Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hi everyone, it’s week eight of Winter term and finally it’s March.  The equinox can’t be too far away.  Welcome to our first instalment of real news.

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The view from Hagey Hall on a sunny March day.

First, our heartiest congratulations to our recent alum and current instructor Rachel McKinnon, who was just awarded a SSHRC post-doc!  Rachel writes, “My SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship was awarded to help me with my research on the norms of practical reasoning, which is a natural extension of my work on the norms of assertion. There’s a parallel debate between what norms may govern the practices of assertion and practical reasoning: must we assert only what we know, and must we decide based only on premises that we know? I think that reasons for rejecting a knowledge norm of assertion also motivate rejecting a knowledge norm of practical reasoning. I also think that there are good reasons to suppose that while the norms of both practices will be related, they won’t be unified (i.e., the same norm governs both practices). I plan to take up this research with Jeremy Fantl, at the University of Calgary. My goals of this fellowship are to produce at least two refereed journal articles, to finish my book manuscript on the norms of assertion, and to finish the research for my next book manuscript on the norms of practical reasoning.”

Congratulations also to current post-doc Wesley Buckwalter for having his paper, “Knowledge, Stakes, and Mistakes,” co-authored with Jonathan Schaffer (Philosophy, Rutgers), accepted for publication in Noûs.  John Turri says that “the paper makes a major contribution to our understanding of knowledge and knowledge ascriptions.”

On Thursday Feb 28, Shannon Dea gave a talk at the Stratford Public Library as part of the Waterloo Lectures Series.  Shannon explains: “My talk, ‘Socrates in Nanjing,’ concerned the new teaching methods I experimented with last summer when I taught Philosophy in China, and how Waterloo students of all kinds would benefit from the broad application of those methods. The audience of 34 — mostly local seniors, but also a few folks who drove all the way from Waterloo — were splendid. They were enthusiastic, smart and engaged. The question period went on way longer than it had any right to, and then some audience members hung around afterwards to chat further with me. I would highly encourage other colleagues to give talks at Stratford. It was a really wonderful experience!”

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Doreen uses cool things in class.

Last week Doreen Fraser gave an informal presentation on using physics experiments in the philosophy classroom in the local Pedagogy Picnics series that our colleague and Arts Teaching Fellow Shannon has been organizing.  “In the fall term,” Doreen says, “I taught a seminar which was inspired by conceptual issues in nineteenth century physics (which was inspired by my work in conceptual issues in contemporary physics).  I borrowed equipment from the physics department to demonstrate experiments in electromagnetism and the conservation of energy which were described in the readings.  The talk was a great opportunity to discuss how I used experiments and history of science to bring my research into the classroom with other teachers, and also to use some cool equipment.”

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This year’s visiting Humphrey Chair in Feminist Philosophy, Anita Superson.

Finally, last Friday, March 1, a packed room saw this year’s visiting Humphrey ProfessorAnita Superson, of the University of Kentucky, deliver the final talk in her series of public lectures.  David DeVidi says, “The talk, Honky Tonk Women, was a response to Martha Nussbaum’s argument, in her paper ‘American Women,’ that prostitution is stigmatized because such work challenges men’s control over women’s sexuality—and that the work is no different in kind than other, unstigmatized work women do with their bodies that may be to varying degrees unpleasant and alienating.  Superson argued that while such work may pose such a challenge, it remains morally problematic because it perpetuates different, harmful sexist stereotypes that women are sex objects.  At its heart, her case was a Kantian claim that the right to bodily autonomy is incompatible with prostitution.  A lively discussion ensued in the question period.”

Anita’s previous two lectures were “Moral Bindingness” and “The Right to Bodily Autonomy and the Abortion Controversy.”  Anita is also teaching a seminar this term on Bodily Autonomy.  We’ve been thrilled to have Anita around this term, for her course, for her lectures, and just to talk philosophy with.  Thanks Anita!

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