Author Archives: patriciamarino

Wednesday November 26, 2014


Hi everyone and welcome to the last week of Fall term! As always, it seems like just yesterday that we were gathered for the welcome party, and here we are in week 12.

First, we are thrilled to announce that two of our graduate students are SSHRC scholarship recipients! Graduate chair John Turri writes, “Ashley Keefner and Sara Weaver each won a Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in the 2013-14 competition. These are extremely competitive and prestigious awards. According to SSHRC’s statistics, in this round, only seven CGSs were awarded to PhD students here at Waterloo and only eighteen were awarded to philosophy PhD students nationally. I know that the entire Waterloo philosophy community joins me in congratulating Sara and Ashley on their amazing accomplishments.”

Sara says:
“The award came as a wonderful surprise and I feel so honored to have my work recognized like this. The scholarship will be an immense help in my studies both in terms of the travel expenses it will help cover and in terms of the extra time I may now have to invest in my research. It is also so thrilling to me to have my proposed thesis, which is a project dear to my heart, be noticed as so worthwhile. A big THANK YOU goes out to Carla Fehr who helped me articulate that proposal in my application!”

And Ashley says:
“The CGS will support my doctoral research on the abilities of animals, both human and non-human, to represent and reason about the mental states of conspecifics. I’m grateful to have won a CGS as it has allowed me to focus more directly on my research. Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on my many drafts, and special thanks to Paul Thagard for his help and guidance.”

Congratulations, both!

In other graduate student news, Ty Branch recently presented a poster at the recent Calgary Summit of Philosophers of Science. She writes “My Poster talked about the potential of near-living architecture to be used as an example of weekly emergent phenomena based on my work over the summer as a result of my MITACS internship.” Check out the abstract here, and you can see a profile of Ty’s internship on our Dept. website. Plus here’s a great picture of Ty with her poster in Calgary!


Ty also presented a paper at the Workshop on Research Agendas in the Societal Aspects of Synthetic Biology in Arizona in early November. This conference was an opportunity for “scholars and practitioners to help articulate research agendas for societal research on synthetic biology… As an emerging
technology with high stakes, uncertain outcomes, and contested definitions
and values, synthetic biology requires systematic inquiry into its ethics,
governance, and desired (or undesired) futures.” She sent along this amazing photo of a concept map produced in one of the conference sessions:


In exciting faculty news, Chris Eliasmith became one of the (80) inaugural members of the RSC College on the weekend in Quebec City. Congratulations Chris!

Doreen Fraser writes that Waterloo was well-represented at the biennial meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) in Chicago a few weeks back. Heather Douglas presented a paper co-authored with John Turri and Wesley Buckwalter entitled “Inductive Risk and Data on Values in Science” in a symposium on Naturalism and Values in Science. The session included presentations of evidence about how scientists and the public view the role of values in science, and what implications philosophers of science should take from such evidence. Carla Fehr and Katie Plaisance contributed papers to a special session co-sponsored by The Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering (SRPoiSE) and The Association for Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics, and Science Studies (FEMMSS). The session highlighted a successful example of an ongoing collaboration between the two groups which is resulting in refinements to the Toolbox project  for improving communication within interdisciplinary research teams. And I (Doreen) chaired a session of contributed papers responding to her work on axiomatic and heuristic approaches to quantum field theory and was also a member of the Program Committee. This was the largest PSA meeting in the history of the association! All of the abstracts and some of the papers are available at As usual, some of the papers will be published in two forthcoming volumes of Philosophy of Science.

On November 16, our very own Shannon Dea was appointed Director of Women’s Studies! Check out all the cool stuff that Department is doing here at their website.

In other faculty news, Shannon  Dea and Carla Fehr participated in the Tech Feminism 101 panel put on by the Women in Computer Science Undergraduate Committee November 13.

And on Nov 17,  Chris Lowry was interviewed  by 570News with respect to the recent court decision allowing a First Nations family to withdraw their child from chemotherapy and treat her cancer using traditional medicine. You can hear the interview here.

Plus, you may remember Heather Douglas was part of a Rotman panel on climate change?  The video from that event has been posted.

In a bit of teaching news, I (Patricia Marino) recently invited McMaster PhD candidate Joanna Zaslow to visit my seminar on Autonomy in Sex and Love to present on her dissertation work on submissive women in Master/slave BDSM relationships and its implications for feminist theories of autonomy. We found her presentation most interesting and had a great discussion. Thank you Joanna!

Don’t forget, as always, you can see more news and check out upcoming events at our Department website.

Thanks for reading!

– Patricia Marino


Wednesday November 5, 2014

The first Phil Soc meeting of the year!

The first Phil Soc meeting of the year!

Hi everyone and welcome to November! First, let us note with pleasure that the first undergraduate PhilSoc Social of the school year (October 9) was marked by good pizza, camaraderie, and lively conversation! PhilSoc faculty liaison Greg Andres writes, “The event was held in the Philosophy Learning Commons, and was attended by many first year students, philosophy majors, non-majors, grad students, and faculty. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this event a success.” 

We have some great grad student news this posting. On October 17, Kurt Holukoff successfully defended his dissertation Politics, Principles and Pluralism: On why Liberalism Must be Inconsistent if Correct. His supervisor Dave DeVidi writes, “In his dissertation, Kurt argues that political liberalism necessarily involves not only pluralism about how to live, but also pluralism—that is, a variety of conflicting but correct theories—about the appropriate principles for the organization of societies. He suggests that the result must be revisions to our understanding of concepts we routinely use in ways that presume consistency (such as obligation), and he develops a new approach to paraconsistent deontic logic to show the whole business is coherent (even if not consistent). An examiner described his handling of questions at the defense as ‘masterful.’ As his supervisor, I was very impressed with the breadth and boldness of the project, and find it hard to believe that I had to lobby long and hard to get Kurt to chop two further chapters from the end. Well done, Kurt!” Yes, congratulations from all of us, Kurt!

