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The University of Connecticut Philosophy Department Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 3, September 2000.

General Editors: Margaret Gilbert and Anne Hiskes.
Guest editors for this issue: Don Baxter and John Troyer.

Welcome to the tenth issue of Cogitamus! It reports on the period of August 1, - September 30, 2000.

The next issue will come out in December 2000. All news for the period of September 30 to December 31 should be sent to John Troyer at

New Faculty and Graduate Students

We are pleased to welcome Paul Bloomfield to our department as an Assistant Professor after teaching at McGill University (Montreal) and the University of Arizona (Tucson). While his philosophical interests range broadly across analytic philosophy, his research has lately been focused on the intersection of metaphysics and moral philosophy: the question (very roughly) of whether morality is more like etiquette or science? Paul plumps for the latter answer in his book Moral Reality, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Along with introductory level courses, he is teaching a graduate seminar on his book this semester and an upper level course on Ancient Moral Theory in the Spring.

Our new graduate students are Patrick Fleming (B.A. in Philosophy, Indiana U.), Andy Magnusson (B.A. in Philosophy, Clark U.), Brian Rockwood (B.A. in Philosophy and Chemistry, Bucknell College), and Erin Rooney (B.A. in Philosophy, U. of San Francisco).



  • Don Baxter's "A Humean Temporal Logic" has appeared in Akihiro Kanamori, ed., The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, Volume 6, Analytic Philosophy & Logic (Philosophy Documentation Center, 2000), pp. 209-216.
  • JC Beall has recently published: "Fitch's Proof, Verificationism, and the Knower Paradox," Australasian Journal of Philosophy 78:2, June 2000, pp. 241-247. "On Truthmakers for Negative Truths," Australasian Journal of Philosophy 78:2, June 2000, pp. 264-268. "On Mixed Inferences and Pluralism About Truth Predicates," The Philosophical Quarterly 50:200, July 2000, pp. 380-382. Forthcoming in October is "Minimalism, Gaps, and the Holton Conditional." Analysis 60:4, October 2000, pp. 340-351.
  • Paul Bloomfield is turning in the manuscript for his book Moral Reality to Oxford University Press on Sept. 18. (He is working now on the bibliography, the last little thing to do.) The book will take about a year to produce and should be out in Fall of 2001.
  • Diana Tietjens Meyer's "Cultural Diversity: Rights, Goals, and Competing Values," has been reprinted in Rights and Reason: Essays in Honor of Carl Wellman, edited by Marilyn Friedman, Larry May, Kate Parsons, and Jennifer Stiff, Kluwer. Her "Feminism and Women's Autonomy: The Challenge of Female Genital Cutting," will appear in the October issue of Metaphilosophy as part of a special symposium on feminist ethics. Her review of The Power of Feelings by Nancy J. Chodorow will appear in the November issue of the American Journal of Sociology.

Graduate Student Publications

  • Turvey, M.T., Virgil Whitmyer, and Shockley, K. have a paper in press entitled "Explaining metamers: Right degrees of freedom not subjectivism." (Cognition and Consciousness).


  • Susan Anderson presented "Pressures in Contemporary Society Discouraging People from Examining their Values" at the International Conference on Modernity and Moral Identity, held at the University of Helsinki, in Finland, August 17-19.
  • Don Baxter "Hume on Steadfast Objects and Time" at the 27th Hume Conference in Williamsburg, VA, July 25, 2000.
  • Paul Bloomfield participated this summer in the Bled 2000 Philosophy Conference in Bled, Slovenia. The title of his paper was "Intuitions and the Limits of Analysis". It inspired "lively" discussion.
  • Margaret Gilbert was a guest, in mid-June, of the University of Dresden, where she gave two talks and conducted a weekend class on "Social Ontology and the Problem of Political Obligation". She then went to the University of Leipzig, where she gave a talk, debated with Prof. George Meggle on "Convention", and participated in a workshop entitled "On Social Facts: on and with Margaret Gilbert". She finished her European visit as an invited participant at a week-long workshop on Social Ontology in Rotterdam.
  • Steve McGrade has been booked for talks on the 16th-century philosophical theologian and political thinker Richard Hooker at Canterbury, Windsor, Durham, and King's College Chapel Cambridge (this last a sermon), all in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Hooker's death. In July Steve was a commentator at a conference on 'The Future and Past of Natural Rights and the Rule of Law' sponsored by the Institute for United States Studies at the University of London and the Northwestern University School of Law. Steve writes, "Other participants included Kenneth Starr and Edwin Meese, and Antonin Scalia spoke after dinner one night, but my session was resolutely liberal."
  • Diana Meyers left for London Sunday September 17 to deliver "Culture, Autonomy and Female Genital Cutting" to the International Network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, which is meeting at the Imperial College in London. She is then going to Cambridge where she'll present "Gender Identity and Women's Agency -- Culture, Norms, and Internalized Oppression Revisited" at Cambridge University.
  • Ruth Millikan presented "A Different Kind of Natural Information" as the opening talk for the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology (ESPP) meetings, in Salzburg, Austria, Sept. 2, 2000.
  • Sam Wheeler presented "Indeterminacies and Truth-Values" at a conference on Pragmatic Semantics in Prague, June 21-23, 2000.

Awards, Honors, and Grants

  • Tom Bontly was awarded a $2,725 grant from the Research Advisory Council for an on-going project entitled "Adaptationist Approaches to Human Cognition: (How) Can Evolution Inform Theory Choice in Psychology?"
  • Margaret Gilbert received a Chancellor's Excellence Award for the year 2000. She will receive $2500 and be recognized at the Graduate Commencemenet Ceremony in May, 2001.
  • Sam Wheeler has been awarded a Chancellor's Research Fellowship for Spring 2001 in order to finish Metaphysics without Funny Stuff, a Davidsonian alternative to Lewis, Armstrong, et. al.


