Night Owls

The Crowd at "The Philosophy of Divorce" Night Owls Event
The SRO crowd at Night Owls, "The Philosophy of Divorce," November 2018

The Department of Philosophy designs events to inspire philosophical explorations among students. The craziest, and the most UChicago, of these events is our Night Owls series, which features several faculty-led, late-night conversations each year on arcane philosophical topics. Past in-person events have included discussions such as Is Philosophy a Blood Sport?, Do Minds Exist?, Should We Strive to Live Without Anger and Sadness?, The Philosophy of Divorce, Economics vs. Philosophy: The Battle for Your Soul, Why Is There Organized Violence?, The Meaning of Death, Is Love Worth the Pain?, Let's Get Philosophical about Sex, Does Science Leave Room for Philosophy?, The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, and Can Philosophy be Taught? This series was profiled by UChicagoNews (check out the video!), the Chicago Tribune, and The Maroon.

2022-2023 Night Owls Schedule 

  • 9/25/22, 6:30pm, Screening of Jurassic Park and discussion with Prof. Daniel Morgan (Cinema and Media Studies, UChicago), Location: Doc Films (Ida Noyes) 
  • 11/3/22, “What is an Intellectual?” with Leon Wieseltier, Time & Location TBD.
  • January 2023, “Should Writers Talk?” with Becca Rothfeld.
  • February 2023, “Is Anything Sacred?” with Robin Hanson. 
  • April 2023, “(Really, Truly) Independent Filmmaking” with Dan Sallitt 
  • May 2023, “The Gamification of Life” with C. Thi Nguyen 

Recent Online Events

Below is a list of speakers who were in conversation with Agnes Callard (Philosophy, UChicago) online:

Spring Quarter 2021:

Sophie-Grace Chappell (Philosophy, Open University), in conversation with Agnes Callard, Gender and Transgender

Hollis Robbins (Dean, School of Arts and Humanities, Sonoma State University), in conversation with Agnes Callard, Black Intellectuals and the Literary Canon

Winter Quarter 2021:

Autumn Quarter 2020:

Spring Quarter 2020:

(NB: To read winning entries in our spring essay contests, see our Virtual Night Owls Website.)

  • Patrick Jagoda (English, Cinema and Media Studies, UChicago), Life Online: Community or Isolation?
  • Stephen White (Philosophy, Northwestern), The End of the World?
  • Daniel Diermeier (Provost, Harris School, UChicago), Why Do Universities Matter? 
  • Kevin Hector (Divinity School, UChicago), Are We Obligated to Love Someone?
  • Brian Frye (University of Kentucky Law School), A Defense of Plagiarism 
  • Ethan Bueno de Mesquita (Harris School, UChicago), The Perils of Quantification
  • Abe Macabee, and Izzy University of Chicago Laboratory School Students), What Does It Mean to Be a Child?
  • Chris Kennedy (Linguistics, UChicago), Is Language a Game?
  • Daniel Morgan (Cinema and Media Studies, UChicago), Why Movies Matter

Past Night Owls Event Videos

Here are a few highlights from "The Philosophy of Divorce," in which formerly married UChicago philosophers Ben Callard and Agnes Callard respond to each other's questions and to student questions. Here is the full video.

Here are a few highlights from "Economics vs. Philosophy: The Battle for Your Soul," featuring Agnes Callard and George Mason University Economist Tyler Cowan. Here is the full video.

Here are a few highlights from "Let's Get Philosophical about Sex," featuring Agnes Callard and Rebecca Kukla (philosophy, Georgetown University). Here is the full video (note that there are some difficulties with the microphones).


Poster for "The Dangers of Public Philosophy" event
Socrates, Bill S. Preston, and Ted "Theodore" Logan being dangerous