; DR: the discussion will center on a variety of ways in which attitude is philosophically interesting.
Here’s a longer spiel of my thoughts for the discussion topic:

In analytic philosophy, attitude is most familiarly conceived in its relationship to propositions. Particular attitudes and the propositions to which they’re related are taken as forming many of our basic mental states (for instance, belief). However, analytic philosophy does not seem to have had much to say about what attitudes are nor their experiential qualities. Best to leave the issue, it seems they thought, to empirical psychology. 

Various conceptions of attitudes can be found elsewhere in philosophy, as well as outside of it. In early modern European philosophy, attitudes and affects were sometimes thought of according to the concept of “conatus,” an impulse, striving, or tendency toward the world. Recently, some philosophers and psychologists have divided attitudes into explicit and implicit kinds. Of implicit attitudes, controversy has focused on the “implicit association test” (IAT), a supposed indicator of a person’s inclinations to act on racial stereotypes. Controversy aside, implicit attitudes (and the related phenomenon of cognitive biases) provide a framework for explaining the automaticity of the various positions we take toward the world that are evoked in our day to day lives. What emerges in the consideration of alternative conceptions of attitude is a messy and complicated collage of understanding. Is there any reason to embrace the mess or should we declare one view ‘the best explanation’?

Whatever an ‘attitude’ is, attitudes are important to us in our lives. Attitudes provide guidance in our social intercourse — for example, are we polite or are we jerks? They are inescapable yet we are sometimes capable of altering the attitudes we take — for example, we cannot avoid anger but we can sometimes change how we respond to the object of our anger. And our capacity to influence our attitudes, as well as those of others, plays a crucial role in defining a culture’s ethos and their responses to trying times. Nowhere is this perhaps felt more, today, than in response to the news of climate change. The shadow of an uncertain but miserable future brought to us by a changing planet inspires a deep pessimism. And although pessimism may be unpleasant and debilitating, strangely it can also be comfortable. Though there are obstacles to responding to promised climate disasters, do we want to live a future life of comfortable malaise? Might we instead take a cue from the advice to adopt a “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”?

Hope to see you there,
David Dixon

Elections: Call for New Officers!

Hello All!

As we return to regular meetings and activities, the Club is now looking for new club members to shape its agenda and social atmosphere. There are several benefits to participating in a club’s leadership, not the least of which is that it’s a fun, rewarding, and usefully challenging experience. I’ve been part of my community college’s, university’s, and now CSULA’s philosophy clubs. All were invaluable and great learning experiences.

We’re looking for individuals who want to work with a few others on creating an enriching social space — a place in which students can freely talk philosophy, make new friends, participate in non-academic activities (like games and movies), and think about their relationship with the world and future. In other words, we’re looking for new Club Officers to be part of our Club Cabinet!

Here is a list of the possible and necessary offices:

  1. Club President
  2. Vice President or the following two offices:
  3. Internal Vice President
  4. External Vice President
  5. Secretary
  6. Treasurer
  7. Social Media Officer
  8. Multi-media and Design Officer
  9. Inter-club Liaison
  10. Book Club Liaison
  11. Club Historian

We are required to have a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer–but there’s opportunities to do much more if desired. Here’s some description of each office; a full, formal description can be found in the Club constitution (see the prior post).

  1. President: the President sets the tone and drive for the Club, and helps out in any way they’re needed. This is a position of leadership, oversight, delegation, and responsibility. The President is not a tyrant; but they are looked to by other officers and club members for guidance and decisions. They are expected to come up with plans, initiate new activities and events, and put them into action. They are also expected to work with all officers on their particular tasks if needed.
  2. Vice President: the Vice President has several specific tasks (all of which are partially shared with the President and other officers). Consequently, it might be helpful to break the office up into these two more specialized offices:
  3. Internal Vice President: The Internal Vice President is primarily expected to care for the rapport and morale of the Club. They concern themselves with the happiness and enjoyment of the members. So, they head up non-academic activities such as playing board/card/party/online games, arranging movie or show watching nights, conducting skits or artistic interventions in student life, and engagement in acts of community service.
  4. External Vice President: The External VP is focused on Club representation. Here are some examples: presenting the Club to the student body through on-campus promotional efforts like in-class announcements; tabling at the Arts and Letters Fair; advertising Club information on social media, college radio, bannering, and distribution of fliers (if there’s no Social Media Officer; if there is, they help); promoting the undergraduate and graduate philosophy journal; and so on.
  5. Secretary: The primary duty of the Secretary is to keep the minutes and schedule of Club meetings and event. This also includes keeping track of important info and dates, and communicating this to members. The Secretary also handles the Club’s email list, among other things.
  6. Treasurer: The Treasurer is the financial manager of the Club. For more specifics, see our constitution!
  7. Social Media Officer: The Social Media Officer promotes the Club and its activities through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and any new platforms that come into existence. The Club has accounts on many of these platforms already.
  8. Multi-media and Design Officer (MMD): Along with the Secretary, the MMD helps write and disseminate Club information but they also have a wide variety of other exploits! These include managing, editing, and updating the Club’s website (including the blog if anyone wants to use it); liaison and collaborate with members engaged in projects like podcasting, event planning, or community outreach; and to help design, produce, or solicit other CSULA students to come up with creative, aesthetic, artistic, or otherwise visual displays for the Club. Since there’s a lot of variety, this office can always be divided into two offices.
  9. Club Historian: is the member consulted on questions of constitutionality and formal procedure, as well as how past Club officers have conducted business (if records are available). This is an optional office that takes some of the duties from the Secretary and Internal Vice President.
  10. Inter-Club Liaison: The Inter-Club Liaison is our ambassador to the Associated Students Incorporated. They’ll attend all their necessary meetings on the Club’s behalf; initiate all communications with other campus organizations; and (with the Treasurer) make requests for funds to ASI.
  11. Book Club Representative: In the event that Club members decide to form a book club, they’ll appoint someone to represent their interests on the Club Cabinet.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the Club, even in a less formal capacity, send an email with your name, class year (e.g., “freshman”), and interests to csulaphilosophyclub@gmail.com.


