C O G I T A M U S
edited by: Thomas Bontly
Designer: Shelly Burelle
Welcome to this, the twentieth issue of Cogitamus! This issue covers news for the period of January 1 - April 30, 2004. The next issue of Cogitamus will appear in the fall of 2004.
Highlights: New hires, including a focus on Michael Lynch. Also, read about all of our promotions, re-appointments, and job placements!
The Department is exceedingly happy to welcome two new faculty members: Dan Ryder and Michael Lynch. They each were hired in January 2004 after a grueling two-month search, during which time the department interviewed a great many terrific candidates. But two individuals rose to the top, and they will officially join the faculty in August of 2004.
Michael Lynch comes to us from Connecticut College, where he is currently associate professor and chair of the philosophy department. He received his Ph.D. from Syracuse and taught also at the University of Mississippi. Lynch's interests run the length of analytic philosophy but focus in the main on metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. His second monograph, True to Life, will be released by MIT Press in the autumn of 2004.
Dan Ryder received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina and is presently completing a postdoctoral fellowship in philosophy and cognitive science at Indiana University. He specializes in the philosophy of mind and metaphysics but has also done considerable work in theoretical neuroscience, developing a model of the cerebral cortex with Oleg Favorov. He is currently editing a volume on intentionality (with Jesse Prinz) for MIT Press.
A detailed profile of Lynch follows later in this issue. Ryder will be subjected to similar scrutiny in a subsequent issue of Cogitamus.
Promotions and Reappointments:
JC Beall and Tom Bontly were both granted tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor, assuring that each will remain at UConn for the foreseeable future. JC and Tom wish to thank the entire department but especially the department head and all the members of the PTR committee for their support throughout the lengthy and sometimes arduous tenure review process.
Crawford (a.k.a. Tim) Elder has offered to shoulder once again the administrative burdens of the Philosophy Department and was subsequently appointed by the Dean to another five-year term as department head. His continued stewardship is most appreciated.
In addition to defending his Ph.D. dissertation (details
below), Dan Blair has accepted a
postdoctoral position in the philosophy of language at the University of Western
Ontario in London, Ontario. Congratulations
Congratulations also to Tim Nulty, who landed a tenure-track position at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. UMass Dartmouth is located in southeastern Massachusetts, between Boston and Cape Cod. Tim will be defending his dissertation in the very near future (details below).
Comings and Goings:
The Philosophy Department was honored this year by the
presence of Graham and Cynthia
MacDonald, both of the University of Canterbury.
Individually and collaboratively, the MacDonalds have published numerous
and important books and papers in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and
philosophy of social science. For
the 2003-04 academic year, Cynthia held a Fellow at the University of
Connecticut Humanities Institute; Graham was on sabbatical as a Research
Scholar. The two have contributed greatly to the intellectual life of
the Department and shall be missed upon their return home to New Zealand this
This spring semester also marked the return of Gunnar Bjornsson to the UConn Philosophy Department. Gunnar last visited UConn in 2000-2001 when he was on a postdoctoral grant. He is currently a research fellow at Stockholm University in Sweden, and has returned to Storrs in order to polish his manuscript on a naturalistic analysis of modal and moral judgments and modal and moral reality. He is also trying out a few ideas in metaphysics, including an argument for negative facts. He reports that it has been a rewarding and productive visit, although he is disappointed that he will not be here to play once again for our summer intramural softball team.
And speaking of Sweden, Margaret Gilbert has spent spring semester 2004 in Uppsala, as a fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences. Margaret says that spring in Uppsala is lovely and, after the long Scandinavian winter, most welcome. She also reports that she managed to come through the winter without breaking anything--quite an achievement given the very icy sidewalks she has been walking to work for several months. Apart from those sidewalks, however, she has been enjoying her time at SCASSS and working harder than ever, delivering a great many lectures throughout Sweden (details below).
Also away is John Troyer, who is in England this spring while on sabbatic leave. He reports that he has been taken in by his old Oxford college and is using the time to work on a book about rational choice, tentatively entitled "Reason and the Good Life". (His current view is that the two have virtually nothing to do with one another). John adds that England in the spring is amazingly pleasant, and that he and Barbara are greatly enjoying their cottage in the Cotwolds.
The weekend of May 21-22, Sam Wheeler will host a traveling semantics workshop here at
University of Connecticut. Sessions
will include papers by Jim Higginbotham (commentator Ted Sider), Jason Stanley
(commentator Chris Kennedy), Kent Bach (commentator Robin Jeshion), Peter Ludlow
(commentator Dan Blair), and Herman Capellan (commentator Sarah Jane Leslie).
