OU Department of Philosophy
GREETINGS FROM THE CHAIR
Let me begin by apologizing for the delay in the delivery of this year’s newsletter. For a variety of reasons we were simply unable to get the newsletter out last spring and so ultimately we decided to combine two years into one. I supposed this failure might be taken as a sign of a flourishing department. And indeed, we do continue to flourish due to the help and support of many people, including our students, faculty, alumni, and friends.
I am happy to report that we successfully completed a national search in
the area of philosophy of religion. Neal
But the excitement is not confined to the faculty. There has also been a physical change in the department. The old department library, or as Professsor Cook preferred to call it ‘the book room’ has been converted into an office space for the graduate assistants, who affectionately call it ‘the cave’. The lunch room has new furniture. I don’t mean different furniture. I mean genuinely new furniture. It even has a water cooler! The lunch room renovations are due largely to the generosity of Professor Zagzebski. (Thanks Linda! I guess it takes a GLC Professor to see that we needed better digs.) The seminar room has also been completely refurbished with high tech IT, carpet, new tables and chairs. For the seminar room we owe our gratitude to the College of Arts and Sciences and Dean Bell. (Thanks Paul!) This is the first time for any of this in the 20 plus years I have been at OU.
We also welcomed Ileah Murray as our new secretary – the voice and face of the department, Professor Zagzebski as our new George Lynn Cross Professor (the University’s highest research award), new undergraduate and graduate students, new bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees, a first rate colloquium series (including our 12th annual Undergraduate Conference, a formal epistemology conference whose participants were among the best in the world, and Professor Christine Korsgaard as our 10th David Ross Boyd Lecturer), and much, much more.
Next year promises to be just as exciting, hopefully with the newsletter out on time.
Again, I would like to thank all of you who have responded to our previous newsletters and various questionnaires. A special “thank you” goes to those of you who have contributed financially to the department. It is important, however, to hear from all of you, especially as we try continually to improve our program. The Philosophy Department has a Web site at
Among other things, the site has an on-line form alumni can fill out to provide information about themselves. Please, let us know how you are doing!
NEW FACULTY AND STAFF
The department is pleased to welcome two new faculty members and one new staff assistant.
Professor Martin Montminy joins the
department from a post at
Professor Neal Judisch joins the department as a tenure-track
assistant professor after having spent a year with us as a visitor. Prior to coming to
Murray, staff assistant, joined the department as a replacement for Lindsay
Rice, who left to take a job in another university department. Before coming to work in the department,
Ileah worked for a law firm in downtown
As Hugh notes above, the department has enjoyed a happily busy couple of years. Here are just a few of the highlights.
In December of last year,
Department Renovations (or If the Body is a Prison, Why are we so Comfortable?)
As Professor Benson notes, the department has recently renovated its
seminar room, library, and lounge.
Special thanks are owed to Dean Bell of the
The seminar room is equipped with technological amenities, gleaming new tables, and comfortable chairs. The library has become the working home to many of the department’s teaching assistants. While the changes there are less dramatic, “The Cave” now features more effective work spaces and computer stations. Changes in the lounge are quite startling. The lounge now features new leather couches and soft chairs, a small library for current journals, and artwork for the walls, as well as new kitchen equipment. While these changes awoke in some ruminations on the possible disadvantages of comfort and respectability, most were content simply to sit in chairs that don’t break. All is not changed, however. The dish soap Professor Emeritus Ken Merrill purchased several years ago is still more than half full and the coffee pot is kept well away from any cleaning agents, ensuring that the coffee still offers the full-bodied, almost archeological, flavor students and faculty prize.
In addition to renovations to our physical spaces, the department is currently investigating ways to renovate our website. Our hope is that by this time next year, we will have a shiny new website that will keep virtual pace with our shiny new lounge and seminar space. The newly designed site will feature much of the information contained on the current site, but will additionally include many more links to current faculty research and the most up-to-date information about happenings in the department. Special thanks to Sherri Irvin for helping the department make this transition. Stay tuned and keep checking back for the new look.
OU International Philosophy Conference
In April of 2007, Wayne Riggs and Jim Hawthorne organized and hosted an international Epistemology Workshop at OU. The conference proved so enjoyable and useful that the department is laying plans to make thematic conferences with scholars drawn from around the world a biennial affair. We hope to host conferences in ancient philosophy, on the intersections of ethics and aesthetics, in philosophy of language, and more. Efforts are already underway to plan our next conference and secure the funding that will make this a lively part of our regular activities.
Our first effort, the epistemology workshop, included Luc Bovens (London School of Economics), David Chalmers (Australian National University), Branden Fitelson (University of California, Berkeley), Alan Hajek (Australian National University), Jon Kvanvig (Baylor), Adam Morton (University of Alberta), Scott Sturgeon (Birkbeck College, University of London), and Paul Weirich (University of Missouri, Columbia). A two-day affair, the conference provided an opportunity for extended and collegial discussions among faculty and participants. In addition to planning the conference, Wayne and Jim additionally established a blog aimed at providing the essays to a wider audience and creating a forum for additional discussion. The blog, with all of the essays, may be accessed at: http://ouepistemology.blogspot.com/
David Ross Boyd Lecture Series
Fall of 2007, the department welcomed Professor Christine Korsgaard of
Faculty Research Workshops
In 2007, the faculty began a series of work-in-progress workshops designed so that we may learn from each other’s work and present ongoing projects for informal discussion and critique. Highlights of these workshops include Martin Montminy’s vagueness questionnaire which led some to warily consider, among other things, how old one must be to count as “old;” Wayne Riggs’ fictional ditch-jumping (or not) boys; Steve Ellis’ fictional high school drop outs in a face off with the department’s actual high school drop out, Amy Olberding; and Sherri Irvin’s brave attempts to present her sophisticated grasp of art to colleagues who habitually preface their remarks with variations on the claim, “Now I don’t know much about art, but…” It will be interesting to see how these collective efforts to address individual research leave their traces in faculty work.
Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
Since our last edition of the Newsletter, the department hosted the
Twelfth Annual Undergraduate Conference.
As part of the conference, the department hosted Susan Wolf of the
As usual, the department hosted a diverse group of scholars in our departmental colloquia. Colloquia since we last published the Newsletter featured:
Steve Ellis (OU), “The Many and the One: Sen and Hausman on Preferences”
John Doris, (Washington University-St. Louis), “How to Build a Person”
Bernard Linsky (
Manuscripts and Letters in the Bertrand Russell Archives”
Wayne Riggs (OU), “Knowledge Undermining Luck: Safety or Control?”
Brian Weatherson (Cornell Univsersity), “The Bayesian and the Dogmatist”
Jesse Butler (OU), “On Knowing what it is Like: Self-Constitutive Knowledge of our own
Joshua Blander (
Neal Judisch (OU), “Conservation, Determinism and the Problem of Evil”
E.J. Coffman (OU), “How Seriously Can God Deliberate?”
Graeme Hunter (
Christopher Herrera (
Alumnus speaker for the Annual FOCAS week.
Robert Stainton (
Disorder: A Case Study in Philosophy and the Empirical
Susan Wolf (
Andrew Roche (OU), “Transcendental Idealism.”
Christina Ribeiro (
Steve Ellis (OU Philosophy) and Scott Greene (OU Geography), “Climate Change as an
Externality: Why DON’T We Stop Ourselves from Doing This, Anyway?” In conjunction
with the Focus the Nation initiative on climate change.
Philosopher’s Development.” Alumnus speaker for the Annual FOCAS Week.
The department extends hearty congratulations to the following students who recently completed degrees:
Tim Miller, “Continuous Creation, Persistence, and Secondary Causation: An Essay on the
Metaphysics of Theism” (Zagzebski)
Howard Short, “On Middle Knowledge” (Zagzebski)
Elliott Welch, “Socratic Definition in Plato’s Dialogues” (Benson)
Laura Ann Calvery
BA: Ethics and Religion
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT NEWS
We continue to draw high quality undergraduate majors and want to congratulate in particular those students honored in the past year for their academic accomplishments.
