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: https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/shannon-dea-recipient-distinguished-teacher-award-2018

C013613-Sub 2175-Convo-180613-F17 Photography-Ceremony 4-160 (3) (1)

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 [http://hypatiareviews.org/content/beyond-binary-thinking-about-sex-and-gender] and The APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy: https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.apaonline.org/resource/collection/C29D5481-4D0D-4E09-81F3-8C5DC2148822/APANewslettersSpring2018.pdf. She also had an online publication: “Social Metaphysics and Normativity in Mara Marin’s Connected by Commitment.C4EJournal, 2018: https://c4ejournal.net/2018/03/13/shannon-dea-social-metaphysics-and-normativity-in-mara-marins-connected-by-commitment-2018-c4ej-1/. And she wrote a series of blog posts for Canadian Philosophical Association about academic freedom: https://www.acpcpa.ca/blogs.


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:

IMG_2098 (1)

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: https://www.ehess.fr/fr/personne/jacqueline-feke. And for those at CNRS: https://sawerc.hypotheses.org/seminars/ptolemee-mai18. 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: http://hps.utoronto.ca/.


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.





1 March, 2018: Winter Update


As the spring begins to encroach on winter here in Waterloo, it is time for a late winter news update.

The department has hosted two talks so far this winter.  On January 10, Prof. Frank Zenker (Lund University) gave the talk “From Discovery to Justification: Outline of an Ideal Research Program in Empirical Psychology.”  Then, on January 19, Prof. Anjan Chakravarty (Notre Dame) gave a talk on “Scientific Disagreement:  Rationality and Uniqueness.” Both were well attended and much appreciated.

This Friday March 2, Prof. Govind Persad will be talking about “Authority without Identity: Defending advanced directives via posthumous rights over one’s body.”  Please join us!

On January 24, the Women’s Studies Program (which will officially be renamed the Gender and Social Justice Program in 2019) hosted an Alumni Career Panel. Seven alums, with graduation dates between 1995 and 2016, spoke with students and faculty about the value of their Women’s Studies degrees for their professional and personal lives. Indeed, while this event was designed to provide students some insight into how to translate and market social justice education for the workplace, many of the alums spoke about how their educations have benefitted their lives holistically–at home, in community work, interpersonally, and professionally.


Pictured:  Katy Fulfer, Susan Phillips, Mary Lou Roe, Ronda Lobsinger, Marianne Wylie, Kesseta Black, Alina Balzerson, and Safia Baccus

On February 16, Matt Doucet and Shannon Dea hosted Daniel Weinstock from McGill University’s Faculty of Law and Institute for Health and Social Policy for a day-long workshop on the philosophy of harm reduction – a new area of philosophy, in which Waterloo and McGill are leading the charge. Matt and Shannon, along with Waterloo grad students who are working on the philosophy of harm reduction, will head to McGill in the Fall for the next workshop in this emerging area.

Faculty and students have also been busy traveling and giving talks.

In early January, Teresa Branch-Smith attended Arizona State University’s 6th annual Winter School on Responsible Innovation and Social Studies of Emerging Technologies, held at Saguaro Lake Ranch, just outside Tempe. Graduate students, post-docs, and junior faculty explored the societal aspects of emerging technologies through theoretical framings, analytical tools, and lessons in responsible innovation, anticipatory governance, and real-time technology assessment. Teresa presented her research on “Values in Big Data Analytics,” which she pursued using the STIR methodology (developed at ASU).  About the experience, Teresa says: “The hands-on approach of the instructors, and enthusiasm of the collaborators, made it a dynamic learning environment set against the backdrop of desert sunsets and wild horses!”


Teresa in the Arizona desert.  Remember: Don’t touch the cacti!

Jackie Feke reports that she gave two invited talks over the past couple of months.  On January 10, she gave a talk as part of the Special Sessions on History of Mathematics at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, “the largest mathematics meeting in the world,” which took place in San Diego.  Her talk, “Ancient Greek Geographical Maps vs. Geometrical Diagrams,”  was given to a packed room, with about 100 mathematicians in attendance.

