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Philosophy Events

To find out about upcoming events, join our Facebook Group!


Philosophical Forum

Once or twice a year the Philosophy Department invites a philosopher to give a public lecture, or a panel of scholars to discuss a philosophical topic of general interest.  All Frostburg State University students, faculty, staff, and community are welcome to attend.  For more information, contact the chair of the department, Dr. Michael Mathias, 301-687-3094 or

Spring 2017 Philosophical Forum:

Advance Directives: Problems and Prospects

Dr. Eric Vogelstein, Duquesne University

Tuesday, April 18th
7:00-8:30 p.m.
Atkinson Room, Lane University Center 

Philosophical Forum Poster Spring 2017
Advance directives, also known as living wills, allow people to make decisions about what sort of medical treatment they want, or don’t want, should they no longer be able to make those decisions for themselves.  Advance directives are widely praised among healthcare professionals as an important way of safeguarding patient autonomy.  This talk will describe three distinct problems with that conventional wisdom, and an additional philosophical problem with the use of advance directives for patients with severe dementia.  In light of those concerns, the question we must ask is whether the widespread use of advance directives should be supported, and whether advance directives should be broadly recommended to patients, as is the current practice.  It will be suggested that while advance directives are ethically sound tools for patients in certain fairly specific circumstances, it is dubious that advance directives can serve their intended function for most of us.



Recent Philosophical Forums:

poster for Fall 2016 Philosophical Forum

Fall 2016 Philosophical Forum: 
Dr. David R. Cerbone, 
"On Trying (& Failing) to Become Who You Are"
Tuesday, October 25, 7- 8:30 pm, Atkinson Room, Lane University Center

Dr. David R. Cerbone will offer an extended reflection on a parable from Hasidic Judaism ascribed to Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol.  Although disarmingly simple, the parable manages to raise deep and difficult questions about the project of becoming who you are.  Insofar as we are gripped by Zusya's query, we feel called upon individually to take up that project; at the same time, the query challenges the conceit that we have at any point succeeded in that task.  Cerbone suggests that this curious way of articulating our highest calling while foretelling its inevitable failure goes to the heart of existentialism's distinctive concern with the nature of human existence.  Connections to the ideas and work of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Beauvoir, and Sartre will be drawn throughout.

Dr. Cerbone is a professor of philosophy at West Virginia University.  His research focuses primarily on the phenomenological tradition, with emphasis on the work of Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl, and Wittgenstein and early analytic philosophy.  He is the author of Understanding Phenomenology (2006), Heidegger: A Guide for the Perplexed (2008), and Existentialism: All that Matters (2016).


Fall 2015

The Thinning of the Thin Blue Line:
The Struggle for Renewed Legitimacy in American Policing

Dr. Jim Nolan, WVU

Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2015 7:00 p.m.Nolan focuses on the struggle for a renewed legitimacy in American policing. Following decades of declining crime rates, there is a growing undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the status quo in American policing. The deaths of unarmed African-American men at the hands of the police in Ferguson, New York, Baltimore, North Charleston and other cities has raised serious concerns about the use and misuse of force by the police. The public discourse on the issue of police legitimacy is polarizing, which some suspect has put the police in danger of retaliatory violence.

Nolan was a police officer in Wilmington, Del., for 13 years and a unit chief in the FBI’s Crime Analysis, Research and Development Unit. His research focuses on urban policing, intergroup relations and the measurement of crime. He is coauthor of “The Violence of Hate: Confronting Racism, Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Bigotry.”

The forum was co-sponsored by the African-American Studies Program, the Sociology Department and the FSU Honors Program.

Fall 2014 Philosophical Forum poster
Fall 2014 Philosophical Forum poster
Fall 2014 Philosophical Forum:

Beyond Religious Freedom:

Conscience and the Law After Hobby Lobby

by Dr. Austin Dacey

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. in Lane Center Atkinson Room (Rm 232)

In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “closely held” for-profit corporations cannot be required to provide health plans including contraception because this violates owners’ free exercise of religion. This talk presents a legal, philosophical and moral case against special protection of religion and for equal treatment of all claims of conscience.

Dr. Dacey was a Lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Frostburg State University in 2014-2015.  He was a former NGO (non-governmental organization) representative to the United Nations, and the author of The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public.  His writings have appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, Salon and Dissent.

Fall 2013 Philosophical Forum:

What Value Food?

Gas Tank or Dinner Table? The Dilemmas of Using Food for Fuel, presented by Dr. Joan Serafin Andorfer, Political Science

Food and a Meaningful Life, presented by Dr. Skott Brill, Philosophy

How Far Should We Eat? Traversing the Ethical Terrain of Eating Locally, presented by Dr. Richard A. Russo, Geography

Moderated by Dr. Shoshana Brassfield, assistant professor of philosophy. 