Also, graduate student Darlene Drecun  tell us, “In October I was able to present a paper at the Globality, Unequal Development, and Ethics of Duty conference jointly organized by Alternative Perspectives and Global Concerns (APGC), the School of International Development and Global Studies (EDIM) at the University of Ottawa and the Department of Philosophy and Centre on Values and Ethics (COVE) at Carleton University. There were many interesting talks presented by scholars from all over the world, and I had a great time! It was particularly interesting to hear the talks presented by professors from the philosophy department at Carleton University, Jay Drydyk and Christine Koggel, as well as the organizer of the conference, Mahmoud Masaeli from the University of Ottawa. I presented a paper called ‘Justice Duties of Health Development: Sustainable Short-Term Medical Missions.’ My paper argued that surgeons involved in short-term surgical medical missions in the developing world have a justice-based duty to develop the local health infrastructure in order to provide medical services that are not of a lower quality than would be performed in their country of origin. I argued for surgeons’ justice duties of health development using the example of short-term obstetric fistula surgery missions.” Here’s a picture from the conference with Professor Jay Drydyk and Professor Mahmoud Masaeli:


Graduate student Darlene Drecun with colleagues at the Globality, Unequal Development, and Ethics of Duty conference.

Graduate Student Ramesh Prasad writes, “I gave an invited presentation to the Nephrology Division at the London Health Sciences Centre on October 22 entitled, ‘A Moral Argument against a Regulated System of Kidney Sales.’ This was based on my PHIL420 term paper from two years ago and was very well received.”

Graduate student Cathy Gee has also been conferencing. She writes,  “I recently attended the Free Will conference put on by the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics in Flint, MI October 10 & 11th. I presented a paper titled ‘Exploring the Status of Free Will in Anorexia Nervosa’ and had a great time. The conference organizers strive to make their conferences as interdisciplinary as possible and as a result, even though there is no shortage of literature on the free will topic, the talks were still new and exciting.”

Great work everyone!

Heather Douglas writes, “I participated in a panel on Climate Change:  What is to be Done?  at Western University on Oct. 23, with Gary Brown, Radoslav Dimitrov, and Jeffrey Simpson. I talked about why climate science is politicized and what to do about it.   It was a fun and interesting discussion, far more optimistic than I would have predicted.  The end result of the discussion was that there is a lot that can be done right now, and lots of opportunities for change across a range of institutions and social governance levels.  I also gave a talk as part of UW’s Knowledge Integration’s seminar series on Oct. 3, entitled “Philosophical Analysis in an Interdisciplinary Mode.” It was great fun to talk about how philosophy, as a normative discipline doing conceptual analysis, works with empirical disciplines, and how the direction of change between philosophy and empirical disciplines goes both ways.”

Shannon Dea says, “Last month at UBC, I gave a talk, “Abortion and Post-Normal Ethics Pedagogy” as part of a Western Canadian Philosophical Association (WCPA) panel discussion on Karen Houle’s Responsibility, Complexity and Abortion. And last week, I was interviewed on 570News (a local radio station) regarding the Catholic Synod on the Family, and its recent discussions on LGBTQ inclusion in Catholic congregations.”

Matt Doucet writes, On Oct. 8th, I gave a talk at the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics on ‘Implicit Bias in Medicine’. Carla Fehr and I have been working on a project on the consequences of implicit bias among physicians, and on the problems with the strategies proposed for addressing that bias. The audience at the JCB were very interested in the issue, and had many very helpful and fascinating suggestions. A live stream of the talk is available here. Also, I’ve just returned from St. John’s, Newfoundland, where I attended the Atlantic Region Philosophical Association meetings to present my work on ‘Moral Responsibility and the Limits of Self-Assessment.’ I also took the opportunity to hike, with some other philosophers, to the most easterly point in the Americas.” Wow, nice picture Matt!


Tim Kenyon’s on sabbatical! He writes, “From October 1-3 I was at Lund University, where I gave a Philosophy colloquium talk, ‘Content Dissolution,’ and a seminar talk, ‘Against Disaggregation’. The former talk points out a worry with the view that testimony is rationally acceptable unless the audience has “defeaters” (championed by Tyler Burge in a famous paper called ‘Content Preservation’). The worry is that the content and truth-value of testimony can change over time in gradual ways that don’t actually amount to a defeater.  And on November 4 I gave a talk, ‘Testimony, belief, and real people,’ to the Mind, Language and Action Group at the University of Porto. This is a talk that focuses on the large difference it makes to social epistemology if you factor in the small socio-communicative details of testimony rather than abstracting them away.” Here’s a picture  from Lund of the fall colour of ivy in southern Sweden:

CAM00199And another picture, of Porto, not far from the university, as seen from across the Rio Douro.


What a beauty spot! 

Recent Faculty Publications:

Shannon Dea, “Peirce and Spinoza’s Pragmaticist Metaphysics” has just appeared in Cognitio 15.1 (2014) 25-35 (available online at

Don’t forget, as always, you can see more news and check out upcoming events at our Department website.

Thanks for reading!

