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The Institute for the Liberal Arts

Kant and the Possibility of Progress

institute for the liberal arts

Kant and the Possibility of Progress

About this Conference

Immanuel Kant’s defense of core Enlightenment ideals, such as individual autonomy, rational religion, and cosmopolitanism, are interwoven with visions of historical progress. This conference will attempt to clarify the nature and significance of Kant’s accounts of political, religious, moral and theoretical progress and the reactions to Kant’s philosophic legacy in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially in the work of J.G. Herder, J.G Fichte, G.W.F. Hegel, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger.

The conference is open to the public. Please register by Sunday, February 11, 2018.

Friday, February 16 • McGuinn Hall

Date & Time Panel/Keynote
9:00AM – 9:30AM Coffee and Introduction
9:30AM – 11:30AM

Panel 1: Enlightenment and Rational Theology

Panelists: Kate Moran (Brandeis University) and Oliver Sensen (Tulane University)

Discussant: Wiebke Deimling (Clark University)

11:30AM – 1:00PM Lunch
1:00PM – 3:00PM

Panel 2: Human Dignity and Moral Endeavor

Panelists: Susan Shell (Boston College) and Jens Timmermann (St. Andrews University)

Discussant: Sam Stoner (Assumption College)

3:00PM – 3:30PM Break
3:30PM – 5:00PM

Keynote Session
History, Progress, and Autonomy: Kant, Herder, and After 

Speaker: Karl Ameriks (Notre Dame)

Discussant: Allen Speight (Boston University)


Saturday, February 17 • McGuinn Hall

Date & Time Panel/Keynote
9:15AM – 9:30AM Coffee
9:30AM – 11:30AM

Panel 3: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism

Panelists: Richard Velkley (Tulane University) and Rachel Zuckert (Northwestern University)

Discussant: Naomi Fisher (Clark University)

11:30AM – 1:00PM Lunch
1:00PM – 3:00PM

Panel 4: Sittlichkeit: For and Against

Panelists: Mark Alznauer (Northwestern University) and Ryan Kemp (Wheaton College)

Discussant: Jon Burmeister (Boston College)

3:00PM – 3:30PM Coffee
3:30PM – 5:00PM

Keynote Session
The Curious Fate of the Idea of Progress

Speaker: Robert Pippin (University of Chicago)

Discussant: Alexander Duff (College of the Holy Cross)



Conference organizers: Paul Wilford ( and Sam Stoner (

The conference is made possible by a generous grant from the Institute for the Liberal Arts at Boston College with additional support provided by the John Marshall Project in the Political Science Department at Boston College.


The Conference will take place in McGuinn Hall, Room 521, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, 02467 on the Boston College Chestnut Hill Campus.

Additional Campus Maps

Visitor Parking Information

* mcguinn.pdf
McGuinn Map