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Thursday, May 1, 2003

Philosophy Symposium Highlights Leading Thinkers on Citizenship, Public Action

SALISBURY, MD--- Two of America's liveliest writers and thinkers lead Salisbury University's Spring Philosophy Symposium titled "What is a Good Citizen?" Saturday, May 3, from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Harvard University's Elaine Scarry argues for a paradigm shift in the way we think about citizenship after September 11. Author of On Beauty and Being Just, Scarry will be engaged in dialogue by Dana Villa from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Scarry caused a stir with an online article she wrote for the Boston Review, in which she argued that despite an increasingly "authoritarian" national defense since World War II, it has proven ineffective particularly on September 11, 2001. Ironically, the actions of passengers in Flight 93 that day might hold clues to a new defense strategy.

Scarry is the Walter M. Cabot professor of Aesthetic and the General Theory of Value at Harvard. An English professor, her writings lean toward the philosophical. She argues in her 1999 book that the experience of beauty awakens in us an appreciation of and passion for justice. In 2000 she shared the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism with fellow Harvard professor Philip Fisher.

Dana Villa is an associate professor of political theory. In his book Socratic Citizenship he argues more value should be placed on conscientious citizenship with emphasis on the value of independent thought and action in public life. He is one of the foremost authorities on 20th century political thinker Hannah Arendt, whose theories - particularly those concerning the banality of evil - Villa says are often misunderstood.

The morning session is in Caruthers Hall Auditorium, and the afternoon session is in Henson Science Hall, Room 243. The afternoon session is devoted to open discussion.

A continental breakfast is available at 9 a.m., and lunch is available in the Commons. A reception with the participants follows immediately after the program in the Philosophy House. The public is cordially invited to attend this free program.

Reservations are not required, but those attending are asked to call 410-677-5070 or e-mail or visit the University's Web site at for more information.

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