Although the start of the Spring Term is still a couple weeks away, spring is in full swing in Waterloo with daffodils blooming, trees budding, and geese defending nest sites.
On April 12, we celebrated student achievement at our annual awards ceremony, made possible by generous donations to the Philosophy General Fund by alumni, faculty and friends of the Philosophy Department. The afternoon included special guests Bob Ewen (BA ’71), a long-time benefactor of the Department, Sandra Burt, the first Director of the Women’s Studies Program, and Marg Kerr-Lawson, widow of Angus Kerr-Lawson. It was standing room only this year, and emcee Gerry Callaghan commented that “I’ve been on the adjudicating committee for these awards for a number of years, and each year it gets harder to pick the winners from the pile of excellent nominees.”
To help us celebrate the impact of philosophy, Alumna Rosilee Sherwood (MA 09, BA 07) gave a thoughtful presentation that addressed the way philosophy compels us to engage productively with people we disagree with profoundly on important issues, and the benefits that come with the resulting open-mindedness and tolerance.
Awards included top philosophy students in each year of the undergraduate program, best first year and the best upper year Women’s Studies students, and a range of essay prizes for both undergraduate and graduate students. There was also an award for outstanding citizenship and contribution to the Department by an undergraduate student. And Mary Synnott, who recently retired, was recognized for three decades of outstanding contribution to Women’s Studies. Congratulations to all the award winners!
Congratulations as well to Sandra DeVries for successfully defending her prospectus proposal last month, on “The Role of Multiraciality in the Philosophy of Race.”
And finally, congratulations to Andria Bianchi for being named runner-up in the university-wide Three Minute Thesis competition on March 23. Andria was also interviewed on the CBC regarding her work on sex, consent, and dementia.
Despite the arrival of spring here in Waterloo, philosophers have been traveling to give talks and participate in conferences.
First, Sandra DeVries spoke on “Philosophy of Race and Multiraciality” at Michigan State University’s Philosophy Graduate Student Conference in mid- March.
Then, Katy Fulfer presented “Family Matters: An Arendtian Critique” with her co-author Dr. Rita A. Gardiner (Faculty of Education, Western University) at the Organizing Equality Conference, held at Museum London in London, Ontario from March 24-26. This free conference, open to community members, brought academics into conversation with community leaders and organizers. The full version of this project appeared online a few weeks ahead of the conference in Gender, Work & Organization. A shortened version of Katy and Dr. Gardiner’s presentation can be found on Katy’s blog.
From April 12-15, Katy attended the Pacific Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Seattle. She presented another project co-authored with Dr. Gardiner at the North American Society for Social Philosophy session on refugees, their talk being entitled “The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Hannah Arendt, Rootlessness, and Natality.”
Shannon Dea recently returned from a trip to England, where she presented “Pragmatism From Margin to Centre” on April 8 at the annual meeting of the British Society for the History of Philosophy (BSHP) conference at the University of Sheffield (U.K.). She also gave a departmental seminar talk, “Toward a Philosophical Theory of Harm Reduction” at University of Sheffield Department of Philosophy on April 10.
Closer to home, Jackie Feke gave the talk “Ancient Greek Mathematicians: Intellectual Outliers” to FemPhys on March 28.
On March 30, Heather Douglas spoke about decarbonization and long-term local energy planning at the Waterloo Energy Day, hosted by WISE. She gave a similar talk as part of Power Shift: Transforming Energy in the Waterloo Region on April 18 to a packed Kitchener Public Library.
And Shannon Dea has been a regular voice in local media on 570 News radio, appearing on Opposing Views on March 27 and being interviewed on the Eric Drozd Show on April 5 about the proposed changes to the Canadian national anthem to make it more gender inclusive.
In publication news, Sara Weaver has co-authored an paper with Mathieu Doucet and John Turri entitled “It’s what’s on the inside that counts… Or is it? Virtue and the psychological criteria of modesty” in the Review of Philosophy and Psychology. The paper started as a research area paper with Matt. Sara enjoyed working with Matt and John turning it into a publishable piece and is excited to see how other modesty scholars respond to the article given the unique (i.e., empirical) approach taken to answering philosophical questions about modesty.
Wesley Buckwalter’s chapter “Epistemic Contextualism and Linguistic Behavior” has come out in The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism edited by Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa. The chapter is a candid evaluation of the motivation and evidence for epistemic contextualism in epistemology to date.
Heather Douglas’s essay “Science, Values, and Citizens” appeared in the edited collection Eppur si mouve: Doing History and Philosophy of Science with Peter Machamer (edited by Marcus Adams, Zvi Biener, Uljana Feest, and Jacqueline Sullivan), published by the Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science (the preprint is also available). The essay argues that understanding the nature of science is more important for citizens than knowing particular scientific facts, and that there are multiple avenues for citizens to engage with and even contest science. The essay is collected with others written by Peter Machamer’s students and demonstrates his range and influence as a scholar who pursues truly integrated history and philosophy of science.
Heather also published the essay “Why inductive risk requires values in science” in Routledge’s Current Controversies in Values and Science (edited by Kevin Elliott and Daniel Steel). In it, she argues that social and ethical values are inescapable in scientific practice. A preprint of the essay can be found here.
Katy Fulfer’s most recent publication is a commentary that raises neocolonial concerns about Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act and cross-border reproductive travel. “Cross-Border Reproductive Travel, Neocolonialism, and Canadian Policy” is published in the special 10th anniversary issue of IJFAB: International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics.
Finally, Shannon Dea’s essay “Strong Objectivity in the Age of Trump” appeared April 10 in the online symposium about Guy Axtell’s new book Objectivity hosted by Syndicate. There are lots of interesting ideas in this exchange about the nature of objectivity.
Want to read more? More news about the department’s doings can be found in the most recent version of The Rational Enquirer, a newsletter for friends and alumni.
Additional online writings can be found at these blogs: