Eunice Belgum Memorial Lectures
Lincoln’s Ethics: A Philosophical Assessment
Thomas Carson '72
Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago
Lincoln the Politician: Slavery, Compromise, and Moral Luck
Monday, March 7
Lincoln made many compromises with slavery. He was not an abolitionist before 1864;
he promised to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law; he rescinded Fremont’s order of partial
emancipation in Missouri; and his Emancipation Proclamation did not free people in the border states. I argue that these actions were morally justified because they were necessary in order to win the Civil War and that, in all of these actions, Lincoln opposed and limited slavery as much as possible.
Lincoln the Man and the Myth: Character, Racism, and Moral Luck
Tuesday, March 8
Lincoln’s virtues – his kindness, compassion, courage, honesty, and willingness to ignore
personal slights for the sake of the greater good – are well known. The most serious and
damning criticism of his character is the charge that he was a racist. Some hold that Lincoln was a good man with many virtues, but that his racism was a serious character flaw that considerably diminished his moral goodness. I reject the view that Lincoln’s character was seriously flawed in this way. With regard to issues of prejudice against other racial groups, Lincoln was, on balance, a virtuous and praiseworthy person. I also argue that, in some important ways, the Lincoln myth understates his goodness and virtue.
Thomas Carson '72 (left) pictured with Eunice Belgum '67 and Mark Overvold '70 at the Viriginia Philosophical Association meeting at James Madison University, October 1977.
Booksigning will take place after each lecture • Books are available in the St. Olaf Bookstore • Parking is available for visitors, faculty, and staff in the Buntrock Commons parking lot.
Map and directions to campus
The Belgum Lectures, now in their 32nd year, honor the memory of Eunice Belgum, who graduated from St. Olaf College in 1967. The lecture series was established in the hope that Eunice's tragic death in 1977 would not end her impact on the profession, teaching, and scholarship she loved so much. While the lectures may be on any topic, the philosophy department makes a special effort to choose topics in areas of special interest to Eunice, namely ethics, philosophy of mind, and feminism.
Eunice received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University. Her dissertation, "Knowing Better: An Account of Akrasia," was published posthumously by Garland Publishers. Upon leaving Harvard, Eunice began an exceptionally promising career in philosophy, teaching at Trinity College and the College of William and Mary. She was one of the original members of the Society for Women in Philosophy.
The lectures are supported by a fund established by Eunice's family and friends.
Eunice Belgum with her disertation director, Hilary Putnam, and colleague Georges Rey
Belgum Lectures through the Years
"Lincoln's Ehtics: A Philosophical Assessment"
2010 - Elliott Sober
"Philosophical Reflections on Darwin"
2009 - Barbara Herman
"Making Morals Matter"
2008 – Julia Annas
"Virtue and Happiness"
2006 - Galen Strawson
2005 - Jonathan Lear
"The Collapse of Civilization"
2004 - Bas C. van Fraassen
"Seeing and Measuring: Connecting Science to Experience"
2003 - Margaret Urban Walker
"Forgiveness and Moral Repair"
2002 - Frederick Stoutland
"How To Believe in Free Will"
2001 - Lydia Goehr
"Listening, Laughing and Learning"
2000 - Stephan Darwall
"Two Dogmas of Empiricism in Ethics"
1999 - James Harris
1998 - Jean Bethke Elshtain
"How Far Have We Fallen?"
1997 - Hillary Putnam
"Mind, Matter, and Making Sense"
1996 - Gary Iseminger
"Aestheticism: Defined and Defended"
1995 - Georges Rey
"Superficialism about Mind and Meaning"
1994 - Helen Longino
"Scientific Knowledge and Feminist Theoretical Virtues"
1993 - Amelie Rorty
"The Many Faces of Morality"
1992 - Arthur Caplan
"Ethics and the Genetic Revolution"
1991 - Nancy Sherman
"Virtue and Ethics"
1990 - Allan Gibbard
1989 - Keith Gunderson
"The Aesthetic Robot"
1988 - Laurence Thomas
"Living Morally: A Psychology of Moral Character"
1987 - Rosemarie Tong
"Feminist Social Psychology"
1986 - Kenneth Sayre
"Myths for Our Technological Future"
1985 - Merold Westphal
"The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism"
1984 - Naomi Scheman
"Authority and Paranoia: The Social Construction of Gender and the Philosophical Self"
1983 - Georg Henrik Von Wright
"Truth, Knowledge, and Freedom"
1982 - Martha Nussbaum
"The Fragility of Goodness"
1981 - Gareth B. Matthews
1980 - Dagfinn Follesdal
"Understanding and Rationality"
1979 - Kathryn Pyne Parsons
"Not Judge, Not Victim, Nor Savior"