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The University of Connecticut Philosophy Department Newsletter Vol.X, No. 1: August 2007

This issue edited by: Lionel Shapiro

Designer: Shelly Burelle

Welcome to the 26th issue of Cogitamus! This issue covers news for the period of December 1, 2006 to August 31, 2007.

Highlights: A crowd of new graduate students, a crossword puzzle, prize awarded to a book based on alumnus’s dissertation, and advance word of books by Paul Bloomfield, Michael Lynch, and Serena Parekh.

Department News:

The Cognitive Science Program (whose director and steering committee chair is Tom Bontly) is introducing a minor to complement the existing major in Cognitive Science. Information about the minor, major, and other news about the Cog Sci Program will soon be available on the program’s new and improved website (, which should make its debut in early September. The new site, designed by Philosophy graduate student Doug Owings, will provide much more information about cognitive science at UConn and should thankfully be far easier to use and maintain.

In early October of 2008, the Department will host a conference in honor of our colleague Ruth Millikan, on Naturalized Philosophy of Mind and Language. Speakers will include Dan Dennett, Bill Lycan, David Papineau and many others. For more information, please contact the organizers (Tom Bontly, Michael Lynch, and Dan Ryder).

The first TGI(PHI)Day of the new academic year took place on Friday, Aug. 31. The purpose of this regular meeting of faculty and graduate students is to socialize and, more importantly, to talk shop. (Last year's announcements featured some surprising results, and a crossword puzzle.)


Comings and Goings:

Valtteri Arstila, who recently completed his Ph.D. on "The Paradox of Colors" from the University of Turku, Finland, is coming Sept. 24 to work with Austen Clark for six weeks.

JC Beall is on sabbatical this Fall.

Austen Clark will be visiting at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem in Spring 2008.

Crawford (Tim) Elder is on sabbatical in the Fall, and looks forward to thinking about topics including presentism, mental causation, and matter-vs.-objects.

Ruth Millikan will be holding the Belle van Zuylen Chair at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands for the Fall term.

Adam Podlaskowski is our new Assistant Professor in Residence for the academic year. (See profile below.)

Dan Ryder has accepted a position at the University of British Columbia. We will very much miss having Dan as a colleague, look forward to keeping in touch with him and with his work, and wish him, Zena, their son Ben and their new baby Julia (born August 4) all the best.

Personal News:

Susan Anderson reports: "This was a summer of trips for us: first, a road trip in my husband's Miata down the East Coast as far as St. Augustine, Florida and back through the mountains; then a cruise (sponsored by Vassar, Smith, Wellsley and Bryn Mawr Colleges) "Retracing Edith Wharton's 1888 Voyage through the Ancient Sea"; followed by a trip to Vancouver (conference) and a trip through Germany (that began with a conference)."

In November, Crawford (Tim) Elder will be visiting his older son Brad in Jena, Germany (where Brad is a graduate student).

Michael Lynch is very happy that (18-month old) Katie’s new favorite phrase is: "read a book!"

Serena Parekh and her husband Ed purchased a home in Boston which, aside from the long commute in Serena’s future, they are very happy with.


Spring 2007:

Jay Garfield (Smith College) presented "Let's Pretend: How Pretence Scaffolds the Development of Theory of Mind" on February 9, 2007.

Stewart Shapiro (The Ohio State University) presented a lecture on March 23, 2007.

David Wong (Duke University) presented The Ruth Evelyn Memorial Lecture entitled "Constructing Normative Objectivity in Ethics" on March 30, 2007.

Graham Priest (University of Melbourne) presented "Contradiction, Language, and the World" on April 9, 2007.

Phil Bricker (UMass) presented "Primitive Modality" on April 20, 2007.

Fall 2007:

September 14: Gillian Russell (Washington University)

October 5: Ted Sider (NYU)

October 19: Hartry Field (NYU)

November 16: Lisa Warenski (Union College)

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

Please see our complete listing of colloquia scheduled at our Colloquium Series page.



