Nov. 28-29: ‘End of progress’ focus of philosophy talks

By Adrian Aumen, College of Arts and Sciences


PULLMAN, Wash. – The contested status of social progress and how to support it will be examined during the Frank Fraser Potter Memorial Lecture in Philosophy at Washington State University, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, in Todd 216.

Amy Allen, a leading thinker in critical, feminist and political theory, will present “The End of Progress.” She is a professor and the head of philosophy and women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Pennsylvania State University,

Allen also will present “Feminism in the Era of Trump” as a Foley Institute Coffee & Politics Series discussion, noon Tuesday, Nov. 28, in Bryan Hall, room 308.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Progress is a complex and controversial concept in current philosophical and political debates that is rejected because of its links to ideologies of colonialism and imperialism, while also defended as important for achieving emancipatory social goals, said Matt Stichter, associate professor in WSU’s School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, primary sponsor of the events.

Allen will discuss what accounts for these divergent positions and whether and how they can be reconciled as she draws inspiration from Theodor Adorno’s dictum that progress occurs where it ends, Stichter said.

“Given the different forms of oppression still at work in the United States and elsewhere, it’s crucial that people continue to strive for emancipatory social goals. However, it’s also important to strive for progress in a way that does not end up supporting oppression instead,” he said.

“Professor Allen will share with WSU students and the community valuable insights about how we can support social progress without furthering the colonialist, imperialist and racist ideologies that helped to create oppressive social systems in the first place.”

Allen authored “The End of Progress: Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory” (Columbia University Press, 2016) and numerous scholarly articles and chapters. She is co-editor in chief of Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory and editor of the book series New Directions in Critical Theory.

Since 1959, the Potter Lecture has engaged nationally and internationally prominent philosophers to speak to WSU audiences. This 55th Potter Lecture supports the university’s work in addressing large societal problems through its interdisciplinary Grand Challenges research initiatives, particularly the challenge of promoting a just and equitable society.

Other sponsors include the WSU College of Arts and Sciences and Philosophy Club.



  • Matthew Stichter, associate professor of philosophy, School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs,, 509-335-7121
  • Adrian Aumen, College of Arts & Sciences communications,, 509-335-5671