Author Archives: bdorend

December 2018 Pre-Holiday Post

Hope everyone is handling end-of-term duties well, and is looking forward to the holidays. Enjoy celebrating! Some recent news from our Department members:


Katy Fulfer had a busy November. She reports that, at the start of the month: “UWaterloo Arts welcomed prospective students and their families. Greg Andres, Caroline Dack, Carla Fehr, Katy Fulfer, Theo Peng, and Nick Ray were around to answer questions and share the exciting work students and faculty do in the department. The Open House was also one of the first times we’ve been able to showcase the new Gender & Social Justice programs, which launch in the Fall 2019 term! We couldn’t let guests leave without a little conceptual work either! We asked people to tell us what philosophical questions keep them up at night, and why they need feminism.” See some of the fun:


Dr. Katy Fulfer at the Arts Open House, with an intriguing question


Also at the Open House were Theo Peng and Dr. Nick Ray


The Gender and Social Justice programs launch next Fall

Katy continues: “Philosophy and Women’s Studies also co-sponsored a public talk by queer theorist Jack Halberstam on November 19. Jack’s talk “TRANS* Visual archives of the transgendered body” explored his recent explorations of archival material in search of representations of transmasculinity.” Katy’s latest publication also appeared—”Self-Sufficiency for Surrogacy and Responsibility for Global Structural Injustice”—as a chapter in the book, Surrogacy in Canada: Critical Perspectives in Law and Policy, ed. by V. Gruben, et al, published by Irwin Law. ( And, at month’s end, the Women’s Studies Program hosted human rights lawyer, peacemaker, and women’s rights advocate, Wazhma Frogh. Wazhma talked about how she developed a consciousness of peace and advocacy work, the work she did in her home country of Afghanistan, and the advocacy work she’s doing now upon moving to Kitchener-Waterloo.


Wazhma Frogh, second in from the right, meeting in November with UW students….



… and, at a different event, with Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama.


Carla Fehr recently gave an intriguing presentation on the very topical topic of artificial intelligence (AI), and its manifold implications for our lives. For all the talk, and reality, of AI’s potential to improve and simplify things, Carla’s contribution drew attention to AI’s potential for amplifying prejudices and biases already existing with society. She gave the example of the work of Joy Buolamwini, an African-American computer scientist at the M.I.T. Media Lab, who experienced the bias of facial recognition software firsthand. The software didn’t work on her face, even though it worked on her white friends. Shockingly, Buolamwini could only get the system to recognize her as human when she wore a white mask. She proceeded to conduct a formal, detailed study, finding that commercial face recognition software is bad at identifying women with darker skin tones. The error rate was as high as 46 per cent, which Carla notes is almost no better than a random coin toss. She comments that AI is, after all, set up with initial programming, and this programming can represent biases, and that even smart, well-intentioned people can be quite oblivious to the fact and nature of their own biases, as well as their consequences. For more on Carla’s, plus other presentations at that event, please see:


Shannon Dea was featured in the Fall 2018 Waterloo Magazine issue, “Unlocking the Future of Learning”:

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Dr. Shannon Dea, second in from the left, featured with UW students. Photo credit: One For The Wall

Shannon also reports on recent, important graduate student news she’s been connected with:

Matt Silk successfully defended his PhD dissertation, Evaluation and Value Management in Science. Examiners were Lorraine Code (York), Brendon Larson (ERS), Matt Brown (UT Dallas) Patricia Marino and Shannon Dea (supervisor).

Vanessa Lam successfully defended her PhD prospectus, Harm Reduction for Corporations and is now ABD. Vanessa’s committee: Matt Doucet, Mary Hardy (Statistics and Actuarial Science) and Shannon Dea (supervisor).

Congratulations to both Matt and Vanessa on the milestone achievements!

Shannon also gave a recent invited talk on “Academic Freedom in Context” at the Within and Against Academic Freedom symposium at the New School at the University of Toronto. And she reports two new entries of her monthly online column for University Affairs – Dispatches on Academic Freedom:

And Shannon had two recent publications:

“Free Speech and the Battle for the University.” Lead article in Academic Matters’s Fall 2018 issue on Debating Speech on Campus (; and

Review of Mara Marin, Connected by Commitment: Oppression and Our Responsibility to Undermine It (Oxford, 2017). APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy 18.1 (2018) 18-20,


And Chris Lowry reports that he was recently interviewed on 570 News radio. He was on “Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke” to discuss a Chinese researcher’s announcement of the world’s first gene-edited babies, as well as ethical issues related to “designer babies” more generally.

