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C O G I T A M U S

The University of Connecticut Philosophy Department Newsletter Vol. IX, No. 2: December 2006

This issue edited by: Lionel Shapiro and Serena Parekh

Designer: Shelly Burelle

Welcome to the 25th issue of Cogitamus! This issue covers news for the period of May 1 to Nov. 30, 2006.

Highlights: New graduate students, a new departmental forum for philosophical conversation, a rousing fall colloquium season and publications on topics as diverse as beer, machine ethics, and zombies. Who's writing about these topics? Read below to find out.


Department News:

After 23 years at the University of Connecticut, Margaret Gilbert has accepted the Melden Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, an endowed chair that is a significant honor and the highest rank in the University of California system. Although we miss Margaret's company, both intellectual and personal, we are delighted to see her honored in this way and wish her well in her new position.

The inaugural meeting of TGI(PHI)Day took place on Friday, Oct. 10 at the Nathan Hale Inn. The purpose of this regular meeting of faculty and graduate students is to socialize and, more importantly, to talk shop. (History has it that Socrates, Plato, Russell, Lewis, and Millikan all did their best work during similar pub-like brainstorming events).

 

Personal News:

The highlight of Susan Anderson's past summer was taking a two-week riverboat cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Abel James Cotnoir was born on August 11th at 1:11pm to Bethany and Aaron Cotnoir.

Richard Hine shares the news of his engagement: "I proposed to Sarah in early October when we were halfway between Brooklyn and Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge. Facing a long drop to the East River or spending the rest of her life with me, Sarah plumped for the scarier option. So far, no date has been set for the wedding. Department funding welcome.”

Michael Lynch writes: "Our daughter Kathleen is now proudly crawling (and laughing up a storm while doing so)."

After her wedding, Serena Parekh changed her name to Serena Parekh McGushin, but intends to keep Serena Parekh for all professional matters (i.e., teaching, publishing, etc).

John Troyer reports that he and Barbara really enjoyed their two-week residence last August in Berkeley's house ( Whitehall, Newport, R.I.) as caretakers and scholar in residence: "I gave a lot of explanations of Berkeley's philosophy to all sorts of visitors, mainly non-philosophers, but I don't think I converted anyone to Immaterialism."

Born to Jeffrey Wisdom and his wife Angela on Sept. 11: Benjamin Lucas Wisdom. At birth, Benjamin weighed eight pounds, eleven ounces and was 20 inches long.

Congratulations to Aaron, Jeffrey, and Rick on behalf of all of us!

 

Fall Colloquia

September 8: Fred Dretske (Duke), "What Change Blindness Teaches about Consciousness"

September 15: Nomy Arpaly (Brown), "Free Will and the Romance of Necessity"

September 29: Willem deVries ( University of New Hampshire), "Sellars on the Wrong Way and the Right Way to be an Idealist"

October 6: J. David Velleman (NYU), "Action as Improv" (Parcells Lecture)

October 13: John MacFarlane ( Berkeley), "Truth and Subjectivity"

November 3: Stephen Yablo (MIT), "Leftovers"

December 1: Justine Kingsbury ( University of Waikato), "Nothing to Cry About"

FACULTY

Honors and Awards:

Publications:

Susan Anderson was co-editor and introduction co-author (with Michael Anderson) of an IEEE Intelligent Systems special issue on "Machine Ethics" (July/Aug. 2006). Her article "An Approach to Computing Ethics" (with M. Anderson and C. Armen) appears in the issue. Susan has also published "Kierkegaard's Solution to Three Metaethical Problems" in the International Journal of Ethics, vol. 4, no. 3 (2006).

JC Beall published "Relevant Restricted Quantification" (with R. Brady, A. Hazen, G. Priest, and G. Restall) in Journal of Philosophical Logic 35 (2006), pp. 587-598. JC was invited to be the guest/advising editor of a special volume of The Monist on Truth. This has now appeared (Jan 2006, vol. 89, no.1), along with JC's essay "Introductory Remarks" (pp. 3-8). (JC accepted one of Michael Lynch's papers for the volume, and so Michael's paper--"ReWrighting Pluralism"--is now available. JC reports that he agrees with much in Michael's paper, except for the main motivation to avoid deflationism about truth!)

Tom Bontly 's paper "What is an empirical analysis of causation?" has appeared in Synthese, vol. 151, no. 2 (July 2006).

Paul Bloomfield's paper "Opening Questions, Following Rules" has appeared in Metaethics after Moore, ed. T. Horgan and M. Timmons (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Margaret Gilbert's book A Theory of Political Obligation: Membership, Commitment, and Obligation was published by Oxford University Press. The full text is also available through Oxford Philosophy online (for details see the OUP website.) Margaret also published the following articles: "Can a Wise Society be a Free One?, Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 44 (2006), pp. 1-17, and "Who’s to Blame?", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, ed. Peter French (2006). Her encyclopedia article on collective belief (in French translation) came out during this period in an encyclopedia of the social sciences published by the Presses Universitaires de France.

The volume Truth and Realism, edited by Michael Lynch and Patrick Greenough, was published by Oxford University Press, and includes an article by Michael entitled "Trusting Intuitions." Michael has also published "Zombies and the Case of the Phenomenal Pickpocket" in Synthese 149 (2006), pp. 37-58. The Spanish translation of True to Life has appeared as La Importancia de la Verdad ( Barcelona: Ediciones Paidós Ibérica, 2006).

A three-author critical review of Ruth Millikan's Language: A Biological Model (Oxford University Press, 2005) is now finally immanent in the (delayed) May issue (vol. 5, no. 2) of the Italian online forum SWIF, issue editor Marco Mazzone ( http://www.swif.uniba.it/lei/mind/index.htm).

 

Lionel Shapiro 's "The Rationale Behind Revision-Rule Semantics" appears in Philosophical Studies 129 (2006), pp. 477-515.

Presentations:

In May, Susan Anderson delivered a plenary presentation on "Computing Ethics" (with M. Anderson) at the International Conference on Computers and Philosophy, Laval, France (Daniel Dennett also gave a plenary presentation). She gave the invited presentation "Computing an Ethical Theory with Multiple Prima Facie Duties" (with M. Anderson) at the Tenth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, Indiana University (June). Susan presented three further papers (with M. Anderson): "The Status of Machine Ethics" at the Dartmouth conference AI@50: The Next Fifty Years (July), "MedEthEx: A Prototype Medical Ethics Advisor" at the Eighteenth Conference on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Boston (July), and "Towards an Ethical Eldercare System" at the 2006 North American Computing and Philosophy Conference, RPI, Troy, NY (August).

At the Thirty-third Hume Conference, Koblenz, Germany (August), Don Baxter presented a paper entitled "A Contradiction in Hume's Distinction of Reason" and also commented on Adrian Bardon's paper entitled "Empiricism, Time-Awareness, and Hume's Manners of Disposition." In Berlin, Don gave a talk entitled "David Hume's 18th Century Critique of Intelligent Design" to the German Veterinary Medicine Exchange Program of Texas A&M University. Don Baxter is slated to present "Interpreting Hume as Metaphysican and Skeptic" at a colloquium at Trinity College, November 29.

During the period in question -- for much of which she was still at UConn -- Margaret Gilbert gave the following talks: "'Mutual Recognition'" and some related phenomena" as the first invited lecture at the conference Social Ontology and Constitutive Attitudes, Helsinki (August 29), "We are to Blame but I am not -- How is this Possible?" as the opening invited plenary session at the Collective Intentionality conference, Helsinki (August 31), "Three Dogmas about Promising" as an invited colloquium talk in the Philosophy Department, Syracuse University (October), and "The Morality of Obedience" as The Warren Steinkraus Memorial Lecture, a public lecture at SUNY, Oswego (October). In mid-May Margaret was an invited participant at an interdisciplinary workshop at Princeton University on shared intentions and democratic theory. In mid-November she was an invited participant at a workshop at Columbia Law School, run by Joseph Raz, on "Shared Intention and the Law." Most of those present were senior law professors. Michael Bratman (Stanford) had the floor on shared intention but Margaret’s questioning in discussion led him to cry out "See what I'm up against!" -- in the nicest possible way, of course.

Anne Hiskes delivered "Who Speaks for Venture Smith: Human Rights and Identity in the Age of DNA Analysis" at the University of Connecticut's conference on Documenting Venture Smith (Sept. 30). She also spoke on "Stem Cell Research: Where Science, Religion, and Ethics Meet" in the Adult Forum, St. Mark's Episcopal Chapel, Storrs (Oct. 15 and Nov. 19).

On May 22, Joel Kupperman gave a talk, "Philosophical Perspectives on Values Research", to the Medici Conference on Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.  ("It turned out to be the first in a series, and the audience consisted entirely of psychologists.")

Michael Lynch delivered two invited talks: "Epistemic Disagreement," University of St. Andrews (Aug. 3) and "Alethic Pluralism," Nancy conference on Antirealism(s), Nancy, France (June 27).

Diana Meyers presented "Affect, Corporeity, and Practical Intelligence" at a Philosophy Department Colloquium at Dartmouth College (Oct. 6). Diana also delivered a plenary address entitled " Agency and Embodiment" at the meeting of the New Jersey Philosophical Association (Nov. 4).

Ruth Millikan gave a number of lectures in Australia, including the keynote lecture, on "Indexicals, Demonstratives and the Explanation of Behavior," for the yearly Australasian Association of Philosophy meetings, Canberra, Australia (July 4). At Australia National University, Ruth presented the Jack Smart Lecture, "Let Me Count the Ways to Tell a Weasel: On Extensional Meanings and Nature's Clumps" (July 10) as well as a follow up "Coda on Nature's Humps and Peaks and the Likely Irrelevance of Swampman" (July 12). Further talks in Australia were a Language and Cognition lecture on "How Children Learn Language Without Having a Representational Theory of Mind" at the University of New England (July 28) and "Let Me Count the Ways to Tell a Weasel" at the University of New South Wales (Aug. 1). This fall, Ruth gave two lectures in Israel: "Let Me Count the Ways to Tell a Weasel" for a Bar-Hillel colloqium, Van Leer Institute and Tel Aviv University (Nov. 7), and "How Children Learn Language" at Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Nov. 9).

Serena Parekh delivered "Modern Rightlessness" at the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP), Philadelphia (October 13). Serena also presented an invited talk on "Turning Rational Agents into Souls: Reflections on the Role of Love, Evil and Shame in Human Rights" at Nazareth College, Rochester (September 22).

At the Western Canadian Philosophical Association, Vancouver (Oct. 13-15), Dan Ryder presented "Too Close for Comfort? Psychosemantics and the Distal."

Lionel Shapiro gave a talk called "Naive Truth Conditions" at the International Symposium Logica 2006 organized by the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (June).

Forthcoming Publications:

Upcoming Presentations:

Susan Anderson will present"Computing Ethics" (with M. Anderson) at an APA Eastern Division Special Session on "Machine Ethics" organized by Christopher Grau, Washington, D.C. (December).

JC Beall is scheduled to give a talk at University of Miami on his joint monograph with Greg Restall, Logical Pluralism (Oxford University Press, 2006). In addition, JC is scheduled to give a talk at the University of Otago ( New Zealand) for the "Truth and Reality" conference. Also on the agenda is a talk at the "Mathematical Methods in Philosophy" workshop in Banff, as well as a session with Hartry Field and Otavio Bueno on Graham Priest's Doubt Truth To Be A Liar at the Pacific Division APA, San Francisco (April).

Crawford (Tim) Elder will be giving a talk to the Philosophy of Technology Society at the Central Division APA, Chicago (April).

Dan Ryder will deliver "Too close for comfort? Psychosemantics and the distal" at the Pacific Division APA, San Francisco (April).

In the spring, Michael Lynch will be giving invited talks at the Hamilton College conference on Realism and Its Critics (with Simon Blackburn and Hilary Putnam) and an invited series of lectures at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, sponsored by the School of Theology.

Diana Meyers will deliver "Affect, Corporeity, and Practical Intelligence" as an invited paper at the Eastern Division APA, Washington, DC (December).  

Responses to our work:

A review by Stephen Schwartz of Crawford (Tim) Elder's book Real Natures and Familiar Objects (MIT Press, 2004) appears in the American Journal of Psychology (Spring 2006).

In August, Joel Kupperman's book Six Myths About the Good Life (Hackett, 2006) was reviewed in the online Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. [The editors would like to quote from the review: "impressively subtle ... breathes new life into a very old subject ... successful and engaging."]

Michael Lynch reports that Richard Rorty seriously disapproves of True to Life (MIT Press, 2004) at length in the most recent issue of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

An extended discussion of Diana Meyers's views about value-neutrality and autonomy appears in Paul Benson's "Feminist Intuitions and the Normative Substance of Autonomy," in Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and Its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy, ed. J.S. Taylor (Cambridge UP, 2005).

Notable Service:

As of July 1, Tom Bontly was appointed director of the Cognitive Science Program at UConn and chair of its steering committee. He explains: "The Cognitive Science Program is an interdisciplinary program involving more than 40 faculty from Psychology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Anthropology, Communication Disorders, and a few other departments around the University. We presently offer a major in Cognitive Science and administer the Cognitive Science Colloquium Series, bringing six or so speakers in the cognitive sciences to campus every year. (This year the series included a talk by philosopher Fred Dretske on "What Change Blindness Teaches Us about Consciousness.") We are currently working also to offer a minor and several specialized courses in Cog Sci, and the addition of a graduate program is planned." As of this fall, Tom has also been serving on the executive committee of the UConn chapter of the AAUP.

Major Work in Progress:

All of Michael Lynch's time right now is consumed with work on Truth as Many and One, now under contract  from Oxford University Press. Michael has also just signed a contract with MIT Press for a book entitled Faith in Reason.

Career Developments:

Susan Anderson is currently on sabbatical and has just finished a paper on "Computing Ethics" (with M. Anderson) which was written for two occasions: to present at the Eastern Division APA Meeting (see above) and as an invited submission to AI Magazine. Susan is now working on an NSF 3-year grant proposal (with M. Anderson) to continue work on "Machine Ethics" that is currently supported by an NSF SGER grant.

JC Beall is very much in a bad mood at his inability to figure out which theory to endorse in his Truth and Falsity monograph (Oxford University Press).

Margaret Gilbert is still busy settling into life in California. She writes: "One thing that does not take getting much getting used to is the weather! I much enjoy the denizens of my new yard. These include salamanders, rabbits, some unusual birds and trees bearing tangerines, limes, grapefruit and feijoas."

Michael Lynch reports: "I'm currently to be found lounging about at the Humanities Institute where I am on a fellowship."

Diana Meyers is on leave this semester supported by a fellowship from the UConn Human Rights Institute. Diana writes: "My work focuses on the role of victims' narratives in gaining legal recognition for human rights norms. I am fortunate to have Asha Bhandary serving as my research assistant on this project, and I am grateful to the Human Rights Institute for the stipend that funds her work."

 

Graduate Program News

Incoming Graduate Students:

Asha Bhandary received her M.A. in Philosophy from Stanford University in 2004, where she also received a B.A. in Comparative Literature with Honors in Ethics in Society. Her primary interests lie in political philosophy, ethics, and feminist philosophy. After completing her M.A. in 2004, she taught philosophy courses at Brooklyn College and the University of New Haven and worked as a strategy consultant for non-profits with Wellspring Consulting. She and her newly-wed husband, Kumar Narayanan, enjoy running, mountaineering, cross-country skiing and backpacking together.

 

Alan Wong reports that he "came to philosophy in a roundabout way. I went to Yale, thinking that I would make a good priest/minister, but I discovered I wanted to be an analytic philosopher when I grew up. I was admitted to the august company of UConn's philosophy department this year. I've been quite pleased as a new graduate student to discover the wonderful atmosphere in the department. I tend to be interested in too many topics for my own good, especially in metaphysics, philosophical logic, epistemology, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of religion and metaethics. Most of these issues center around the common theme of modality, which of course is pervasive across contemporary philosophy. In particular, I am interested in the scope and limits of fictionalism. Like many views in philosophy, fictionalism seems to work very well in some areas such as intuitively true non-existential statements ('Sherlock Holmes lives on Baker Street in London.'). But fictionalism applied to other areas seems to face the incredulous stare (e.g. 'tables are solid'). Some day I hope (but then again I may be pretending) to offer a principled account of why such fictionalism works in some areas (i.e. its scope) but not in others (its limits). Oh, my favorite fictions are Star Wars, CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings."

 

Conference:

The first annual UConn/Yale Graduate Philosophy Conference was held on October 20-21 at Yale University, featuring keynote speakers Shelly Kagan and Ted Sider. There were eight presenters from as many universities (including two from the UK), chosen from over 130 submissions. The conference was a huge success, and the UConn students look forward to working with the Yale students in the future. Much work, including reading submissions and organizing details, was done by UConn students, including Colin Caret, Aaron Exum, Richard Hine, Brian Leahy, Doug Owings, Franklin Scott, Jeffrey Wisdom, and Alan Wong. Details are available here.

Defense:

On Sept. 5, David Slutsky successfully defended his dissertation What In The World Could Show Whether Moral Realism Is True? David's dissertation represents the first part of a larger research project on the practical importance of both moral anti-realism and cosmopolitanism. David's research is motivated by such questions as: 1) Can we shift the focus of metaethical experiments away from how people talk about moral properties and toward empirical aspects of moral properties themselves? 2) Can acceptance of moral realism or moral anti-realism make moral agents more or less tolerant, stubborn, peaceful, or violent in pursuit or defense of their moral and social goals? 3) As the Global South and developing nations organize and perhaps form alliances with emerging world powers, what are the possibilities for, and the realities of, social/governmental/cultural change? Congratulations, David!

Publications:

Steven Todd 's article "Unmasking Multiple Drafts" has appeared in Philosophical Psychology, vol. 19, no. 4 (August 2006), pp. 477-494. Steven was also a co-author (with B.G. Breitmeyer, H. Kafaigonul, H. Ogmen, L. Mardon, and R. Ziegler) of "Meta- and Paracontrast Reveal Differences between Contour- and Brightness-Processing Mechanisms," Vision Research, vol. 46, no. 17 (September 2006), pp. 2645-2658.

Presentations:

Boram Lee will deliver "The Implicit Argument in Hui Shih's Ten Propositions" for a APA Eastern Division group program, Washington D.C. (December 28).

Doug Owings commented on "Two Wrong Turns for Type-Identity Physicalism," by Tomas Bogardus (UT) at the Yale/UConn Graduate Philosophy Conference (October, see above).

Franklin Scott commented on "Intrinsicality and Monism," by Kelly Trogdon (UMass) at the Yale/UConn Graduate Philosophy Conference (October, see above).

Steven Todd presented "Metacontrast & Multiple Drafts: a crossroads for Dennett's Stalinesque / Orwellian impasse" as an innvited lecture for the Center for Neuro-Engineering and Cognitive Science, University of Houston (October 26).

Comings and Goings:

Douglas Edwards from the Arché group at the University of St. Andrews visited UConn for two weeks to study with Michael Lynch. Douglas was very impressed with the academic environment of our department and he had a wonderful time visiting with the students and studying with Michael. We wish him well and hope to send students to visit Arché in the near future.

Michael Glanzberg (UC Davis) visited Storrs during August, during which visit JC Beall and Michael worked on their Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry "Liar Paradox". (They also worked on their joint monograph, Theories of Truth, which is under contract with Oxford University Press. JC is scheduled to visit UC Davis in the Spring to work in earnest on the book.).

Alumni:

Jessica Miller writes: "In Spring 06, I was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor at the University of Maine, at which time I learned how to stop worrying and love the title "bioethicist". I serve as clinical ethicist to Eastern Maine Medical Center, a 400 bed tertiary care facility in Bangor. Recent publications include "The Other Side of Trust in Health Care: Prescribing Drugs with the Potential for Abuse" (Bioethics, January 2007) and a short piece, "Defining 'Research' in Rural Healthcare Ethics" (American Journal of Bioethics, March/April 2006). I also edited the Spring 2006 issue of the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy on "Gender and Ethics Consulting", to which I contributed an essay. Anyone interested can check out my website, which features a couple of photos of my family hiking in Acadia National Park, the views from which can only barely compete, of course, with my dewy memories of walking along Horsebarn Hill Road while contemplating whether Troyer could be right that Kant (the very same philosopher referred to by Brodsky as "the great Rabbi" and who inspired Elder to rapturous recollections of the disco mirror balls of his youth) was "not only wrong but wrong-headed", cursing Clark for introducing me to the vexing problem of the homogeneous pink ice cube, or wondering whether Wheeler did in fact, or merely appeared to, thwart the laws of physics by tipping so far back in his chair every seminar meeting without falling over."

 

This newsletter was designed by the Philosophy Department's Program Assistant Shelly Burelle. Please visit our website at: http://www.philosophy.uconn.edu for miscellaneous links and colloquium updates.

Any questions or comments should be directed to Shelly at phildept@uconn.edu.