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Annual Newsletter

PHILOSOPHY

Fall 2012 455 W. Lindsey

Dale Hall Tower

Norman, OK 73072

Main Office: (405) 325-6324

Fax: (405) 325-2660

www.ou.edu/ouphil/

CHANGE IN DEPARTMENT LEADERSHIP Last year was Hugh Benson’s final year as department chair. Beginning this fall, Wayne Riggs took the helm as Chair. In honor of both Hugh’s service and Wayne’s new role, the Newsletter invited Wayne to comment on the transition. He writes: “It’s hard for me to imagine the department without Hugh as chair. He has been the chair for 16 of the 17 years I’ve been faculty here at OU. It’s my privilege to inherit the leadership of a department that has been superbly run for all that time. It’s a huge burden to have to follow that act, but at least I have had the example of an excellent role model or, as we say around here, exemplar, to show me how it’s done. It is also my privilege to become chair of a department whose faculty and staff I respect and appreciate. It is further testimony to Hugh’s leadership that during his time as chair we have retained and hired so many folks who are terrific philosophers as well as terrific people. During Hugh’s sixteen years as chair, the department has undergone many changes. To give just a sense of the magnitude of the changes, since Hugh began as chair: • • • • • •

Almost half of the current faculty – seven of the fifteen – were hired. Over half of the faculty – nine of fifteen – were tenured and/or promoted. Representation of women on the faculty went from 10% to over 25%. The department increased undergraduate courses from 20 per semester to 30 per semester, and increased catalog course offerings from 55 courses to 104. The department increased our graduate assistant population from 15 to 18. The department became nationally ranked in epistemology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of art, and Chinese philosophy.

“Taking over from Hugh is daunting, but the department is committed to continuing on the track of steady progress and growth Hugh so well established. Hugh has earned all of our gratitude and has enriched the program and the lives of those in it in many ways. Going forward, we will be relying on his hardwon wisdom while also trying our best to let him enjoy a well earned rest from administration.”

If you’re wondering why this is here, turn the page...

Chris Swoyer and Jim Hawthorne

Hugh Benson listens as Linda Zagzebski discusses his time as chair

Ray Elugardo playing the cuatro


RETIREMENTS It is with great regret that the department announces the retirements of Ray Elugardo and Chris Swoyer. Both Ray and Chris have served the department and the profession for many years, and they will be sorely missed. The department sends them off into this new stage in fine fashion, with much respect, affection, and a great sense of indebtedness for all they have done to build the department. The department also hosted a party in their honor, presenting them with gifts that we hope honor their work and will preserve us in their memories. Ray was presented with a cuatro, a tenstringed guitar-like instrument that is the national instrument of Puerto Rico, and we all hope that he will favor us with music from it in the coming years. Chris’ gift was less unusual. Suffice it to say that in considering just what Chris most needed in retirement, the department came to the inevitable and obvious conclusion that four pygmy goats would be best. We asked both Ray and Chris to say a bit about their plans for retirement for the Newsletter. After 23 years of teaching at OU, Ray plans to spend time traveling with his wife Rose, as well as writing his memoirs (some fiction and some philosophy too), reading, and gardening. But his major project will be to master the cuatro. He hopes to be able to play for his father the Puerto Rican folksongs that his father has loved for so long. Ray says he will miss everyone affiliated with the Department and has expressed his deep appreciation for their support over the years. He plans to visit the Department at future colloquia and special events. Chris proved to be a more elusive target for interview. Asked to comment on the state of philosophy, his plans, and any thoughts he might have as he embarks on retirement, Chris replied that he aspired to “go off quietly into the sunset.” As he did just that, he was heard to add, “So long and thanks for all the goats!” NEWS The department is excited and pleased to announce that Martin Montminy and Jim Hawthorne have been promoted to full professor. Linda Zagzebski has been awarded a grant from the Wake Forest Character Project for spring of next year and has also received a prestigious Templeton Foundation Fellowship for the academic year 2013-2014. OU Ethics Bowl Team Continues to Crush Opponents The OU Ethics Bowl Squad has won the Statewide Student Ethics Competition and the Regional Ethics Bowl for the second consecutive year. The competition combines elements of interscholastic debate and quiz bowl. This year’s squad had three returning members: Guss Keyes (philosophy senior), Cody Franklin (philosophy sophomore), and Evan DeFilippis (economics senior); and 3 new members: Jerod Coker (economics senior), Jon Hagan (philosophy junior), and Jeff Smith (philosophy junior). The Squad went on to the National Ethics Bowl Competition on March 1, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio, placing ninth out of 32 competing teams. We’re incredibly proud

of their success and amazed at the speed with which the squad has become a national force. The OU Ethics Bowl squad is advised by Breea Clark (Associate Director, Academic Integrity Systems), Adrienne Jablonski (Director of Student Career and Leadership Development, CAS), and Stephen Ellis (Associate Professor, Philosophy). Philosophers in the Provinces, Part II The Philosophy Department spent last year occupying an old Navy building on South Campus while Dale Hall Tower, the location of our regular offices, was structurally repaired. Our temporary home on South Campus was an old wooden building constructed by the Navy during World War II. The facility was used during the war as a Naval Air Technical Training Center. Naval personnel were taught there to service and repair airplanes, skills many in the department were hoping they might acquire by osmosis. Alas, we are as before but philosophers. Early in the year, however, some faculty discovered the restaurant and lounge at the nearby golf course and took to posing as golfers in need of a bite to eat, a ruse somewhat undermined by their penchant for yelling “Fore!” at odd moments in the mistaken belief that this is what golfers at lunch do. In July, we returned to newly renovated quarters in Dale Hall Tower. NOTES FROM THE FACULTY’S MEETINGS Succession Crisis Narrowly Averted When Hugh announced his retirement as chair, there was of course a brief succession crisis as faculty jockeyed for position and power, each seeking to take Hugh’s place. Just as it appeared that civil war and violent bloodshed was imminent, however, Hugh explained to all just what the chair position entails. A chorus of voices rose as one to declare “NOT IT!” As all heard the cries of their fellows, the assembled faculty looked around stunned by the realization that the department would soon be leaderless, a state that might entail their actually having to perform administrative duties for themselves. Fresh horror ensued: garments were rent, teeth gnashed, and copious tears shed. Mercifully, it did not last and a solution was quickly found. Because he was absent that day, Wayne Riggs was quickly identified as the ideal candidate to serve as the next chair, his very absence from the faculty meeting a commendation of his good, sound judgment. So, once again, the faculty raised their voices in chorus, this time to declare: “Wayne’s it!” Tornado In early April, Norman was struck by a tornado. Mercifully, the damage was confined to downed trees, power lines, and injured property. Less mercifully, the tornado arrived in town during a faculty meeting and the faculty and many graduate students were obliged to seek shelter. This proved less than easy to do in the department’s temporary home in the old World War II office, a building like nothing so much as a rather large double-wide trailer home (if double-wides were constructed of matchsticks to increase their flammability). Finding both the basement and the understairs shelters locked, faculty and students retreated hastily and with much lamentation to the building’s only remaining shelter, a brick walk-in safe with a massive and forbidding door. Since the power was out, the beset philosophers huddled in their dark cave, where someone


was heard to rue the department’s lack of a switch that could redirect the course of the tornado toward some other hapless souls. This provoked another to remark that at least the safe had a door rather than a fat man wedged in the opening. Also present were the ghosts of Virgil and Dante, the latter of whom was heard distinctly to gasp, “What fresh sin is this?!?” Our Peripatetic Philosophers In a new series, the Newsletter is going to report on our sometimes far flung faculty members. Last year, Zev Trachtenberg was in Ireland and Europe where, he reports, he thoroughly enjoyed his time as a Fulbright Scholar in Governance at Queen’s University Belfast. He and his family arrived in Belfast in January for the six month fellowship, and took up residence in Holywood—a Belfast suburb just a few minutes from the university by train. For the first part of the semester Zev completed a paper arguing that Rousseau offers a political theory of the human relation with the environment; he presented that work to the Eighteenth Century Studies group at Queen’s in May. For the second part, Zev collaborated with two Queen’s faculty on organizing an interdisciplinary seminar that explored the ways different academic fields study the way human beings transform the natural world. Zev especially enjoyed his travels around the UK and beyond. Immediately after arriving he spent a week in Scotland with the other UK Fulbrighters, attending fascinating presentations at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the Scottish Parliament (just as plans for a referendum on Scottish independence were announced). While in Edinburgh he touched the toe of the statue of David Hume on the Royal Mile—a curious local custom (at least among tourists). In March he traveled to Sligo, in the Republic of Ireland, for a conference on sustainability, and visited the Universities of Manchester (where he saw the memorial to Alan Turing) and Keele in England to present his work on Rousseau. In April he returned to Scotland to speak at the Social Learning and Evolution lab at the University of St. Andrews. In May he attended a conference on the environment as a topic in political theory at Cambridge University, and he rejoined fellow Fulbrighters with a concluding event at the University of

Nottingham in June. He and his family also enjoyed trips to Dublin and Prague. Though he resolved not to return to Norman with an Irish accent, Zev deeply appreciated his time in Belfast, a wonderful and fascinating place to live. (Yes, he developed a taste for Guinness . . . and also a respect for the endless complexity of Irish history and society.) He and Tina and Isaac all are extremely grateful for their Fulbright experience.

Zev Trachtenberg touches David Hume’s toe.

In Memorium The department is sad to announce that Professor Emeritus Ken Merrill’s beloved wife, Vanita, died on December 12 of last year. Vanita Carol Harrod Merrill was born in Oklahoma. She and Ken married in 1954 and after living in Evanston, Illinois, briefly, they spent many years together in Norman as part of the OU community. She was remembered in her obituary here as having loved literature and excelling at anything she put her hand to, including writing, sewing, and cooking.

FROM THE ARCHIVES As noted in last year’s newsletter, one serendipitous benefit of our recent move has been the discovery of documents from the department’s past and our consequent ability to give snapshots of that past here. In this year’s edition of “From the Archives,” we present a snapshot of 1959. That year hosted a variety of philosophical talks and colloquia but one caught the notice of the local press: the Philosophy Department’s effort to present discussion of prohibition in Oklahoma, the repeal of which was a contentious political issue that year. In March of 1959, the Philosophy Department planned a discussion of the case both for and against repealing prohibition, but these efforts were at risk of running aground when the group was unable to find someone to represent “the Drys” Controversy ensued when the leader of a local group, the Cleveland County United Drys, pointed out that his widely publicized and locally prominent group had not been solicited to provide a speaker. Professor of Philosophy Gustav Mueller replied that not just any Dry would do and that the philosophy group hosting the debate wished to eschew political actors in favor of more academic speakers. The group did succeed in finding such a speaker in the person of John Bryant Carney, Jr., a professor of applied and theoretical mechanics and faculty advisor to the Baptist Student Union. Professor Mueller’s activity on this issue did not end with the department talk. He also wrote letters to the editor of the town paper, the Norman Transcript, letters also preserved in the Philosophy Club’s record. Citing everything from Plato to Christian doctrine, Mueller argued that opponents of repeal, the Drys, were akin to “children and savages,” engaged in projecting their fears of being run away with the “demon rum” onto the population at large. Mueller was criticized by another correspondent to the editorial page, Pastor L. Wayne Sears, who charged Mueller with using inflammatory and insulting language to describe the views of the Drys. Undaunted, Mueller defended his comparison of drys with “children and savages” as “perfectly impersonal and scientific.” See image on next page for full text.


Prohibition in Oklahoma was repealed that same year when Oklahomans defied Will Rogers’ prediction that “Oklahomans will vote dry as long as they can stagger to the polls.” Whether and how the Philosophy Department celebrated this turn of events is sadly unknown.

COLLOQUIA AND VISITING LECTURES The department hosted its biannual David Ross Boyd Lecture Series in Fall 2012. Our guest was Professor Jerrold Levinson of University of Maryland. Professor Levinson gave three talks, each on topics in aesthetics, and ranging from jazz music to humor. This year the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumnus was John Danner, who received his BA in Philosophy at OU. Mr. Danner came to campus to present the T. W. Adam Lecture, a talk entitled, “Thanksgiving for Everyone… Everyday, Everywhere.” Other colloquiua included: Neil Sinhababu (National University of Singapore), “Desire, Action, and Pleasure” Brian Leftow (Oxford University), “Tempting God” Mary Kate McGowan (Wellesley College), “On Silencing and Sincerity”

Jerrold Levinson, 2011 David Ross Boyd Lecturer


UNDERGRADUATE AWARDS Cassandra Kolenda was awarded the Philosophy Department’s 2011-2012 Clayton Feaver Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded each year to an outstanding senior in philosophy. The Mary Elizabeth Wade Scholarship, given annually to an outstanding junior in philosophy, was awarded to Alexandra LaFalce. Emily Langhorst was honored with service as the department’s Banner Carrier at the 2012 Convocation, recognition awarded to an exceptional graduating senior each year. DEGREES AWARDED BA Mahtab Doty Dylan Kapka Keegan Tomik Nicholas Riley Matthew Shallcross Cassandra Kolenda Olivia Glenn-Allen Jared Curran MA Matthew Cook and Wes Skolits PhD Alex Feldt, Climate Change and Human Rights: Creating Norms to Govern Earth’s Atmosphere Paul Franks, A Rational Problem of Evil: The Coherence of Christian Doctrine with a Broad Free Will Defense Mary Gwin, The Virtues of Bayesian Epistemology Indy Rhodes, Heroes Great and Small: The Rebirth of Honor GRADUATE STUDENT NEWS The Graduate Philosophical Association (GPA) had a very active year. This year’s president, Patrick Epley, reports that the group met monthly and had an active series of presentations. The group has been hosting collegial works-inprogress style sessions that allow graduate students to hone work with feedback and discussions with their peers. The presentations this year included: Rob Byer, who presented his dissertation prospectus; Patrick Epley ,"The Formal Representation of Belief in the Understandings account of Decision;” Matt Cook, "Extended Perception"; Dan Cheon, "A New Matter Wave Equation;” Andrew Russo, "Causation and the Exclusion Principle;” and Timothy Berryman, "The Status of Intermediates in Plato's Republic.” In addition to the GPA activities, graduate students were also active in a number of areas:

Tim Berryman presented his paper, "The Status of Intermediates in Plato's Republic," at the North Texas Philosophical Association meeting in April. Rob Byer presented two papers at scholarly conferences this year: "Debunking Debunking Arguments," presented at the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion Conference in Atlanta in March and "Does the Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology of Religion Debunk Religious Belief?" presented at the Society of Christian Philosophers Midwest Region Conference at Hendrix College in Arkansas. Aylish Chantler presented her paper, “Property Engtanglement, Constraint Optimization, and the Isolation of Unsurpassable Worlds,” at both the Mountain Plains Philosophy Conference and the Evangelical Philosophical Society Conference. Patrick Epley presented his work, “The Formal Representation of Belief in the Understandings Account of Decision,” at the University of Miami Graduate Epistemology Conference. Pat also gave two commentaries at conferences this year: on Jon Williamson’s “From Bayesian Epistemology to Inductive Logic” at the Formal Epistemology Workshop at USC and on Gregory Stoutenberg’s “Agent-centered Epistemic Deontologism” at the Kansas Philosophical Society. Alex Feldt presented his paper "Individual and Collective Responsibility in the Case of Climate Change" at the Western Political Science Association (WPSA) Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, in March. He continued serving as a Graduate Student Research Fellow as part of the OU Women’s and Gender Studies Center for Social Justice's Graduate Student Research Fellows Program and also completed a second year as a Graduate College Student Ambassador through the OU Graduate College. Alex has also been appointed to the position of lecturer at the University of Tennessee for the coming academic year. Paul Franks reports that upon completion of his dissertation this year, his position at Tyndale University College has been converted to a tenure-track position. Mary Gwin has been working at Oklahoma State University and recently presented a paper, "Approximate Bayesians, Reliable Agents," at the Midsouth Philosophy Conference in February. At the same conference, she commented on Gregory Stoutenburg's paper, "Doxastic Involuntarism and Reasonable Appraisal of Epistemic Conduct." She also commented on two papers at the New Mexico West Texas Philosophical Society meeting in March and has a forthcoming book review of What Should I Believe? Philosophical Essays for Critical Thinking by Paul Gomberg, (Broadview Press 2011) slated to appear in Teaching Philosophy this summer. Josh Rollins presented a paper, "Epistemic Universalism and Common Consent Arguments," at the 2012 Glasgow Philosophy of Religion Seminar in May.


Andrea Taylor has recently been appointed to a one-year teaching post at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. She will begin this position in fall of the coming year. ALUMNI/AE NEWS Clint Barrett (PhD 2006) published an essay this year: "A Careful Reading of St. Anselm's Ontological Argument." Philosophy and Theology, Vol. 23, Issue 2 (2011). Anthony (Tony) Boese (BA ‘11) is an MLit at St. Andrews, currently holding distinction level marks and an invitation to pursue the MPhil, though he is presently undecided about contuining. He has three recent publications: “Man’s Mastery,” Dialectic vol. 10 (2012); “Review of Theorising Transnational Migration,” InSpire Journal of Law, Politics, and Societies vol. 6 no. 2 (2011), 50-51; and “Time Before Time: The Contradiction in Plato’s Theory of Time in the Timeaus,” Aporia vol. 8 (2011), 27-37. Tony is also presenting his work at several conferences. He recently presented work at the Warwick Graduate Political Theory Conference, and will soon be presenting at both the annual congress of the Quebec Society of Political Science and the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of the History and Philosophy of Science. Finally, he is planning his wedding for Halloween of this year. Congratulations, Tony! John Braly (BA ‘07) reports that he continues to teach eighth grade science at Irving Middle School here in Norman. We are delighted that his charges include children of Philosophy Department faculty and staff (and hope that they do not give him any trouble!). He has recently applied to the EACS MA program in OU’s College of Education, and planned to begin that program this fall. Reporting “from the front lines of the future in public education,” he adds: “I do think we could do with some philosopher kings rather than politicians running the show. Maybe I'll have to do something about that some day!” Dara Fogel (PhD ‘06) continues to work as an adjunct and teaches at both University of Central Oklahoma and the OU College of Liberal Studies. She also continues in her position with the OU Religious Studies Program, planning and hosting speaker events. In addition to this, she is developing a textbook on contemporary moral problems that employs a developmental model in examining approaches to ethics. She is co-authoring a paper on epistemic responsibility with Tom Burns, Professor of Sociology at OU. Dara also attended the Burning Man Festival in Nevada this past year and was a featured speaker in its Spoken Word Café. Her topic: "Things They Won't Let Me Say to My Students at a State University." Finally, she reports: “The biggest and best new thing in my world is that I am adopting my precious 21 month old foster son. His birth-mom is a relative who got herself into some trouble and we were called in to help. My husband, Richard Auer, and I are delighted with the addition to our family.” Jared Haines (BA ’11) is attending the University of Chicago Law School. This summer he will serve as intern on the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. He says, “My philosophy education at OU helped prepare me to read texts and argue about them, an essential skill in law.” Peter Hutcheson (PhD ‘79) served as Vice President of the New Mexico-West Texas Philosophical Society. At the annual meeting he presented a paper, "The Evolution of Creationism," and two extended comments: "Kierkegaard Agnosticized" and "Skepticism, Dogmatism, and Skeptical Dogmatism." In "The Evolution of Creationism" Peter argued that there are good and decisive responses to creationism, no matter what the ever-changing stance is. Along the way he argued against Ruse's demarcation-of-science criteria and endorsed most of Laudan's criticisms. In "Kierkegaard Agnosticized" Hutcheson disagreed with Kierkegaard. Abraham could not know what God wanted him to do even if he were convinced that God told him to kill Isaac. But Peter proceeded to carry it further and argued that Abraham could not know it was God who spoke to him. Thus the title. In "Skepticism, Dogmatism, and Skeptical Dogmatism," Peter argued that the belief in the mundane ("external") world hypothesis had not been proven to be probably false. Finally, Peter's two oldest daughters, Vanessa ('10 Texas State; English and philosophy) and Jessica ('11 Brandeis; biochemistry and neuroscience) are now college graduates. And they're both debt-free! Kyle Johnson (PhD ’06) was awarded tenure during the 2011-2012 academic year. His official status as associate professor of philosophy at King’s College started with the Fall semester of 2012. Last fall he edited yet another volume in Wiley-Blackwell’s Philosophy and Pop Culture series: Inception and Philosophy: Because It’s Never Just a Dream. He was asked to give a presentation on the book at Google Headquarters in December, and the video of him doing so already has over 150,000 hits on YouTube. This spring, his paper “Natural Evil and the Simulation Hypothesis” was accepted for publication in the journal Philo (14.2) and he was asked to appear at NECSS for a live taping of the Podcast “Rationally Speaking” to talk about the arguments presented in that paper. (NECSS is the Northeast Conference for Science and Skepticism and “Rationally Speaking” is a philosophy of science podcast hosted by Massimo Pigliucci, who chairs the Philosophy Department at CUNY-Lehman College and (quite ridiculously?) boasts three Ph.D’s (genetics, botany, and philosophy of science).) Kyle also recently found out that his paper “A Refutation of Skeptical Theism” will be published in the journal Sophia. Kyle also blogs with William Irwin for Psychology Today in a series called “Plato on Pop.” Finally, Kyle enjoys writing funny one-liners to go at the end of annual biographical summaries. Caitlynn Marie McGee (now Loman) (BA ’09) graduated from the OU Law School in May 2012. She follows in the footsteps of her mother, Mary Anne Winn (now McGee) (BA ’73, JD ’76).


Russell (Buddy) Morris (BA ‘56) has been busy in the years since his graduation. He completed a Master’s of Divinity degree at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California, in 1960. From 1960-1966, he served as Director of Religious Activities at California Baptist College (now University) in Riverside, CA. In 1966, he began what would be 33 years of service as a missionary in Singapore with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Upon his retirement, he returned to Norman, the place, as he put it, “where it all started.” Donald Owens (PhD ’86) spent 25 years as the Episcopal Chaplain to OU before coming to Tulane University School of Medicine in 2000. He has an appointment in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry, where he holds the James A. Knight, M.D. Chair of Humanities and Ethics in Medicine and, as of January of this year, is a full professor. He writes, “I work closely with the Student Affairs and Admissions. I interview applicants for admission to the School of Medicine. I also work with potential applicants as they prepare their programs for application to medical school. I teach medical students Medical Ethics and the area of religion, spirituality, and medicine. The new MCAT that will be in use in 2015 will have a heavy stress on Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. As students are advised to what courses to take it would be well to remind them of this.” He also generously offers to advise any OU students who are interested in applying to Tulane’s School of Medicine. Future medical students, take note! Liz (Wade) Perkinson (BA ‘01) returned to her hometown of Elk City, Oklahoma, following the deaths of both of her parents last spring. She is the third generation Wade publisher of the Elk City Daily News and is happy to be back where she can watch the sun set and attend Sooner football. Lou Sinesio (BA ‘86) sends his first update to the Newsletter this year: “I got my degree in 1986, although I was on campus 1972 to 1977, I crammed four years worth of work into 13. I also spent some time in the American Studies Department graduate program at the University at Buffalo. I spent 25 years working as a diagnostic medical sonographer in New Jersey and New York. I have recently taken on a new role as the manager of a social entrepreneurial project, the Iroquois White Corn Project. We are located at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, New York, and sponsored by the Friends of Ganondagan. We are preparing and packaging Iroquois white corn, an heirloom variety of corn that dates back to precolonial times. By doing this, we hope to create a market to support the Iroquois farmers who are still growing this corn, increase its use and popularity in Iroquois communities and introduce it to the general public. We are looking forward to doing some educational programs about health and traditional food products, the culture and historical significance of the corn and how to use it. We have a website, iroquoiswhitecorn.com and we are on Facebook. I would love to hear from anyone who is interested and from old friends.” Michael Silberstein (PhD ‘95) has recently published several journal articles and books chapters: "Modified Regge calculus as an explanation of dark energy", in Classical and Quantum Gravity, 29, 055015 (with Mark Stuckey and Timothy McDevitt); "Dynamics, Systematicity and Extended Cognition," in Systematicity and the Post-Connectionist Era, MIT Press; "Complexity and Extended Phenomenological-Cognitive Systems" in Topics in Cognitive Science: Special Issue on the Role of Complex Systems in Cognitive Science (with A. Chemero); as well as several book reviews. Michael also attended and presented work at several prestigious international conferences in cognitive science, including the Post-Connectionist Era Workshop in San José, Spain and the Workshop and Doctoral Course on Extended Consciousness Sensorimotor Dynamics and Phenomenal Character Trondheim, Norway, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Michael Speck (MA ‘97) joined the faculty of Tulsa Community College in January of this year. He has practiced law in Oklahoma City since 2001 and was an Adjunct Professor in the Humanities Department of Rose State College since 2002. Jared Stepien (BA ‘11) married Liia Melders this past June. They live in Buffalo, NY, where Jared recently completed his first year as a doctoral student in SUNY-Buffalo's Philosophy Department. He reports that he misses OU’s Philosophy of Religion classes! FACULTY NEWS Neera Badhwar’s Happiness in a Worthwhile Life is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Her article “Moral Character” was published in The International Encyclopaedia of Ethics, and “Aristotle on the Complete Friendship of Incompletely Virtuous People” (co-authored with Rusty Jones), is under review. She presented papers at Duke University, Charleston College, and at conferences at the University of Western Ontario, and Bled, Slovenia. Neera added an affiliation with the Philosophy Department at George Mason University to her already-existing affiliation with the Economics Department. She states: “I pretend to work for GMU and GMU pretends to pay me.” She also reports that she and Larry “had amazing experiences in our travels to Turkey, Canada, India, Guatemala, Italy, Slovenia, and France. But the trip back to Norman in April was special in its own way.” Hugh Benson returned from an awesome semester in London to complete his last year as chair of the department. He has some work forthcoming in the Continuum Companion to Plato and the Continuum Companion to Socrates. He also gave a presentation on the Euthyphro (what else?) at a conference on practical reason at Stanford University and on the Theaetetus at the Western APA. He is looking forward to a non-chairpersonly existence, doing philosophy again, and celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary with his amazing wife in Alaska this summer.


