October 26, 2022 | Wednesday, 6:15pm–7:30pm EDT

The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University

Making Space for Justice: Social Movements, Collective Imagination, and Political Hope
by Michele M Moody-Adams

From nineteenth-century abolitionism to Black Lives Matter today, progressive social movements have been at the forefront of social change. Yet it is seldom recognized that such movements have not only engaged in political action but also posed crucial philosophical questions about the meaning of justice and about how the demands of justice can be met.

Michele Moody-Adams argues that anyone who is concerned with the theory or the practice of justice—or both—must ask what can be learned from social movements. Drawing on a range of compelling examples, she explores what they have shown about the nature of justice as well as what it takes to create space for justice in the world. Moody-Adams considers progressive social movements as wellsprings of moral inquiry and as agents of social change, drawing out key philosophical and practical principles. Social justice demands humane regard for others, combining compassionate concern and robust respect. Successful movements have drawn on the transformative power of imagination, strengthening the motivation to pursue justice and to create the political institutions and social policies that can sustain it by inspiring political hope.

Making Space for Justice contends that the insights arising from social movements are critical to bridging the gap between discerning theory and effective practice—and should be transformative for political thought as well as for political activism.

Robert Gooding-Williams is the M. Moran Weston/Black Alumni Council Professor of African-American Studies and Professor of Philosophy and of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University.  He is the author of Zarathustra’s Dionysian Modernism (Stanford, 2001), Look, A Negro!: Philosophical Essays on Race, Culture, and Politics (Routledge, 2005), and In The Shadow of Du Bois: Afro-Modern Political Thought in America (Harvard, 2009).  Gooding-Williams was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018 and was 2020 Guggenheim Fellow.

Du Bois's Political Aesthetics: The Ends of Democracy and The Ends of Beauty

  1. Darkwater, Democracy, and Aesthetic Education | Monday, October 10, 2022 at 8:00 pm

  2. The Moral Psychology of White Supremacy | Monday, October 17, 2022 at 8:00 pm

  3. Beauty and Propaganda | Monday, October 24, 2022 at 8:00 pm


During the decade of the First World War (1910-1920), African American philosopher, W.E.B. Du Bois, argued that white supremacy functioned both domestically and internationally to thwart the democratic political aspirations of the earth’s “darker peoples,” thus intensifying their vulnerability to anti-black mob violence, race-based economic exploitation, and the devastation wrought by the war itself.  During the same decade, Du Bois elaborated an aesthetics—a philosophy of beauty—that conceptualized beauty as a political force capable of supporting the struggle against white supremacy: of sustaining the moral resolve required to fight white supremacy and of undermining the grip of white supremacy on the individuals who perpetuated it.  The central topic of my Schoff lectures is Du Bois’s turn to beauty as a weapon for defeating white supremacy and for fostering a more inclusive democratic citizenship.


64 Morningside Drive, 2nd Floor, NY, NY 10027

Elizabeth Benn was named the director of Major League Operations for the New York Mets. Elizabeth made franchise history by becoming the highest ranking female employee in baseball operations. Elizabeth received her M.A. in Philosophy in 2017.

Toronto Star Article-Elizabeth Benn

The Philosophy Department was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Joseph Raz. A beloved friend of the department, Joseph was a member of the Columbia Law School faculty and world-renowned legal philosopher whose prolific and influential scholarship offered new insights into the nature of law and legal reasoning, as well as the relationship between law, morality, and freedom, died on May 2 at Charing Cross Hospital in London. He was 83.

In Memoriam: Professor Joseph Raz

Congratulations to Jonathan Tanaka for being 2022 recipient of the prestigious Beinecke Scholarship. Columbia College posted a story about Jonathan Tanaka, and information about the Beinecke scholarship.

Congratulations to Christopher Peacocke for being one of three philosophers to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

The Hempel Award is the highest award that philosophers of science can receive for their contribution to the field. 

Congratulations to Andrew Richmond for receiving the 2020 Siff Award for his essay titled, "How Computation Explains". 

Allison will be joining the Columbia faculty on July 1, 2021 after completing a Bersoff Faculty Fellow position at NYU. Her areas of specialization are Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and Early Modern philosophy. 



We are happy to announce that John Morrison (Associate Professor, Barnard Philosophy) and Christos Papadimitriou (Donovan Family Professor, Columbia Computer Science) were awarded a $100,000 grant from the Columbia Data Science Institute  to create and teach a course at the intersection of philosophy, computer science, and neuroscience.   The grant comes from  Columbia's Collaboratory Fellows Fund and will allow John and Christos to create a course exploring the following issues: 

"Artificial neural networks can do amazing things. They can play chess, recognize faces, predict human behavior, learn language, create art. Natural neural networks -- that is to say, brains -- can do many of the same things, often a little more clumsily. But, unlike artificial networks, they can switch seamlessly between two tasks, learn to perform them
without supervision, and do not need to be told to -- actually, they can choose to refuse.

Brains provided the initial inspiration for the artificial networks, which is why we call them 'artificial neural networks.' But how deep are the similarities between the two? Do they share more than a few abilities, a similar structure, and a common nomenclature?"


The course will explore these issues from both philosophical and computational perspectives.  A companion lab course will teach students how to program their own artificial neural networks.


Congratulations to John and Christos for this exciting grant.