On February 9, Jackie gave a colloquium talk to the Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Minnesota, entitled “Ptolemy’s Ethics.”  She reports that “the Program gave me a warm welcome, and about 50 historians were in attendance.”

Heather Douglas traveled in late January to the UK, first to speak at a workshop on “Scientific Governance at the Ground Level” at the University of Cambridge, and then to deliver the J.B.S. Haldane Lecture at UCL on January 31.   Her talk in Cambridge focused on “Governing Science for Responsible Research,” which centered on the challenges of cultivating responsibility within science, while her talk at UCL was about “How the Public can assess Expertise,” particularly without having to develop full expertise themselves.  The video for the Haldane Lecture is now available.


Heather in the lovely Oriel Room at Cambridge

Heather then traveled February 9-10 to the University of Michigan for an event organized and run entirely by graduate students there, the spring colloquium on Science, Values, and the Public, where she gave the talk “Scientific Experts and the Public: How to build trust in a complex world.”  She really enjoyed hearing the other talks and the excellent commentaries by the students.

Finally, she was in Chicago February 22 for the American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting, providing comment in an author-meets-critics session on Kevin Elliott’s recent book, A Tapestry of Values: An Introduction to Values in Science (Oxford 2017).

Closer to home, on February 14, Shannon Dea participated in a book panel at University of Toronto’s Centre For Ethics on Mara Marin’s Connected by Commitment (Oxford, 2017).

Shannon also continues to be a regular presence on contemporary media discussions of important societal issues.  At the beginning of February, she provided comment on the new gender-neutral lyrics of the Canadian national anthem for the BBC’s Outside Source, for the Mike Farwell Show on 570 News (Kitchener-Waterloo)  (starting around minute 19), and for the Rick Gibbons Show, 1310 News (Ottawa).  She also talked about the #metoo movement in Your Say, Gulf News (out of the United Arab Emirates) and on the Mike Farwell Show (starting around minute 20).

Want to read more?

Additional online faculty writings can be found at these blogs:

Daily Academic Freedom

Hot Thought

The Kramer is Now

Philosophy in the World






21 December 2017: Happy Holidays!

IMG_1498 (1).jpg

As the fall term draws to a close and winter officially begins, it is time to wrap up the year and wish everyone Happy Holidays!

First, warm congratulations to department alumnus and official Friend of the Department Bob Ewen (BA ’71), who received one of ten 60th Anniversary Alumni Awards from the University of Waterloo on December 2. He was honoured for “exemplify[ing] extraordinary University citizenship through volunteerism, mentorship, philanthropy and advocacy.” Bob has been a key supporter of the development of the Hagey Hub and other University initiatives, and has been a willing advisor and mentor to Arts students. We thank him for all he has done for the Department and the University!


Bob Ewen and his wife Anita at the Gala where he received his award

Faculty have been busy giving talks in late fall.  In November Patricia Marino participated in a really interesting inter-disciplinary conference on Law and Economics in Helsinki. The conference, co-sponsored by the group MetaLawEcon and the TINT at the University of Helksini, was attended by a diverse and international group of scholars, and sought to examine Law and Economics from an epistemological and philosophy of science perspective. Patricia presented a paper that brought debates on value pluralism and moral reasoning into contact with related debates over the use of consequentialism in Law and Economics contexts, and commented on a really interesting paper about the ethics and economics of climate change.  She also learned a lot about the economics of immigration, property law, and many other interesting things!

Closer to home in November, Jackie Feke organized and chaired a session at the History of Science Society meeting in Toronto called “Technē and Training: New Perspectives on Pre-Modern Scientific and Technical Education.”  The session featured papers on medicine in ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Greek medicine, Roman architecture, and mining technology in 16th-century Bolivia.

She also gave a colloquium talk to the Department of Science & Technology Studies at York University called “Three Ancient Greek Mathematicians Against Philosophers.”