Dave Dixon

Vol. 15 of Philosophy in Practice is Out Now!

Philosophy in Practice is a yearly, student-run philosophy journal featuring essays from both CSULA undergraduates and graduate students.

This year’s volume includes a spotlight feature on professor Henry Mendell and essays on the philosophy of mind; free will; the metaphysics of spacetime; the bioethics of disability; the ethics of suicide; the virtue ethics of Plato’s Protagoras; the foundations of human rights law; and the influence of cognitive biases in politics.

This year’s authors include:

  • Stephen Boynton
  • Daniel Castro
  • Alexandra Meyering
  • John Hurley
  • David Randall
  • Heather Norwood
  • David Dixon
  • Sabrina Pirzadaa
  • Hudson Olander
  • Marcel Giwargis
  • James Savage

The Spring 2021 edition is now both virtually available (below) and in hard copy in the department’s main office.



Cal State L.A.’s Philosophy Club has regular club meetings during the fall and spring semesters.

Philosophy Club is a place where students can continue the kind of conversation that happens in the classroom, and which draws so many to philosophy in the first place. It is a place where students present and discuss philosophical ideas, as well as just hang out, play board and card games, engage in silliness, and have fun.

Philosophy Club also strives to present Cal State L.A. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and opportunities. We host a Transfer Welcome event during the fall semester to welcome and help incoming students learn about the department. We share departmental and extra-departmental information on activities and events in philosophy. And we elect club officers to handle various aspects of club life, offering the opportunity to develop useful non-academic skills such as event planning and public speaking.

Here at our Word Press page, you’ll find regular information about club activities and our department. Again, welcome. We hope to see you at a meeting, soon.

Roundtable Cancelled

Hi friends and family!

Unfortunately, we got word from the Arts and Letters Dean this morning, and they are cancelling all National Humanities Advocacy Day events today. Since our Retheorizing Sexuality roundtable is a part of those events, it is also cancelled. If we postpone it to a later date, I’ll send out an update later on with the new date and time.

Sorry for the inconvenience.


3/10 Roundtable!

Hello, transhistorical friends and family!

1) We will not be holding a club meeting this Thursday (3/12).

2) That is because this Tuesday (3/10), from 4PM-5:30PM, at the State Playhouse by the Music building courtyard, the club and department will be co-hosting “Retheorizing Sexuality: A Roundtable“! A panel of students and faculty will be answering important questions about sexuality together! We’ll talk shop about desire, ethics, violence, minor and marginalized identities, and a great deal more. It will be a lovely time; I am very excited for it. I’m attaching the event flyer to this message.

3) The roundtable is happening on a special day: National Humanities Advocacy Day! Different clubs and departments across the humanities will be tabling across campus, talking about what’s interesting about our fields and what people in the humanities do with their knowledge and skills. The Philosophy department will be tabling on the main campus walkway between 11AM-3PM. I will be there; be sure to join us! I give no guarantees, but there may be a chess table present alongside some paradoxes and thought experiments.

That’s about it! I’m tired, and I must now sleep.


3/5 Meeting!

Hello, peppery friends and family! I am drinking hot chocolate, which is known in parts of the world as “Blessed Cocoa Liquid”. I have two things to mention this message.

1) We will be meeting this Thursday (3/5), from 3PM-4:20PM, at KH C2096A. We will be addressing some questions about sexuality, and the philosophy of sexuality! There is a philosophy roundtable coming up soon on sexuality (more on that in number 2), and so we’re gonna take a look at a couple of the questions that will come up in the roundtable. Let me give you two to think over. You obviously do not have to come up with full answers to either of these! I just pass them over to you to mull over before next meeting:

a) We make sense of a lot of sexuality through the sexual orientations that we live–being gay, bi, straight, or so on. These categories are immensely helpful in understanding ourselves, but how may sexuality be more complicated beyond these categories? How does sexuality complicate these orientations themselves?

b) How do we talk about ethics and morality in sexuality in a necessary, important way? Sexuality has often been, perhaps, wrongly regulated according to social norms and conventions, thus harming people in the process. Yet, it seems evident that some expressions of sexuality really are wrong, or harmful. How do we navigate this difference? What vocabulary do we need to navigate it?


2) We’re talking about sexuality next meeting because on March 10th, from 4PM-5:30PM, at the State Playhouse by the Music building, we’re holding a philosophy roundtable event on sexuality! A panel of students and faculty will be working through important theoretical questions about sexuality along with the rest of the audience. I’ll remind you again next week that this is coming up, and I’ll include some extra details at that point as well. For now, mark your calendar! It’ll be a lovely time.

That’s all for now! I’m going back to writing now.


2/27 Meeting!

Hello, waking friends and family!

Last meeting, interestingly enough, we ended up saying nothing about nothingness. That is fitting for the topic, but we should, unfortunately, say something about it. So, this Thursday (2/27), from 3PM-4:20PM, at KH C2096A, we will start our discussion on nothingness! What at all does it mean when we try and talk about nothingness? Why is there something in the world rather than nothing–and what does that question even mean? What is at stake? What do we make of moments in our lives where we “feel like nothing”? Bring your feelings and thoughts, and we’ll air them through Thursday.

Reminder to drink some water! Take care of yourself.