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SSA could not be possible without the generous support of Drs. Herbert A. and Betty Lou Lubs and the Science, Society, and the Arts Research Conference Endowment. We are deeply grateful!
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Friday, March 17 • 10:30am - 11:45am
The Moral Legacies of Martin Luther King, Jr. — Science Addition 214

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Lethal Policing and Just-War: Building an Ethical Framework (Paper)
John Juneau
In this paper, I examine the current happenings of lethal policing in the United States from the perspective of the just-war tradition. Leveraging the principles of jus ad bellum and jus in bello I seek to answer two key questions: Is the use of lethal force by police is morally permissible in general? Is the racially disparate use of lethal force by police, as is the current reality, morally permissible? I find that lethal policing violates several properties of jus ad bellum or more extensive study is required to determine whether they are satisfied. Moreover, a case study of Eric Garner's death suggests that several properties of jus in bello are also violated by racially disparate lethal policing. Finally, I seek to reconcile the framework of just-war with Dr. Martin Luther King's philosophy of personalism in order to make my argument transferable across faithbases.

Innovative God-talk: Martin Luther King Jr., Delores Williams, and Creativity (Paper)
Zach Taylor
African American theologians often draw upon Martin Luther King Jr. as a source in the construction of black theology in the United States. King seems to offer much less, however, to what Delores Williams, a pioneer in womanist theology, calls the survival-quality of life tradition of African American biblical appropriation. I nevertheless contend that when we examine King's theology through a womanist lens, his emphasis on the role of creativity reflects its centrality in womanist thought. Moreover, we also discover in King creative techniques with respect to resistance and biblical hermeneutics that womanist methods build upon and correct, so that we refrain from uncritically advocating redemptive suffering and reject the static and inflexible interpretation of biblical texts. Ultimately, oppression necessitates creativity; the creative techniques of resistance and biblical interpretation are therefore tools used to overcome oppression, evident in the God-talk of King, Williams, and other womanists.

Justice in War: Kingian Philosophy on Contemporary American Conflicts (Paper)
Alex Dolwick
Martin Luther King, Jr. vehemently opposed American involvement in the Vietnam War. His theory on justice in war, while more radical in its opposition to all forms of violence, aligns well with traditional just war theory. These two theories can act as a measuring rod for determining wartime morality, and recent American involvements in the Middle East have failed these tests of justice. Instead of going into the War on Terror with just causes, the George W. Bush administration led a charge into Iraq and Afghanistan with sparse evidence that these wars would truly combat terrorism. And instead of fighting this unjust war justly, the American government exploited the Iraqi people for economic benefit while condoning brutal torture in prisons like Abu Ghraib. Americans must abolish the “us vs. them” approach to foreign policy in order to treat people around the world with the human dignity that King espoused.

Dignity in Housing: Lessons from NYC to Natural Bridge (Digital Story)
Hannah Falchuk
This creative digital presentation would combine lessons from a Shepherd Internship in New York City to insights from Campus Kitchen volunteering in Natural Bridge, Virginia. While this city and town may appear to have few similarities, I would like to draw on what I learned in homeless outreach around the city in application to a low-income retirement home in the Rockbridge County. In both locales, I have learned the challenges to finding and maintaining adequate housing. These challenges only begin with poverty and mental illness. The approach to helping people in either is likewise consistent across demographics: starting a conversation. This presentation will use anecdotes and information from my summer and school-year experiences to urge people to recognize the individuality of those often described in broad blanket terms and to recognize the unique and often-overlooked challenges of mental illness, which extend far beyond NYC and Natural Bridge.

Income Inequalities and the American Dream in Hollywood (Paper)
Bobo Bors
Income inequalities are soaring in the US, but the average American still seems to have a surprisingly optimistic view of economic mobility. Despite the well-documented inequality disparities in the US, Americans tend to doggedly believe in a myth as old as their country: the American Dream. The stubbornness with which these realities are dealt with is partially explained by the deceitful influence of Hollywoodian cinematography, which constantly reaffirms the supremacy of the American Dream. “Rags-to-riches” stories such as The Pursuit of Happyness are one type of such stories which perpetuate the idea that in the US all opportunities are always accessible to perseverant and moral individuals. It is necessary to understand how the social mobility ideas that are promised by the American dream are communicated in such an articulate fashion that they still remain characteristic for the country’s identity despite contradicting empirical evidence.


Friday March 17, 2017 10:30am - 11:45am
Science Addition 214

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