— Patricia Marino

Wednesday, Sept 24, 2014

Hi everyone, first we have some exciting graduate student news, which is that Micheal McEwan had a successful defense on Tuesday September 23rd of his dissertation “A Study of the Discursive Aspect of Scientific Theorizing and Modeling.” As Mike’s supervisor I want to say yet again: our heartiest congratulations, Mike! Above, Mike celebrates with us post-defense at the grad house.
Graduate student Jim Jordan says, “I’ve had the privilege of working with Linda Warley (Associate Dean, Graduate Studies), Aimée Morrison (English), Robert Zacharias (postdoctoral fellow in English), Jeff Wilson (Religious Studies), Andrew Thompson (Political Science/BSIA), and Anindya Sen (Economics) on the Faculty’s alternative careers task force. The first fruits of our shared labour, the Arts Graduate Careers portal, is now available to all. The website includes a description of the Department’s most recent non-academic career workshop which was held in April. This is but a start; I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for the task force.” Excellent news, Jim!
John Turri writes to report on the Waterloo contingent at the 2014 Buffalo Experimental Philosophy Conference, at which five people from Waterloo philosophy and the Philosophical Science Lab presented research. John writes, “Overall, the conference was an awesome event, with people from all around the world​ (e.g. England, Sweden, Belgium, Japan, Canada, USA)​ presenting really exciting and valuable research at the intersection of science and philosophy, and getting lots of encouraging and constructive feedback. Here is a quick summary of the contributions by Waterloo philosophers (in chronological order as they appeared on the program):
  • Janet Michaud and Ashley Keefner presented research on the controversial “Mr. Big” technique used by the RCMP​ (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)​ to elicit confessions in criminal cases. In this completely novel line of research, Janet and Ashley found that several aspects of the technique are widely judged to be coercive, which has potentially important implications for whether confessions elicited this way should be admissible in court.
  • Sara Weaver presented research on judgments of personal identity. Building on prior work on identity judgments in the life and social sciences — and contrary to the consensus in the recent philosophical literature — Sara found that our concept of personal identity seems to allow for one person to be embodied in two entirely different places at a single time.
  • Wesley Buckwalter presented research on the relationship attributions of ability and moral obligations, an important but previously unstudied aspect of moral psychology. Wesley found that being unable to to perform a certain task is perfectly consistent with being morally obligated to perform the task, strongly suggesting that “ought implies can” is not a principle of ordinary moral cognition.
  • Finally, I presented research on the relationship between judgments of knowledge and reliability. I found that, according to the ordinary concept of knowledge, knowledge does not have to be reliably produced, which strongly suggests that reliabilist theories of knowledge are deeply revisionary.
  • ​Also, at least some (but not all!) of us also ate Buffalo Wings in the very bar where Buffalo Wings were invented.​​
The X-phi gang passed along a great picture as well!
Heather Douglas writes, “The last week of August, I traveled to New Zealand at the invitation of Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to New Zealand, to speak at the conference Science Advice to Governments.  It was a meeting that brought together leading science advisors from all over the world.  The conference was really fun and interesting, and I got to meet lots of great people and hear about the real challenges of giving science advice.  I also wrote three essays about and for the conference, one in the Guardian, one for the conference blog, and one for Evidence4Democracy. I spoke as part of the closing panel on modes of science advice.  Here I am with Mark Ferguson (Chief Science Advisor to Ireland) as part of that panel and asking a question as part of the audience.  It was definitely worth the trip!”
15069059135_22c5188149_o Working In NZ 2014

Doreen Fraser writes, “I just returned from a trip to Oxford and Florence.  In Florence, I participated in a workshop on dualities in string theory.  Dualities are philosophically interesting because they are cases in which, faced with theories that are mathematically distinct and apparently physically distinct, physicists arrive at the judgment that the theories are in fact not physically distinct.  The workshop provided an opportunity for philosophers with different backgrounds to analyze dualities from different perspectives and to share expertise.  While in Florence, I also saw some of Galileo’s telescopes and an interesting collection of instruments used for physics demonstrations in salons in the 18th and 19th centuries at the Museo Galileo.

Shannon Dea says, “Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing my latest research on abortion and harm reduction with colleagues in the region. On September 11, at Western University, the Southwestern Ontario Feminism and Philosophy Workshop discussed my paper “Beyond Choice: An Ecological Approach to Abortion Access.” Last Friday, September 19, I delivered the same paper to the McMaster Department of Philosophy colloquium series. And two days earlier, at the Kitchener Public Library, as part of the One Book One Community events concerning Charlotte Gray’s The Massey Murder, I delivered a talk called “Women, Chastity, and the Law.”

Finally, here are a few photos from our Department’s welcome party!

IMG_0598 IMG_0609 IMG_0599

Don’t forget, as always, you can see more news and check out upcoming events at our Department website.

Thanks for reading!

– Patricia Marino

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hi everyone,


Photo by Vicki Brett.

First, a bit of campus architectural news: did you know the space above is going to be turned into a multi-floor atrium space for students to gather? Construction starts this fall, OMG.

One big recent happening at UW was the conference Science, Technology, and Gender: Challenges and Opportunities, which was held with The Association for Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics, and Science Studies (FEMMSS) and the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy (CSWIP) on August 10 to 13, 2014.  Our very own Carla Fehr was local host!

The conference featured many local participants giving papers, including grad students Janet Michaud, “Transdisciplinary Collaboration & Critical Contextual Empiricism,” Jamie Sewell, “Commercial Surrogacy & the Capabilities Approach,” Teresa Branch-Smith, “Choose your Character: Video-­‐Games & Gender,” Sandra DeVries, “Hardwired for Prejudice? A Neuro–ethical Account of Perceptual Preference,” and Sara Weaver, “Social Harm & Fixing Bad Science: Is Good Science Enough?” Also, Katie Plaisance, Philosophy Dept. affiliate member, spoke on “Taking a Feminist Approach to the Toolbox Project,” and I (Patricia Marino) talked about “Feminist Perspectives on Rational Choice Theory & the Problem of Altruistic Preferences.”

The buzz at the conference was that there was such an astonishing array of excellent papers that whatever you attended, you’d miss a ton. Thank you, Carla! And thank you to the program committee and many other organizers and helpers!

