The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

William H. Timbers ’37 Lectures

Prof. Lee Epstein, Washington University in St. Louis, delivers Timbers Lecture

On Thursday, April 11, 2019, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences hosted a public lecture with Ethan A. H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor Lee Epstein, who is a faculty member at the Washington University in St. Louis Center for Empirical Research in the Law. The Wiliam H. Timbers ’37 Lecture, entitled “The Evolving U.S. Supreme Court,” was co-sponsored by the Dartmouth Lawyers Association and the Dartmouth Legal Studies Faculty Group. 

Prof. Epstein largely focused on how the Kavanaugh nomination will affect the ideological balance of, and decisions made by, the Supreme Court. In forming predictions, she drew on her analyses of ideological trends within the Court, as well as evaluations of the idiosyncrasies of individual Justices.

Public Program: “Rights and Rites: The Supreme Court, Voting, and Marriage Equality”

As the highest court in our nation with the power of judicial review, the Supreme Court has always been pivotal in formulating both our nation’s identity and trajectory. Over the last several years, however, the Supreme Court has become an especially hot topic as it has made sweeping and highly publicized landmark decisions that have reverberated throughout the country and that promise to continue reverberating for many years to come. Yet the Supreme Court’s record has been curiously mixed between progressive and conservative outcomes, legalizing gay marriage for the LGBTQIA+ community in 2015 yet striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act for the African-American community just two years earlier. To some, this is seen as moments of social progress on the Supreme Court being punctured by retreats toward conservatism.

Yale Professor Daniel Markovits on Economic Equality and Inequality

In his pubic lecture titled “Meritocracy and Its Discontents,” Markovits sets out to discuss the interrelationship of meritocracy and aristocracy. As Markovits argued, both aristocracy and meritocracy foster the same ideological conceit that is an unjust allocation of advantage. Markovits’ argument constituted three points: (1) modern meritocracy has transformed the character of economic inequality; (2) the hyper-meritocracy that has developed in the United States today benefits no one; and (3) merit itself has become a sham.

During a lunch with Dartmouth students on the day of his lecture, Markovits started by describing the prevalence of economic equality in the U.S.

“Things I care about most at the moment include economic equality and inequality,” said Markovits. “Inequality in the market has increased dramatically since 1970 and may begin to happen elsewhere in the world. My intent is to describe the situation we find ourselves in, show why its unsuited to being addressed by traditional arguments about redistribution, and articulate new arguments in the face of changing circumstances.”

Public Program: The William H. Timbers '37 Lecture - "Mechanical Brains and Responsible Choices: Challenges of Neuroscience to Responsibility" this Wednesday

Please join us for the William H. Timbers ’37 Lecture: “Mechanical Brains and Responsible Choices: Challenges of Neuroscience to Responsibility” with Michael Moore in Rockefeller 003 at 4:30 pm in October 8, 2014.

What is the cause of human behavior? Is it something abstract that exists in our psychological consciousness, or is it the result of a fundamental physical chain of processes that gets transferred form neuron to neuron? A 2013 article from The New York Times stated, “Once we understand the brain well enough, we will be able to understand behavior…We will see that people don’t really possess free will; their actions are caused by material processes emerging directly out of nature.” If humans don’t possess control over their own mental processes, does it mean that scientists will eventually have the capability to control behavior if they are able to solve the biological chain of psychological processes?

Will Kymlicka Presents: "Animals and the Frontiers of Citizenship" - Tuesday, Feb 5, 2012 at 4:30 PM in Rocky 003

Could man’s best friend be man’s equivalent with regard to citizenship? From the pets that we love to the animals we fear and admire, it seems there is a clear distinction between animal and human—with the right of citizenship being reserved exclusively for humans. However, are animals deserving of protection beyond animals cruelty, potentially even citizenship?

Professor Will Kymlicka is the Chair in Political Philosophy at Queen’s University, and focuses his studies on multicultural citizenship. He questions whether animals are the type of being with whom humans can establish fair terms of cooperating citizenship. Furthermore, if citizenship were extended to “unruly beasts,” would it erode the highest forms of humanity and justice embodied within the traditional idea of citizenship?

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