Please contact Sam at email@example.com
for more information.
And a bit further afield: Michael Lynch is busy co-organizing (with Patrick Greenough) a conference on Truth and Realism, to be held at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland; the conference takes place the third week of June and includes talks by Robert Brandom, Michael Devitt, Terry Horgan, Paul Horwich, John McDowell, Ernie Sosa, Michael Williams, and Crispin Wright. Commentators include our own JC Beall, as well as Lynch himself and many others. Further particulars can be found on the conference website: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~pmg2/index2.html.
Honors and Awards:
Bloomfield's book Moral Reality
was the subject of an "Author-Meets-Critics" session at the Pacific
Division meetings of the American Philosophical Association, held in
Pasadena in March of 2004. As
for critics, Paul had to contend with John Doris (UC Santa Cruz), Don Loeb
(University of Vermont), and Russ Schafer-Landau (University of Wisconsin).
All reports are that the session was extremely productive, collegial,
and well attended.
Diana Tietjens Meyers, in collaboration with Richard Wilson (Anthropology and Human Rights Institute) and Angel Oquendo (Law), won funding from the University of Connecticut Foundation to bring Celina Romany to campus as a visiting professor for one month in Fall 2004. Romany is a practicing labor attorney in Puerto Rico, visiting law professor at American University in Washington DC, and Ford Foundation funded researcher on women's rights in Latin America. She will have an office in the Philosophy Department and deliver a public lecture.
published "Teaching Today's Students How to Examine Ethical Issues and
Be More Actively Involved in the Learning Process" in the Journal
of Academic Ethics (2003). She also published a short story in Myriads,
UConn-Stamford's literary journal: "The One-Eyed Professor, the
Stubborn French Chef, the Angry Asian, and the Bemused Mayor" (2004).
She has recently completed a book entitled Equal
Opportunity Individualism: An Interpretation of the American Dream, as
well as the "Foreward" for the second edition of Hugh Mercer Curtler's
Ethical Argument: Critical Thinking in
Ethics, forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2004.
Don Baxter has recently completed "Hume's Theory of Space and Time in its Skeptical Context" for the second edition of The Cambridge Companion to Hume, edited by David Fate Norton. He is also nearing the completion of "Identity, Continued Existence, and the External World" for The Blackwell Guide to Hume, edited by Saul Traiger.
JC Beall's Liars and Heaps: New Essays on Paradox was published by Oxford University Press in March 2004. Another book, Deflationary Truth (edited with Brad Armour-Garb), was published by Open Court Press (OCP) in February.
Paul Bloomfield's paper "Is There Moral Higher Ground?" appeared in the Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. XLI, 2003. And Paul's book Moral Reality, originally published by Oxford University Press in 2001, came out in paperback early in 2004.
Thomas Bontly's paper "Conversational Implicature and the Referential Use of Descriptions" is soon to appear in Philosophical Studies (if it hasn't already). He also has several papers forthcoming: "Modified Occam's Razor" (in Mind and Language), "Proportionality, Causation, and Exclusion" (in Philosophia), and "Exclusion, Overdetermination, and the Nature of Causation" (in the Journal of Philosophical Research).
Tim Elder's book Real Natures and Familiar Objects (MIT Press) appeared on April 1st, 2004. The word on the street is that the book will be the subject of an "Author Meets Critics" session at the Pacific APA in March of 2005. Tim has also completed a review of John Heil's book From an Ontological Point of View for Mind (Oxford, 2003), and he is now working on a review of Tim Lewen's Organisms and Artifacts (MIT, 2004) for the American Journal of Psychology.
Margaret Gilbert's article "Scanlon on Promissory Obligation: The Problem of Promisees' Rights" is now out in the Journal of Philosophy, 2004.
Bob Luyster published a review article on "Clifton Fadiman's translation of Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy", in Essays in Philosophy, V, 1 (January 2004).
Michael Lynch has just finished checking the proofs for his new book True to Life, forthcoming this fall from MIT Press. He also has several papers soon to appear: "Minimalism and the Value of Truth" (in the Philosophical Quarterly), "Truth and Multiple Realizability" (in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy), and "Zombies and the Case of the Phenomenal Pickpocket" (in Synthese). He is now in the midst of writing an entry on "Truth" for the Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics.
Diana Tietjens Meyers' new book Being Yourself: Essays on Identity, Action, and Social Life was published by Rowan and Littlefield in March of 2004. The volume includes both new and previously published essays, with an introduction by the author. In addition, she has had two new papers appear so far this year: "Narrative and Moral Life" in Setting the Moral Compass: Essays by Women Philosophers, edited by Cheshire Calhoun (Oxford University Press, 2004), and "The Three Freds and the Fate of Their Happiness" in Journal of Social Philosophy, Spring 2004.