Graduate student Ramesh Prasad writes, “I’m pleased to inform you that my presentation entitled, ‘How Creative Analogies Can Shape Medical Practice’ was very well received at Medical Grand Rounds in the Li Ka Shing Auditorium, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto on July 23. This was my PHIL680 term paper. It was attended by about 150 people and my average evaluation was 4.64/5.” Excellent, Ramesh! We’re so glad to hear about philosophy happening out in the wider world. 

Here’s some news about a Department collaborative project: “The relationship between luck and success is a perennial issue in philosophy. It is notoriously difficult to identify the criteria by which we distinguish outcomes due to luck from outcomes due to ability. This is reflected in the ethics literature on the “problem of moral luck,” and it is reflected in the epistemology literature on the “problem of epistemic luck.” A trio of Waterloo philosophers — postdoctoral researcher Wesley Buckwalter, PhD candidate Peter Blouw, and Professor John Turri — recently tackled the epistemological side of this problem using the methods of experimental cognitive science. They found that knowledge is highly sensitive to lucky events that change the explanation for why a belief is true. By contrast, they found that knowledge is insensitive to lucky events that threaten but ultimately fail to change the explanation for why a belief is true. The paper reporting their findings, “Knowledge and Luck,” was recently accepted at Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Peter presented the findings at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society in Quebec City in July.

Mathieu Doucet says, “I was recently awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant for my project “Know Thyself: The Moral Significance of Self-Knowledge.” The project begins from the observation that when we act immorally, we often fail to recognize that we do so, and aims to explore the connections between moral failures and failures of self-knowledge. The ultimate aim of the project is to answer a question that is both philosophical and practical: how can we best characterize— and perhaps avoid— the moral failures that emerge from our poor self-understanding?” Congratulations Matt!

Heather Douglas, travel maven, is back from Costa Rica, where she gave two talks, one on “Science and Citizens” at the National Academy of Sciences in San Jose (or the Academia Nacional de Cienicas) and the other at the University of San Jose. For the first talk check out this article which has a link to the short video overview of the talk.  And slides can be viewed here or here. And here’s  Gabriel Macaya, president of the Academy, introducing Heather at her talk:


You may remember that Heather co-authored an editorial for the Globe&Mail on science policy issues in Canada with Tad Homer-Dixon and Lucie Edwards. Well now she also has a Radio Canada interview on Globe & Mail piece, which is available here.

Shannon Dea, who’s been on sabbatical, writes to tell us of a non-local conference with a lot of local connections:  “2014 marks a century since the death of American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce. The Peirce Society and the Peirce Foundation observed the anniversary in July by holding a large, international congress in Lowell, Massachusetts. There was lots of evidence there of Waterloo Philosophy’s long-standing Peirce connection. For example, I gave an invited talk, “Towards a Peircean Metaphysics of Sex.” Other scholars who have over the years visited Waterloo to work on Peirce were also there to give talks. Two such colleagues were Aaron Massecar (King’s College, Western University) and Masato Ishida (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Both Massecar and Ishida have spent time working with the photocopies of Peirce’s nachlass that retired UW professor Don Roberts made decades ago on a long weekend at Harvard, those photocopies currently housed in three filing cabinets in our departmental learning commons. Roberts himself was one of the early lions of Peirce scholarship. The importance of his research was much discussed in both scholarly talks and casual conversations throughout the conference. Indeed, in his plenary address to the congress, Fernando Zalamea (Universidad Nacional de Colombia at Bogotá) listed Don’s The Existential Graphs of Charles Sanders Peirce, as one of the all-time greatest studies of Peirce’s logical thought. Finally, Waterloo alumnus and 2010 Waterloo Arts in Academics honoree Nathan Houser (IUPUI), gave a couple of talks, including a well-attended memorial plenary, in which latter he detailed Peirce’s life and the birth in the twentieth century of Peirce scholarship.

Here’s a picture of alum and speaker Nathan Houser with his wife at the conference. Thanks, Shannon, for passing this along!


Nathan and Aleta Houser in St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Lowell, Mass. before his memorial address to the International Peirce Centennial Congress. Photo credit: Kathleen Hull.

In June, Brian Orend was interviewed for CBC’s “Ideas” program, regarding the ethics of war and peace. In July, he delivered a speech on post-war reconstruction at the Chateau de la Bretesche in France. This chateau, complete with working drawbridge over a moat, looks like this:

castle in france

In spite of the fact that it’s a French castle, it’s actually owned by The Borchard Foundation, which is closely associated with the University of California (the host of the conference). Orend has started Sabbatical, as of July 1st, and is looking forward to a little break from administration and teaching, and to focussing on research projects on cyber-warfare, happiness, and post-war reconstruction.

In case you missed it, here’s a Windsor Star write-up about grad student Rosalind Abdool and her work as a hospital ethicist.

And I myself wrote a “guest post” at the Metaphysics of Love project blog, on “Love and the Problem of Fairness.” Check it out here!

Recent faculty publication news:

Shannon Dea says, “a paper of mine hit the ‘stands’ just in time for the International Peirce Centennial Congress. Torkild Thellefsen and Bent Sørensen, Eds. Peirce in His Own Words (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2014) included a chapter by me entitled “The River of Pragmatism.”

Brian Orend signed a contract to do a second edition of his book Introduction to International Studies (OUP), and he’s come out with two book chapters: “Post-Intervention: Permissions and Prohibitions” in D. Scheid, ed. Humanitarian Military Intervention (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 224-42.; and “Fog in The Fifth Dimension: The Ethics of Cyberwar” in L. Floridi and M. Taddeo, eds. The Ethics of Informational Warfare (Switzerland: Springer, 2014), 3-23.

Matt Doucet and John Turri recently published a paper in Synthese titled “Non-psychological weakness of will: self-control, stereotypes, and consequences.”

Don’t forget, as always, you can see more news and check out upcoming events at our Department website.

Thanks for reading!