Monte Cook reports, “After four years off the travel circuit, I presented papers this past school year at the New York City Workshop in Early Modern Philosophy and in Seattle at the Pacific Division Meetings of the APA. While in NYC I got to spend some great time with my son Steve, who lives in Manhattan and works for Maxim; and while in Seattle I got to spend some delightful time with several former students and colleagues that I hadn’t seen in years. I continue to work on the obscure French philosopher Robert Desgabets, but in these presentations I branched out to other obscure French philosophers such as Antoine Arnauld, Louis de la Forge, and Géraud de Cordemoy. In the presentations I argued that in discussing these philosophers (and in discussing Descartes) people make a very common mistake. And two of the people I accused of making the mistake, Dan Garber and Steve Nadler, were in the audience at the New York City Workshop. (Both Garber and Nadler, but in particular the latter, very graciously tried to point out the error of my ways and to straighten me out.)” Others who would likewise enjoy the opportunity to straighten Monte out, on this or really any other matters, are urged to get in touch. Steve Ellis was on sabbatical last year. He read a lot; he wrote a little; he tilted at various windmills. Rumors of a book about issues in normative economics remain unconfirmed. Being unable to say “no” to certain sorts of requests, Steve helped coach the Ethics Bowl team to a ninth place finish at Nationals. He also was a participant in six qualifying exams and one dissertation defense. Steve isn’t very good at sabbaticals yet, but he hopes to improve his performance next time. Jim Hawthorne taught Intro to Logic both semesters, as well as a graduate seminar on “Logics of Possibility and Probability” addressing modal logic and probabilistic inductive logic and a Philosophy of Mind course focused on the “hard problem of consciousness”, or how to fit conscious experience into a physicalist account of the world. He also attended a wonderful conference in Dusseldorf, Germany, last May, and presented recent work on a qualitative logic of comparative evidential support, which he describes as “a logic in which the basic concept is the relationship ‘conclusion C1 is supported by premises P1 at least as strongly as conclusion C2 is supported by premises P2’. It turns out that this logic of comparative support is strong enough to capture all of the important features of the probabilistic Bayesian logic of evidential support. I spent most of my research time this year working out the details of this logic.” Sherri Irvin reports, “I have started working in feminist aesthetics, and I was excited to have my paper ‘Motherhood and the Workings of Disgust’ appear in 2011 (in Philosophical Inquiries into Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering: Maternal Subjects, ed. Sheila Lintott and Maureen Sander-Staudt, Routledge). I am also co-authoring ‘Sex Objects and Sexy Subjects: A Feminist Reclamation of Sexiness’ with Sheila Lintott of Bucknell University. I’ve given the paper as a talk at several venues, and it has been fun to get philosophers talking about oppressive standards of bodily appearance, transgressing gender boundaries, kink, and all sorts of related topics. In summer 2011, I met up with Hugh Benson in London, and we spent a day at Wimbledon. We waited for hours and hours (later we learned that a protest further up in the line had delayed entry), but since the company was good – as, eventually, was the tennis – I had a great time. My fall sabbatical flew by as I wrote papers on poetry, sculpture, aesthetic experience and installation art that are destined for various venues. My child (officially known as Zed) chooses a different identity every day: Della, Amelia, Jonah, a cat, a pirate, a bat, the big girl soccer player with the ACE bandage on her leg. My spouse (Martin Montminy) has transformed himself into a platinum blonde, which is very convenient: I never lose him in a crowd. We have been exploring opera Oklahoma style, by watching the Metropolitan Opera in HD at local movie theaters. Highly recommended! “ Neal Judisch gave a talk at the ACPA titled "Meticulous Providence and Gratuitous Evil," and an article of the same title was subsequently published in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, volume 4. Neal and his wife, Janice, welcomed their sixth child, Gwendolyn Antionette, on March 23. She weighed 8 lbs. and was 20 in. long. Baby, parents, and siblings are doing well. Emily McRae enjoyed her busy first year at OU. She taught four undergraduate classes, one of which – Comparative Philosophy – was a new class both for her and the department. She gave papers at the Central Division American Philosophical Association Annual meeting (Chicago) and the International Symposia for Contemplative Studies (Denver), and participated in conferences in Madison, WI and Seattle, WA. Three of Emily’s articles, “The Cultivation of Feelings and Mengzi’s Method of Extension” (Philosophy East and West), “A Passionate Buddhist Life” (Journal of Religious Ethics), and “Emotions and Choice: Lessons from Tsongkhapa” (Journal of Buddhist Ethics), were published this year. This summer Emily attended a NEH Seminar entitled “Investigating Consciousness: Contemporary and Buddhist Perspectives” and the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute. She also escaped the Oklahoma summer for a couple weeks and spent time with her family in Vermont. Ken Merrill (emeritus) is perhaps the bravest soul among us. Even though our temporary building was quite spooky at night, he could still be found there even in the wee hours. His most recent project is a book review he is writing for the journal Mind. Martin Montminy published a paper, “Indeterminacy, Incompleteness, Indecision and Other Semantic Phenomena,” in Canadian Journal of Philosophy. He also officially became a public intellectual, thanks to his contribution, “Le sens n’est jamais intrinsèque : l’indétermination de la traduction,” to La Quinzaine littéraire, a French literary magazine. He has also invented at least 100 different stories for his son Zed, who rarely accepts to be told the same story twice.


