Monthly Archives: May 2016

May 14, 2016

With the end of the winter semester, we celebrated at award ceremonies, recognizing the accomplishments of our faculty and students, and we shared our research at conferences home and abroad.

At the end of April, our department hosted Science and Values in Peirce and Dewey: A Conference in Honour of Angus Kerr-Lawson.  The conference began with a public lecture and keynote address on “Scientific Integrity: A Pragmatist Examination of Theory and Practice in the Ethics of Inquiry” by Prof. Catherine Legg of the University of Waikato in New Zealand.  This talk was the first of two public lectures endowed in memory of Prof. Kerr-Lawson, a longtime member of the department who passed away in 2011.  In addition to Prof. Legg’s talk, the conference featured refereed papers by twelve philosophers from three provinces, five states, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Germany.  The conference closed with a plenary address by Waterloo Chair in Science and Society, Heather Douglas, on “The Interplay of Evidence and Values in Science.”  The conference attracted over fifty attendees, including an impressive number of emeritus professors, community members, and out-of-town visitors.  Professor emeritus Larry Haworth described the conference as “a great conference in honour of a fine colleague and friend,” and Prof. Legg wrote, “Not only was my keynote an enjoyable and stimulating experience, I thought the rest of the conference was notable for the international breadth of the presenters, the high quality of their papers, and the shared focus of themes presented on.”  Organizers Shannon Dea, Nathan Haydon, Ian MacDonald, and Matt Silk are grateful to the following for their financial and in-kind support of the conference: the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, the Angus Kerr-Lawson Memorial Fund, the Arts Research office, the Department of Philosophy, and the Women’s Studies program.

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Speakers and Chairs of Science and Values in Peirce and Dewey: A Conference in Honour of Angus Kerr-Lawson

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Shannon Dea introducing keynote speaker Heather Douglas

In addition to her keynote at the Peirce and Dewey conference, Heather Douglas gave four more talks in April, two in Waterloo and two in Budapest, Hungary.  The two in Budapest were at the behest of the Central European University, and they were on “Jettisoning the Value-Free Ideal: Why Do It and Where Does It Leave Us?” as part of the ToPHSS Lectures on Science and the Value-Free Ideal, and “Trusting Expertise,” a keynote address for Worldly Matters: Issues in Applied and Socially Engaged Philosophy, 6th International Graduate Conference of the Department of Philosophy of Central European University.

Back in Waterloo, Heather gave two more talks, both at the Balsillie School.  First she spoke on “The Moral Problem of Lethal Autonomous Weapons,” in which she drew from some of Brian Orend’s work on just war theory and argued that part of the problem with lethal autonomous weapons systems (where there is no human decision to activate a weapon at a particular time for a particular target) is that we don’t have a moral category for that kind of death as of yet.  Then Heather spoke at the Challenges and Opportunities for Governance of Socio-Ecological Systems in Comparative Perspective workshop organized by our Dept. of Knowledge Integration colleagues John McLevey and Vanessa Schweizer (among others) on the “The Challenge of Accountability in Expert Advice.”  Heather also hosted a roundtable discussion by Prof. Marc Saner of the University of Ottawa on “Responsible Innovation: Charting the Course for Canada.”

Jackie Feke spoke on “Ptolemy’s Harmonic Ethics,” at The Philosophy of Ptolemy and its Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew Reception workshop, sponsored by the Dept. of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University.  Jackie also presented on the round table and Doreen Fraser participated at The Foundations of Methodology in the History of Philosophy workshop, organized by Prof. Sandra Lapointe of McMaster University and held at Trius Winery at Hillebrand in Niagara-on-the-Lake.


Jackie Feke and Doreen Fraser at Trius Winery at Hillebrand

Doreen Fraser gained public attention for her course “Quantum Mechanics for Everyone.” First Waterloo Stories featured the course and later the local CBC news picked up the story.

The Faculty of Arts Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Service, and Research recognize exceptional contributions made by faculty, staff, and students, and two of our department members won awards this year.  Doreen Fraser received the Excellence in Service Award, and Shannon Dea received the Excellence in Teaching Award and an Outstanding Performance Award.  Congratulations, Doreen and Shannon!

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Associate Dean Katherine Acheson introducing, and Dean Douglas Peers ready to hand the award to, Doreen Fraser, recipient of the Excellence in Service Award

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Associate Dean William Chesney introducing, and Dean Douglas Peers with prize in hand for, Shannon Dea, recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award

Shannon Dea was one of three invited speakers at the University of Miami Department of Philosophy’s first annual Inclusiveness Conference.  She gave a talk called “Against Accommodation: Philosophy Pedagogy for Everyone.”  Shannon’s latest paper hit the stands at the beginning of May: “Meaning, inquiry, and the rule of reason: a Hookwayesque colligation,” Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 51.4 (Winter 2015) 401-418.  In her capacity as an Arts Teaching Fellow and with Applied Health Sciences Teaching Fellow Kelly Anthony, Shannon also gave the presentation “Fellows for Failure: Teaching Fellows’ Reflections on Failure, Challenge, and Change” at the UW Teaching and Learning Conference at the end of April.

Women’s Studies is now part of the Dept. of Philosophy, and we are happy to relate that several students who enrolled in Women’s Studies 101 in the fall collaborated with Trevor Holmes (their instructor), Jessica Blackwell (Special Collections and Archives Librarian), and Katrina Ackerman (the teaching assistant) to present at the UW Teaching and Learning Conference.  They described aspects of the course that were risky and challenging and that, as a result, led to more significant learning.  After an overview of the course design and assignments by Trevor Holmes, Katrina Ackerman, and Jessica Blackwell, participants heard from students Meghan Voll, Brianna Bennett, and Tatianna Brierley (on video) along with contributions online from Emily Lorentz and Madeline Shred.  Each addressed topics like the impact of going to the archive to transcribe early feminist diaries, the value of going out into the community for field site observations, the use of co-constructed class agreements from the first day, alternate format assignment choices, and online tools for in-class discussions of difficult material.  Some of the same team will present again at the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at Western University in June.

Ph.D. student Ramesh Prasad’s paper, “Distinguishing internal property from external property in kidney transplantation” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice for their Philosophy of Medicine Thematic Issue.  The paper is based on Ramesh’s work in the CogSci 600 course he completed as part of his MA degree. Ramesh also gave a presentation, “Transplantation and the Nature of the Immune Self,” based on his MA thesis, at the University of Toronto City Wide Nephrology Rounds.  This presentation at Toronto General Hospital was webcast throughout the Greater Toronto Area.  Ramesh says, “My hope is that some physicians will now see the biological self-nonself distinction through a philosophical lens, beyond just molecules and chemical messengers.”

John Turri’s latest book is out: Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion: An Essay in Philosophical Science, published by Open Book Publishers and available here.

On April 13, we held the seventh annual Department of Philosophy Awards, recognizing the high achievement of our students.  We awarded class prizes to Amina Safdar (first year), Josephine Luetke (second year), Dominic Rogalski (third year), and Jay Solanki (fourth year).  The Citizenship Prize went to Oliver Oxton, the Sandra Burt Essay Prize in Women’s Studies to Kristine Totzke, the Undergraduate Essay Prize in Philosophy Gold Medal to Dylan Jones, and the Undergraduate Essay Prize in Philosophy Silver Medal to Cameron McKinnon.  Three of our graduate students also won awards.  Catherine Klausen received the Graduate Essay Prize in Philosophy Gold Medal, Ashley Keefner received the Graduate Essay Prize in Philosophy Silver Medal, and Nathan Haydon received the Angus Kerr-Lawson Essay Prize in Philosophy.  Congratulations one and all!

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Mathieu Doucet with class and citizenship prize winners Josephine Luetke, Oliver Oxton, Dominic Rogalski, Amina Safdar, and Jay Solanki


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Robert Ewen, alumnus and long-time supporter of the department, with essay prize winners Catherine Klausen, Dylan Jones, Ashley Keefner, and Cameron McKinnon

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Angus Kerr-Lawson Essay Prize in Philosophy winner Nathan Haydon with Kate Kerr-Lawson and Margaret Kerr-Lawson