– Patricia Marino

Wednesday June 18, 2014


Here’s what’s happening on campus: flowers! Another great photo by Vicki Brett.

Hi everyone!

First, in case you didn’t know, we have some Departmental awards for graduate students to report!

Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Award, 2013-14:
Dylon McChesney

Graduate Student Instructor Award, 2013-14:
Ben Nelson

Congress Travel Awards, 2014, for students whose work is accepted for presentation at Congress:
Ian MacDonald
Janet Michaud
Matt Silk
Sara Weaver

Excellence in PhD Studies Travel Award, 2014: for excellence among students who have completed their coursework and Research Areas:

Kurt Holukoff, for the high quality of his dissertation work
Ian MacDonald, for presentation of a paper at the CPA

Congratulations all! Great work!

Graduate student Rosalind Abdool presented two papers and had a poster display at the 25th annual Canadian Bioethics Society (CBS) conference in Vancouver, BC. The first paper focused on trust in the healthcare settings and its various interpretations. Rosalind introduced a new way of defining trust in the healthcare context and provided some practical tools on how to foster trust. The second paper was a co-authored manuscript developed by the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics Difficult Transitions Working Group. Bioethicists from across the GTA and other collaborators have been working together to raise awareness around legislative and policy gaps for patients who lack representation and require assistance with discharge planning, as well as to provide concrete recommendations to advocate for this patient population. The poster presentation displayed the ICU ethics checklist research project that Rosalind and colleagues at St. Joseph’s Health Centre have been piloting.

At the CBS conference, Rosalind was also re-elected to the CBS board, as the membership co-ordinator for a two-year term. She remarks: “I am very excited to continue to participate on the CBS board for another term. The CBS is a wonderful organization that is expanding and developing new initiatives to have a positive impact on Canadian health care.” Rosalind also had the chance to explore Vancouver through the spectacular view of a seaplane!


Tim Kenyon writes, “In late May and early June I spent two weeks at the Eidyn Centre for Epistemology, Mind and Normativity at the University of Edinburgh. This was a very productive and research-intensive time. I gave a talk titled ‘Content Dissolution’, in which I argued that the language pragmatics and social psychology of testimony raise serious problems for the influential thesis that audiences have an a priori entitlement to accept testimony. (This view was most influentially spelled out in Tyler Burge’s 1993 paper ‘Content Preservation’. See what I did there?) The faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students I met in Edinburgh were keen and helpful interlocutors; it seemed like everyone was doing very interesting work.

“I also attended two outstanding conferences that took place at Edinburgh during this time, one on virtue epistemology in eastern and western philosophical traditions, and one the British Wittgenstein Society annual meeting, which focused on issues of basic epistemic entitlement.”

And Heather Douglas says her recent conference on campus was great: “The workshop on Science-Policy Interfaces:  International Comparisons I organized went beautifully, with great speakers, attendees, and organizational help (with special thanks to Teresa Branch-Smith, Dylon McChesney, and A.Y. Daring for their on-the-ground assistance and to Debbie and Vicki for all their help from the office). The workshop was funded by SSHRC, UW, and the Balsillie School (BSIA), and slides for most talks are posted here. And a write-up from the workshop by two attendees, Nicolae Morar (Penn State) and Kevin Elliott (MSU), is here.
Here are some pics!

IMG_8099-1 IMG_8094-1


Graduate Chair Doreen Fraser passes on some interesting news about a workshop on non-acadmiec careers we had at the end of April. “We held our annual grad student workshop on non-academic careers at the end of April. This was an opportunity to welcome back alumni Doug Andrews  (now Director of the Master of Actuarial Science Program at UW), Joseph Mikhael (now a business analyst with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of the federal government), and Marcia Sokolowski (now Co-Director of Ethics at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto). Current student Jim Jordan kicked off the event with an informative presentation about resources available for non-academic career searches and the alumni described their career paths and answered questions. The useful practical advice conveyed included recognizing (and appropriately describing) the wide range of relevant skills which are honed in philosophy graduate programs, the importance of being responsive to feedback, and taking advantage of opportunities to volunteer while a grad student. We also heard about the different ways in which their educations in philosophy continue to contribute to their professional and personal lives. Thanks to Jim, Marcia, Joe, and Doug for participating and to Dave for taking the lead in organizing this event.

Matt Doucet and I (Patricia Marino) joined the grad students mentioned above in presenting at Congress. Matt says, “I presented two papers at the recent CPA at Brock University. Both papers were part of my unofficial research specialization in the philosophy of Rob Ford. The first, “‘Just Say No’ (for now): the ethics of illegal drug use”, generated an enthusiastic debate about whether the injustice of drug prohibition means that there is nothing morally objectionable about the use of illegal drugs. The second,”Weakness of will without commitment violations?” co-written with John Turri, presented new experimental evidence that the standard philosophical models of weakness of will are far too narrow, and proposed a new and original model in their place.” For my part, I participated in a session on philosophy blogging, with a presentation on “Why Does Life Suck? Philosophy Blogging and the Really Big Questions” — the title, of course, drawn from one of the many interesting search terms people used when finding my blog online.

I was also so pleased to attend convocation this year, where my PhD student Natalie Evans and Paul Thagard’s student Tracy Finn were both convocating! Pictures!


Natalie and Tracy


Patricia and Natalie

Dave DeVidi says that over the past couple of months he’s taken part in a number of activities that in varying degrees involve putting his professional philosophical concerns and my avowed commitments into action:

“Back on April 12 I ran a workshop for families with members who live with developmental disabilities, hosted by Citizen Advocacy of Ottawa.  The session was called Aroha: A Tool for Building and Sustaining a Good Life. “Aroha” is a Maori word variously translated as affection, community, compassion, empathy, respect, friendship, understanding and love.  An Aroha is a mini-corporation, the objects of which are to look out for the interests of a single vulnerable individual, and that works towards giving that individual control over her or his own life (which is the key philosophical connection for me).  I was invited because I am president of the first Aroha, set up 12 years ago for one of my friends in Guelph, so part of a group that has a lot of experience with how Arohas can work and how to set one up.  The session  was fairly well attended, and I have heard reports that interest in the idea has since spread out beyond those able to attend.