The forum was presented in conjunction with Food Day--a nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.  The event was also a food drive for the Western Maryland Food Bank, and attendees were encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item.

Phil Forum poster Fall 2013

Spring 2013 Philosophical Forum:

The Gandhian Philosophy of Nonviolence in African Liberation Movements: Lessons for Our Time

Dr. Gail Presby, Univ of Detroit Mercy

Gail Presby poster

Fall 2012 Philosophical Forum:

Economic Justice in America's Election Year

Dr. John Neral, FSU
Dr. Suzanne McCoskey, FSU
Dr. John O'Rorke, FSU
Dr. Jean-Marie Makang, FSU

Moderator: Dr. Michael Mathias, FSU

Fall 2012 Phil Forum Poster

Spring 2012 Philosophical Forum: 

Why You Should Make Up Your Mind Already: 
Descartes and the Virtue of Resolution

Dr. Shoshana Brassfield, FSU
Brassfield Phil Forum poster

Fall 2011 Philosophical Forum:

ThePhilosopher and the Guitar:
Music, Freedom and Human Rights

Dr. Austin Dacey
Dr. Dacey poster


Other Past Events:

Do Not Resist poster 7-9 pm November 9, 2016

Documentary Screening:  Do Not Resist


7 - 9 PM | WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2016



The Ethics of Counter-Terrorism - Oct 5, 2015

Ms. Molly J. Tasker, Esq.

Ms. Molly J. Tasker, Esq. was a Central Intelligence Operations Officer whose primary focus was counter-terrorism for over a quarter of a century. Ms. Tasker has had an extensive career in a wide variety of international settings working on such activities as assisting the Department of State, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the United States Regime Crimes Liaison Office prepare salient data for Sadam Hussein’s war crimes issues.  Also, she served 3 months as the Representative of the Central Intelligence at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Headquarters in Kosovo deconflicting operations and coordinating information sharing with all NATO military and civilian participants in Kosovo.

Thanks to Dr. Jack Newhouse for arranging Ms. Tasker's visit. If you have any quesetions, please feel free to contact Dr. Newhouse ( or Dr. Mathias (

GREENWICH VILLAGE 1913:  Suffrage, Labor, and the New Woman
Reacting to the Past Workshop, February 28 – March 1, 2015
GV Workshop Photo

You are taken to the beginning of the modern era when urbanization, industrialization, and massive waves of immigration were transforming the U.S. way of life.  The game begins with suffragists taking to the streets demanding a constitutional amendment for the vote.  Labor has turned to the strike to demand living wages and better conditions; African-Americans, suffering from the worst working conditions and social segregations, debate how to support their community through education and protest.  Members of these groups converge in Greenwich Village to debate their views with artists and bohemians.  The game asks what social changes are most important and how one can or should realize these goals.  
This workshop was presented in partnership with the Reacting to the Past Institute and the FSU Department of History, Department of Philosophy, Women’s Studies Program, Center for Teaching Excellence, and President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  Funding was provided by the Martha T. and Ralph M. Race Western History Lecture Fund and the FSU President’s Experiential Learning Fund, Office of the Provost, and Faculty Development and Sabbatical Subcommittee.

Frederick Douglass, Slavery, Abolition, and the Constitution: 1845 Workshop
Feb 16-17, 2013
This workshop was presented in partnership with Reacting to the Past and the FSU Philosophy Department, History Department, African American Studies Program, Women’s Studies Program, Center for Teaching Excellence Advisory Group, President’s Advisory Council for Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Black Student Alliance, and National Council of Negro Women.

FD Workshop poster


This project was made possible by a grant from the Maryland Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this workshop do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Maryland Humanities Council.

MHC logo

Additional financial support was provided by the FSU President’s Experiential Learning Fund, the Office of the Provost, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the FSU Faculty Development and Sabbatical Subcommittee.

For more information, please visit:

Majors Fair

Majors Fair 2           Majors Fair Mathias
In the Fall we set up a booth at the FSU Majors Fairs to recruit new philosophy majors.  In 2011, philosophy majors had fun asking passing students to answer deep philosophical questions.


Annual Social Gathering

Group at gathering          Phil Social 2012
Each spring, as the academic year draws to a close, the department invites all majors and minors to an informal social gathering, where good food and light conversation are enjoyed. This event also serves as the occasion to present the department’s annual award—Certificate of the Society of Socrates and Hypatia—to those students who have demonstrated academic excellence in philosophy.