The NEIU Philosophy Colloquium Series has been a regular department-sponsored event since Spring 2018. The purpose of this event is to give the NEIU community access to all of the richness and diversity of contemporary professional philosophy. The Colloquium Series also provides professional philosophers with the opportunity to experience NEIU firsthand and meet our students and faculty in an academic setting.

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Fall 2022

"The Inherent Problem with Mass Incarceration"
Raff Donelson, JD, PHD, Chicago-Kent College of Law

4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2 in Bernard Brommel Hall Room 101

Mass incarceration is arguably the most glaring problem with American criminal justice. But the nature of this problem is obscure. Critics of mass incarceration often point to contingent features of the phenomenon, like the fact that Blacks are disproportionately imprisoned. But mass incarceration would seemingly be bad, even without racial disparities. Other critics, such as abolitionists, point to problems with punishment in general. But this critique, even if well-founded, fails to notice anything specifically troubling about mass incarceration. This essay provides a novel answer to the unique problem posed by mass incarceration - it is inconsistent with a free society. 

Raff Donelson is an associate professor at the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Donelson's research and teaching focus on criminal law and procedure as well as on moral and legal philosophy. Prior to coming to Chicago-Kent, Donelson taught at Penn State and LSU. He holds a J.D. and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Northwestern University, a M.A. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. from Williams College.

Past Talks


  • Tyler Zimmer, University of Chicago, "Do Billionaires Deserve Their Wealth?"
  • Shireen Roshanravan, Northeastern Illinois University, "Pretending-to-be and Masterful Political Performance."


  • B.R. George, Carnegie Mellon University, "Painfully Literal Dudes."
  • Thirza Lagewaard, Free University, Amsterdam, “How Epistemic Injustice Can Deepen Disagreement.”
  • Agnes Callard, University of Chicago, “Is there such a thing as being good or bad at philosophy?"
  • David Vessey, Grand Valley State University, "Collapsing Life and Art."
  • Alex Adamson, Northeastern Illinois University, “Against a Single History: Luxemburg and a Decolonial Critique of Political Economy.”


  • Jessica Gordon Roth, University of Minnesota, “Recovering Early Modern Women Writers: Some Tensions.” 
  • Jorge Montiel*, Marquette University, “ A Relational Analysis of Oppression: Group Injustice and Institutional Mediation.” 
  • Megan Hyska, Northwestern University, “Propaganda for Realists.” 
  • William Paris, Northwestern University, “What does it Mean to Have a Revolution in Culture? Frantz Fanon’s Speculative Method of Critique.” 
  • Seth Mayer, Manchester University, “Philosophy, Democracy, and Mass Incarceration.” 
  • David Godden, Michigan State University, “Theorizing Testimony in Argumentative Contexts.” 


  • Scott Aikin, Vanderbilt University, “The Antinomies of Metaphilosophy.” 
  • Desmond Jagmohan*, University of California, Berkeley, “Dominus before Domination: Harriet Jacobs and the Meaning of Slavery.” 


  • John Casey, Northeastern Illinois University, "Argument Pacifism."



  • Scott Aikin, Vanderbilt University, "Why We Argue: A Deliberative Democratic Reply to Plato”

*Denotes scholar as a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University