Wednesdays at noon: our regular Brown Bag Series of informal philosophy talks continues.

Departmental Events:

Virgil Whitmyer will defend his Ph.D. dissertation "Isomorphism in Mind"
On Friday, September 29 at 4 PM in Manchester Hall

Major Advisor: Ruth Millikan

Please see our complete listing of colloquia scheduled for fall at our Colloqium Series page.

Alumni and Former Students

We welcome Andy Aavatsmark (Ph.D., 1999) back. He is teaching Phil 104, filling in for Margaret Gilbert while she is on leave in England.

Kevin Brodie (M.A., 1996) has sent a syllabus the high school philosophy class he has created. He writes: "The class is a full academic year, which for high school means four hours per week, for 36 weeks. Enrollment had to be limited to 25 when 38 signed up last spring. The workload chased a couple away, so I am now down to 23. The class has a variety of skill and ability levels, which is one of the things I like about it. My students are great; I have had several students tell me how much they are enjoying the class, and I've had a few parents call to tell me their kids have never talked so positively about a class before. (Usually phone calls from parents are not good news!) I know I have never had this much fun teaching in my life, and we're only a couple of weeks into the semester. Please feel free to give feedback and ask questions regarding the syllabus. Also, feel free to pass it on to anyone else you feel might be interested. And, I would like to extend an invitation to all of you to come and visit my class and give a guest presentation on any philosophic topic you choose. I would be honored to have you, and would assign appropriate work in anticipation of your visit."

Joel Marks has published the new edition of Moral Moments (U. Press America). It is ready for ordering and course adoption. Find out all about it at his own Web site. Joel notes that he takes the "com" to mean "communication," not "commercial"! (All royalties are ear-marked for student scholarships.)


Gunnar Bjornsson (Ph.D., Stockholm University, 1998) is visiting on a two year post-doc grant. Most of his work has been in meta-ethics. In his dissertation (which is naturalist in spirit) he argued for moral internalism or emotivism, the view that moral opinions are motivational states. In a paper (to appear in Philosophical Studies) building on his dissertation he argues that emotivism can explain why moral opinions seem to be subject to logical relations such as inconsistency and consequence as much as paradigmatically factual beliefs. In another paper, currently under review, he argues that emotivism is in agreement with phenomena such as moral weakness, the depressed person's lack of motivation to do what she thinks is right, and real-life satanic motivation.

Jelle de Boer studied geology, then switched to economics, and ended up doing a mix of economics and philosophy. He is currently writing a Ph.D. dissertation on economic rationality and collective intentions at the University of Amsterdam. The dissertation deals with problems rational choice theory encounters when dealing with several sorts of social action situations. He is exploring a relatively new approach to collective intentions, an approach in which Margaret Gilbert plays a key role. This new approach focusses upon the sort of intentions people have in social situations - the idea is that somehow these intentions are radically different than when acting alone.

Jun Olivier is studying philosophy at Stockholm University and is currently writing her Masters Thesis on logical consequence. She will be visiting most of this year.

Nick Shea is a PhD student at King's College, London, studying mental content with David Papineau. He is visiting UConn for 3 weeks as a research scholar, working and staying with Ruth Millikan. Although he is working on content and concepts while he's here, he's interested in philosophy of mind and naturalism generally. Please come and find him in room 207 if you fancy a chat and a cup of tea.

Summer Fun

For the intramural summer softball league the Philosophy Department fielded a team named "The Alan Parsons Project" (don't ask). Player/Manager Chris Panza's team included Karl and Lori Stocker, Randall Cream (now in English), Tom Bontly, Jim Phelps, Adam Potthast Gunnar Bjornsson, Jay and Amy Mullen, Jun Olivier, Weimin and Hui Sun, and Christie Cathey (Psychology). They finished the regular season 8-5, in 2nd place, but they wound up being knocked out of the playoffs by the Subway All-Stars.

Ruth Millikan writes that in early August she "supervised" while photographs were taken for the Minnesota Historical Museum and the National Park Service of the log-framed cabin her grandfather and father built in the 1920s to 40s on Peterson's (her grandfather's) Island, now within Voyageurs National Park. It seems, however, that they may keep the photographs and burn the cabin!


Virgil Whitmyer and Tracy Williams bought a house in Indiana. For now, he has moved from dissertation writing to fixing toilets and making minor electrical repairs. After Virgil's defense on Sept. 29, he will begin a Post-Doc in Esther Thelen's lab at Indiana University where he will be on an NIH training grant in developmental psychology.

Library News Library News

Our new liaison to the Library, replacing the well-respected Richard Fyffe, is Connie Roberts. She received her B.A. in History from the College of St. Rose in 1972 and her Master's in Library Science from Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, in 1973. She joined the University of Connecticut Library staff in 1986 and currently serves as their Principle Catalog Librarian. Connie also is currently co-chair of the Libraries' Electronic Access Task Force, charged with providing the university community with coherent access to the growing body of scholarly electronic resources and integrating that information with information about the Libraries' print collections. In the not too distant future she will be engaged in preparing a web-based collection development and information service profile for the Philosophy program.

This newsletter is designed by the Philosophy Department's Program Assistant, Shelly Burelle. Please visit our website at: where this Newsletter is located for miscellaneous links, including links to abstracts, and colloquium updates.

Any questions or comments should be directed to Shelly at

Department of Philosophy
U-2054, 344 Mansfield Rd.
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-2054
Telephone: 860-486-4416
Fax: 860-486-0387