“I was pleased in late April to be able to work as a ‘Faculty Co-Facilitator’ at Waterloo’s Teaching Excellence Academy.  At the TEA, faculty members spend four days re-designing one of their courses.  When I was  a participant in the Academy two years ago, I learned a lot—in spite of my view that I was already doing things well and a bit of skepticism going in.  In recent years several other department members have participated in the TEA, and they report going through the same thing. Even though it’s officially 40% of a regular faculty member’s job, it’s a rare thing for a faculty member to get concentrated time to think about the how and why of teaching.  It was a lot of fun being on the other side at the TEA, watching some really smart people re-think something they were already pretty good at, and I think make themselves better teachers.

“On May 23, I was an invited panelist on an Ontario Confederation of Faculty Associations session in Toronto called Transformative Feminist Leadership in the Academy.  The session was attended by about 50 academics from all over Ontario.  My own remarks were focused on relatively practical matters. I began by addressing a question that would probably leap to mind when someone like me steps to the microphone at a session with that title: what’s the role of straight, white, middle-aged males in the contemporary feminist struggle?  I noted that I don’t publicly call myself a feminist, regarding the word as, for people like me, an accolade to be won by actions and not mere words, and suggested that the right role for someone like me is as a worker doing very practical things to make stuff happen, ideally behind the scenes.  Turning to the announced topic, I argued that feminist leadership was a matter not just of having feminist goals in view, but also involved taking an appropriate route to achieve them—a feminist leader, qua feminist, is consultative and team-oriented, but qua leader is willing to stop talking, set priorities and make decisions; that transformative academic leadership was not a matter of vision (of which there is a surplus in the academy) but of practical, strategic, incremental and (most importantly) persistent work; and that, as with any group seeking profound change, a key to success is to avoid spending more time fighting one another instead of working towards common objectives.  The other three panelists had very different life experiences from mine, so they had interestingly different takes on the question, one of them for instance taking “transformative” to be a description of changes in people rather than in institutions.

“June 16 was the date of the first AGM for Facilitation Wellington Dufferin, a new non-profit corporation of which I am the inaugural president.  This is an important milestone after eight years of work by the Wellington Dufferin Steering Committee for Independent Facilitation and Planning.  The goal of the group is to provide people with developmental disabilities with planning support, and support to implement plans once they’re made. The goal is to allow people with communication challenges, little life experience, and other challenges, to make important decisions about their own lives, and ultimately to lead satisfying lives in the community.  We have spent years pioneering an experiential training process for independent planner/facilitators, and now have a number of facilitators about whom we can confidently say they are ready to provide independent facilitation of the highest quality. I think this is an important step in the evolution of supports for developmentally disabled persons, as it helps ensure that those supports are tailored to a particular individual’s needs and goals.  FWD is also part of the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network, a group of similarly minded independent facilitation groups from across the province.  We held a provincial forum in North Bay in mid-May, which I attended on behalf of FWD.

Recent Faculty Publications:

Tim Kenyon’s “Defining and Measuring Research Impact in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Creative Arts in the Digital Age” appeared in the journal Knowledge Organization 41.3: 249-257. The abstract and publication details are online here.

Don’t forget, as always, you can see more news and check out upcoming events at our Department website.

Thanks for reading!

— Patricia Marino

Wednesday May 21, 2014


Another great campus photo by Vicki Brett.

Hi everyone,

First, we have some exciting news from recent PhD alum Paul Simard-Smith – he won a SSHRC post-doc! Paul writes, “I was happy to learn that I will be taking up a two year SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT starting in September 2014. The research I plan to do during my postdoc expands and takes in new directions the work I did in my PhD dissertation at the University of Waterloo. The broad objective of my research at UCONN will be to contribute to a growing body of literature in the philosophy of logic that is attempting to develop a plausible version of logical pluralism—the claim that two or more logics are correct. There are two specific aspects of this project that I plan to make headway on. First, I will address an important problem that I think faces many interesting versions of logical pluralism: the problem of how conflicting logics can be correct without the disagreement between the conflicting logics being merely verbal. Second, the literature on logical pluralism to date has not examined the implications that logical pluralism has on other areas of inquiry outside the philosophy of logic. During my post-doc research I will remedy this by exploring some implications that I think logical pluralism has for legal and mathematical reasoning. I am grateful to the faculty in the philosophy department at the University of Waterloo who provided an excellent departmental climate for graduate students. In particular I am appreciative of the guidance and support of my thesis supervisor David DeVidi and my other thesis committee members Doreen Fraser and Tim Kenyon.” Our warmest congratulations, Paul!

Next, we’d like to share some great pictures from our awards ceremony.


Brian Orend giving the Second Year Prize to Xiangbo Kong.


Here I am (Patricia Marino) giving the the Third Year Prize to Carlos Fuentes.


Matt Doucet giving the Fourth Year Prize to Julia Hill.

Chris Lowry giving the Special Citizenship Prize to Paul O’Hagan

Chris Lowry giving the Special Citizenship Prize to Paul O’Hagan


Matt Doucet awarding the Judy Wubnig Graduate Essay Prize in Philosophy to Ian MacDonald.

Tim Kenyon giving the Angus-Kerr Lawson paper prize to A. Y. Daring.

Tim Kenyon giving the Angus-Kerr Lawson paper prize to A. Y. Daring.