Dave DeVidi presented his paper “On What there Is, What There Isn’t, and None of the Above,” at McMaster University on November 3 and at the Western University on December 2.  He says:  “The crowds were substantial, and judging by the questions at least most of them were able to stay awake throughout. It was a pleasure to be reminded of how healthy the philosophical community is in this part of Ontario.”

On November 24, Shannon Dea participated in a discussion of her paper “Toward A Philosophy of Harm Reduction” at Concordia University by members of Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Philosophie Politique de Montreal (GRIPP).  Her paper discusses the two philosophers who have published on harm reduction, herself and McGill Law School Professor Daniel Weinstock. Shannon and he are now planning a workshop on harm reduction to be held at McGill in the new year. Stay tuned!

Two of our graduate seminars had exciting conclusions this fall.  Doreen Fraser’s seminar on Philosophy of Quantum Theory closed with a Q&A session with Lucien Hardy (Perimeter Institute), one of several visitors from Western and Perimeter this term.  Doreen reports that the seminar exemplified engaged philosophy, bringing together graduate and undergraduate students from Philosophy, Physics, and Applied Mathematics.  They had lively and productive discussions on the themes of the realism–anti-realism debate in the philosophy of science and the contemporary quantum physics research program of reconstructing quantum theory. (This program involves proposing physical principles that inform mathematically-formulated axioms, and then re-deriving the standard formalism for quantum theory from these axioms.) Doreen says:  “I was very pleased with the way the class rose to the challenges posed by the subject matter and by communicating constructively across disciplinary boundaries!”

Shannon Dea’s seminar on Harm Reduction held a one day mini-conference on Philosophy of Harm Reduction at which students in the class presented their work to each other, the public, and harm reductioner practitioners from the community. The conference also featured a roundtable discussion with Tom Cull (London Ontario Poet Laureate and Thames River Rally founder), Colin McVicker (Program Director, Sanguen Health Centre), and Hayley Smuts (Aids Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Area Harm Reduction Program Placement Student). The students presented the following cutting edge research:  Theodore Peng, “Harm Reduction of Non-Existent Persons”; Dominic Rogalski, “Shifting Attitudes: Palliative Care as Harm Reduction”; Priscilla Larbi, “Catering Harm Reduction Interventions to the Needs of Sub-Saharan Africa”; Sabah Khokhar, “Changing Rape Culture in India”; Jay Solanki, “Situating Harm Reduction, Motivating Philosophy”; Hai-Dao Le-Nguyen, “A HR Approach to Algorithms”; Bryan Igreja, “Putting the Red in Harm Reduction: What Socialism Can Bring to HR and Sex Work”; Alex Gruenewald, “Re-assessing the Triadic Model of Care for Trans Patients Using a Harm-Reduction Approach.” Jonathan Zaid was unable to present his research on using affordable cannabis to fight the opioid crisis because, excitingly, he was meeting with the Prime Minister that day to lobby for medical uses of cannabis. (Jonathan is the founder and Executive Director of Canadians For Fair Access to Medical Marijuana.)

IMG_20171130_133241 (2).jpg

Tom Cull tells conference participants how his work cleaning up the banks of the Thames River led him to become an advocate for supervised consumption sites.


In publishing news, Patricia Marino’s paper “Value Pluralism, Moral Diversity, Moral Reasoning, and the Foundations of Bioethics” was recently published in a special journal issue of Ethics, Medicine and Public Health and is available for free download for a limited time here.

She also had a paper on the “Ethical Implications of Scientific Imperialism: Two Examples from Economics,” recently published in the collection Scientific Imperialism: Exploring the Boundaries of Interdisciplinarity (edited by Uskali Mäki, Adrian Walsh, Manuela Fernández Pinto, Routledge  2018).

Also, Andria Bianchi had a book review published in the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, looking at Gender Testing in Sports: Ethics, cases, and controversies.