Brian Barnett was
awarded the Clayton Feaver Scholarship.
Barnett, who majored in philosophy and mathematics with a minor in
religious studies, is a 2001 graduate of
Daniel White, the
2006 Wade Scholarship recipient, graduated from
Laura Calvery was honored with service as the department’s Banner Carrier at Convocation, recognition awarded to an exceptional graduating senior each year.
GRADUATE STUDENT NEWS
The Kenneth Merrill Teaching Award is given annually to the graduate teaching assistant who shows exceptional skill and commitment in teaching. Congratulations are due to Jason Oakes who received the 2007 Merrill Award.
Hammad Hussain will present his paper on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, entitled “More Familiar to Us vs. More Familiar Simpliciter,” at the North Texas Philosophical Association, 41st Meeting in Denton, TX, in April and at the 3rd International Conference on Philosophy in Athens, Greece, in June.
Rusty Jones has recently published two
essays: “Escapism and Luck” in Religious
Studies 43.2 (June 2007), 205-216 and “Piety as a Virtue in the Euthyphro:
A response to Rabbås” in Ancient Philosophy 26.2 (Fall 2006), 385-390. Rusty also
presented an essay titled, “Modal Systems and the Validity of Gödel’s
Ontological Argument” at the Donald G. Wester Philosophy Conference at
Tim Miller has co-edited a volume with Linda Zagzebski. Titled Readings in Philosophy of Religion: Ancient to Contemporary, the book is soon to appear with Blackwell.
Josh Seachris has co-authored an essay with Linda Zagzebski: “Weighing Evils: The C. S. Lewis Approach,” in the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 62:2 (December 2007): 81-88. Josh also presented this essay at the Midwest Regional Meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers, University of Dubuque, in March 2007 and commented on “Ancient-Future Hermeneutics: Postmodernism, Inerrancy, and the Rule of Faith,” by Mark J. Boone at the Donald G. Wester Conference, Oklahoma Baptist University, in March 2007. Very special congratulations are due Josh and his wife, Sarah, who welcomed the birth of their first child, William Josiah Seachris, on September 27, 2007.
Taylor attended the Philosophy and Popular Culture Conference in
Angela Thurmond, whose dissertation concerns just war theory, presented her paper, “Just Punishment for War Crimes,” at the International Studies Association South Conference in October of 2007.
The department was saddened to learn that Arthur H. Prince died in September
2006. Arthur received his Ph.D. from OU
in 1996 and had been working as an associate professor at Baptist College of
Health Sciences in
Roksana Alavi (BA
’96) successfully defended her dissertation, “Race
and Oppression: Philosophical Perspective in Voluntary Oppression,” at the
Susan Alvarado (MA
‘01) is finishing her second year as Associate
Brian Barnett (BA ’07) was admitted to the
Greg Bassham (MA ‘85) is
Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King's College (
Laura Calvery (BA ’07) is currently attending the
Edward Cox (PhD ’00), Assistant Professor in the Philosophy and
Religion Department at
Bill Ferraiolo (PhD ’97) continues to work at
Peter Hutcheson (PhD ’79) writes that his
daughter has suggested that Peter’s entry for the Newsletter should read: "I'm a professor, and I do
professory things." Specifically, Peter is a professor of philosophy
David Kyle Johnson (PhD ’06) continues at his post at King’s College ??? He reports:
“I am continuing to publish on pop culture and philosophy. Recent
articles include ones on Batman, Johnny Cash, Quentin Tarantino and BattleStar
Galactica, and I am in the process of editing a book on the NBC show Heroes. I
am working on a couple of papers in philosophy of religion: one on the
multiverse and another on open theism. I am presenting at
Jeff McLaughlin (’85-‘87) continues his post at
(PhD '03), Professor of Philosophy at Southern
Nazarene University, was an invited participant in a three-week Open Theology
and Science seminar in Boston. This new field in science and religion
discussion explores the issues of science (cosmology, biology and human
sciences) as they relate to open theology. Open theology scholars conversed
with nationally prominent scientists in pursuit of integrated research on
science and open theology. From this conference will come scholarly articles to
appear in journals, books and high visibility publications.
(Bert) Randall (PhD ’72) just completed his 37th year at
(PhD ’00) is on leave from his
Silberstein (PhD ’94), Associate Professor in
the Philosophy Department at
Singleton (PhD ’02) teaches religion and Latin at
Elliot Welch (PhD ’06) and his wife, Sheryl, welcomed their son, Giovanni
Kaimierz Elshout-Welch, on November 28, 2007, in
Şahabettin Yalçin (PhD ’01) currently holds a
tenure track Associate Professor position in the Philosophy Department of the
Badhwar published “Carnal Wisdom and Sexual Virtue,” in
Benson’s Blackwell’s Companion to Plato appeared
in print in 2006. Unfortunately, its
cost is prohibitive, so you’ll just have to trust him. His paper “Plato’s Method of Dialectic” appeared in the Companion (undergoing the most rigorous review by the editor). His paper “Knowledge, Virtue, and Method in Republic 471c-502c” is scheduled to appear in a festschrift for Jerry
Santas (Philosophical Inquiry) in
2008. He was also fortunate enough to
present his work at a variety of conferences and universities. “Knowledge,
Virtue, and Method in Republic 6” (a precursor of the paper to appear in the Santas
festschrift) was presented at a conference in honor of Jerry Santas in Pyrgos,
Greece, the Arizona Colloquium on Plato, and Texas Tech University. “Socratic Learning” was presented at the
Monte Cook enjoyed a sabbatical in Fall 2007 and, with funding from OU’s
Research Council, traveled to
Steve Ellis recently
published “Law and Economics After Behavioral Economics” in the
Ray Elugardo’s essay, “Minimal Propositions, Cognitive Safety Mechanisms, and Psychological Reality” recently appeared in Context-Sensitivity and Semantic Minimalism: Essays on Semantics and Pragmatics, edited by G. Preyer and G. Peter, (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 278-302.
Ray also enjoyed a rare opportunity to re-visit the
pleasures of the past. He reports: “Last September I attended a reunion of my
old softball teammates in
Jim Hawthorne reports that he’s lately been working “on three sorts of research projects, all related to logics of one kind or another, including inductive logic and the logic of confirmation of scientific theories, the logic of belief, and logics that relate probability to qualitative rules for uncertain inference.” One of his essays, “The Quantitative/Qualitative Watershed for Rules of Uncertain Inference”, with David Makinson, recently appeared Studia Logica, v. 86, no. 2, 2007, pp. 247-297, and others are on their way into print. Copies of all of Jim’s recent papers are available on his website: http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/H/James.A.Hawthorne-1/. Jim also reports that he’s lately enjoyed teaching all of his favorite courses, courses ranging from Philosophy of Biology to the Seminars in Logic and Philosophy of Science, and says that “Life is Good!!!”
Sherri Irvin has six new pieces in print:
“Forgery and the Corruption of Aesthetic Understanding.” Canadian
Journal of Philosophy 37 (2007), 283-304; “L’œuvre d’art et l’intention de l’artiste.” Dictionnaire
d’esthétique et de philosophie de l’art, ed. Jacques Morizot and
Roger Pouivet (Paris : Colin, 2007), 251-254 ; “Authors, Intentions and Literary Meaning.” Philosophy
Compass 1 (2006), 114-128; Review of Andrew Light and Jonathan M. Smith,
eds., The Aesthetics of Everyday Life. Journal of Aesthetics and Art
Criticism 64 (2006), 489-491; “Rien de personnel.” Garry Neill
Kennedy: Superstar Shadow 1984-2005 (
Neal Judisch recently published “Reasons-Responsive Compatibilism and the Consequences of
Belief” in The Journal of Ethics 11(2007):357-375. Neal also has two additional essays soon to
appear in Philosophical Studies and Religious Studies. He presented a paper called
“Conservation, Determinism and the Problem of Evil” at the Society of Christian Philosophers
Western Regional Meeting. For more about Neal, see “New Faculty” above.
Kenneth Merrill (Emeritus) reports that his book, Historical Dictionary of Hume’s Philosophy is
due to appear in May or June of this year. Ken says that he is still enjoying his retirement,
“especially since I come to the sixth floor of DHT almost every day, by choice, not of necessity.”
Martin Montminy has four new essays in print: “Moral Contextualism and the Norms for Moral Conduct,” American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (2007), 1-13; “Epistemic Contextualism and the Semantics-Pragmatics Distinction,” Synthèse 155 (2007), 99-125; “Semantic Content, Truth-Conditions and Context,” Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (2006), 1-26; and “La critique de l’analyticité,” in Jean-Maurice Monnoyer, ed., Lire Quine. Logique et Ontologie, Paris, Éditions de l’éclat, 2006, 65-87. His “Review of Donald Davidson’s Truth and Predication” recently appeared in Dialogue 45 (2006), 774-777. Martin also gave a number of presentations: “Two Contextualist Fallacies,” Society for Exact Philosophy Conference, University of California in San Diego, San Diego, summer 2006; “Two Kinds of Contextualist Approach,” Department of Philosophy, Kansas State University, Manhattan (KS), spring 2006; and “How to Solve a Philosophical Problem for the Duration of the Conversation,” Department of Philosophy, Wichita State University, Wichita (KS), spring 2006. For more about Martin, see “New Faculty” above.
Amy Olberding published two essays: “Sorrow and the Sage: Grief in the Zhuangzi,” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6:4(2007):339-359 and “The Educative Function of Personal Style in the Analects,” Philosophy East and West 57:3(2007):357-374. She also gave several presentations, including a seminar session in a National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar on “Asian Philosophical Ideas and Artistic Pursuits” at College of DuPage in Chicago; “The Banality of Virtue in the Analects” at the Mike Ryan Lecture Series at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta; and “Making Sorrow a Virtue: Confucius’ Account of the Problem of Death” at the Brueggeman Center at Xavier University. Amy continues to work on the APA’s Committee on the Status of Asian and Asian American Philosophies and Philosophers and will guest edit their newsletter this year. Finally, Amy’s daughter, Adelein (age 5), has posed a question for which Amy seeks an answer. Adelein has posted a sign on her bedroom door that demands, “why why why why why why why why why why.” Anyone with the answer is urged to e-mail.
Wayne Riggs has recently published
“Why Epistemologists Are So Down on Their Luck,” Synthese 158 (3),
November 2007, 329-344. He also has four
additional essays on epistemology forthcoming: three will appear in volumes on epistemology
and one will appear in Acta Analytica.
Chris Swoyer is on leave this year.
continued his involvement with environmental issues, both academically and in
other ways. In the Spring he gave a talk
at a session of the International Society for Environmental Ethics on
Rousseau's attitude toward nature--and how that is a questionable basis for
environmentalism. He has plans to
develop his ideas into a book on the topic, and how environmentalism should
avoid some of the pitfalls that come from adopting Rousseau's outlook on
nature. Also in the Spring Zev was
honored to serve as the host professor when Al Gore came to campus to present
his famous slide show. Outside of OU,
Zev has served for several years on the City of
Linda Zagzebski has earned many
honors in the past two years. In April
2006, she was named a George Lynn Cross Research Professor at OU. That same year, she gave the McCarthy
Lectures at the
In addition to these, she has published several essays and book
chapters. Linda also reports on new
directions in her research. She has
lately become involved with two interdisciplinary research groups working on
the science of virtue. One group, centered at the
CALL FOR UPDATES
Because we lost a year in the production of the Newsletter, we are especially eager to gather the most recent news from alumni/ae and to update contact information. We need to hear from you! Please send anything you would like to share to the Newletter editor, Amy Olberding, at firstname.lastname@example.org. When writing by e-mail, please additionally let me know if you are willing to have your e-mail address appear on our website.