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Dr. Chris Lowry recently gave a radio interview about “designer babies.”

The interview was November 28th, link following, starting at about the 21-minute mark: Chris also reports a recent publication: “Universalism, Vulnerability, and Egalitarianism”: a chapter (pp. 5-24) in C. A. Riddle’s ed., From Disability Theory to Practice (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018). Cover image below:

book cover

Happy Holidays!




Mid-Fall Update!

Hope everyone’s Fall term is progressing nicely. Here are some great things our faculty and graduate student community have been up to the past few weeks:

Jackie Feke has a new book, Ptolemy’s Philosophy: Mathematics as a Way of Life, fresh off the press from Princeton UP!  Check out the cover:


At the link {}, you’ll see the book praised by experts as “the first systematic treatment of Ptolemy’s philosophy” and “a significant contribution.” And she crossed The Pond recently to give a talk in London entitled “The Physics of Ptolemy’s Astrology,” at the annual meeting of the European Society for the History of Science, in conjunction with the British Society for the History of Science.


Ph.D. Candidate Cait O’Donnell informs us that: “For the duration of my Ph.D., I’ll be working with the Medical Professionalism and Physician Health teams at the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) in Ottawa. I came to the CMA for my advanced research placement. My project will involve a qualitative study that seeks to understand the policy- and systems needs of palliative care physicians (and doctors who specialize in end-of-life-care) across Canada.”

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Cait O’Donnell, Philosophy Ph.D. Candidate

She continues: “As the CMA wants to know how to support physicians at the macro level (policy, government), they will be supporting me in my studies so that I can offer recommendations as to how best to support this group of doctors. Working with Dr. Jeff Blackmer at the CMA is a dream come true. I was able to come and work here because of Waterloo, and the incredible Ph.D. in Applied Philosophy.”


And a bit of Applied Philosophy in action, so to speak: Dave DeVidi attended a gala opening of LIFEactually, an exhibit of photographs by the highly regarded photographer Pete Paterson, at the Dufferin County Museum. The exhibit features people who live in Dufferin, and who are supported by Facilitation Wellington Dufferin (FWD), doing the things they love in their communities. It’s an eye-opening display of human potential, and a lesson on what people can achieve with support from people who believe in them. FWD provides independent facilitation to adults with developmental disabilities; that is, it provides supports that help people think through what is important to them, to make good decisions of their own about important things like where and with whom they will live and how they will spend their days, and to find the formal and informal resources to put their plans into action.


Dave DeVidi, left, with Marcelle (centre) and Candice (right) at FWD’s LIFEactually Gala

Dave reports that he has spent more than a decade working to help build FWD, and is currently the President of its Board of Directors … “but he works behind the scenes, because he just doesn’t have the skills to be an actual facilitator.” The gala attracted at least 200 people. The LIFEactually exhibit will spend two months at the Dufferin County Museum, then hopes to move to other museums in the areas FWD serves. In the photo with him, above, are: Marcelle, whose own photo should appear when LIFEactually moves to Guelph; and Candice, one of FWD’s facilitators.


Another book fresh off the press is the second edition of Brian Orend’s Introduction to International Studies, from Oxford UP. The cover image, below, is an aerial shot of a local, boat-based, flower- and food market in Indonesia.


The second edition—praised by experts on the back cover as “comprehensive” and “excellent”—contains over 35% brand new material (as the first edition was five years ago, and consider how much has changed worldwide since then). This single-authored textbook considers global studies from a different perspective per each of the twelve chapters, ranging from international trade and foreign policy to the natural environment and global public health, and including his own core specialties in armed conflict, international law, and human rights. For more, see the link:


John Turri reports: “In order to care for their offspring, parents must be able to re-identify their children in different circumstances. In order to re-pay a favor, we must be able to re-identify the person who showed us kindness originally. What criteria are involved in our ordinary concept of personal identity? For decades philosophers have assumed that, on the ordinary view, one person cannot be in two places at the same time. In a ground-breaking investigation, researchers in the Philosophical Science Lab found that common sense rejects this “one-person-one-place rule”.”

