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The University of Connecticut Philosophy Department Newsletter Vol. VIII, No. 1 April 2005

           This issue edited by:  Thomas Bontly & Margaret Gilbert
            Designer:  Shelly Burelle 

Welcome to this, the 22nd issue of Cogitamus!  The issue covers news for the period of November 1, 2004 - April 30, 2005.  

Highlights:  New hires, job placement, and a terrific line-up of colloquium speakers.   

Department News:

New Additions to the Faculty:  

The Philosophy Department is pleased to announce the addition of two new members to the faculty.  Lionel Shapiro and Serena Parekh will both officially join the department in August 2005.

Job Placement:  

Adam Potthast has accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Missouri - Rolla (  Officially, his title will be Assistant Professor of Professional Ethics, although he anticipates teaching courses in the history of philosophy and metaphysics as well.

(Editor's note:  Potthast's hiring means that the Philosophy Department has placed 100% of its newly minted PhDs for 2005!)

Comings and Goings:


This semester, we have had a tremendous slate of speakers for our colloquium series, including four fantastic talks in one month (April).

In February, the Philosophy Department was pleased to host Patrick Greenough of the University of St. Andrews .  Patrick gave a colloquium talk entitled "Phenomenal Continua".  He also held a workshop on knowledge and vagueness and gave a talk on "Truth-Maker Gaps" in Michael Lynch's truth seminar. 

Simon Blackburn of Cambridge University delivered our annual Ruth Evelyn Parcells Memorial Lecture on April 1st, 2005.  His talk was entitled "The Foundations of Value: Liberalism, Religion, and the Do-It-Yourself Option".

Joseph Raz (Oxford/Columbia) gave a lecture entitled "Human Rights without Foundations?" on April 14th, followed by a workshop on human rights theory the next day.  His visit was sponsored jointly by the Philosophy Department and the Human Rights Initiative at the University of Connecticut .

Also in April, Christopher Hill of Brown University came for a visit and gave a colloquium talk entitled "OW! The Paradox of Pain".

The semester ends with at talk by Crispin Wright of St. Andrews on April 29.  Wright's talk, entitled "Vagueness and Rule-following", is sponsored by the Philosophy Department Graduate Students (Phil DoGS) and the Graduate Student Senate.



Honors and Awards:    

  • Susan Leigh Anderson, along with her husband Michael Anderson ( University of Hartford ) and Chris Armen ( Trinity College ) was awarded a $99,861 SGER grant from the National Science Foundation to work on "Machine Ethics" during the 2005 calendar year.  The goal is to make ethics computable by harnessing machine intelligence to develop intuitively correct, consistent and practical decision procedures, generalizing from intuitions about clear cases, for theories that involve multiple prima facie duties.  They hope that making headway in this project will make it possible to use machines as ethical advisors, advance the study of moral theory, and add an ethical dimension to the study of (increasingly autonomous) computational devices.

  • In April, Don Baxter received an "Outstanding Educator/Advisor of the Year Award Nomination" from the UConn Undergraduate Student Government.

  • Philosophical Psychology devoted a recent issue to Austen Clark's third book, A Theory of Sentience.  The December 2004 issue (vol. 17, no. 4) was guest-edited by Jonathan Cohen and included commentaries by Cohen, Joe Levine, Mohan Matthen, and Georges Rey.  Austen's paper "Feature-placing and proto-objects" appeared as the lead-off article, which also included his "Sensing, objects, and awareness: Reply to Commentators".

  • Crawford (Tim) Elder's book Real Natures and Familiar Objects was featured in an author-meets-critics session at the Pacific Division meetings of the American Philosophical Association in San Francisco.  Tim faced up against critics William Carter and Amie Thomasson.

  • Likewise, Michael Lynch's book True to Life was the subject of an author-meets-critics session at the Pacific APA, where Michael had to defend himself against critics Gila Sher, Marian David, and Matthew McGrath.  (The proceedings will be published in Philosophical Books.) 

  • Sam Wheeler has been offered, and has accepted, a second 3-year term as editor of Public Affairs Quarterly, through January 2008.


  • Don Baxter's paper "Altruism, Grief, and Identity" was published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (vol. 70, March 2005).

  • Thomas Bontly's article "Exclusion, Overdetermination, and the Nature of Causation" appears in the new issue of Journal of Philosophical Research (vol. 30, 2005).

  • Austen Clark published "Feature placing and proto-objects" and "Sensing, objects, and awareness: Reply to Commentators", both in Philosophical Psychology (vol. 17, 2004).

  • Crawford Elder 's "Undercutting the Idea of Carving Reality" came out in Southern Journal of Philosophy (vol. 43, 2005).

  • Diana Tietjens Meyers published "Decentralizing Autonomy -- Five Faces of Selfhood" in Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism, edited by Joel Anderson and John Christman ( Cambridge University Press, 2005).

  • Michael Lynch and Heather Battaly (Cal State  Fullerton) co-edited a volume entitled Perspectives on the Philosophy of William Alston, which Rowman & Littlefield published in April 2005.  In addition, Lynch's article "Liberalism and Objectivity" appeared in the Chronicle Review on April 14th, and a Spanish translation of his book True to Life is on its way from Ediciones Iberica of Barcelona .

  • Ruth Millikan has several new papers in print, including "Some Reflections on the Theory Theory - Simulation Theory" appears in Susan Hurley and Nick Chater (eds.), Perspectives on Imitation:  From Mirror Neurons to Memes (MIT Press); "The Son and the Daughter: On Sellars, Brandom and Millikan" can be found in Pragmatics and Cognition 13:1; and "On reading Signs: Some Differences between Us and The Others" is printed in Kim Oller, Kim Plunkett and Ulrike Griebel (eds.), The Evolution of Communication Systems: A Comparative Approach (MIT Press).  Also out is Ruth's "Vom Ausgeblichen siegeszug der Gene und der Meme" ["On the Rumored Takeover by the Genes and The Memes"] in Gene, Meme, und Gehirne:  Geist und Gesellschaft als Natur Eine Debatte, edited by A. Becker, C, Mehr, H. Nau, G. Reuter, and D. Stegmuller (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2003).  The paper, which has never been published in English, was translated by Hajo Greif.

  • Sam Wheeler's paper Wittgenstein mit Davidson uber Metaphern appeared in Wittgenstein und die Metapher, edited by Arnswald, Kertscher, and Kross (Parerga Verlag, Berlin, pp. 195-219).


  • Susan Leigh Anderson served as invited panelist for the "Workshop for Philosopher-Citizens: How to Write for the Op-Ed Pages" at the Pacific APA in San Francisco in March.  These workshops have been an incredible success.  This was the second time Susan had participated, and she has been invited to do so again at next year's Pacific APA in Portland

  • Paul Bloomfield delivered comments on a symposium paper, "A Darwinian Dilemma for7 Realist Theories of Value" by Sharon Street (NYU), at the Pacific Division meetings of the APA in San Francisco in March.

  • Thomas Bontly commented on a paper entitled "Can an Appeal to Constitution Solve the Exclusion Problem?" by Alyssa Ney (Brown/Rochester), also at the Pacific APA.

  • Austen Clark spoke on "Cross modal links and selective attention" at the "Distinguishing the Senses" conference in Glasgow , December 2004, with participants from the US (John Heil and AC), England (Michael Martin, Charles Spence) and Scotland (Fiona MacPherson et al).  Austen was also invited to speak at the Zenon Pylyshyn Conference at the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada .  His paper is called "Location, location, location".  (Other invitees include Melvyn Goodale, Susan Carey, Brian Scholl, Stevan Harnad, John Bickle, Brian Cantwell-Smith.  The conference program can be found at http:\\ 

  • Margaret Gilbert has given a number of talks recently, including invited colloquia on "Authority and Practical Reasoning" at both Miami University in February and Columbia University in March.  Also in March, Margaret was the keynote speaker at the Columbia University Philosophy of Social Science Roundtable, where she delivered a lecture entitled "Rationality and Collective Action".  At the Pacific APA in San Francisco , she gave a symposium talk called "Three Dogmas about Promises".

  • Early this summer, Margaret will be giving several talks in Europe, including invited lectures at Zurich University on May 31 and at the conference on Rituals of Reconciliation (interdisciplinary) at University of Konstanz on May 27-8.  On June 8, she will speak on "Rationality and Collective Action" at Frankfurt University 's Philosophy Department.  On June 13, she will speak in the Oxford Moral Philosophy Series, and on June 14 at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Conference.

  • Joel Kupperman presents a new paper called "Facts and Values in the Analects" at the Ninth East-West Philosophers' Conference in Hawaii this June.

  • Gary Levvis ( Torrington ) organized an author-meets-critic Session for the Society for Realism/Antirealism Discussion during the December 2004 APA Meetings.  The focus was on Thomas Morawetz' Law's Premises, Law's Promise: Jurisprudence after Wittgenstein.  Levvis contributed a paper "Between Theory and Practice:  A Dilemma for Wittgenstein-Morawetz Jurisprudence".  Other speakers included Thomas Eisele ( University of Cincinnati , School of Law ) and Dennis Patterson (Law and Philosophy, Rutgers/Camden), with Thomas Morawetz (UConn School of Law) responding.

  • Michael Lynch delivered a lecture on "Truth, Power and Democracy" in March at the United States Mint, in Washington , D.C. as part of their "Noted Author Series".

  • Diana Meyers gave a talk entitled "Who's There? Selfhood, Self-Regard, and Social Relations" at Emory University for the Women's Studies Department Colloquium Series.

  • In November, Ruth Millikan gave the Philosopher's Holiday lecture at Vassar College and the Alastair Macintyre lecture at Duke.  (The latter is an annual lecture commissioned by the graduate students.)  In March, she gave a talk called "Representations in Mind" to the Cadets at Westpoint.  Our own William Cornwell (as well as her former TA at the University of Michigan , Richard Schoenhaven) were her hosts.

  • John Troyer will once again be an invited participant in the Rutgers Epistemology Conference (May 2005).

  • Last summer Sam Wheeler traveled to China , where he gave two talks: "Davidsonian Rationality and Ethical Disagreement between Cultures" at a conference on Davidson at the Chinese Institute for Philosophy in Beijing , and "Deconstruction's Affinities to Quine, Davidson, and Wittgenstein" at Beijing University .  In January 2005, Sam traveled to Vienna to speak on "Truth, Metaphor, and Indeterminability", at the Alte Schmiede conference on Metaphor in Vienna .  He also commented on papers by Severin Schroeder (Oxford ) and Wolfgang Kunne ( Hamburg ) at a conference on the Poetics of Franz-Josef Czernin, sponsored by the city of Murzzuschlage, in the Styrian Alps.

  • In February, Sam gave a keynote paper at the Yeshiva University Cardozo Law School Derrida Memorial Conference, on What Davidson could have learned from Derrida.

Forthcoming and Ongoing:

Graduate Program News

Ph.D. Defenses:

Adam Potthast will defend his dissertation, tentatively entitled "Reductionism about Personal Identity and Moral Theory", on approximately June 1st, 2005.  As mentioned above, Adam has already accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Missouri  Rolla.  Congratulations to Adam!

Publications and Talks:

Alumni News:


This newsletter was designed by the Philosophy Department's Program Assistant Shelly Burelle. Please visit our website at: "" for miscellaneous links and colloquium updates.

Any questions or comments should be directed to Shelly at