End of May Update

Department Chair Patricia Marino reports: “I’ve been presenting papers on lots of different topics over the last couple of months. In March, graduate student Chris Wass and I were on a panel together at the PPE Society [http://ppesociety.web.unc.edu/] meeting in New Orleans — our topic was “Ethics and the Boundaries of Economic Reasoning.”

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PhD Candidate Chris Wass (left) and Dr. Patricia Marino at the PPE Conference in New Orleans

“In April,” she continues, “I was at the Pacific APA commenting on a book on Compassionate Moral Realism — at this event I was excited to see my new book on philosophy of sex and love at the Routledge display!” [See the following link for book contents, plus future posts for more—ed. https://www.routledge.com/Philosophy-of-Sex-and-Love-An-Opinionated-Introduction-1st-Edition/Marino/p/book/9781138391000]

patricia book

Patricia with new book from Routledge, Philosophy of Sex and Love: An Opinionated Introduction (2019)

“While I was there,” Patricia says, “I also got to see our grad alum Nora Boyd, currently an Assistant Professor at Sienna College.”

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Patricia (left) with Dr. Nora Boyd (right) of Sienna College

And: “In May, I was at “Business Ethics in the 6ix” [http://be6.ca/] — this is an interdisciplinary conference at the Ted Rogers School at Ryerson University that brings together business ethics people in the Greater Toronto Area. Drawing on examples in Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Math Destruction, I presented an analysis of algorithms and their potential for racist and other discriminatory outcomes. I also have a new project on the use of mathematics in economic reasoning and recently discussed that at the Society for Exact Philosophy [http://www.phil.ufl.edu/host/sep/index.html] conference at York University.”

Dylon McChesney and Mathieu Doucet recently published an important article in the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy on “Culpable Ignorance and Mental Disorders” . There, they argue that—contrary to some common presuppositions—having a mental disorder does not, of itself, offer a blanket exemption from moral blame. They deploy the tools of analytic philosophy, moral psychology, as well as empirical reference to cases and the American Psychiatric Association’s authoritative diagnostic manual DSM-5. They point out that some mental disorders have a lack of moral concern for others as a diagnostic criterion for the having of said disorder(s). And such lack of concern may lead to ignorance, and/or action, which can plausibly be seen as morally culpable or blameworthy. They conclude that their reasoning “… takes seriously the idea that those with mental disorders are capable of full moral agency, and that their conditions do not leave them outside, or even on the margins, of the moral community.”

Shannon Dea offers this narrative of our recent Kerr-Lawson Lecture: “Professor V. Denise James (Dayton) visited the Department as our second and final Angus Kerr-Lawson Memorial Lecturer. This lecture was endowed by the Hall family in memory of long-time Philosophy Department member Professor Angus Kerr-Lawson, who died in 2011. Professor Kerr-Lawson was particularly interested in pragmatism and American philosophy, especially the work of George Santayana and Charles Sanders Peirce.

angus kerr-lawson

Dr. Angus Kerr-Lawson

“Professor V. Denise James is the Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Program and associate professor of philosophy at the University of Dayton.  She received her B.A. from Spelman College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Emory University. She was the recipient of the University of Dayton College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award in 2015 and the Outstanding Service Award in 2017.

denise james of Dayton

Dr. V. Denise James of the University of Dayton

“Dr. James’ scholarly work and advocacy involves getting critical clarity about the interplay of the politics of geography, identity, and social justice. She has published essays about the intersections of classical American pragmatism and black feminism, articles about street violence against young women and girls, radical social justice, and the philosophical significance of U.S. black feminist thinkers. She is at work on a book about the life and political significance of the black feminist poet, activist, and theorist Audre Lorde for our current moment.

Audre Lorde -Women-Are-Powerful

Audre Lorde

“Professor James’s Kerr-Lawson Memorial Lecture was entitled: “Growth and Survival, but Especially Survival: Black Feminism as Pragmatism.” The talk was preceded by recollections about Professor Kerr-Lawson by his colleague, Professor Emeritus Bill Abbott. Professor Kerr-Lawson’s widow, Marg, and their daughter, Kate, attended both the lecture and the previous day’s departmental awards reception.

“During her visit, Professor James generously met with various students and faculty, and ran a well-attended departmental discussion, “Philosophical Methods and Traditions: Being Pragmatic About It All.””