In other news, Shannon Dea was a panelist on TVOntario’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin November 30 for a discussion of “Freedom of Expression on Campus.” Shannon writes: “The discussion was prompted by recent events at Wilfrid Laurier University involving a teaching assistant who has complained about pushback she received from WLU over a video she showed and a subsequent discussion she led in one of her tutorials. On the panel, I took the view that academic freedom is importantly distinct from freedom of expression, and that it is appropriate to design courses in a way that supports marginalized students.”  In a December 15 blog post, host of the show Steve Paikin discussed the abuse that women and other marginalized people often receive when they venture into the media, including some of the abuse Shannon received after the show.

Heather Douglas talked with Why? radio host and University of North Dakota philosophy professor Jack Weinstein about science, values, and democracy.  The program was broadcast on December 10 on Prairie Public Radio. The discussion was wide ranging and lots of fun. She has received no nasty emails from this show, for which she is grateful.

Finally, the department bid Tim Kenyon a fond farewell on December 15.  Tim is leaving the University of Waterloo to take up the position of Vice President of Research at Brock University.  Tim has been a central figure in the Department of Philosophy and the Faculty of Arts for many years, serving as Chair of the Department and then as Associate Dean of Research for Arts.  There is much that can be said about Tim, but this poem by Gerry Callaghan sums up the important parts nicely:

Take Kenyon

’Twas Keats who wrote that beauty is truth,

Truth beauty,

That this is all we know on earth,

Withal it’s all we need to know,

To which I say, “Not so! Take Kenyon.”


A man for truth, ever there was,

Pursues it as a holy cause,

But as for beauty, dear oh dear,

I’ve seen him in his cycling gear,


Donned like a paint or second skin,

The man in full stuffed tight within—

The garish sheen, the harsh palette,

The gaud, and O the silhouette;


For this, I own I lack the words.

I’d have to speak in gasps and surds,

Though some there be could meet the task;

“Who,” you ask? Take Kenyon,


A wordsmith of the highest rank,

Though not for show, no mountebank

Is he, his terms so apt and clear,

Hard though they be upon the ear:


Take “sebaceous” or “incandescent,”

“Rebarbatively recrudescent,”

“Dispositive,” and on and on—

The stuff of truth, the death of song.


(In fairness, he’s not bad with songs;

I’ve heard him sing at sing-alongs.)


To Keats, then, is it such a shame

If truth and beauty aren’t the same?

Which, veracity or art,

Is injured when they come apart?


Neither!, for when truth is plain,

Beauty will rest and not complain.

Her hour will come around again;

’Til then, we’ll just take Kenyon.


Tim cuts the cake.jpg

Tim cuts the cake.

The cake.jpg

The cake!

Want to read more?  More news about the department’s doings can be found in the most recent version of The Rational Enquirer, a newsletter for friends and alumni.

Additional online faculty writings can be found at these blogs:

Hot Thought

The Kramer is Now

Philosophy in the World

13 November 2017: A busy fall

IMG_1464.jpgAs we contemplate our first snowfall, I am happy to report that the department has had a busy autumn thus far.

On September 27, we hosted the conference Mind, Medicine, and Mechanisms in honour of Paul Thagard. Four speakers gave talks that reflected Paul’s influence on their research and careers. Lindley Darden (University of Maryland) described her current research on discovering disease mechanisms and mechanism schemas with a computational biology group. She noted that Paul is one of the few fellow philosophers who has focused on the discovery process for disease mechanisms. Chris Eliasmith’s talk “Thagard’s thorough thinking on thoughts” offered a fascinating autobiographical account of the development of his cognitive models from ECHO to the latest iteration of Spaun, highlighting ideas inspired by Paul.  Miriam Solomon (Temple University) analyzed aspects of Paul’s philosophy of medicine and offered friendly suggestions, including the addition of value-laden descriptions of disease. She reminisced about the positive influence that Paul’s enthusiasm about philosophy of science had on her early in her career. Bill Bechtel (UCSD) took us from mechanisms to networks and back again by drawing out the implications of case studies from network and systems biology (e.g., yeasts, cancer genes and pathways). We also learned from Paul’s former students that Paul’s suggestive facial expressions were an important indicator of promising and less-than-promising research directions. The conference was primarily sponsored by funds contributed by Paul’s colleagues in the Department, with additional funds from the Department and the Faculty of Arts.

