Monthly Archives: September 2018

Announcing our New Chairs and Officers!

Hi everyone! We thought it’d be a fun and good idea to have an informal introduction to all the new Dept Chairs and Officers. Below please see personal statements from: Patricia Marino, the new Dept Chair; Carla Fehr, the new Associate Chair, Graduate; and Doreen Fraser, the new Associate Chair, Undergraduate. Following that, we have similar statements from Angela Christelis and Tawnessa Carter, the new Administrative Officers of the Dept.  A great and happy team to lead the Dept moving forward. Hope everyone’s term is off to a strong start! 😊

Carla Patricia and Doreen

From left to right: Dr. Carla Fehr, the new Associate Chair, Graduate; Dr. Patricia Marino, the new Department Chair; and Dr. Doreen Fraser, the new Associate Chair, Undergraduate.



I can’t believe it’s been fourteen years since I joined the Philosophy Department. How time flies! Our department has changed a lot since then: we’ve lost several valued colleagues to retirement and gained many wonderful new people. I am grateful to all the previous chairs I’ve had the pleasure to work with — Richard Holmes, Tim Kenyon, and Dave DeVidi — for shepherding us through the years. I’m eager to build on the initiatives and accomplishments of my predecessors, by strengthening our connections with other disciplines and departments at the University, nurturing our community of students, faculty, staff, and alums, and facilitating my colleagues’ original and creative research. While I work primarily on topics in ethics, epistemology, philosophy of economics, and philosophy of sex and love, I am interested in all different kinds of philosophy, and I enjoy writing on lots of different topics. My next book, “Philosophy of Sex and Love: An Opinionated Introduction,” will be coming out with Routledge Press in 2019, and you can enjoy my reflections on modern life and its discontents, philosophy, literature, politics, and other topics at my blog, TKIN: Accidental Philosopher Encounters Modern Life.


One of my favourite things about the Waterloo Philosophy Department is the intellectual community we share. The great things about being a professor—the class that went particularly well, a publication I’m proud of, a cool idea that popped into my head while I was buying coffee—are sweeter when I can share them with colleagues. The challenging parts of my job—creating new classes, puzzling through a problem in a grant application, figuring out the details of an argument—are more fun when I’m part of a team. My research focuses on how groups of people work together to create knowledge, and I’m lucky to be part of such a great group of scholars and teachers. As Associate Chair of Graduate Studies, I will continue to nurture our lively and supportive academic community. If you have questions about graduate studies, please stop by my office hours.


I am excited to be returning to the role of Associate Chair, Undergraduate. It’s my job to advise Philosophy majors and minors. (The advisor for Women’s Studies majors and minors is Prof. Katy Fulfer [] and the advisor for Cognitive Science minors is Prof. Chris Eliasmith [].) My favourite thing about this role is getting to know all of our undergraduates, so students who have not already met me, please introduce yourselves! I usually teach courses in philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, and epistemology. My research focuses on the paradoxes and interpretive puzzles posed by quantum theory, which raise fascinating philosophical issues. I have developed the course PHIL 252 Quantum Mechanics for Everyone to share these intriguing conceptual and historical aspects of quantum mechanics with everyone, especially those who have not studied physics or mathematics. I am currently writing a book on the role that analogical reasoning has played in the formulation of new quantum theories. When I am not advising undergraduates or thinking about quantum theory, I like reading fiction, hiking, camping, and watching my sons play hockey.


Angela and Tawnessa

On the left, Tawnessa Carter; and on the right, Angela Christelis, the new Administrative Officers of the Department


I’ve had a long and enjoyable history with this department starting with my first philosophy course as an undergrad, after which I promptly switched my major to Philosophy. Thanks to the care, enthusiasm, and encouragement of the faculty and staff, I also chose to do my graduate studies here. In my administrative role, I look forward to supporting the faculty with the same level of care and enthusiasm. I also look forward to supporting our graduate students, who contribute in so many ways to making this department a lively place to work.


I graduated from Waterloo with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature ages ago and, after years of working in several different industries, I find myself back at Waterloo in the role of Undergraduate Coordinator for philosophy, women’s studies and cognitive science.  I love the academic and creative energy on campus, most notably from the undergraduate and graduate students in the philosophy department.  I enjoy finding ways to further engage with our students by always having an open door and providing support for them during their time at Waterloo. Pop by anytime and say ‘hi!’



Engaging Philosophy: End of Summer Edition

Welcome back after summer, everyone! Plenty has happened since the last blog posting.

At the June convocation, Shannon Dea was given the Distinguished Teacher Award for her long record of pedagogical excellence. Depicted below, with University President Feridun Hamdullahpur, Shannon’s award is announced here:

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Shannon Dea being awarded the Distinguished Teacher Award by University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur, at Convocation, June 2018.


Shannon’s book, Thinking About Sex and Gender (Broadview, 2016) was reviewed both in Hypatia [] and The APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy: She also had an online publication: “Social Metaphysics and Normativity in Mara Marin’s Connected by Commitment.C4EJournal, 2018: And she wrote a series of blog posts for Canadian Philosophical Association about academic freedom:


We are very happy and proud to announce our newest PhD: in July, Andria Bianchi defended her dissertation on “Sex, Consent, and Dementia.” Her supervisor, Patricia Marino, reports: “After an excellent defense, there was some celebration at the grad house,” depicted below. Congratulations, Dr. Bianchi!


Andria Bianchi, far right, celebrates the successful defense of her doctoral dissertation, July 2018, with supporters Chris (far left) and fellow graduate student Catherine Klausen (middle).


Joining in the celebration were: second reader of Andria’s dissertation, Mathieu Doucet (middle); and fellow graduate students Chris Wass (left) and Phil Beriault (right).


Speaking of Patricia Marino, she is now the new Chair of the Philosophy Department, the first female Chair in its history. Yet in spite of all the work involved with taking that on, she reports an active summer on the research front as well: “Over the summer, I presented some work on ethics at the University of Helsinki in Finland, and some work on philosophy of economics at a large conference in Lyon, France, on the topic of norms and normativity.”  Furthermore, she was the keynote speaker at the University of Windsor’s graduate student philosophy conference, where she presented on “Science, Sex, and the Search for a ‘Female Viagra’.” She comments: “In addition to an excellent time all around, I also got to see two Waterloo philosophy alums! Paul Simard Smith, PhD Waterloo, who is now based at the University of Windsor, and Eric Bohner, MA Waterloo, who is now a PhD student at the University of Calgary, and was also speaking at the conference.”



Patricia Marino (at left), the Department’s new Chair, visiting the University of Windsor and catching up with Waterloo PhD alum Paul Simard Smith (at right).


Patricia (at right) at the same Windsor conference, where she was the keynote speaker, catching up with Waterloo M.A. alum Eric Bohner (at left).


Huge congratulations to Katy Fulfer for receiving an Insight Development Grant from SSHRC for a research project entitled: “From Rootlessness to Belonging: An Arendtian Critique of the Family as a Structure of Refugee Assimilation.” She is the Principal Investigator (PI), and will be working with a co-applicant/collaborator, Dr. Rita A. Gardiner, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at Western. Katy, pictured below, elucidates: “Our project applies Hannah Arendt’s critique of the family as a model for political inclusion as a way to think through welcoming refugees into Canadian political communities. We also draw on insights from feminist theory and refugee studies to enrich Arendt’s treatment of assimilation and identity.”


Katy Fulfer was just awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for a project applying Hannah Arendt’s philosophy to current policy efforts at integrating refugees in Canada


Jaqueline Feke has been very busy this summer, especially considering she’s on sabbatical! In April, she gave a talk at Caltech, in lovely Pasadena, on “Re-examining the Distinction between Philosophy and the Mathematical Sciences in Greek Antiquity.” And in July, she flew to the Netherlands to deliver a lecture at Groningen on “Ptolemy in Nature.”  And she spent the whole month of May as a visiting scholar at l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, sending this shot of La Tour Eiffel:

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Eiffel Tower, courtesy of Jacqueline Feke, in France in May to deliver a prestigious lecture series.


While in France, Jackie gave a prestigious five-talk special lecture series on Ptolemy’s philosophy at both l’EHESS and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.  The website for the talks at l’EHESS: And for those at CNRS: She’s spending her sabbatical as a visiting scholar at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology just down the road at the University of Toronto:


The Dept was lucky enough to host distinguished philosopher Jennifer Saul in late August. Dr. Saul, of the University of Sheffield in the UK, gave a stimulating, very timely lecture entitled: “Dogwhistles and Figleaves: Shifting Norms of Racist Discourse in the Trump Era.” A dog-whistle, in general, refers to political rhetoric intended to be heard, in a motivating way, only by an intended audience, while for others it may sound neutral or innocuous. Consider, e.g., “state rights” historically in America, which might either be a politically neutral, purely legal term to some, whereas for others signalling deep racial bias. And a fig-leaf would be one of many rhetorical and conceptual devices political actors use to partially cloak, or render softer, racially-charged beliefs, practices, and policies. Dr. Saul’s talk was peppered with many quotes ripped from today’s headlines, and elicited a spirited and appreciative response from a full-house audience. Her picture:

Jennifer Saul Argument Yard

Dr. Jennifer Saul, of the UK’s University of Sheffield, gave a stimulating and appreciated guest lecture at the Department in August.


Best wishes for a successful start to the Fall term, everyone.