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K-State Today

August 23, 2016



Philosophy professor Rosa Terlazzo presents papers at two conferences Melbourne, Australia

By Sarah Hancock

Rosa Terlazzo, assistant professor of philosophy, delivered papers at two conferences this summer. Her paper, "Are Adaptive Preferences Bad for Us?: Children, Transformative Experience, and Adaptive Preferences" was on the program at the 2016 Symposium of the the Australian Association of Philosophy Annual Conference, and she delivered "Transformative Experiences, Well-being, and Children" at the Symposium of the International Association of Women Philosophers. Both meetings took place in July at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. 

Terlazzo's research is focused on the concept of adaptive preferences, or the idea that people's preferences become adapted to conditions of injustice such that they become resigned to their circumstances rather than protesting them. Her past efforts have argued that recognizing this fact is critical to fighting injustice, that respecting people requires taking seriously their views on their own well-being, and that vulnerable children need help to ensure they develop healthy preferences. The research she presented extended her work by exploring how transformative experiences affect a person's adaptive preferences and overall well-being, an increasingly hot topic in philosophy. 

"I investigate whether it necessarily makes our lives worse for us if we develop preferences, commitments and values that are less ambitious than they might otherwise be," Terlazzo said.

The conferences helped Terlazzo polish her work for publication. She will submit both papers for publication in the fall, one to a top specialist journal in her area, and the other to a top generalist philosophy journal.

"Feedback from philosophers from four continents allowed me to identify and solve a significant problem in one paper and various smaller issues in the other. Beyond the feedback I got on these particular papers, I was able to make some wonderful international connections — one philosopher at Monash University will even be visiting K-State in the coming year to give a talk as the result of connections made at these conferences," Terlazzo said.

Terlazzo also noted that developing connections with overseas academics lays the groundwork for international collaborations and opens up possible sources of funding reserved for such partnerships.

"Professor Terlazzo is working on important advances in our theory of autonomy, with both real-world applications in proper policy choice and important implications for our understanding of the ways in which individual rights and social obligations are intertwined," said Bruce Glymour, head of the philosophy department. "She does so by attending closely to the ethical implications of real phenomena identified by moral psychology. We are delighted with the success she is finding in and beyond the philosophical community."

Terlazzo's travel was supported by her department and by a spring 2016 Faculty Development Award from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs