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The University of Connecticut Philosophy Department Newsletter Vol. V, No. 2 April 2002

General Editors: Margaret Gilbert and Anne Hiskes
Special Guest Editor: Paul Bloomfield

Welcome to the fifteenth issue of Cogitamus! This issue covers news for the period of February 1, 2002 through April 30, 2002. This issue edited by Anne Hiskes.

Highlights: A welcome to Nick Zangwill as a Visiting Professor for Spring 2002, and a profile of Margaret Gilbert, both by Paul Bloomfield.

Special Events




Paul Bloomfield has been asked to join the editorial board of a new journal in metaethics, aptly called Metaethica which will be part of The German Library of Sciences.




Work in Progress



Congratulations to Chris Panza on his new tenure-track job at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Chris starts his job in the Fall of 2002.




Chris Panza submitted an article to Philosophy and Phenomenological Research entitled "Partial Consideration, Mental Separation, and General Reference".

Alumni News

Fun and Life Outside of the Classroom

Welcome to Nick Zangwill

By Paul Bloomfield

The department is very pleased to have Nick Zangwill visiting this semester. Nick is teaching a graduate seminar "Theory of Value" that focuses on issues in aesthetics and metaethics. These topics do not, however, come close to exhausting Nick's philosophical interests; he seems to have views on most issues, and if he doesn't, he can make something quite interesting on the spot (typically, with a realist's bent). After receiving his Doctorate from London University (Ian McFetridge was his advisor), Nick worked in Oxford. For the past 8 years he has been at the University of Glasgow. Nick has traveled widely in the world of philosophy and has taken sabbaticals at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, NYU, Berkeley, and ANU. He has recently published Metaphysics of Beauty with Cornell Press (2001). We look for reading Nick's forthcoming book (probably 2003) on art from Oxford University Press, but for now we just enjoy having him around. For more, check out Nick's homepage at "" .

Focus on Margaret Gilbert

By Paul Bloomfield

If we at UConn can pride our department on being intellectually serious as well friendly place for philosophy, our pride is greatly justified by the presence of Margaret Gilbert, Professor of Philosophy. Margaret came to the United States from England where she earned a bachelor's degree in classics and philosophy --- with a "double first" -- at Cambridge University, and a B. Phil. and D. Phil. in philosophy from Oxford. She values greatly two years spent as a researcher at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and has received many other awards and honors. Margaret has been a visiting teacher and researcher at numerous institutions, including Wolfson's College (Oxford University) King's College London, Princeton, NYU, CUNY, UCLA, Indiana University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Margaret joined the UConn department in 1983 and has been at the forefront, indeed has helped to found, several new areas of philosophical discussion and research, including philosophy of social science, the theory of sociality, and central aspects of social epistemology. Her latest book is a collection of papers, tentatively titled Les Sujets Pluriels, to be published in French by the prestigious Presses Universitaires de France. Her other books include On Social Facts (reprinted by Princeton University Press which has been labeled a "seminal" and "goundbreaking" work, and two thematic collections of her essays Living Together: Rationality, Sociality, and Obligation (Rowman and Littlefield, 1996), and Sociality and Responsibility: New Essays in Subject Theory (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000). Margaret's work has been the focus of discussion by others in many philosophical journals, book chapters, and conferences particularly since her research has interdisciplinary ramifications for economic psychology, and political theory. Some of Margaret's articles have been reprinted in books, and some have been translated into Chinese, Italian, and French. Needless to say, a full report of all her published articles, book chapters, book reviews, critical studies and abstracts (not to mention public lectures) would take up pages and pages!

In 1989, when On Social Facts was first published, it presented the first discussion of what Gilbert calls "plural subject theory", or the theory that an important range of phenomena are plural subject phenomena. By this she means that there are social phenomena in which the participants are "jointly committed together to constitute a body with specified features". Among the phenomena in question are group languages, social conventions, social rules, and joint intentions and actions. She has been progressively refining these ideas over the years, and by now Margaret's theory social phenomena is a respected explanatory model in the social sciences. (The irony of a naturally gregarious philosopher spending so much time in seclusion writing about social relations is not lost on Margaret. For a change of pace, she regularly goes dancing.)

Margaret's most recent work focuses on aspects of her theory most germane to ethics and political philosophy, including such topics as collective responsibility, collective belief and emotion. She is currently finishing a book tentatively called Social Ontology and Political Obligation which presents and argues in favor of a novel account of citizens' obligations to obey the law that goes beyond, but has affinities with, the classic theory linking obligations to an actual agreement. Her next book, with working title Rights Reconsidered, will will address the nature of rights, particularly moral rights, a theme inspired by readings undertaken in the course of UConn's Human Rights Semester in the Fall of 2001.

You can learn much more about Margaret's research on her webpage at:

This newsletter was 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