PBK Lecture 2006: John Churchill

The 2006 University of Louisville Phi Beta Kappa lecture was delivered by PBK National Secretary Dr. John Churchill on September 27, 2006.

“The Moral Meaning of Changing Your Mind" by Dr. John Churchill



The annual Phi Beta Kappa Lecture on September 27, 2006 served as the first event in the A&S Centennial "Life of the Mind" series. Co-sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Association of Kentuckiana and the Speed Art Museum, the lecture by Dr. John Churchill was titled “Love of Learning is the Guide of Life." However, after welcoming remarks and an introduction by Dean Blaine Hudson, Dr. Churchill opened his talk by announcing a new title for the talk.

"I have changed my mind, " said Churchill. "Instead of calling this talk The Love of Learning is the Guide of Life, I want to call it something less loftily sententious and a bit more direct. The new title is, The Moral Meaning of Changing Your Mind.”

"Now the fact that I’m changing my mind about what to call this talk, and drawing attention to that fact, suggests that I mean something by the change and had better be ready to explain myself. I do, and I am. The moral meaning of this change is that I want it to be very clear that my topic is something quite serious. I want to talk about how, in the face of the sometimes grave questions that life presents, we should marshal our best capacities to get good answers. I will argue that it is sometimes morally necessary to change your mind. But everything depends on how you do it. Let me take you into the topic."

About John Churchill

John Churchill is the Secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest academic honorary society. Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, Phi Beta Kappa today maintains 270 chapters on college and university campuses and consists of over a half-million living members. Its purpose is to advocate and recognize excellence in the study of the liberal arts and sciences. As Secretary, Churchill is the Society’s chief executive officer and the head of its national office.          
Before assuming his current role, Churchill was Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at Hendrix College, where he also served as Professor of Philosophy and twice as Interim President. In the 1970s, he served as Assistant American Secretary to the Rhodes Scholarship Trust and has been active since that time in the selection of Rhodes Scholars.His scholarly interests and publications include the philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and David Hume as well as topics in the history of philosophy, the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of liberal education.