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One… or two? 

He continues: “A series of carefully controlled behavioral experiments revealed that most people judge that a person can exist simultaneously in two different locations, perhaps for over a week and despite undergoing different bodily changes in the two locations. This is a major conceptual discovery with far-reaching implications for the philosophy of personal identity. The findings recently appeared in the series Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy. The research was co-authored by Dr. Sara Weaver when she was a Waterloo Philosophy PhD student.”


Patricia Marino informs us that: “I was recently in Hanover, Germany for the 2018 joint meeting of the European Network for the Philosophy of Social Science (ENPOSS) and the Philosophy of Social Science Roundtable {}, presenting a paper on “Underdetermination, Methodology, and Normativity in Distinguishing Rational from Irrational Behavior.” This was my first time at a conference specifically focused on the philosophy of social science—and I enjoyed it very much! Looking at the issues from a science perspective was a refreshing change from the more ethics/values perspective I usually take, and there were some excellent talks linking epistemological issues together with social and political ones. We also went on a lovely tour of the Herrenhausen Gardens, which involved some strolling and also some wine drinking—which I regard as a perfect combination of activities.”


Patricia Marino touring the Herrenhausen Gardens in Germany

Patricia continues: “A while ago I participated in a roundtable on the book Religious Freedom in an Egalitarian Age by legal scholar Nelson Tebbe. My contribution — “What is the ‘Social’ in ‘Social Coherence?'”– was recently published, along with other commentaries and the author’s replies. Anyone interested can view it at {}

Also: “I was very pleased and proud to be able to hood Andria Bianchi as she received her PhD at the Arts Convocation ceremony on Saturday October 27th! Even though it was raining, it was a lovely day inside. Congratulations, Dr. Bianchi!”


Newly-minted Ph.D., Andria Bianchi, left, with Patricia Marino, at Fall Convocation


Doreen Fraser gave a talk entitled “Formal and theoretical equivalence” as part of the Emergence, Effectiveness, and Equivalence session for the 59th annual Boston Colloquium for the Philosophy of Science. Her talk inspired this awesome watercolor painting by physicist and artist Kaća Bradonjić:


A watercolour by Kaca Bradonjic


Katy Fulfer, pictured below, recently presented a colloquium on “Welcoming Refugees? Rootlessness, In-Betweenness and Belonging”, to the PHIL Dept at McMaster.


Katy Fulfer delivering a colloquium talk at McMaster University

Katy further reports that Shannon Stettner and Sasha Cocarla—two instructors in the Women’s Studies Program—recently gave presentations on their scholarship at a recent lunch hosted by the Women’s Studies Program. Shannon’s was entitled “Telling Abortion Stories,” and she talked of her work as a historian bringing to light how women spoke about their experiences with abortion in Canada. {Her co-edited book related to the subject is out at:} Sasha talked about “Bi In/Visibility: Representations of Bisexuality in Pop Culture,” examining dominant narratives about bisexuality as portrayed in television, and how characters negotiated bisexual identities.


And, as ever, Shannon Dea managed to keep up a hectic pace of activity and achievement. She presented a talk, “Does Harm Reduction Need Philosophy? (And Does Philosophy Need Harm Reduction?)” at one of two workshops at McGill, on harm reduction, which she co-organized with Daniel Weinstock. She delivered a talk, “Academic Freedom and Equity”, as part of a panel she co-organized with Barrett Emerick (St. Mary’s College) and Alice MacLachlan (York). This was at the meeting of the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy (CSWIP) at Cape Breton University, Sydney, NS.

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Taking a break on the beach, in Nova Scotia, from CSWIP: Kate Norlock of Trent (left); Shannon Dea (centre); and Barrett Emerick of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Photo credit: Kate Norlock


While at the University of Saskatchewan last week, Shannon gave two talks: a colloquium to the PHIL Dept there on “Viewpoint Diversity and the Final Opinion”; the other, the keynote address to their undergraduate students’ annual event, on “What’s it Like to Be a Woman in Philosophy?” And she had two large recent initiatives related to academic freedom. First, she launched a new online column called “Dispatches on Academic Freedom” for University Affairs, the magazine of Universities Canada. {See the link:} And she provided advice for the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations leaders’ “Strategizing Response” to the Ontario Government’s new free speech policy requirement for post-secondary institutions in the province.


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.