Paul Fest.jpeg

John Turri, Ramesh Prasad, and Paul Thagard happily doing philosophy.


Then in October, the department hosted Eva Kittay.  She gave two talks while visiting, a public lecture on “The Desire for Normalcy” (Oct. 23) and a departmental talk on “The Moral Significance of Being Human) (Oct. 25).  The public talk drew from the broader Waterloo community, including folks that work with Dave DeVidi in disability activism.  The departmental talk was completely packed.  Prof. Kittay also participated in Patricia Marino’s “Ethics” undergraduate class on Tues., Oct. 24, where they discussed Kittay’s paper, “The Personal is Philosophical is the Personal” (published in in Kittay and Carlson, eds., Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell 2010).

Kittay Spinoza photo.jpg

Eva Kittay says she named her dog Spinoza because of his uncanny resemblance to the human Spinoza.  Indeed!


We also had convocation in October, where three new Ph.D.’s were hooded.  Peter Blouw, Ashley Keefner, and Ramesh Prasad celebrated the completion of their degrees.  Peter and Ashley also received their Graduate Diplomas in Cognitive Science.  Congratulations to all!

New PhDs.JPG

Congratulations to Peter, Ashley, and Ramesh!


More recently, both Philosophy and Women’s Studies participated in the Fall Open House on Saturday, Nov. 4th.  Students and faculty spent the day talking with a very enthusiastic bunch of potential future Waterloo Arts students. Thanks to faculty Shannon, Katy, Dave, and Tim, and students Theo (Philosophy) and Hai-Dao, Jillian, Caroline, and Shajini (WS) for volunteering to staff the booths.

WS open house.JPG

WS students and Katy Fulfer having fun at their booth.

PHIL open house.jpg

UW students with the philosophical questions that keep them up at night.


Members of the department have also been active giving talks this fall.

Doreen Fraser delivered a keynote talk at the wrap up conference for the Scientific Realism and the Quantum Project in Leeds, UK, on September 13.

Jim Jordan gave a talk on “Temporal and Causal Distance in Aggressive Cyberoperations” at the Western Canadian Philosophical Association meeting in Regina on October 13. The paper explored some of the conflicting factors in determining when a cyberattack against a state is severe enough to justify a use of military force in response. He reports that he is grateful to the department and Faculty of Arts for their financial support and encouragement.

The University of Waterloo was well represented at the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy meeting at Western University in London, Ontario (Oct 27-29). Andria Bianchi presented the paper “Sex, Dementia, and Consent: Implementing a Framework of Precedent Autonomy.”  Katy Fulfer presented the paper “We Welcomers: Hannah Arendt, Rootlessness, and Natality” with her co-author Rita A. Gardiner (Faculty of Education, Western University). And Shannon Dea also attended the meeting, running a workshop with Carolyn McLeod (Western) on “Contributing to Social Policy: Why, How, Who, and When.”


The CSWIP UW Trio: Shannon, Andria, and Katy


In publishing news, Shannon Dea and Julie Walsh (Wellesley) just published a major revision of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Continental Rationalism.  They aim in this revision to tell the story of continental rationalism in a more inclusive manner, which will hopefully open scholarship to more readily recognizing oft neglected voices. 

And Katy Fulfer’s most recent publication dropped in September.  You can read “Hannah Arendt and Pregnancy in the Public Sphere,” in Feminist Phenomenology Futures.

A hearty congratulations goes out to Carla Fehr for being part of the team that won a successful SSHRC Partnership Grant on Engendering Success in STEM!  This 7-year, $2.5 million SSHRC Partnership Grant will develop and test interventions designed to foster the success of women and girls who pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

Shannon Dea was also in the news when her perspective on the topic “#MeToo: Taking it lightly?” was featured in Gulf News‘ “Your View.” Gulf News is a United Arab Emirates newspaper and Shannon was the only “Western” contributor to the piece.


The Department received some sad news recently. Bill Barthelemy, a 1980 graduate of our Ph.D. program and a longtime member of the Canadian academic community who spent the past three decades teaching at Kwantalen Polytechnic University in BC has died. Bill wrote his thesis on the work of W.V.O. Quine, and did research in the philosophy of language, of science, and of art. He is remembered by his students and colleagues at Kwantalen as an inspiring teacher. Steve Jones, a local alum who attended Waterloo at the same time as Bill, recalls, “His ready humour and genial ways were always a treat.”

Bill Barthelemy.jpg

To celebrate Waterloo’s 60th Anniversary, retired faculty members from the Philosophy Department who live near Waterloo got together as part of the University’s annual Reunion celebration on September 30.  This brought together the current and (living) former Chairs of the Department.  Quite the bunch!

Philosophy Chairs.jpg

The Chair and all living former Chairs of UW Philosophy
Left to Right: Tim Kenyon, Joe Novak, Richard Holmes, Brain Hendley, Jim Horne, Larry Haworth, Rolf George, Jim Van Evra, and Dave DeVidi (seated)


Finally, Women’s Studies is now on twitter!

Want to read more?  More news about the department’s doings can be found in the most recent version of The Rational Enquirer, a newsletter for friends and alumni.

Additional online faculty writings can be found at these blogs:

Hot Thought

The Kramer is Now

Philosophy in the World

Eva Kittay schedule changes

Eva Kittay has unfortunately had the change her travel plans last minute.  She will not be arriving in Waterloo next week and so the Oct. 18 and Oct. 20 events have to be cancelled. She still plans, however, to be joining us for the events of the following week.  Thus, the Oct. 23 evening lecture and the Oct. 25 afternoon lecture will still be held.

Hope we can see you there!

Eva Kittay to Visit Waterloo

As we enjoy the study days of the new fall break, we are also looking forward to Dr. Eva Kittay’s visit to the department beginning next week.

Eva Kittay.jpg

Eva Kittay, our current Brian Rudrick Visiting Scholar, is a world-renowned scholar of Disability Studies and Feminist Ethics.  Dr. Kittay is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Stony Brook University and an Affiliate of the Stony Brook Women’s Studies Program.  She is the author of more than 85 articles, as well as seven books and edited volumes including Love’s Labor: Essays on Women, Equality and Dependency.

Dr. Kittay will be giving a series of talks while at the University of Waterloo.

Her lectures will begin on Wednesday, October 18, with a talk on “The Moral Significance of Being Human,” at 2:30 in Hagey Hall 373.

On Friday October 20 she will talk on “The Completion of Care,” also at 2:30 in Hagey Hall 373.

On Monday, October 23 at 7 pm she will give the talk  “The Desire for Normalcy.” This talk will take place in Federation Hall, Columbia Room A & B.

Finally, on Wednesday October 25, she will present “How Not to Argue about Disability and Reproduction” at 2:30 pm in Hagey Hall 373.

Receptions will follow each of these events.  All are welcome to attend and we hope to see you there!

For the Monday evening lecture, RSVP is recommended, but not required, to Tawnessa Carter at tcjcarte@uwaterloo.ca. Parking is available in the following lots close to Federation Hall: Lot M ($6), Lot J ($5) Lot S ($5).

The Brian Rudrick Visiting Scholar in Philosophy Program is made possible by a generous bequest by Brian Rudrick. Brian was a pathologist and lab director for Grey Bruce Health Services who completed a philosophy degree entirely by distance education while in professional practice. After his graduation he was very generous with his time, visiting classrooms to give real life examples of how the skills essential to good philosophy are also crucial for making smart decisions in a medical context.


5 September 2017, End-of-Summer Edition

IMG_1401 (1).jpgAs the days become shorter and students come back to campus, it is time to reflect on our busy summer.

