If a philosophy conference happens in an empty room, does it make a difference?
This week’s Philosophy Conference is already well under way by the time you’re reading this, and it’s very likely you’re not there.
The reason you’re probably not there is simple statistics: Only about 20 people will show up for the two-day event, which features a wide variety of papers written by guest undergraduate students, as well as notable Keynote Speaker Noel Carroll, who will be giving a presentation on humor and morality.
In a school of roughly 2,600 undergraduate students, that’s approximately 0.7 percent of the student body, or one third of the people crammed into the same kitchen last Saturday at that sweet dance party you probably didn’t attend either. This has been a huge problem not just for philosophy students organizing the event, but also for campus officials and administrators, local political leaders, all Americans and, frankly, all of humanity everywhere.
“We pretty much solved morality last year,” said Keith Schopentzsche, 21, one of the leaders who also attended the conference last year. “As in, we rejected any morality in any metaphysical or absolutist sense, but agreed an innate part of human cognition is a decision-making structure that gives value to certain choices over others, and that framing certain values in terms of morality can be beneficial to the species. But then like, no one was there to hear it! This is huge in terms of its immediate implications for postneocapitalist society! And also like, what you’re planning on doing this weekend.”
Part of the conference’s woes are believed to stem from the venue in which the talks will be held— the Murray Boardroom. It is well known around campus that this room is where organizations are put out to pasture and left to die. The disbanded fraternity Sigma Nu recently held a luncheon there, for instance, and ASUPS holds all of its Senate meetings in the room.
Last year’s conference reportedly resolved nearly every single paradox, fallacy, tension, dichotomy, contradiction, ambiguity and metaphysical dilemma, to a near completely empty audience. What promised to reconcile our existential angst and the unbearable nausea of freedom turned out to simply be another hypothetical tree falling in the analogous forest with the nearest-possible-worldly absence of people. In short, if anyone had actually shown up, philosophy would have been solved forever.
“Which would have been sad, but then hey, no one would have to take formal logic anymore, am I right?” Schopentzsche said.
Attendees voted unanimously to reject counter-factual dependence as causation, when, taken with a loose physicalism, almost immediately implied an epiphenomenal worldview of our own consciousness.
“This is super good news,” Schopentzsche said, “regardless of the implications for free will. Basically, like, our whole experience is just a hella chill movie that we’re watching. Isn’t that reassuring?”
After coming to an agreement on overall morality, the conference touched on systems theory, rejected the notion of “just-war” and praised Alien 3 as the most compelling film of the last half century.
“So we really want people to turn out this year,” Schopentzsche, who has been pushing for more posters and marketing, and allegedly even received a budget from ASUPS, said. “Because, we’re almost done with philosophy, and we don’t want people to miss out. And it’s going to be fun. Since we got rid of the boring stuff last year, we’re pretty much just gonna sort out time travel, and maybe tackle the existence of God if we have time. That’ll be a relief to finally figure out.”