PHILOSOPHY NEWSLETTER

 

A Newsletter Published by the Department of Philosophy
The University of Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma  73019-2006

(405) 325-6324

Number9                                               http://www.ou.edu/ouphil/                    Summer 2003



GREETINGS FROM THE CHAIR

Welcome to the latest installment of the annual newsletter of the Department of Philosophy.  As you know this has been a difficult year economically for higher education.  Nevertheless, the Department continues to flourish.  We continued our active colloquium series (with colloquia or department meetings nearly every Friday – sounds like fun, doesn’t it?). We hosted our seventh David Ross Boyd lecture, with Bas C. van Fraassen from Princeton University as our distinguished lecturer, and the seventh annual undergraduate colloquium, with C.D.C. Reeve of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as our keynote speaker.  We continued our pilot program to improve the philosophical writing skills of our undergraduate majors and we were able to offer the first of what we hope will be many graduate fellowships, which provide one year free of teaching responsibility during the course of one’s fellowship tenure.  The Department awarded more than 14 B.A.’s in philosophy and ethics and religion, four M.A.’s and three Ph.D.’s.  Moreover, the faculty continues to be extremely productive in their research.  Over 20 articles or book chapters appeared in print in 2002, one new book by Adam Morton, and one new collection of essays by Linda Zagzebski came out this year.  On the downside, we lost Chris Stephens to the University of British Columbia last fall.  While we were sorry to see Chris go, we wish him well in his new digs.  On the upside, as a result of Chris’ departure and some faculty leaves, we were able to attract three extremely bright and capable visiting assistant professors: Steve Ellis (Ph.D. Rutgers), Dan Farnham (Ph.D. Arizona), and Sean Allen-Hermanson (PH.D. Toronto).  We are thrilled that they were able to join the department last fall. 

In the spring we will be hosted our eighth annual undergraduate colloquium, with William Wainwright of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee as the keynote speaker.  The undergraduate submissions were excellent  and we enjoyed another invigorating colloquium.  We are extremely grateful for the hard work of the many undergraduate and graduate students – past and present – who have contributed to this flourishing colloquium.  This coming year promises to be exciting as well.  We will be welcoming the arrival of new and exciting graduate and undergraduate students, attending stimulating colloquia, and much, much more.  As you can see this is an exciting time in the life of the program, and we have no intention of sitting still – whatever the economic outlook.

Finally, I would like to thank all our alumni 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

http://www.ou.edu/ouphil

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!

Hugh H. Benson, Chair

GREETINGS FROM THE DEAN

Higher education in the United States has always been built on the foundation of a liberal education.  A liberal education liberates people from ignorance, prejudice and fear and gives them the ability to understand the world and the power to change it for the better.  Liberal education has always been at the center of an OU education as well, exemplified by the establishment in 1892 of the College of Liberal Arts as the very first college at the University of Oklahoma.

Never in the history of our country has liberal education been more important than it is today and more deserving of support from those who care about the future of our country.  Events in the news remind us daily of how important it is to prepare our young people to succeed in a world where the merchants of ignorance, greed, prejudice and fear are making a strong bid for ascendancy.

      As we seek to combat terrorism, we also need to understand its root causes and to find ways to make common cause with people of different nationalities, religions, cultures and races around the globe who cherish freedom and peace as much as we do.  To defeat those who seek to divide us on the basis of our differences, we must work even harder to develop an understanding of the commonality that exists among people from different cultures and religions.  These concerns motivate several initiatives in the college.  The new School of International and Area Studies is bringing together faculty and courses from a wide spectrum of disciplines to provide students with a broad understanding of global politics and culture.  The new European Union Center is bringing speakers to share with our faculty and students a European perspective on the global concerns we share in common. The new Religious Studies Program, started in direct response to the events of September 11, is providing a forum for faculty and students to study the various ways in which religion has guided the development of human history and civilization and to develop an understanding of the world’s religious traditions.

As we seek to rebuild our economy and overcome the shocks caused by the numerous corporate scandals we need to find a better way to provide our professionals with a moral compass and an ethical framework that places primary importance on avoiding doing harm to others.  Although we will never be able to guarantee that our graduates will always do what is right, we can at least expect that they have the ability to understand the ethical issues involved in the choices they make.

Education, when grounded in the liberal arts and sciences, is a powerful weapon against the evils that threaten us today.  When the very things that hold our civilization together are under attack, our counterattack must be launched from a strong position of knowledge and understanding of the people and world around us that is the product of a liberal education.  With your support and help, we in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma will continue to do our part to help liberate all of humankind from the shackles of ignorance and fear and make the world a place where we and future generations can live and prosper in peace and freedom.

Paul B. Bell Jr., Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

RELIGIOUS STUDIES PROGRAM

Beginning fall 2002, OU students have been able to pursue a major or minor in religious studies.  Students are flocking to it, and the program currently has just over 50 majors.  This is a cooperative venture of several departments, offering more than 50 courses across the campus.  Philosophy plays a central role by providing Manyul Im and Linda Zagzebski as core faculty.  Tom Boyd and his wife, Barbara, returned to the university to assist in starting the program.  Professor Boyd teaches two courses per semester, while pretending to be retired.

 

NEW ARRIVALS

We are delighted to welcome some messengers from the land of the forms, who may eventually remember more truths than the rest of us seem to.  Dashiell T'aeryun Im-Haas arrived on December 30, greeted by Manyul Im and Beth Haas.  Jack Montgomery Johnson arrived  January 6, to the delight of Steve Johnson.  Lily Sophia Butler made it to this realm on January 13, to the amazement (“the most amazing thing I've ever seen”) of Jesse and Julie Butler. 

OUR UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

The following students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy or ethics and religion during the 2002  calendar year: Christopher Bahr, Jason Boyle, Brian Carrigan, Stacy Dean, Nicholas Dubriwny, Christopher Farley, Jamie Hardy, Adreanne Hoggard, Anthony McCarty, Aaron Racz, Mary Stanaszek, David Thompson, Andrew Wheatley, and Rodney Yancy.

Our majors are a smart and hard-working bunch.  Forty of the 52 Philosophy and Ethics and Religion majors made the Dean’s or the President’s Honor Roll in the Fall or Spring Semester, 18 of them in both semesters.

Stefanie Collins was president of Amnesty International and organized vigils and protests against the death penalty.  She had a summer internship in Washington with the East Timor Action Network, and also was a reader in “The Vagina Monologues” last February. 

Nathan Foell was an Ewing Fellow in Washington during the summer, working as an intern with Congressman Brad Carson. Nathan wrote a weekly opinion column for the OU Daily last Spring, and in the Fall he won the moot court competition at the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature. 

Brett Gilland studied at Aberdeen in Scotland in 2002-03, and recommends the experience highly.  He plans to return to Scotland to get certified to teach math and religious or ethical studies at the secondary (high) school level.  He also won the Herbert and Lela Mitchell Berlin Scholarship. 

Akinkunle Owoso is a Carl Albert Fellow, and will continue at OU next year in the College of Medicine.

Jason Seay presented a paper, “Propositional Attribution and the Artificial Self: An Alternative View of Personal Identity” at the Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference.  He also gave the same paper at two other conferences.

 

 

 

OUR GRADUATE STUDENTS

Three students graduated with a Ph.D. during 2002: Brint Montgomery, Thomas “T.J.” Singleton, Jr., and Scott Stearman.  Brint is now teaching at Southern Nazarene University, T.J. is teaching at Spring Hill College, and Scott has recently moved from France to be pastor at Kirkwood Baptist Church in St. Louis.  (Before France he was in Greece, and before that he was in China!)  And four students received the M.A.:  Shannon Finnegan, Dara Fogel, Mark Gutel, and David “Kyle” Johnson.  Congratulations to all seven.

Stephen Brown presented “Naturalized Virtue Ethics and the Fact/Value Gap” at the Austin Graduate Conference on Virtue Ethics.  He also presented two other papers on virtue ethics to conferences.

Kendrick Davis gave a May intersession course on “Mind in the Twilight Zone.”

Dara Fogel taught a May intersession course on “The Ethics of Star Trek,” directed “Two Gentlemen of Verona” at the Duck Pond, and completed a draft of a vast historical novel.

Steve Johnson was awarded a patent for software for directing telephone calls via the Internet.

T.J. Singleton presented a paper at the Mid-South Philosophy Conference in Febuary 2003 on "Strength of Belief: a weakness in Plantinga's account of knowledge.”  He taught as an adjunct at the University of Mobile, fall 2002; and then at Spring Hill College, spring 2003, while teaching full-time in the Theology department of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School.

PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT AWARDS

Stefanie Collins was awarded the Elizabeth Wade Scholarship, established by Larry R. and Mary Jane Wade of Elk City in honor of their daughter, Mary Elizabeth Wade, who graduated in 2001 as a philosophy major.  The Wade Scholarship is offered to the department’s outstanding junior.  Stefanie has been on the Dean’s or President’s roll every semester since she was a freshperson..

Nicholas Dubriwny received the J. Clayton Feaver Scholarship for 2002.  The scholarship is funded by Audrey Ellsworth Maehl (M.A., 1955) to honor the memory of J. Clayton Feaver (1911-1995), the first Kingfisher Professor of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at the University of Oklahoma (1951-1981).

Stephen Brown was chosen to receive the Kenneth R. Merrill Graduate Student Teaching Award.  This award is underwritten by Mark Conkling, a philosophy department alumnus who received his Ph.D. degree in 1974.  Steve comes from North Carolina via the University of Texas at Austin and is finishing up a dissertation on metaethical issues in naturalistic virtue ethics.  In his introductory ethics class, students chose the topics to be covered from a list.  This seemed to have the effect of making students more committed to discussion.  He also made lots of bad jokes.

THE FACULTY

Neera Badhwar was a visiting scholar at the Liberty Fund in Indianapolis for all of 2002.  Her duties included being a discussant at a dismayingly large number of conferences organized by the fund.

Hugh Benson was promoted to full professor in 2002.  He continues to serve as chair of the Philosophy Department.  He is also currently working on a book-length manuscript with the ambitious title Platonic Dialectic.

Andrew Cohen spent the spring 2002 semester on leave.  He spent his time in Georgia eating peaches and writing papers on Hobbes, friendship, and the environment.  In fall 2002 he taught a new course in environmental philosophy.

Monte Cook continues to work on 17th century Cartesianism and on his jump shot.  (Do you have to leave the floor for it to be a jump shot?)

Jim Hawthorne was on sabbatical this year and has spent three months of it at the University of Konstanz in Germany working as a visiting scholar with a research group on Philosophy, Probability, and Modeling.  He has been working on Bayesian topics in the philosophy of science and improving the Condorcet jury theorem, which shows that if a large enough group of voters vote independently, the probability that the majority will choose the better of two policies approaches 1.

Kenneth Merrill was on sabbatical leave during the Fall 2002 term, working on a book, A Historical Dictionary of Hume’s Philosophy. 

Adam Morton learned to ride the unicycle during the fall of 2002, and published his first poem.  Can one declaim while balancing?

RETIRED FACULTY

There is sad and joyful news.  The sad news is that Professor William Horosz died on February 16, 2003, at the age of 80.  He had taught in the Department of Philosophy for 27 years prior to his retirement in 1984.  Bill served as chair of the department during his tenure.  He is probably best remembered simply as a teacher who especially appreciated students.  Perhaps his most noted contribution to scholarship was his book, The Promise and Peril of Human Purpose.  Bill continued to live in Norman after a brief residency in Colorado.

The much happier news is that the Boyds are back in town.  Tom Boyd retired from the Kingfisher chair in 1997 and moved to Colorado.  Tom’s introductory philosophy class was one of the most popular courses in the history of the university.  He returned to Norman in the fall of 2002 to teach in the newly established Religious Studies program.

ALUMNI

Ingrid Shafer received a distinguished alumni award at the FOCAS week banquet in February.  Ingrid received three degrees from OU:  an M.A. in German literature in 1967, an M.A. in human relations in 1975, and a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1984.

SPEAKERS AND COLLOQUIA

Bas van Fraassen of Princeton University, one of the world’s foremost philosophers of science, gave the David Ross Boyd Lectures.  The lectures were:

- Monday, September 30: "The Visible and Invisible World"

- Wednesday, October 2: "Weyl's Paradox and Carnap's Lost World"

- Friday, October 4: "Structural Realism and the Phenomena"

The department again attracted a series of visiting speakers to its Friday colloquia.  On Sept. 13: Bruce Glymour of Kansas State University spoke on "Adrift With Drift: The Real Reason the Propensity Interpretation of Fitness Fails."  Bruce is the son of Clark Glymour, who taught in the department some 20 years ago.  On February 22, Michael Silberstein of Elizabeth Town College gave a FOCAS Lecture "Raising Consciousness: The Emerging Soul in Science and Philosophy."  Michael earned a Ph.D. from the department in 1994.  On March 8, Claire Horisk of the University of Missouri at Columbia spoke on "What Should Deflationism Be When it Grows Up?”  (This title may not be self-explanatory.  It means: How much about language and the world should we include in a theory of truth.)  On April 5, C.D.C. Reeve of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill spoke on "The Erotic Socrates."  (Now that is a self-explanatory title.  And he meant it.)  And on April 19, Paul Weirich of the University of Missouri at Columbia spoke on "Economic Rationality."

The Seventh Annual University of Oklahoma Undergraduate Philosophy Conference was held in the department on April 6.  The conference is organized entirely by OU undergraduate and graduate students and attracts participants from far and near.  C.D.C. Reeve of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gave the keynote address, “Leaving Calypso: A Philosopher’s Odyssey.”  Brooke Mullins presented a paper, “The Pervasiveness of Morality,” and graduate students Kendrick Davis, Gregory Elliott, Tony Flood, and Aaron James gave comments. 

PUBLICATIONS

The philosophy department continues to produce major publications on important topics.  The following is only a selection of works published in 2002.

Neera Badhwar: “Love” in the Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics, edited by Hugh Lafollette, Oxford University Press.

Hugh Benson:  “Problems With the Socratic Method” in Re-examining the Socratic Elenchos, edited by G. Scott, Penn State University Press.

Andrew Cohen: “Warmongers, Martyrs, and Madmen versus the Hobbesian Laws of Nature,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy.

Monte Cook: “Getting Clear on the Two-Envelope Paradox,” Southwest Philosophy Review.

Stephen Ellis:  “What Economists (and everyone else) Should Think about Utility Theory,” Southwest Philosophy Review.

Reinaldo Elugardo: “The Predicate View of Proper Names” in Logical Form and Language, edited by G. Preyer and G. Peter, Oxford University Press.

Manyul Im: “Action, Emotion, and Inference in Mencius,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy.

Adam Morton: The Importance of Being Understood: Folk Psychology as Ethics, Routledge.

Wayne Riggs: “Beyond Truth and Falsehood: The Real Value of Knowing that P,” Philosophical Studies.

Edward Sankowski: “Film, Crime, and State Legitimacy: Political Education or Mis-education?” The Journal of Aesthetic Education.

Chris Swoyer: “Relativism,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Zev Trachtenberg (and others):  “Negotiating Science and Values with Stakeholders in the Illinois River Basin,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

Linda Zagzebski:  “Obligation, Good Motives, and the Good”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

 



 

      REPORT OF ALUMNI

We welcome your updates and comments.  Please fill out this page and return it to Editor, OU Philosophy Newsletter, Department of Philosophy, 455 West Lindsey, Room 605, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019-2006; or fax it to
(405) 325-2660.  You can also respond online at the department’s web site http://www.ou.edu/ouphil.  Thank you.

 

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