Monthly Archives: September 2014

Wednesday, Sept 24, 2014

Hi everyone, first we have some exciting graduate student news, which is that Micheal McEwan had a successful defense on Tuesday September 23rd of his dissertation “A Study of the Discursive Aspect of Scientific Theorizing and Modeling.” As Mike’s supervisor I want to say yet again: our heartiest congratulations, Mike! Above, Mike celebrates with us post-defense at the grad house.
Graduate student Jim Jordan says, “I’ve had the privilege of working with Linda Warley (Associate Dean, Graduate Studies), Aimée Morrison (English), Robert Zacharias (postdoctoral fellow in English), Jeff Wilson (Religious Studies), Andrew Thompson (Political Science/BSIA), and Anindya Sen (Economics) on the Faculty’s alternative careers task force. The first fruits of our shared labour, the Arts Graduate Careers portal, is now available to all. The website includes a description of the Department’s most recent non-academic career workshop which was held in April. This is but a start; I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for the task force.” Excellent news, Jim!
John Turri writes to report on the Waterloo contingent at the 2014 Buffalo Experimental Philosophy Conference, at which five people from Waterloo philosophy and the Philosophical Science Lab presented research. John writes, “Overall, the conference was an awesome event, with people from all around the world​ (e.g. England, Sweden, Belgium, Japan, Canada, USA)​ presenting really exciting and valuable research at the intersection of science and philosophy, and getting lots of encouraging and constructive feedback. Here is a quick summary of the contributions by Waterloo philosophers (in chronological order as they appeared on the program):
  • Janet Michaud and Ashley Keefner presented research on the controversial “Mr. Big” technique used by the RCMP​ (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)​ to elicit confessions in criminal cases. In this completely novel line of research, Janet and Ashley found that several aspects of the technique are widely judged to be coercive, which has potentially important implications for whether confessions elicited this way should be admissible in court.
  • Sara Weaver presented research on judgments of personal identity. Building on prior work on identity judgments in the life and social sciences — and contrary to the consensus in the recent philosophical literature — Sara found that our concept of personal identity seems to allow for one person to be embodied in two entirely different places at a single time.
  • Wesley Buckwalter presented research on the relationship attributions of ability and moral obligations, an important but previously unstudied aspect of moral psychology. Wesley found that being unable to to perform a certain task is perfectly consistent with being morally obligated to perform the task, strongly suggesting that “ought implies can” is not a principle of ordinary moral cognition.
  • Finally, I presented research on the relationship between judgments of knowledge and reliability. I found that, according to the ordinary concept of knowledge, knowledge does not have to be reliably produced, which strongly suggests that reliabilist theories of knowledge are deeply revisionary.
  • ​Also, at least some (but not all!) of us also ate Buffalo Wings in the very bar where Buffalo Wings were invented.​​
The X-phi gang passed along a great picture as well!
Heather Douglas writes, “The last week of August, I traveled to New Zealand at the invitation of Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to New Zealand, to speak at the conference Science Advice to Governments.  It was a meeting that brought together leading science advisors from all over the world.  The conference was really fun and interesting, and I got to meet lots of great people and hear about the real challenges of giving science advice.  I also wrote three essays about and for the conference, one in the Guardian, one for the conference blog, and one for Evidence4Democracy. I spoke as part of the closing panel on modes of science advice.  Here I am with Mark Ferguson (Chief Science Advisor to Ireland) as part of that panel and asking a question as part of the audience.  It was definitely worth the trip!”
15069059135_22c5188149_o Working In NZ 2014

Doreen Fraser writes, “I just returned from a trip to Oxford and Florence.  In Florence, I participated in a workshop on dualities in string theory.  Dualities are philosophically interesting because they are cases in which, faced with theories that are mathematically distinct and apparently physically distinct, physicists arrive at the judgment that the theories are in fact not physically distinct.  The workshop provided an opportunity for philosophers with different backgrounds to analyze dualities from different perspectives and to share expertise.  While in Florence, I also saw some of Galileo’s telescopes and an interesting collection of instruments used for physics demonstrations in salons in the 18th and 19th centuries at the Museo Galileo.

Shannon Dea says, “Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing my latest research on abortion and harm reduction with colleagues in the region. On September 11, at Western University, the Southwestern Ontario Feminism and Philosophy Workshop discussed my paper “Beyond Choice: An Ecological Approach to Abortion Access.” Last Friday, September 19, I delivered the same paper to the McMaster Department of Philosophy colloquium series. And two days earlier, at the Kitchener Public Library, as part of the One Book One Community events concerning Charlotte Gray’s The Massey Murder, I delivered a talk called “Women, Chastity, and the Law.”

Finally, here are a few photos from our Department’s welcome party!

IMG_0598 IMG_0609 IMG_0599

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

Thanks for reading!

– Patricia Marino