Shannon has remained very active apart from helping with all that. For example, she recently appeared on “Friday Four”, a weekly, hour-long news panel on the Mike Farlow Show (570News). She discussed the rise in gun crime in the region, municipal reform, and what the closure of the Original Princess Cinema portends for Uptown Waterloo. And she’s published two further columns in her series for University AffairsDispatches in Academic Freedom:

And late last month, Shannon, recent PhD alumnus Nathan Haydon, and M.A. student Scott Metzger all gave presentations at the “Pragmatism & Phenomenology Workshop: Female Figures” at King’s University College at Western University in London. This was the third iteration of a workshop which has alternated between King’s and Waterloo in recent years. Nathan presented on Simone Weil’s moral thought. Scott considered “Is Helen Longino a Pragmatist?” And Shannon led a workshop on Jane Addams’s sympathetic understanding, titled “Devil Baby Revisited.”

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Dr. Nathan Haydon (left) at the workshop, doing graphs with Dr. Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen (right) , President of the C.S. Pierce Society

And Shannon reports that: “Feminist Philosophers, the prominent international group blog, is closing down after 12 years of operation. The blog was founded by Professor Jennifer Saul (Sheffield), who will be joining our department in the fall; for years, I, Carla Fehr, and former UW philosopher, Tim Kenyon were among the co-bloggers. Here’s my final post, “Here at Feminist Philosophers…” (https://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/here-at-feminist-philosophers/)

Katy Fulfer recently attended the Northeast Modern Language Association meeting, held in Washington DC, to participate in a seminar on using Speculative Fiction to teach Social Justice. Her contribution to the seminar was entitled “Afrofuturism in Introductory Gender Classes.” This seminar was organized by UWaterloo PhD Candidate in English, Meghan Riley.

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Dr. Katy Fulfer (back row, at left) at the NMLA in Washington DC

On March 29, Katy presented “Refugee Rootlessness, Resettlement, and Assimilation” as part of Guelph’s Philosophy Colloquium Series. On April 5, she took this talk to her alma mater, Georgia State University (MA 2008), as part of their Prospective Students Day. And on April 11-13, she was in Edmonton for the Hannah Arendt Circle, a conference she co-organized. Katy will be the Chair of the Hannah Arendt Circle for 2019-2020, which will hold its next conference at the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College in Washington, DC April 16-18, 2020.

Dave DeVidi recently chaired the plenary session at the Steps Toward Inclusive Community event, sponsored by Guelph Services for the Autistic “to herald World Autism Day.” Three independently produced short films, each focusing on an adult with autism and what they and their supporters are doing to help them live a self-directed life in their community, premiered at the event. It also provided an opportunity for groups and individuals that support people with various cognitive differences to share bright ideas and innovations. While nominally about autism, DeVidi noted that the organizers felt “common cause with everyone who is committed to the values of acceptance and inclusion of people who reflect all the different forms of human diversity and difference.” He summarized the spirit of the event like this: “Being ‘safe and well looked after’ is important, but if that’s our only goal for those we care about we are stopping short. People who are different are often underestimated, sometimes even by themselves. When people have supports that allow them to recognize and pursue their interests and to develop their gifts, not only are their own lives enriched, but so are the lives of those lucky enough to know them.”

dedivi joe event

From the “J.O.E.” (Jobs. Opportunities. Enterprise), a “work enclave” of young adults who did the catering for the event

Dave also reports that he will soon be taking up a new administrative post. As of July 1, he’ll be the University’s Associate Vice President Academic for the next five years. While this means he won’t be around the Philosophy Department as much as usual and that he won’t be doing much (if any) undergraduate teaching, he will still be involved in graduate supervision. “I like all parts of my job,” he says, “but I think grad supervision is the most fun. I’m glad I’ll still be able to do some of it.”

devidi and catherine

Dr. Dave Devidi (right), soon to be the University’s new Associate Vice-President Academic, with one of his graduate students, award-winning PhD Candidate Catherine Klausen (left)

Finally, congratulations to one of our undergrad PHIL alums, Dr. Trystan Goetze, who has just been awarded a prestigious Government of Canada Banting Fellowship, to be held at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Dr. Goetze’s important and timely post-doctoral project shall focus on developing a model for what intellectual accountability means in a world increasingly saturated with “fake news” and other forms of information manipulation. See Dalhousie’s official Banting announcement at:


Happy summertime everyone: see you in the fall!

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