A couple of prize winners were sadly absent: First year prize: Amy Moore, and undergraduate Judy Wubnig Essay prize: Daniel Misiewicz.

Congratulations to all!

In other news, Paul Thagard writes, “I’ve talks at conferences on the social simulation of science (Leiden), roots of empathy (Toronto), and cognitive/functional approaches to psychology (Ghent).”

And Heather Douglas moderated a Town Hall Meeting (see the poster below) and ended up doing a CBC morning show interview as a result. The Faculty of Arts write-up is here; check it out!

Doreen writes with some excellent news: A few weeks ago Bright Starts, the on campus daycare, held its Grand Opening celebration, which was a happy occasion for a number of us in the Department. The new centre is housed in a brand new, purpose-built facility and is an amalgamation of the three original on campus daycare centres. I worked on this project as a member of various committees and the Board of Directors. When I began, my sons were 1 and 4 and enrolled in Paintin’ Place daycare on campus. Now that the new facility is complete, they are both too old for daycare, but I am pleased to see more daycare spaces available for infants and toddlers and campus. This is particularly important in the infant age group, where the doubling of the number of spaces from 10 to 20 represented a significant increase in the number of licensed spaces available in the entire Region of Waterloo (= only 196!). In his various roles with the Faculty Association, Dave also committed a substantial amount of time, energy and expertise to this project. Here is a photo of Dave receiving (on behalf of FAUW) a gift made by the children:


Shannon Dea, on sabbatical, writes, “I’ve just finished a whirlwind ten days here in Sheffield (and beyond). It began May 10 when I presented Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo to a full house at the local repertory cinema, The Showroom, as part of Sheffield Philosophy’s Philosophy at the Showroom public outreach series. The series combines film screenings with brief lectures and philosophical discussion. I chose Vertigo because it’s a film I’m often tempted to screen when I teach PHIL 202/WS 222 “Gender Issues” at Waterloo, but one that I never manage to squeeze into the course schedule. I think that Vertigo is a great “petri dish” in which to examine Simone de Beauvoir’s thesis that women are constructed as women, not born that way. For my mini-lecture, I sketched Beauvoir’s view and some of the little-known historical and literary connections between the film and Beauvoir’s 1949 book The Second Sex. The discussion that followed was vigourous and stimulating, and only came to a close when it did because the cinema needed the room for the next screening.

“The next day, I headed to Paris for back-to-back conferences at Collège de France and the Sorbonne. The first conference concerned Charles Sanders Peirce: Logic and Metaphysics. My talk there, “Peirce and Spinoza: Logical and Metaphysical Aspects,” was derived from the book on Peirce and Spinoza I’m working on while on sabbatical. The next day, at the Logic in Question IV workshop at Paris-Sorbonne, I took part in a panel discussion on ‘Peirce Today.’

“It was really exciting to get to walk the corridors and engage in philosophical discussion at two such venerable universities. Paris-Sorbonne is the descendent of the original Sorbonne University that was founded in the 13th century. Collège de France was founded in 1530 right across the street from the Sorbonne. Indeed, its location was intentionally provocative. The founders of Collège de France opposed the Jesuitical leadership and values of the Sorbonne and wished to provide, in full sight of the Sorbonne, a humanistic alternative. Since its founding to this very day, Collège de France continues to hold its faculty meetings during Sunday mass as a way of symbolically reaffirming its resistance to Jesuit orthodoxy. (Such a far cry from our friendly relationship with the philosophers across the street from us at Wilfrid Laurier!)

“Over the years, Collège de France has employed such eminent philosophers as Pierre Ramée, Pierre Gassendi (so many Pierres!), Henri Bergson and Michel Foucault, all of whose names and images are prominently displayed (along with those of other former faculty) around the tiny campus. Some years back, a few of us in the Philosophy Department at Waterloo took part in a Latin reading group, where we focused on some of Ramée’s work. Our recently retired colleague, Joe Novak went on to give conference talks and to publish on Ramée. While I was disappointed to miss Joe’s retirement party last month, seeing Ramée’s bust was a really pleasant reminder of my time spent declining Latin nouns with Joe. Here’s a photo of the bust from the Collège de France courtyard:


“Once back at Sheffield, I got to help welcome a gaggle of Canadian (and other) philosophers to the department for the conference on The Nature and Value of Childhood. While I haven’t engaged in much ex-pat socializing during my time abroad, it was a huge treat to get to hike in Peak District National Park with Samantha Brennan:


“Finally, yesterday, I was able to meet up with Wesley Buckwalter, who was visiting Sheffield from Waterloo to give a talk on experimental philosophy and the alleged intuition that ought implies can. True to Wesley’s empirical bent, he and I systematically examined the range of excellent hand-pulled local ales available in Sheffield pubs. Another blow for science struck by Waterloo Philosophy’s dedicated researchers!

Don’t forget, as always, you can see more news and check out upcoming events at our Department website.

Thanks for reading!

— Patricia Marino

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hi everyone,

It’s end of term! To start things off, here’s a great picture graduate student Rosalind Abdool took last weekend, of some Department grad students finishing up papers, grading and working on their dissertations for the busy end of term.  Excellent : )


We’ve been doing some celebrating around here. On April 11, the department held a colloquium and reception in honour of recently retired department member Joe Novak. You can read all about Joe Novak in an earlier blog posting when we announced his retirement last August.