Ruth Garrett Millikan has several new articles out or forthcoming: "Biosemantics" in The Oxford Handbook in the Philosophy of Mind, Brian McLaughlin, editor; "The Son and the Daughter: On Sellars, Brandom and Millikan" in Pragmatics and Cognition; "On Thoughts of Real Kinds" in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Psychology, Jesse Prinz, editor; and "On Meaning, Meaning, Meaning and Meaning" in Prospects for Meaning, Richard Schantz, editor (de Gruyter).
Dan Ryder's paper "SINBAD Neurosemantics: A Theory of Mental Representation" appeared in Mind & Language (April 2004). He also published (with Oleg Favorov) a paper entitled "SINBAD: A Neocortical Mechanism for Discovering Environmental Variables and Regularities Hidden in Sensory Input" in Biological Cybernetics, 90.
was a panelist for an APA session on "The
for the Op-Ed Page", held at the Pacific Division meetings in Pasadena.
Her participation followed her receipt of the Centennial Prize for
the best Op-Ed piece written by a philosopher, as previously reported in
Don Baxter presented "St. Thomas Aquinas on Just War" as part of the seventh annual Medieval Studies Secondary Schools Outreach Seminar, on April 2, 2004. The Seminar is organized by the Medieval Studies Program at UConn, in conjunction with the College of Continuing Studies.
Tom Bontly presented a paper entitled "Implicature, Acquisition, and the Referential/Attributive Distinction" at the Eastern Division meetings of the American Philosophical Association in December. He also gave a talk on "Physicalist Theories of Causation" at a Connecticut College Philosophy Department colloquium.
Margaret Gilbert has given a lecture on "Shared Values, Social Unity, and Liberty" at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences (SCASSS) (February 17), at Stockholm University (March 17), at Lund University (the Philosophical Society) (April 13), and at Copenhagen University (upcoming, April 30). She also delivered "Wicked Promises: Do They Obligate the Promisor?" to the Higher Seminar at Lund University (April 14), and "Towards a Theory of Commitments of the Will: On the Nature and Normativity of Intentions and Decisions" at a workshop on value theory held at SCASSS April 23-24. Finally, Margaret is an invited speaker at a conference in St. Gallen, Switzerland, May 13-15, where she will give a talk on "Collective Intentionality, Commitment, and Collective Action Problems".
Joel Kupperman will be the keynote speaker at a forum entitled "Interdisciplinary Inquiry of Philosophy and Social Sciences", a celebration in honor of the 90th anniversary of the Peking University philosophy department. Joel's address, to be delivered on May 8th, is called "Philosophical and Social Science Investigations of Value".
Bob Luyster gave a talk aptly titled "Narcissus in Sandals: American Culture, Cinema and the Roman Empire," at Topics in Ancient Art, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota, in November of 2003.
Diana Meyers delivered "Who Acts? Reflections on Identity, Selfhood, and Autonomous Agents" at a Penn State University Philosophy Department colloquium in February 2004 and also at a plenary session of the Conference on Feminist Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, held in London, Ontario in June 2004. This summer, she will be speaking at the IAPH (International Association for Women in Philosophy) conference in Goteborg, Sweden in June, giving a talk entitled "The Personal, the Political, and Psychocorporeal Agency".
Ruth Millikan presented a paper called "Why (Most) Concepts Aren't Categories" at Columbia University in October and at Brown University in November of last year. She also gave a talk called "IntenSionality"(with an 's')" at a conference at East Carolina State University, in North Carolina, in April of this year.
Sam Wheeler gave a colloquium talk at Wesleyan University on "Indeterminacy and Metaphor," followed the next day by a seminar on the work of Richard Rorty and Donald Davidson. He was also an invited participant at the Davidson memorial session at the Central Division meetings of the APA in Chicago, his contribution to which was "Davidson on Ethics". This summer, Sam will be presenting a paper on "Davidsonian Rationality and Ethical Disagreement between Cultures" at the conference on Davidson and Chinese Philosophy in Beijing, June 8-9. And June 11, he will present a paper on "Analytic and Continental Philosophy" at the Institute of Philosophy, also in Beijing.
taught a new, 1-credit
interdisciplinary course this semester, "Issues in the News," as a
pilot for a new honors course that will be offered at the Stamford Campus
each spring. She also gave
presentations at campus-wide discussions of two issues in the news this
semester: the Super Bowl half-time show (February, 2004) and gay marriage
(March, 2004). She spoke at the
Reception for Admitted Students, UConn-Stamford, April, 2004.
Anne Hiskes is continuing in her position as Chair of the General Education Oversight Committee. GEOC is charged with implementing the new general education requirements and curriculum, approved by the Senate last year. So far this year, the committee under Anne's guidance has reviewed some 604 proposals for general education courses; the first slate of new courses was approved by the University Senate on April 12th. Anne was also the motive force behind the new Provost's General Education Course Development Grant Competition, which recently extended 15 grants ($8000 each) for the development of new and interdisciplinary courses to fill out the general education curriculum. In addition to her GEOC duties on campus, Anne served on the Department of Education's statewide General Education Taskforce, visiting every campus in the Connecticut university system this spring to talk about issues pertaining to general education at state universities.
Graduate Program News
On Friday March 12, Dan Blair successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation, Parataxis and Logical Form. The thesis "elaborates on and defends Donald Davidsons 1968 theory of indirect discourse sentences and its extension to other non-extensional contexts, most importantly propositional attitude sentences." In the process, Dan shows how the paratactic approach sheds new light on a number of central issues in the philosophy of language, including: the influence of pragmatics on propositional attitude ascriptions, the relation between semantic content and the notion of 'what is said' by an utterance, the nature of logical form and grammatical structure as well as usefulness of using truth definitions within semantics. Dan also argues that the paratactic theory, duly pruned and adjusted, comports well with recent developments in syntactic theory.
Tim Nulty will defend his Ph.D. thesis, Davidson and Heidegger on the Nature of Truth, some time in late May. Tim proposes that Davidson and Heidegger agree on some fundamental issues about truth, the intersubjective nature of reality, and the conditions needed for language and thought. But Heidegger offers important corrective and supplemental arguments about truth that the Davidsonian account is by nature constrained to ignore. In the end, Tim argues, we get a better overall theory of truth--one that retains objectivity and non-epistemicism while avoiding the perils of correspondence theories--when the two philosophical perspectives are combined.
Tim Nulty published "A Fourth Option: A Response to Sosa" in the journal Metaphysica. He is presently revising a paper on mathematical realism for Erkenntnis.
Pat Fleming presented his paper "Indeterminacy of Desire and Practical Reason" at the conference on Values, Rational Choice, and the Will, held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in April.
Tim Nulty gave a talk in March at the UConn Humanities Institute entitled "Truth as Primitive/Truth as Existential". He also spoke at the Hawaii International Conference in the Arts and Humanties, the paper for which will be published in the conference proceedings.
Adam Potthast gave a talk at the Intermountain West Student Philosophy Conference, entitled "Persons as Reasons: Does Parfit's Reductionist Theory Really Support Consequentialism?". This summer, Adam and Chris Panza (UConn Ph.D. 2002) will be speaking on the use of electronic messageboards in philosophy courses, at the upcoming American Association of Philosophy Teachers Conference.
Adam Potthast has spent the 2003-04 academic year serving as the UConn Honors Program's "Graduate-In-Residence", a position that required him to take up residence in the honors dormitory on campus and to coordinate various events for the undergraduate residents. Still, he found time to make considerable progress on his dissertation and, what is nearly as important, to organize the department's summer softball team once again.
On a Personal Note:
Yes, Virginia, there is life beyond the ivy-covered walls of Manchester Hall!
Paul Bloomfield married Ms. Sonia Michel on May 1, 2004, in a small and stunningly beautiful ceremony at Still Waters in Mansfield, CT. Congratulations to the happy couple!
Tom Bontly and Allison Ponce have finally decided to make it official. Tom and Allison got engaged on March 9th, standing on top of a mountain in northwestern Maine, with their skis on. After she accepted his proposal, Allison made Tom take off his skis so that he could get down on one knee and do it properly. They are currently scouting locations for a wedding, which (at the rate theyre going) should be held some time in 2010.
Tim and Carol Elder's son Jared has decided to attend the Hartt School of Music at University of Hartford, beginning in fall semester 2004. Jared was also accepted by the prestigious Eastman School of Music (at University of Rochester) but chose Hartt due to its world-class program in classical guitar. Jared will graduate from EO Smith High School in June.
Sarah Lisitano has been admitted to the University of Connecticut School of Law for the Fall 2004 semester; she was also awarded a grant to pay a portion of the (not inconsiderably) tuition. After finishing her MA in the Philosophy Department this spring, Sarah plans to concentrate in the area of Native American Law. During her two years with us, Sarah was recognized as one of the Philosophy Department's most promising teachers. Her expertise in the classroom will be sorely missed, as will her smile.
In this issue, we provide a glimpse into the career Michael P. Lynch, who officially joins the UConn faculty in August 2004. Michael comes to us from Connecticut College, where he is associate professor of philosophy and (since 2003) chair of their department. Prior to his appointment at Conn College, Michael was an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi ("Ole Miss") from 1995 until 2000. He earned his Ph.D. in 1995 from Syracuse University, where he wrote his thesis under the supervision of Bill Alston.
Lynch's interests run the gamut of analytic philosophy, from metaphysics and epistemology to the philosophy of mind to history, but the bulk of his work focuses on the nature and value of truth. His first book, Truth in Context, argues that metaphysical pluralism is fully consistent with a robust realism about the truth such as a correspondence theory would provide. The book was published by MIT Press in 1998 and came out in paperback in 2001; it was chosen for the Choice Outstanding Book Prize in 1999. His second monograph, True to Life, was written in part while Michael held a Bogliasco Fellowship for research at the Liguria Study Center in Bogliasco, Italy. The book argues that truth matters, both personally and politically, and aims to achieve that most elusive goals for academic philosophers: the feat of doing serious philosophy in public, pitching its arguments not just to other philosophers but to the broader academic community and beyond. True to Life will be published by MIT Press in November of this year. Michael has also edited two books: an anthology entitled The Nature of Truth: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives (which has already gone through two printings with MIT Press), and (with Heather Battaly) Perspectives on the Philosophy of William P. Alston (forthcoming from Rowman and Littlefield). He has published numerous articles in respected journals such as Philosophical Studies and The Philosophical Quarterly, and he has lectured widely in the US and abroad, including Mexico, Slovenia, Ireland, Poland, Germany, and Great Britain.
Lynch is also a solid citizen in the philosophical community. In 2002, he served as Program Chair for the meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, held in Edmonton, Alberta. He was also on the Program Committee for the Central Division meetings of the American Philosophical Association held in Chicago that same year. And as mentioned above, he is the co-organizer of the upcoming Realism and Truth conference to be held this summer at the University of St. Andrews. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and has published on teaching as well.
Michael Lynch has achieved considerable academic success for a philosopher still so young, but then creativity and academic achievement seem to run in his family. Two of his three sisters, Bridget and Rene Lynch, are successful painters (in Boston and New York City, respectively). Each has earned numerous grants and prizes, and their work has been exhibited throughout the US and Europe. Bridget also teaches at Simmons College in Boston; Rene (with her husband, painter Julian Jackson) owns the Metaphor Contemporary Art Gallery in Brooklyn. Michael's sister Patty is an award-winning playwright and recipient (with her husband Kent Stevens) of the Kennedy Center Award for Best New Play. Pattys shows have been produced throughout the country, several have toured, and she has recently agreed to become the new Executive Director of The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH, the oldest continually-operating theater in the country. Michael also has a brother, Tom Lynch, who teaches psychology at Duke University and holds a joint appointment at the Duke Medical Center. Tom currently serves as the director of Duke's Cognitive Behavioral Research and Treatment Program, and his research on mood disorders and suicide has received a great deal of attention recently both from peers and the national press.
Michael was born in Decatur, IL, but grew up in a variety of states, including Louisiana, Maryland and finally South Jersey, where his father, an emergency physician, retired and Michael attended high school. After graduation, young Mike took off hitch-hiking across the US, ultimately spending about two years rambling around and working construction in Minneapolis and Arizona to make ends meet. Since there is nothing like hard physical labor to impress upon one the importance of education, Michael enrolled at SUNY Albany where, he says, he spent most of his time singing for a working rock-'n'-roll band acting and serving as a dramaturge for The New Works Theater Company of Albany, NY. His decision to pursue philosophy came about while reading Hume and Wycliff during a junior-year abroad in Scotland.
Michael and his wife, Terry Berthelot, met when they were both graduate students at Syracuse University. She received her MSW in 1993, after which she designed, implemented, and subsequently directed an accredited hospice program in rural Mississippi. That experience sparked her interested in law, and she decided to attend Ole Miss Law School, where she did mitigation work on death penalty cases and won the coveted Christopher P. Charlton Memorial scholarship. JD in hand, Terry brought her hospice experience to the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Willimantic, a national organization dedicated to the advancement of health care rights. Together, Michael and Terry enjoy the beach, sailing, traveling, martinis, live music, playing with their cats Sophia and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and working on their house in South Windham, which recently celebrated its hundredth birthday.
This newsletter was designed by the Philosophy Department's
Program Assistant Shelly Burelle.
Please visit our website at:
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