Monthly Archives: February 2014

Wednesday February 12, 2014

Hi everyone, it’s the week before reading week and time when everyone starts saying “time flies” and “look, it’s actually staying lighter in the afternoon.”

This week we have some great graduate student news. First, grad student Teresa Branch-Smith writes “I recently started an internship working as a philosopher-in-residence at the architecture firm Philip Beesley Architect Inc. (PBAI). I sought out this partnership because I think it is important to consider alternative domains where philosophy can be applied. PBAI not only bids on potential architecture projects but also does synthetic biology installations typically in science centres and art galleries. My job focuses on writing and editing essays for their upcoming monograph. In particular, the interactive robotics installations have features meant to imitate living systems prompting the audience to question ‘what it means to be living’. This intersection of philosophy and exhibit design relates to my research of creating more engaging science exhibits by making underlying philosophical questions explicit. More information about PBAI can be found here.” Check out this great photo of Teresa in the studio:


Teresa at the studio at PBAI

Also, our graduate student Rosalind Abdool participated in a two week residency exchange at Covenant Health in Edmonton, AB. She worked with Ethics Services on ethics consultations, policy development, and strategic planning. Rosalind describes this experience: “I had a truly wonderful time exploring the differences and similarities between ethics services and health ethics laws in Edmonton with health ethics programs in Ontario. I had the pleasure of working with some very talented and passionate health ethics advocates on various issues, including smoking policies, end-of-life challenges, ethics education strategies, wait list concerns and other dilemmas.” Rosalind also presented to the psychiatric unit at Covenant Health on her dissertation topic – deception in health care, and the moral justification for its use in particular situations.

And grad student Jamie Sewell says, “I have been accepted to present at the XV International Association of Women Philosophers (IAPh) Symposium in Spain from June 24th-27th, 2014. I will be presenting on Walter R. Fisher’s ‘narrative rationality’ in paper titled, “Narrative Rationality, Identity, and the Social Contexts of Evaluation.” Here’s the abstract: “In Human Communication as Narration: Toward a Philosophy of Reason, Value, and Action, Walter R. Fisher constructs and applies what he calls the ‘narrative paradigm’. With this, he seeks to develop a set of evaluative criteria by which the reasoning in narratives can be critically assessed in order to determine whether or not the value(s) espoused in a story warrants the assent of audiences. He provides two criteria, coherence and fidelity, by which to make judgements about the reasoning in stories. His criterion of coherence is concerned mainly with whether or not, upon critical examination, a story “hangs together”. Fisher argues that his second criterion, fidelity, can be used to examine whether or not a story is ‘truthful’ by assessing the implications of adopting the values offered by a story. In this paper, I aim to explore Fisher’s assumptions with respect to the construction and application of his criterion ‘fidelity’, through an exposition of the evaluative questions by which he suggests that stories or narratives can be judged as being ‘truthful’. I am interested in the pervasive nature of narrative as constitutive of identities and how this can problematize a person’s ability to judge the reasoning in support of the values presented a story based on a logic of ‘good reasons’. Specifically, I am interested in whether or not his conception of fidelity makes the reasoning in narratives more accessible to those who are not trained in formal or informal logics, and whether or not Fisher’s paradigm gives us new and appropriate tools by which we can reason through narratives that are constructed within complex social structures of power, domination, and competing interests and values. I will begin by briefly fleshing-out what I take to be Fisher’s overall project in terms of what he claims the narrative paradigm offers audiences which cannot be gained from employing traditional logics. Next, I will focus on Fisher’s conception of fidelity, in order to clarify the facets of Fisher’s account that may prove beneficial to feminist projects of inclusion and participation, while highlighting the facets of fidelity that problematize its use as an evaluative criterion for assessing the reasoning in narratives given the qualitative difference between experience and narrative; the role of ideology and power relations in determining or limiting the options and framing of narratives which come to bear on the experiences and identities of members of societies; and misrepresentation or under-representation of experiences of traditionally marginalized peoples by which a member of a marginalized group is supposed to judge the truth and value of stories.”

Great work, y’all!

Heather Douglas writes to share a link to a video of her and Carla Fehr in Ottawa last October, summarizing their sessions at the Science and Society Conference.

Don’t forget: our Doreen Fraser is going to be keynote speaker at the Philosophy of Logic, Math, and Physics graduate student conference at Western. The deadline is coming up for submission, so if you’re a grad student, check it out here!

Also coming up soon is the deadline to submit to the upcoming FEMMSS5/CSWIP 2014:  Science, Technology, and Gender: Challenges and Opportunities. Right here at the University of Waterloo!

Heather is off to the AAAS this week, and Rosalind and I are off to the Central APA in Chicago — maybe we will see some of you there!

Don’t forget, as always, you can see more news and check out upcoming events at our Department website.

Best wishes to all, and thanks for reading!

— Patricia Marino