Smile Politely

Listen Up: Speakers in C-U from December 1 – 7, 2008

You live near a major university. There are smart people that come here every week to talk to the general public about interesting topics. Perhaps you were not aware of this fact, or were overwhelmed by the sheer number of opportunities for possible transcendence. If that’s the case, Smile Politely understands and is here to help. Here are some speakers that will be on campus this week, and one of them took the time to answer a few questions about their area of expertise. Check one or more of them out if you have time.

Monday, December 1 @ 4 p.m.: Cyber-Physical Systems: From Sensing and Actuation to Information Spaces, Professor Steve LaValle of the Department of Computer Science at UIUC, 1404 Siebel Center

From the calendar description: “As the interplay between computation and physical systems becomes increasingly complex, the foundation upon which many related fields are built must be carefully reconsidered, calling for new abstractions and design philosophies.” A good way to ease back into things after a long weekend.

Tuesday, December 2 @ 11 a.m.: “Observed and Predicted Changes in the Alaskan Freeze and Thaw,” Michael Timlin of the UIUC Department of Atmospheric Science, Room 201 of the Water Survey Research Center, 2204 Griffith Dr., Champaign

From the calendar description: “In places where commerce is dependent on a frozen or thawed environment, the consequences are magnified. We will look at the changes observed at stations across Alaska during the latter half of the 20th century.”

Thursday, December 4 @ 9:30 a.m.: “Groundwater Investigations at a South Carolina Limestone Quarry,” Dr. John Shafer, Director of the Earth Sciences and Resources Institute at the University of South Carolina, Room 201 of the Water Survey Research Center, 2204 Griffith Dr., Champaign

Friday, December 5 @ 3 p.m.: “Resurrecting the Scarlet Letter: The Role of Shame in Punishment,” Krista Thomason, UIUC PhD Student in Philosophy, 213 Gregory Hall

Smile Politely: Can you give a little background on how you became interested in the role that shame plays in punishment?

Krista Thomason: My dissertation is about shame. In it, I defend the claim that shame plays an important role in our moral psychology. Since I argue for that conclusion, I decided to examine some of its implications. I started thinking about the different contexts in which shame can be appropriate. One of the controversial topics in philosophy is whether shame can be appropriate in the law.

SP: What would you hope that a non-academic would get out of your talk?

KT: My talk is actually geared toward non-experts. I would hope that a non-academic could take away that shame’s place in the law is a complex topic. I hope that my talk would make the audience reflect on their own convictions about punishment.

SP: Are you mainly concerned with criminal punishment, or punishment in a society as a whole?

KT: I am mainly interested in criminal punishment, but I am also interested in the function and justification of punishment as a whole.

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