Honors and Awards:


Susan Anderson's "Asimov's 'Three Laws of Robotics' and Machine Metaethics" has appeared in AI and Society, in a special issue on Ethics and Artificial Agents (2007), and will also be included in Science Fiction, Philosophy and the Future , ed. by S. Schneider (forthcoming from Blackwell). Susan has also published three papers with co-author Michael Anderson: "The Status of Machine Ethics: A Report from the AAAI Symposium," Minds and Machines (2007) , "Toward an Ethical Eldercare System," Cognitive, Emotive and Ethical Aspects of Decision-Making and in AI, Vol. VI (The International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics, July 2007), and "The Consequences for Human Beings of Creating Ethical Robots," Human Implications of Human-Robot Interaction: Papers from the 2007 AAAI Workshop, Technical Report WS-07-07 (AAAI Press, July 2007).

Don Baxter's book, Hume's Difficulty: Time and Identity in the Treatise was published by Routledge July 20, 2007. Therefore the copyright date is 2008. We are delighted to learn that Don's book has already been scheduled for a book symposium in Philosophical Studies (with John Perry as one of three critics).

Paul Bloomfield has published "Two Dogmas of Metaethics" in Philosophical Studies 132 (2007), pp. 439-66, and a review of The Evolution of Morality by Richard Joyce, Mind 116 (2007), pp . 176-80.

Four papers by Crawford (Tim) Elder have appeared: "Realism and the Problem of Infimae Species," American Philosophical Quarterly, 44 (2007), pp. 111-27, "Conventionalism and the World as Bare Sense-Data," Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 85 (2007), pp. 261-75, "On the Phenomenon of 'Dog-Wise Arrangement'," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 74 (2007), pp. 134-57, and "On the Place of Artifacts in Ontology," in Eric Margolis and Stephen Laurence, eds., Creations of the Mind: Theories of Artifacts and their Representation (Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 33-51).

Joel Kupperman's new book Ethics and Qualities of Life (Oxford UP) came out in May.

An article by Michael Lynch on the zombie debate, "Zombies and the Case of the Phenomenal Pickpocket" has finally appeared in Synthese 149 (2006), pp. 37-58, and is discussed in an article in The New York Times on recent work on consciousness (August 21, 2007). Also, the Italian translation of True to Life appeared under the title La verità e i suoi nemici (published by Rafaello Cortina).

Ruth Millikan's" An Input Condition for Teleosemantics? Reply to Shea (and Godfrey-Smith)" appears in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (September 2007). The following issue of PPR (November 2007) features a book symposium on Ruth's Varieties of Meaning: The Jean Nicod Lectures 2002, with a Précis by Ruth and her responses to discussions by Bermúdez, Recanati, Rosenberg and Taylor.

Serena Parekh has published "Resisting 'Dull and Torpid' Assent: Returning to the Debate Over the Foundations of Human Rights" in Human Rights Quarterly 29 (August 2007).


Susan Anderson delivered an invited talk on "Computing Ethics" (with M. Anderson) at an APA Eastern Division Session on Philosophy and Computers, Washington, D.C. (December). For the UConn Stamford Campus Colloquium Series (in April), she presented "Can Machines be Taught to Behave Ethically?" (with M. Anderson). In July, she presented two papers (both with M. Anderson): " The Consequences for Human Beings of Creating Ethical Robots" at the AAAI-07 Workshop on Human Implications of Human-Robot Interaction," Vancouver, and "Toward an Ethical Eldercare System," 19th International Conference on Systems Research, Informatics and Cybernetics session on Cognitive, Emotive and Ethical Aspects of Decision-Making in Humans and in AI, Baden-Baden, Germany.

Don Baxter presented "Interpreting Hume as Metaphysician and Skeptic" to the Scientia Workshop at the University of California, Irvine, and to a colloquium at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA (March), "Hume, Distinctions of Reason, and Differential Resemblance" at the Pacific Division APA, San Francisco (April), and "Hume's Pyrrhonian Empiricism" to the Thirty-fourth Hume Conference, Boston (August).

Paul Bloomfield presented "Justice as a Self-Regarding Virtue" at the Pacific Division APA, San Francisco (April).

Tom Bontly gave an invited talk on "How to Be a Causal Compatibilist" at the University of Cincinnati (February 9).

Anne Hiskes presented results of a survey on stem cell research oversight practices at institutions across the country at a Boston meeting of the National Academies of Sciences Committee on Stem Cell Research in June. She also gave several seminars on the foundations of research ethics and ethical issues in stem cell research to participants in the Dept. of Physiology and Neurobiology’s summer REU program.

Michael Lynch spoke on "The Truth in Realism, the Realism in Truth" at Hamilton College (March 31). On April 23-24, Michael presented a series of two talks at Uppsala University, on "Truth as One or Many" and "Truth as One and Many." He also presented "Epistemic Disagreement" at the Bled Philosophy onference in Bled, Slovenia (May 28).

Diana Meyers presented "Victims' Narratives and Human Rights Norms: Overcoming Empathic Difficulties" at the 5th International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, American University, Paris (July).

Ruth Millikan presented "How Children Learn Language Without Having a Representational Theory of Mind" at Brooklyn College CUNY (March 6) and at the University of New Hampshire (April 13). She delivered a plenary lecture on "The Vital Role of Useless Concepts (and Other People)" for the Danish Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Copenhagen (May 12).

Lionel Shapiro delivered a talk on "Revenge and Expression" at the International Symposium LOGICA 2007 organized by the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (June).

Forthcoming Publications:

Upcoming Presentations:

Don Baxter is scheduled to present "Hume, Distinctions of Reason, and Differential Resemblance" to the Harvard Workshop in Early Modern Philosophy in October, and in a colloquium at the University of Western Ontario in November, 

Paul Bloomfield will speak on "Archimedean Points and Why Metaethics Matters" at the Workshop on Metaethics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (Sept. 9).

Crawford (Tim) Elder will deliver talks at two British universities this fall: "Against Universal Mereological Composition" at the University of Durham (Nov. 1), and either the same paper or his recently completed" Temporal Counterparts, Modality, and the Place of Minds in Ontology" at the University of Leeds (Nov. 2).

Joel Kupperman has agreed to be on a panel on Japanese philosophy at the Eastern Division APA in Baltimore (December), and will talk on the Confucian ethics of civility at a conference in Hong Kong (January)..

Serena Parekh is scheduled to speak at the Spindel Conference, on Global Feminist Ethics and Politics, Memphis (October 18-21). She will also give an invited talk on human rights and statelessness at the Massachusetts General Hospital as part of the Durant Fellowship for Refugee Medicine (September 14).

Responses to our work:

A review of Crawford (Tim) Elder's Real Natures and Familiar Objects (MIT Press, 2004), written by Amie Thomasson, appeared in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (2007), pp. 518-23.

Reviews of Michael Lynch's True to Life (MIT Press, 2004) continue to appear in various journals.

Notable Service:

Don Baxter is Acting Department Head for Fall 2007, while Tim Elder takes a well-deserved leave.

In addition to serving as director and steering committee chair of the Cognitive Science Program, Tom Bontly will serve as vice president of the UConn chapter of the AAUP for the 2007-08 academic year.

In August, Joel Kupperman served on an NEH fellowship panel.

Major Work in Progress:

Paul Bloomfield reports that he has written about 60% of a rough draft of the manuscript of a book whose working title is A Theory of the Good Life.

Michael Lynch's Faith in Reason is under contract with MIT Press.

Career Developments:

Emeritus professor Margaret Gilbert writes: "Warm greetings from southern California to my lovely U. Conn. colleagues! Thinking fondly of you all as I gaze at the Pacific!" Margaret's writings since assuming the Melden Chair of Moral Philosophy at UC Irvine include "Searle on Collective Intentions," in Intentional Acts and Institutional Facts: Essays on John Searle’s Social Ontology, ed. S. Tsohatzidis (Springer, 2007) and several forthcoming publications: "Collective Intentions, Commitment, and Collective Action Problems," in Rationality and Commitment, ed. F. Peter and H-B Schmid (Oxford UP), an article on collective moral responsibility to be published in translation in the Revue Fran ç aise de Science Politique , an invited interview contribution to Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Five Questions, ed. D. Rios and C. Schmidt-Petri (Automatic Press), and an invited contribution "Social Convention Revisited" to a special issue of Topoi on convention. In June, Margaret presented "The Morality of Obedience" at York and Reading Universities in the UK. From July 29 to Aug. 1, she was an invited participant at a SPAWN conference on "Practical Reasoning" held at Syracuse University. This is a "read-ahead" conference to which "upcoming younger scholars" submit papers on which "senior scholars" offer comments (Margaret’s comment, on a paper by Ulrike Heuer, was titled "Reasons for Procrastinators"). At the meeting of the American Political Science Association in Chicago (Aug. 30-Sept. 1), Margaret gave an invited talk on "De-Moralizing Political Obligation" as part of the panel on Political Obligation (whose members included political obligation mavens Jeremy Waldron and George Klosko). Her fall schedule includes a presentation at the NYU Law School seminar (Oct. 25), a colloquium for the CUNY Graduate Center philosophy program (Oct. 31), and a colloquium for the USC philosophy department (Nov. 30). Recent responses to her work include reviews of A Theory of Political Obligation (2006) in the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2007) and another forthcoming in Mind. The title and thesis of a monograph by Alessio Lo Giudice, Il soggetto plurale (2006), is inspired in part by Margaret's work on plural subjects.

Profile of Adam Podlaskowski:

The department is delighted to have Adam Podlaskowski visiting for the year. He specializes in the philosophy of language and philosophy mind, nicely complementing the interests of many members of the department. Adam received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Ohio State University in August 2006 for his dissertation "Rule-Following and Recursion: Rethinking Projection and Normativity" (with Neil Tennant as his advisor). His initial focus on rule-following has broadened to include, among other topics, the nature of normativity and naturalizing the mind. These interests will also benefit his students, since he will be teaching undergraduate courses in the philosophy of language and philosophy of mind (along with a few introductory classes). We expect to see him around quite a bit this year and look forward to having him as a colleague.


Graduate Program News

Incoming Graduate Students:

We are pleased to welcome six new graduate students with a wide variety of interests and prior experiences.

Nilanjan Bhowmick did his MA (1996) and MPhil in philosophy (1998-99) from the University of Delhi before joining UConn to try his hand at a PhD. He has worked as a Government Servant in India for about 7 years. Interests include, though are not limited to, looking into generative grammar, modularity of mind, philosophical psychology, cognitive science. Nilanjan has been influenced by Plato, Kant, Hume, Noam Chomsky (not in that order), and has an abiding interest in Greek Philosophy. His spare time (is there any in grad programs??) is spent in listening to music and writing and catching up on some fiction and history.

Matt Clemens comes to the UConn philosophy department after acknowledging that he lacked the requisite size, power, and otherworldly stick-handling skills for a career in the NHL. So, a life of philosophical introspection seemed like the next best thing. Matt earned his B.A. from Goshen College in 2004, where in addition to philosophy, he studied music theory and composition. After college, Matt spent two years in Hamburg, Germany working as an advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants. Presently Matt's philosophical interests seem to center around the philosophy of mind, including consciousness, philosophical issues in A.I., perception and cognitive ethology. He also has special interest in ethics, particularly human rights and social identity. Matt is also an accomplished classical guitarist, and when not speculating about the mental lives of non-human animals, tries to keep up his chops.

Sasha Jay is a Canadian citizen but grew up in the United States. She comes to UConn from San Diego, where she earned a B.A. from UCSD in 2001 and an M.A. from SDSU in 2006, both in philosophy. In between these two degrees, Sasha spent three years working in social services with transitioning foster youth, with a focus on teen mothers. Her philosophical interests include Ethics, Continental Philosophy, and Social and Political Philosophy.  During her time at UCONN, she hopes to learn more about, and eventually specialize in, human rights theory and social justice issues.  Sasha's extracurricular activities include being a mom to her 15-month-old little girl, spending time with her husband and three feisty cats, practicing yoga, and quilting.

Sun Kim received her B.A. in philosophy from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her areas of interest include philosophy of science, epistemology, and philosophy of language. She is thrilled to be studying philosophy at UConn, and is impressed by the department.  In her spare time she likes to hike, jog, and check out art museums.

Paul Silva graduated from Portland State University with a BA in philosophy. He did two years of graduate work in philosophy at Biola University before joining the UConn department. Paul's diverse areas of interest include metaphysics (modality, material constitution, and states of affairs ontology), epistemology (a priori knowledge, the nature of perception, foundationalism, and the externalism/internalism debate), and ethics (moral properties, normativity, generalism/particularism, moral epistemology, and normative systems).

Levente Szentkiralyi comes to us from his hometown of Bowling Green, Ohio, where he attended Bowling Green State University. In December 2006, he graduated with a dual-major B.A. in philosophy and political science, and a B.S. in environmental science. He anticipates concentrating his doctoral studies on political philosophy and moral theory, but his research interests remain quite diverse. They also include the disciplines of applied ethics and legal philosophy, in particular such subjects as philosophical and political anarchism, constitutional and deliberative democratic theory, the dynamics of peace and war, international terrorism, state- sponsored and otherwise, and the morality of environmental policy and law. In addition to his philosophical endeavors, Levente is also an avid backpacker, and an advocate for the environment--volunteering his time to local environmental organizations whenever his schedule permits.


The Yale/UConn graduate philosophy conference began last year as a collaborative effort between the graduate students in both the Yale and UConn philosophy departments. We continue it this year in the hopes that the conference will become an established annual event. Last year the conference was hosted at the Yale campus; this year it will be held at the UConn campus. This year's conference will take place the weekend of November 9th and 10th. The featured faculty speaker is Austen Clark, and the outside keynote speaker is Paul Horwich.


David Capps, Michael Lynch, and Daniel Massey have a paper called "A Coherent Moral Relativism" forthcoming in a special issue of Synthese on relativism

Daniel Massey's review of Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's Moral Skepticisms is forthcoming in the Polish Journal of Philosophy.

Alexus McLeod's paper "A Reappraisal of Wang Chong's Critical Method Through the Wenkong Chapter" will appear in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Chinese Philosophy.

Steven Todd is coauthor (with H. Ogmen, B.G. Breitmeyer, and L. Mardon) of "Target Recovery in Metacontrast: The Effect of Contrast," Vision Research 46 (December 2006), pp. 4726-4734.

Jeff Wisdom's paper "Base Property Exemplification and Mixed Worlds: Remarks on the Shafer-Landau/Mabrito Exchange" is forthcoming in Philosophical Studies.


Brian Leahy presented "A Lacuna in Millikan's Teleosemantics" at the Western Canadian Philosophical Association GM, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver (October 2006), and "Misadventures of Counterfactual Hook" at the CUNY Graduate Conference, CUNY Graduate Center (April 28). Brian will present "Indicative/Subjunctive, Accident, Oversight" to the Atlantic Region Philosopher's Association, St. Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (October 26-28).

Alexus McLeod will deliver a talk on "The Psychologization of the Confucian Ren" as part of the International Society for Comparative Studies of Chinese and Western Philosophy Group Panel of the Eastern Division APA, Baltimore (December).

Franklin Scott presented a paper for the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology in Atlanta (April), and a poster at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology meeting in Toronto (June). Both had the title "Teleosemantics and Color."

Steven Todd spoke on "Computer Assisted Writing in Philosophy" at the Northeast Writing Centers Association 2007 Conference, Storrs (March 31). In this talk, which grew out of his work with the Writing Center, Steven discussed using on-line, non-graded self-assessment quizzes to assist students in their understanding of difficult philosophical concepts and thus promote better philosophical writing.

Dissertation Topics:

David Lambie's aim is to apply an appropriate notion of correct functioning to ethics.

Brian Leahy's dissertation is becoming a diatribe against the indicative-subjunctive/counterfactual distinction, arguing that we should distinguish varieties of conditionals on syntactic bases rather than whatever ephemeral base it is that grounds the indicative-subjunctive/counterfactual distinction.

The topic of Franklin Scott's dissertation is teleosemantics and color.

The working title of Steven Todd's dissertation is "Unmasking Consciousness."

Alumni News:

Andrew Aavatsmark reported in January that he is now Director of Finance and Operations at Hartford Stage, "obviously using my Ph.D in philosophy on a daily basis, as I wonder where I will find the money to pay all next week's bills."  Andy, his wife Lee (still seen and heard often on CPTV), and their son Anders reside in West Hartford, and were awaiting the birth of another child this past summer.  Andy also still teaches philosophy, most recently 215W (Ethics) at UConn West Hartford.

Stephen Lahey writes: "Steve McGrade suggested I tell you, my alma mater, that the book that arose from my dissertation (entitled Philosophy and Politics in the Thought of John Wyclif, Cambridge 2003) has just been awarded the John Nicholas Brown prize for best new book by the Medieval Academy of America. Oh, rapture! Also, as of next year, I'm assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at Univ. of Nebraska. Back on the tenure clock. Hope everyone is doing well at U-54. Best, Steve Lahey."


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