First, congratulations are in order!  A suite of students (and our own Debbie Dietrich) received degrees at convocation in June, including newly minted PhDs Cathy Gee and Ben Nelson, and MAs Sajad Abdallah, Eric Bohner, Vanessa Lam, and Jonathan Simard.   Congratulations as well to Julian Chow, recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award for Philosophy.

Congratulations also to Chris Eliasmith, who was elected a Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society this summer.  Hooray for Chris!

Finally, Jackie Feke has been awarded an Insight Development Grant from SSHRC, on “Law and Nature in Ancient Greek Mathematics.”  She is the sole PI on the grant, which is for $58k over the next two years.

Summer is also a busy time for traveling for our faculty and students.  In June, Shannon Dea was a visiting professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China.  Closer to home Doreen Fraser gave the keynote address “Formal analogies in the development of renormalization group methods” at the Logic, Mathematics, and Physics Graduate Conference at Western University on June 15.

Also in June, Patricia Marino and PhD student Chris Wass had a great time participating at the History of Economics Society meeting in Toronto. Chris gave a talk that brought together economics and philosophy of science, presenting on “Friedman’s Methodology and the Economic Realism Movement,” and Patricia talked about normative dimensions of the rationality debate in “A Problem In Economic Explanation: Historical, Theoretical, and Normative Perspectives.” They were both interested in how much philosophy there was in ostensibly historical talks, and they both learned a ton.


Patricia and Chris in Toronto in June

Then in July, Patricia, PhD student Andria Bianchi, and PhD alum Rosalind Abdool participated in a session on “Mental Health, Autonomy, and Relationships: Ethical and Legal Dilemmas” at the International Congress on Law and Mental Health in Prague.  The session was organized by Rosalind and included Tess Sheldon, Staff Lawyer at ARCH Disability Law Centre. They report that the way the session mixed theoretical and practical components was great!


Roz and Patricia in Prague in July

Also in July, Jackie Feke presented her work at the Biennial History of Astronomy Workshop at the University of Notre Dame (for which she was also on the organizing committee).  Her talk was on “Image Making in Ptolemy’s Astronomy and Geography.”

Jackie ND 2017 workshop.jpg

Jackie (second from the left) with other historians of astronomy at Notre Dame in July

In August, Ben Nelson presented a paper at the European Congress for Analytic Philosophy (ECAP9) in Munich, Germany titled “On a Need to Know Basis: Putting Secret Law in Context.” He reports he had a great time, and that there were lots of stimulating talks, a highly collegial, informed, and intellectually attentive Q&A climate, and great food!


Roof of the LMU Munich main building

Also in August, Shannon visited the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield, where she was one of the invited speakers at a conference on Pragmatism and the Analytic-Continental Split. Her talk, “Black Pragmatists and the Promise of the Continent,” was part of her larger project to make the American pragmatist canon more inclusive. Nathan Haydon also gave a talk at the conference on “Regulative Commitments: An Attractive Alternative to Regulative Assumptions.” Shannon reports that his talk was well received.


Nathan unwinding at the pub after his talk with Sheffield graduate students, including UW Philosophy alumnus and current Sheffield doctoral candidate, Trystan Goetze (foreground) 

In publishing news, Shannon’s paper “Deep Pluralism and Intentional Course Design: Diversity From the Ground Up” was published in a special issue of Rivista di Estetica 64 (2017) 660-82 on Discrimination in Philosophy.

Heather Douglas had two interviews posted over the summer.  The first was with SciPhi Podcasts, which provides detailed looks at the career trajectories of philosophers of science, i.e., you can hear her “origin story.”  The second was as part of The Naked Scientists (a science radio program in the UK) on existential risk (arising from Heather’s trip to Cambridge last April).

Finally, an exciting event is coming up this month.  We are hosting “Mind, Medicine, and Mechanisms” in honour of Paul Thagard on Friday, September 22.  Invited speakers are William Bechtel, Lindley Darden, Chris Eliasmith, and Miriam Solomon.  All are welcome to attend.

Want to read more? Additional online writings can be found at these blogs:

Hot Thought

Philosophy in the World

The Kramer is Now


%d bloggers like this: