Tag Archives: Patricia Marino

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 www.philsci.org. 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, 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, 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 (http://fitisafeministissue.com/2014/03/21/lessons-from-spinoza-guest-post/), and here it is again, reblogged in Dutch (http://spinoza.blogse.nl/log/hoever-de-spinoza-liefde-kan-gaan.html).
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

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hi everyone and welcome to almost-Spring! Vicki Brett sends along this photo, so we can “remember what Spring flowers look like”!


Our Department has exciting news: Jennifer Mensch will be joining our Department as Assistant Professor in January 2015.


Our newest colleague, Jennifer Mensch

Professor Mensch specializes in 17th- and 18th-century Metaphysics and Epistemology, Kant, German Idealism, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, and Theoretical and Applied Ethics. Her most recent book is Kant’s Organicism: Epigenesis and the Development of Critical Philosophy (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013). Welcome, Jennifer!

Carla Fehr also has some exciting news: “We have just announced a new feminist philosophy journal!I along with three others are the founding editors.  We expect to make another announcement in a couple of months when the website is live and we actually start accepting submissions. Here is the link to the announcement on Feminist Philosophers.” They even have a cool logo, check it out:

fpq logoGraduate Student Ben Nelson says, “I recently published an article in The Philosopher’s Magazine called “Making Up Our Minds” (Winter 2014). The article lays out a few potential lessons that philosophers of mind can take away from realistic cognitive modelling techniques.” Nice work, Ben!

Heather Douglas writes, “I had a great time at AAAS talking about responsible innovationThe session was really interesting, with speakers from Denmark, Norway, the U.S., Brazil, and Japan. Issues addressed included appropriate laboratory standards, how embedded humanists help make science better and labs more productive, and the (dis-)functioning of scientific societies in times of crisis. I provided a commentary on it all. The AAAS session also generated this story on the UWaterloo homepage.Also, this past Friday (Feb. 28), I went to McMaster University to give a talk at the philosophy department, on ‘Responsible Innovation in a Democratic Society.’ It was great to meet the faculty and students there, to see the lovely campus, and to have a lively discussion on the topic.”
Also of interest: On February 28, the department hosted a excellent talk by Professor Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, from the University of British Columbia and the Northern Institute of Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. Tim Kenyon says, “Professor Jenkins’ talk, co-authored with Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa, was titled ‘On Putting Knowledge “First”‘, and focused on the various possible (and actual) interpretations of the idea that knowledge should be in some sense basic to epistemology. On this view, epistemology should not aim at providing an analysis or genealogy of knowledge into some more fundamental components or antecedents; but neither the negative nor positive theses of the view are entirely settled. There are various expressions of “knowledge-first” in the recent epistemological literature, including its main contemporary source in Timothy Williamson’s Knowledge and its Limits (KaiL). Even within KaiL, however, there may be distinct forms of the view on offer. Professor Jenkins clearly separated some different strands of thought on the knowledge-first view, shedding light on the challenge of finding a univocal position that captures all or most of what its various proponents want. The talk launched an enthusiastic and detailed discussion in the question period, involving both faculty and graduate students, and which continued over dinner (which did not include KaiL salad, to steal John Turri’s term). Thanks to Professor Jenkins for a great paper and visit.”
I (Patricia Marino) am just back from the Central APA where I presented in a couple of sessions. First, graduate student Rosalind Abdool and I presented on the Main Program a paper we’ve co-authored together on “Utilitarianism, Intuitions, Rationality, and Neuroscience” – we had a great audience and lively discussion. I also presented on the Group Program for the North American Society for Social Philosophy. My talk was “Patterns of Objectification: Autonomy, Options, and the Value of Non-Conformity,” and was part of a  session on Autonomy, Sex, and Objectification. Other papers in the panel included discussions of the moral dimensions of Pick-Up Artists and the possibility of feminist female submisssives. Most interesting!
Finally, we’d like to call everyone’s attention to the upcoming Dept. grad conference, March 27-28! Ben Nelson, one of the conference organizers, writes, “The keynote for our upcoming graduate conference, Jamie Dreier, has given us the abstract of his upcoming talk, titled “The Normative Explanation of Normativity”. Here it is: ‘Expressivists think normativity is explained by a theory of what normative expressions mean, which in turn is explained by what state of mind we express by using them. Many philosophers think that meaning is normative, and also that the attribution of intentional states to people is normative. Is there a problem with combining these two views? Do expressivists get trapped in a circle of explanation if they accept the normativity of meaning?”
The conference event can be followed on Facebook here . Our PGSA FB page is here, and our website is here. Mark your calendars now, and save the date!

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

Best wishes to all, and thanks for reading!

— Patricia Marino

Wednesday February 12, 2014

Hi everyone, it’s the week before reading week and time when everyone starts saying “time flies” and “look, it’s actually staying lighter in the afternoon.”

This week we have some great graduate student news. First, grad student Teresa Branch-Smith writes “I recently started an internship working as a philosopher-in-residence at the architecture firm Philip Beesley Architect Inc. (PBAI). I sought out this partnership because I think it is important to consider alternative domains where philosophy can be applied. PBAI not only bids on potential architecture projects but also does synthetic biology installations typically in science centres and art galleries. My job focuses on writing and editing essays for their upcoming monograph. In particular, the interactive robotics installations have features meant to imitate living systems prompting the audience to question ‘what it means to be living’. This intersection of philosophy and exhibit design relates to my research of creating more engaging science exhibits by making underlying philosophical questions explicit. More information about PBAI can be found here.” Check out this great photo of Teresa in the studio:


Teresa at the studio at PBAI

Also, our graduate student Rosalind Abdool participated in a two week residency exchange at Covenant Health in Edmonton, AB. She worked with Ethics Services on ethics consultations, policy development, and strategic planning. Rosalind describes this experience: “I had a truly wonderful time exploring the differences and similarities between ethics services and health ethics laws in Edmonton with health ethics programs in Ontario. I had the pleasure of working with some very talented and passionate health ethics advocates on various issues, including smoking policies, end-of-life challenges, ethics education strategies, wait list concerns and other dilemmas.” Rosalind also presented to the psychiatric unit at Covenant Health on her dissertation topic – deception in health care, and the moral justification for its use in particular situations.

And grad student Jamie Sewell says, “I have been accepted to present at the XV International Association of Women Philosophers (IAPh) Symposium in Spain from June 24th-27th, 2014. I will be presenting on Walter R. Fisher’s ‘narrative rationality’ in paper titled, “Narrative Rationality, Identity, and the Social Contexts of Evaluation.” Here’s the abstract: “In Human Communication as Narration: Toward a Philosophy of Reason, Value, and Action, Walter R. Fisher constructs and applies what he calls the ‘narrative paradigm’. With this, he seeks to develop a set of evaluative criteria by which the reasoning in narratives can be critically assessed in order to determine whether or not the value(s) espoused in a story warrants the assent of audiences. He provides two criteria, coherence and fidelity, by which to make judgements about the reasoning in stories. His criterion of coherence is concerned mainly with whether or not, upon critical examination, a story “hangs together”. Fisher argues that his second criterion, fidelity, can be used to examine whether or not a story is ‘truthful’ by assessing the implications of adopting the values offered by a story. In this paper, I aim to explore Fisher’s assumptions with respect to the construction and application of his criterion ‘fidelity’, through an exposition of the evaluative questions by which he suggests that stories or narratives can be judged as being ‘truthful’. I am interested in the pervasive nature of narrative as constitutive of identities and how this can problematize a person’s ability to judge the reasoning in support of the values presented a story based on a logic of ‘good reasons’. Specifically, I am interested in whether or not his conception of fidelity makes the reasoning in narratives more accessible to those who are not trained in formal or informal logics, and whether or not Fisher’s paradigm gives us new and appropriate tools by which we can reason through narratives that are constructed within complex social structures of power, domination, and competing interests and values. I will begin by briefly fleshing-out what I take to be Fisher’s overall project in terms of what he claims the narrative paradigm offers audiences which cannot be gained from employing traditional logics. Next, I will focus on Fisher’s conception of fidelity, in order to clarify the facets of Fisher’s account that may prove beneficial to feminist projects of inclusion and participation, while highlighting the facets of fidelity that problematize its use as an evaluative criterion for assessing the reasoning in narratives given the qualitative difference between experience and narrative; the role of ideology and power relations in determining or limiting the options and framing of narratives which come to bear on the experiences and identities of members of societies; and misrepresentation or under-representation of experiences of traditionally marginalized peoples by which a member of a marginalized group is supposed to judge the truth and value of stories.”

Great work, y’all!

Heather Douglas writes to share a link to a video of her and Carla Fehr in Ottawa last October, summarizing their sessions at the Science and Society Conference.

Don’t forget: our Doreen Fraser is going to be keynote speaker at the Philosophy of Logic, Math, and Physics graduate student conference at Western. The deadline is coming up for submission, so if you’re a grad student, check it out here!

Also coming up soon is the deadline to submit to the upcoming FEMMSS5/CSWIP 2014:  Science, Technology, and Gender: Challenges and Opportunities. Right here at the University of Waterloo!

Heather is off to the AAAS this week, and Rosalind and I are off to the Central APA in Chicago — maybe we will see some of you there!

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

Best wishes to all, and thanks for reading!

— Patricia Marino

Wednesday January 22, 2014

Hi everyone and welcome to Winter 2014!


Stuffed geese, at the UW campus store.

First, some exciting graduate student news:  back in December Tracy Finn defended her PhD dissertation. Her thesis was “Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Case Study in Causation and Explanation in Psychiatric Conditions.” Sounds fascinating, and our warmest congratulations, Tracy!

In other graduate student news, Cathy Gee tells us her paper, “The Role of Emotional Intuitions in Moral Judgments and Decisions,” was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics. Wonderful news!

Tim Kenyon says, “A paper I co-wrote with Guillaume Beaulac (PhD candidate at Western) recently won the 2013 Essay Prize from the Association for Informal Logic and Critical Thinking. The paper is called ‘Critical Thinking and Biases’, and a version of it is available here.”
Carla passes along some updates about the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering: “Tiffany Lin and I just got the website up and running for the Consortium. We are adding content every day. Katie Plaisance and I spearheaded the formation of this international group of universities, and so far,  Katie  Plaisance, Heather Douglas, Paul Thagard and I represent Waterloo in this organization.  Check out the new webapge here: http://srpoise.org
In other science in society news, Heather Douglas writes to tell us of a trip to Arizona: “I participated in a Board of Visitors meeting for the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, Jan. 6-7, at Saguaro Lake.  I got to hear about all the research CNS has been conducting, talk to their students at the Anticipatory Governance School, and generally have great conversations about science, technology, and the public.  Here I am at the Saguaro Lake Ranch, where it all took place:
Also, a paper in Philosophy of Science came out, The Value of Cognitive Values, which organizes the various cognitive and epistemic values so often discussed by philosophers and shows that they are appropriate for different functions in scientific reasoning, thus reducing the tensions among them. A link to the article is here.” Heather has also been elected as a member of the Electorate Nominating Committee (ENC) of the Section on History & Philosophy of Science of the AAAS for 2013.”
Shannon Dea writes from her sabbatical, “On January 8, I gave a talk called ‘The Nice Bloke Trap’ for British Philosophy heads of department, journal editors and representatives of learned societies. The talk was part of a panel at the University of London co-organized by the British Philosophical Association and the UK Society for Women in Philosophy to introduce those groups’ new joint ‘good practices’ guides for supporting women in Philosophy. The guides are  useful and well crafted, and the response to the event by audience members was extremely positive, with quite a rich group discussion at the end of the panel. The other panelists were Jennifer Saul, Rae Langton, Paul Lodge and Helen Beebee. It was a huge treat to get to talk about inclusivity in the discipline with these distinguished philosophers.”
Finally, I have my own news: my Philosophy Compass survey article, “Philosophy of Sex,” is out. It covers some topics you might expect, like objectification, rape, and queer theory, and some you might not, like polyamory, the medicalization of sexual desire, and the need for a theory of sexual justice. Check it out here! If you can’t access this version, contact me by email.
Also, I am excited to be teaching a new Special Topics course on Philosophy of Economics this term. If you’re curious, you can check out the syllabus.
Don’t forget, as always, you can see more news and check out upcoming events at our Department website.
And thanks for reading!