Wednesday November 5, 2014

The first Phil Soc meeting of the year!

The first Phil Soc meeting of the year!

Hi everyone and welcome to November! First, let us note with pleasure that the first undergraduate PhilSoc Social of the school year (October 9) was marked by good pizza, camaraderie, and lively conversation! PhilSoc faculty liaison Greg Andres writes, “The event was held in the Philosophy Learning Commons, and was attended by many first year students, philosophy majors, non-majors, grad students, and faculty. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this event a success.” 

We have some great grad student news this posting. On October 17, Kurt Holukoff successfully defended his dissertation Politics, Principles and Pluralism: On why Liberalism Must be Inconsistent if Correct. His supervisor Dave DeVidi writes, “In his dissertation, Kurt argues that political liberalism necessarily involves not only pluralism about how to live, but also pluralism—that is, a variety of conflicting but correct theories—about the appropriate principles for the organization of societies. He suggests that the result must be revisions to our understanding of concepts we routinely use in ways that presume consistency (such as obligation), and he develops a new approach to paraconsistent deontic logic to show the whole business is coherent (even if not consistent). An examiner described his handling of questions at the defense as ‘masterful.’ As his supervisor, I was very impressed with the breadth and boldness of the project, and find it hard to believe that I had to lobby long and hard to get Kurt to chop two further chapters from the end. Well done, Kurt!” Yes, congratulations from all of us, Kurt!

Also, graduate student Darlene Drecun  tell us, “In October I was able to present a paper at the Globality, Unequal Development, and Ethics of Duty conference jointly organized by Alternative Perspectives and Global Concerns (APGC), the School of International Development and Global Studies (EDIM) at the University of Ottawa and the Department of Philosophy and Centre on Values and Ethics (COVE) at Carleton University. There were many interesting talks presented by scholars from all over the world, and I had a great time! It was particularly interesting to hear the talks presented by professors from the philosophy department at Carleton University, Jay Drydyk and Christine Koggel, as well as the organizer of the conference, Mahmoud Masaeli from the University of Ottawa. I presented a paper called ‘Justice Duties of Health Development: Sustainable Short-Term Medical Missions.’ My paper argued that surgeons involved in short-term surgical medical missions in the developing world have a justice-based duty to develop the local health infrastructure in order to provide medical services that are not of a lower quality than would be performed in their country of origin. I argued for surgeons’ justice duties of health development using the example of short-term obstetric fistula surgery missions.” Here’s a picture from the conference with Professor Jay Drydyk and Professor Mahmoud Masaeli:


Graduate student Darlene Drecun with colleagues at the Globality, Unequal Development, and Ethics of Duty conference.

Graduate Student Ramesh Prasad writes, “I gave an invited presentation to the Nephrology Division at the London Health Sciences Centre on October 22 entitled, ‘A Moral Argument against a Regulated System of Kidney Sales.’ This was based on my PHIL420 term paper from two years ago and was very well received.”

Graduate student Cathy Gee has also been conferencing. She writes,  “I recently attended the Free Will conference put on by the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics in Flint, MI October 10 & 11th. I presented a paper titled ‘Exploring the Status of Free Will in Anorexia Nervosa’ and had a great time. The conference organizers strive to make their conferences as interdisciplinary as possible and as a result, even though there is no shortage of literature on the free will topic, the talks were still new and exciting.”

Great work everyone!

Heather Douglas writes, “I participated in a panel on Climate Change:  What is to be Done?  at Western University on Oct. 23, with Gary Brown, Radoslav Dimitrov, and Jeffrey Simpson. I talked about why climate science is politicized and what to do about it.   It was a fun and interesting discussion, far more optimistic than I would have predicted.  The end result of the discussion was that there is a lot that can be done right now, and lots of opportunities for change across a range of institutions and social governance levels.  I also gave a talk as part of UW’s Knowledge Integration’s seminar series on Oct. 3, entitled “Philosophical Analysis in an Interdisciplinary Mode.” It was great fun to talk about how philosophy, as a normative discipline doing conceptual analysis, works with empirical disciplines, and how the direction of change between philosophy and empirical disciplines goes both ways.”

Shannon Dea says, “Last month at UBC, I gave a talk, “Abortion and Post-Normal Ethics Pedagogy” as part of a Western Canadian Philosophical Association (WCPA) panel discussion on Karen Houle’s Responsibility, Complexity and Abortion. And last week, I was interviewed on 570News (a local radio station) regarding the Catholic Synod on the Family, and its recent discussions on LGBTQ inclusion in Catholic congregations.”

Matt Doucet writes, On Oct. 8th, I gave a talk at the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics on ‘Implicit Bias in Medicine’. Carla Fehr and I have been working on a project on the consequences of implicit bias among physicians, and on the problems with the strategies proposed for addressing that bias. The audience at the JCB were very interested in the issue, and had many very helpful and fascinating suggestions. A live stream of the talk is available here. Also, I’ve just returned from St. John’s, Newfoundland, where I attended the Atlantic Region Philosophical Association meetings to present my work on ‘Moral Responsibility and the Limits of Self-Assessment.’ I also took the opportunity to hike, with some other philosophers, to the most easterly point in the Americas.” Wow, nice picture Matt!


Tim Kenyon’s on sabbatical! He writes, “From October 1-3 I was at Lund University, where I gave a Philosophy colloquium talk, ‘Content Dissolution,’ and a seminar talk, ‘Against Disaggregation’. The former talk points out a worry with the view that testimony is rationally acceptable unless the audience has “defeaters” (championed by Tyler Burge in a famous paper called ‘Content Preservation’). The worry is that the content and truth-value of testimony can change over time in gradual ways that don’t actually amount to a defeater.  And on November 4 I gave a talk, ‘Testimony, belief, and real people,’ to the Mind, Language and Action Group at the University of Porto. This is a talk that focuses on the large difference it makes to social epistemology if you factor in the small socio-communicative details of testimony rather than abstracting them away.” Here’s a picture  from Lund of the fall colour of ivy in southern Sweden:

CAM00199And another picture, of Porto, not far from the university, as seen from across the Rio Douro.


What a beauty spot! 

Recent Faculty Publications:

Shannon Dea, “Peirce and Spinoza’s Pragmaticist Metaphysics” has just appeared in Cognitio 15.1 (2014) 25-35 (available online at

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

Thanks for reading!

— Patricia Marino


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