I’m in the midst of a bit of a tour, speaking at 3 different places between today and Monday. Today I spoke in a class at Cedarville University on “Hauerwas and Justice”. Tomorrow, I’ll present my paper “Teaching to Persons, Not Computers” at the Midwest regional Evangelical Philosophical Society conference. On Monday, I’ll be speaking in two classes at Bethel on “Moral Reasoning and Human Rights – Three Approaches” and at a lunch, giving a talk that I’m calling “‘It Was the Best of Times. It Was the Worst of Times.’: Reflections on Graduate School”. I’ll be doing some posts on the road that will include some content, some reviews of dining places, and general thoughts about what’s going on.
Traveling the World…
Yesterday, after teaching my classes in the morning, I traveled up north, flying into Indianapolis, and driving to Dayton, Ohio. Equipped with my Kindle for the flight, I began reading The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by Brian Christian. While I will review the book when I complete it at a later date, it is a book that I’m thoroughly enjoying reading. Christian was a confederate for the Loebner Prize in 2009 and the book is a discussion of the thoughts and insights he had in preparing for the competition and that emerged following the competition. The Loebner Prize goes to the “Most Human Computer”, that is, the computer that does the best at trying to convince a human that the computer is human as well through conversation. Christian was one of the confederates that try to convince another human that he is a human as well. (All of this is done through chat software in different rooms.) Given my interest in the Turing Test (off of which this competition is based), I could hardly put the book down during the flight from Dallas to Indy and look forward to continuing it and posting thoughts from it.
The drive from Indianapolis to Dayton was filled with great hits from the 80s, even though the temperature dropped nearly 25 degrees from when I got in the car in Indy till I got to my hotel in Dayton. Nothing warms my heart like some great 80s music.
This morning on my way to Cedarville, I passed a Tim Horton’s. Given my love for their donuts and coffee, I had no choice but to stop. If only all mornings could start that way. It did slightly redeem the fact that it is the end of March and it was below freezing according to the rental car.
Stop One: Cedarville University: Hauerwas and Justice
My talk at Cedarville was on Hauerwas and Justice, accompanying the class discussion on the chapter in The Peaceable Kingdom on social ethics. For Hauerwas, justice is a matter of reconciliation between God and humans and between humans. While this may promote similar actions to a Rawlsian conception of justice as fairness, it is fundamentally different, as it has a different motivation and intention than the Rawlsian conception. Hauerwas encourages Christians not to compromise what it means to be just in order to “accomplish good” in the world. Instead of striving to have a society of people who do actions that look like they do just and fair actions, Hauerwas believes that Christians should strive to form a community of people who are actually just. Formation is much more difficult than imitation (although imitation can play a role in formation), but we should not settle for imitation instead of formation, even if it seems quicker and more effective presently.
The students were responsive and asked insightful questions with thoughtful responses as well. I’m not sure if that is a reflection of Cedarville’s Biblical and Theological Studies department or the professor, John White, (or both), but I applaud those students and those who are developing those students to be engaged theological persons.
Coffee Shop Review
This afternoon, I’m working from a coffee shop in Cedarville called Stoney Creek Roasters. I must say that this is possibly the best coffee shop I’ve worked in. The atmosphere is rustic, yet homey, with good music playing in the background, yet the music is by no means overwhelming. I enjoyed a nice turkey bacon club panini and chips for lunch, along with a raspberry-peach-vanilla soda (both on the recommendation of the cashier). Both hit the spot and I would definitely get each of them if I were to come a second time. After my lunch, I buckled down and got to work with a reasonably priced cup of coffee that hit the spot on this cold day. If I lived in Cedarville, Ohio, I would be a regular here for sure.
Tonight, after dinner, I’m heading to Cincinnati, for tomorrow and Saturday’s Midwest regional Evangelical Philosophical Society conference.