Dept. Chair Dave DeVidi writes, “For the colloquium, we invited one of our PhD alumni who worked closely with Joe, Paul Rusnock of the University of Ottawa. Rusnock proved an ideal choice.  His talk, “Mathesis universalis in Bohemia: Bolzano on collections” was very well adapted to the likely audience for a retirement event for someone like Joe. Joe has friends all over campus and so the audience could be predicted to include everyone from specialists on the topic to academics who are not philosophers to people from outside the academy entirely.  Rusnock was especially impressive during the question period, wearing his vast learning in the field very lightly and—something I always appreciate when I see it—demonstrating the ability to find something interesting in every question from the floor.  The timing was also good in that Rusnock’s monumental translation of Bolzano’s Theory of Science, in four volumes, has just been published by Oxford University Press. This is joint work with another emeritus member of the department, Rolf George. After the talk, there was a lively reception.  The occasion brought back many familiar faces. As usual at such events, there was much reminiscing, and everyone got a chance to chat with Joe and wish him well. Entirely appropriately for an event devoted to Joe, much chocolate was consumed. Thanks, Joe, for all you’ve done for the department.”  Yes, Joe, Thank you!!

The Department is also very pleased to announce that Greg Andres will be joining us as a permanent faculty member, at the rank of Lecturer, beginning July 1.  Chair Dave DeVidi writes, “His work will include coordinating the department’s business ethics offerings for the various “X and Business” programs on campus—which we teach to over 1000 students per year—and mentoring grad students who are just beginning their careers as teachers. Greg completed a PhD at the University of Western Ontario in the philosophy of logic, but his research interests have since moved in the direction of philosophy of economics and business ethics. He has been an extremely successful sessional teacher on campus for several years, and in 2013 was the inaugural winner of the Faculty of Arts Teaching Award.  His is currently an Instructor and the Instructional Support Developer with the Professional Development program on campus.” Welcome, Greg!

In graduate students news, Ben Nelson successfully defended his dissertation proposal and is now ABD! His title is tentatively:  On Unwritten Laws: a Treatise on the Concept of Implicit Legal Norms.” Congratulations, Ben!

Heather Douglas has been busy traveling and conferencing. She says,  “I had a 2-talk trip to St. Louis April 10 and 11. First, I gave a talk at Washington University on Scientific Integrity, where I explored the pluses and minuses of going with a narrow or a broad interpretation of the concept. The audience was a torn as I was between the two views. I also got to have great conversations with Anya Plutynski and Carl Craver, and Eric Hochstein sent a big shout out to the department here! Then on April 11 I gave a talk about Responsible Science in Democratic Societies at St. Louis University. That talk argued that while scientists have certain prima facie freedoms, those were not unlimited, and, further moral responsibilities set additional standards for their work. Kent Staley was a great host. Sadly I had to missed Joe’s party while in St. Louis.

“More recently, I spent Friday April 25 at the University of Guelph, engaged in a conversation about the relationship between psychology and STS, and what a psychological perspective could bring to science studies. The short answer was, quite a lot. Here is a picture of the group convened by Kieran O’Doherty and Jeff Yen, including people as far away as Lisa Osbeck from Western Georgia and Hank Stam from Calgary:


Shannon Dea has also been busy with talks, including three recent ones. She writes, “First was “On Harm Reduction.” This was my keynote talk as guest speaker for Bristol University’s annual student philosophy conference. It’s held every year at Cumberland Lodge, a swanky academic retreat operated by one of the Queen’s foundations. The buildings date to the 17th century, and sit on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Definitely the best linens I’ve ever slept in while attending a philosophy conference! My most British talk ever. Second was “Beyond Choice: An Ecological Approach to Abortion.” This was part of the Cardiff University Departmental Seminar. And finally, I presented “Towards a Peircean Metaphysics of Sex” to the Applying Peirce 2 Workshop, Nordic Pragmatism Network, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia and the University of Helsinki, Finland.”

More informally, Shannon also writes to tell us of a philosophical excursion. She says, “Recently I got to fulfill one of my dreams by undertaking a walking journey from, as it were, one end of 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza’s life to the other. I walked approximately 75 kilometres — from Spinoza’s birthplace in Amsterdam to his home in Rijnsburg (a little town near Leiden), to his later homes in Voorburg and the Hague, and finally to his grave, also in the Hague. The walking itself took about 19 hours over the course of two days, these days broken up by other days in which I visited the various Spinoza sites So, the whole pilgrimage occupied five days — two days of walking, three days of exploring Spinoza’s places. Retracing Spinoza’s biography the slow way and seeing first-hand the places he lived reconnected me to what I love so much in Spinoza’s thought — his patience, his rigour, his humility, his conviction that we are deeply connected to the natural world, and his insistence that the divine is immanent in that world, not transcendent. I expect that I’ll be doing some semi-scholarly writing about this journey in the future. For now, here’s a short blog post I wrote about my walk (, and here it is again, reblogged in Dutch (
Matt Doucet’s been traveling as well, and is currently in Amsterdam at a workshop at VU University on ‘Responsibility: The Epistemic Dimension’ that explores the question of whether ignorance is an excusing condition for moral responsibility. Matt says, “I presented a paper on ‘Moral responsibility and the limits of self-assessment’, got some excellent feedback, and took in some great talks.”
Matt also wrote to tell us about his grad seminar: “The students in my Responsibility and Punishment graduate seminar presented their papers at a day-long mini-conference on Monday, April 14th. The papers were uniformly excellent, and covered a wide range of topics, from punishing the innocent to the the ethics of slur appropriation to the cognitive science of emotional regulation.”
Finally, I have a bit of news myself. A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation to the Joint Centre for Bioethics Seminar series on “Dilemmas and Disagreement: Moral Coherence and Justification in Pluralistic Contexts.” It was wonderful discussing abstract philosophical issues with some ethics practitioners. I am also recently back from the Pacific APA, where the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love put on two sessions — you can read more about them here.
Finally, we had a wonderful awards ceremony honoring prize winners and others! Since we’re still getting the pictures developed (ha ha, just a little joke for all you non-millenials out there) we’ll tell you all about it next time.
Don’t forget, as always, you can see more news and check out upcoming events at our Department website.

Thanks for reading!

— Patricia Marino