Jan Narveson, professor emeritus of philosophy, gave a lecture on Thursday, April 4, in the Fiesta Room. Naverson is a professor from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and is one the guest speakers in the Professional Ethics Speakers Series held by the philosophy department.
â€œThe series was designed to challenge students taking Philosophy 2359, Professional Ethics. We cover a number of issues, mostly reading essays on the topics. The issues are brought to life by experts in ethics defending their views,â€ said Steve Luper, chair of the philosophy department, via email.
Narvesonâ€™s lecture, titled â€œProfessionals, Clients, and Rational Confidence,â€ covered the topic of intellectual property law and its growing prominence in modern culture. Throughout the lecture, Naverson explored important questions surrounding intellectual property law.
â€œWe possess our ideas because they are ours, but by definition we are just in possession of these ideas. What if we say that we have a right to those ideas? All that means is that nobody can attack you if they were trying to take those ideas away,â€ Naveson said.
The philosophies of Locke, Pareto and many other philosophers were also discussed in application to how intellectual property law is implemented in a free society.
â€œNarveson did a fair job reviewing traditional defenses of property rights, such as the defense offered by John Locke, and showing how it is challenging to apply these to intellectual property,â€ Luper said.
The ideas presented in the lecture are meant to apply to intellectual mediums ranging Â from books and music to the ownership of coal and oil.
â€œIt was interesting because I never really thought about intellectual property in this sense, but I did not feel convinced. It really made me think about the problem people have with patenting their stuff,â€ said first year Chris Sotar, who attended the lecture.
Much of Naversonâ€™s lecture covered the difference between an abstract idea and a concrete idea. He made the point of stating that universal concepts could not be patented like other concepts.
â€œJust about anyone who plans to contribute to culture will also need to make a living. Ideally, they will be able to make their living by contributing to culture, but that presupposes that they will receive compensation for their contribution,â€ Luper said. â€œHow and why they acquire those rights are issues of great significance, then, and that issue was addressed by the lecture.â€
The next lecture in the Koch Professional Ethics Speaker Series, â€œOriginal Acquisition of Crimeâ€ by Timothy Hall, will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 25 in the Fiesta Room.