Amy Olberding published two books this year: Moral Exemplars in the Analects (Routledge) and Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought (co-edited with Philip J. Ivanhoe, SUNY Press). She also taught a fabulously enjoyable graduate seminar on the connections between manners and morality, and discovered that most roads worth taking on the subject lead eventually to Jane Austen. Adam Pelser, Visiting Assistant Professor in the department last year, accepted a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Philosophy at Wake Forest University for this year. He will be contributing to the research of the Templeton Foundation-funded Character Project, as well as teaching a couple of courses for the department, including a course on the philosophy of character and virtue. Wayne Riggs spent parts of May and June of last year attending and giving talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, Lund, Sweden, and Bled, Slovenia. He says, “At the end of the conference in Slovenia, I and three other philosophers from the conference rented a car and made a mad dash for the Croatian coast. After being chastised at the border for failing to have an international driver’s license, we made it across and to the ancient walled city of Rovinj on the Adriatic Sea. The narrow lanes of worn cobblestones and medieval stone buildings had us expecting to hear someone crying, ‘Bring out yer dead!’ at any moment.” His appetite for traveling in carloads of philosophers thus whetted, later in the year he drove carloads of graduate students to conferences at the University of Arkansas and the University of Iowa, where he also gave talks. Wayne also had one article appear in the Journal of Social Epistemology. He explains, “It was on the topic of epistemic injustice, but the title is so embarrassingly boring and stuffy, I’m not going to mention it here. I have become very interested in the role of emotions in epistemology, and am in the midst of a sea-change in my views of and approach to epistemology. If I still think there are such things as beliefs and knowledge when it’s all over, I think I’ll be okay. Stay tuned…” Zev Trachtenberg was on leave in Ireland. See above under “Our Peripatetic Philosophers” for news of his doings. Linda Zagzebski has not been doing much and we hope she’ll get busy soon. Meanwhile, we can report that last year, she delivered the Kaminski Lectures at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland, where she lectured in the same room where Pope John Paul lectured for the many years he was professor of ethics before he was appointed Cardinal of Krakow. She then gave the Olaus Petri Lectures at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Last year she was on leave with a Guggenheim Fellowship, during which she completed her book on epistemic authority, to be published by Oxford in October. In January she directed a two-week seminar in Rome for Chinese philosophers on the topic of virtue ethics. There was a follow-up conference for the participants in Beijing in October. At the end of spring semester, she left for Madrid where they had a small workshop on her forthcoming book. She then followed that up with an epistemology conference for European philosophers, for which she delivered the keynote. Linda has also been awarded a grant from the Wake Forest Character Project for next spring, which will permit her to work on her next book on exemplarist virtue theory. She has received a Templeton grant for the following year for the same book project.


University Overview Created by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a doctoral degree-granting research university serving the educational, cultural, economic and health-care needs of the state, region and nation. The Norman campus serves as home to all of the university’s academic programs except health-related fields. The OU Health Sciences Center, which is located in Oklahoma City, is one of only four comprehensive academic health centers in the nation with seven professional colleges. Both the Norman and Health Sciences Center colleges offer programs at the Schusterman Center, the site of OU-Tulsa. OU enrolls more than 30,000 students, has more than 2,600 full-time faculty members, and has 21 colleges offering 163 majors at the baccalaureate level, 157 majors at the master’s level, 81 majors at the doctoral level, 28 majors at the doctoral professional level, and 28 graduate certificates. The university’s annual operating budget is $1.5 billion. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. www.ou.edu/eoo

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Philosophy 2012 Newsletter  

Philosophy 2012 Newsletter

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