Humanistic Cosmopolitanism

Please join us for the Gail Caldwell Stine Lecture featuring Professor Philip J. Ivanhoe from the City University of Hong Kong. Reception following the lecture. Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy

This essay is part Professor Ivanhoe's next big project, which will concern pluralism, relativism, tolerance, and cosmopolitanism. He argues that there are different possible ways to respond to the fact of ethical pluralism and that the best response is to see such irreducible pluralism as a positive good (as opposed to something to bemoan or simply live with). This leads him to argue against widely accepted liberal conceptions of tolerance (which he thinks it ok as a fallback but bad as an ideal) and cosmopolitanism (he thinks views like Martha Nussbaum's which focus on rational agency and personhood while not without merit fall far short of what a decent person should aim for and are inconsistent with her own laudable views about multicultural education). 

Philip J. Ivanhoe

Chair Professor of East Asian and Comparative Philosophy and Religion

Philip J. Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe was raised in New Jersey (US) by parents who owned a variety of small businesses, including a butcher shop, where he worked until leaving for college. He attended Stanford University on a scholarship, where he earned a B.A. (1976) in Philosophy, and also studied the Chinese language. From 1976 to 1978, Ivanhoe stayed on at Stanford to work with David S. Nivison on a project to generate computerized concordances of Chinese texts. From 1974 to 1978, he served in the United States Marine Corps, PLC and was honorably discharged at the rank of sergeant. From 1978 to 1982, he served in the U. S. Army. He left the army at the rank of sergeant, with an honorable discharge, and returned to Stanford to pursue his doctorate in Religious Studies (awarded 1987), also completing the requirements for a minor in Asian Languages. At Stanford, Ivanhoe studied under Nivison, a leading Sinologist who had applied the methods of analytic philosophy to the study of Chinese thought, and Lee H. Yearley, a scholar of Thomas Aquinas and comparative religion. Upon Nivison's retirement, Ivanhoe was given a joint appointment as an assistant professor in both the Philosophy Department and the Religious Studies Department at Stanford (1991). In 1993, Ivanhoe won the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Outstanding Service to Undergraduate Education. In 1996, Ivanhoe was promoted to associate professor. Then in 1998 Ivanhoe moved to the University of Michigan, where he was hired at the associate professor level in the Philosophy Department and the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. In 2003, Ivanhoe left Michigan and became Findlay Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Boston University.

In 2006 he accepted his current appointment at City University of Hong Kong. His courses include Feminism and Family Ethics, Philosophy of Life, and Ethics and Practice.

Ivanhoe is married and has two children, a daughter and a son. He currently lives in Hong Kong.