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The University of Connecticut Philosophy Department Newsletter Vol. II, No. 1 February 1999

Edited by Margaret Gilbert, Anne Hiskes

Welcome to the third issue of Cogitamus! It reports on the period of December 15, 1998 to February 15,1999.

Our aim is to provide summary information on the ongoing professional achievements and activities of members of our department, and to provide notice of upcoming events.

This issue has some important library news and profiles our Administrative Assistant.

Proposed items for inclusion in the next issue (expected publication date March 15) should be given or (preferably) emailed to



Susan Anderson's paper "Do We Ever Have a Duty to Die?" has been accepted by Biomedical Ethics Reviews for a special issue.

Margaret Gilbert

  • "Reconsidering the 'Actual Contract' Theory of Political Obligation", Ethics, vol. 109, no. 2, January 1999, pp. 236-260 [lead article].

    Abstract: A common target of political philosophers is the 'actual contract' theory of political obligation. According to this theory, membership in a political society is founded in an actual contract or agreement either explicit or tacit. This agreement generates obligations to support the political institutions of the society in question, in other words, it generates 'political obligations'. Two standard forms of objection to actual contract theory are as follows. First, it is unrealistic to suppose that political societies are founded on actual agreements explicit or tacit. Second, even if political societies were so founded, the content or circumstances of the agreements should standardly be such that no one is obligated by them. Hence they would not generate political obligations. Assuming that a plural subject account of agreements is plausible, I argue that actual contract theory can be defended against the second form of objection. Along with this (partial) defense, I argue for the distinctness and superiority of a plural subject theory of political obligation over actual contract theory.

  • Review of Social Reality, by Finn Collin, in Philosophical Books, vol. 40, no. 1, January 1999, pp. 72-74.

    Diana Tietjens Meyers has published three book reviews

    Her review of Reading with Feeling by Susan Feagin (Cornell UP) appeared in The Review of Metaphysics in the September 1998 issue. Her review of three books, Claudia Card's The Unnatural Lottery: Character and Moral Luck (Temple UP), Kathryn Pyne Addelson's Moral Passages: Toward A Collective Moral Theory (Routledge), and Susan Hekman's Moral Voices, Moral Selves: Carol Gilligan and Feminist Moral Theory (Pennsylvania State UP), appeared in Signs in the Autumn 1998 issue. Her review of Richard Schmitt's Beyond Separateness: The Social Nature of Human Beings--Their Autonomy, Knowledge, and Power (Westview Press) appeared in the December 1998 issue of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

    Ruth Millikan:

    "A More Plausible Kind of 'Recognitional Concept'". In E. Villanueva, ed., Concepts: Philosophical Issues Vol. 9, 1998 (Atascadero CA: Ridgeview Publishing).


    Margaret Gilbert presented a talk "Reconsidering the 'Actual Contract' Theory of Political Obligation" at the University of California, Riverside on January 20, 1999.

    Ruth Millikan:

  • "Abilities", Philosophy Department, Indiana University, December 10, 1998.
  • "Abilities", Philosophy Department, Cornell University, Feb 4, 1999.
  • "Language and Thought", Cognitive Studies Speaker Series, Cornell University, Feb. 5, 1999.

    Work in Progress

    Susan Anderson has signed a contract with Wadsworth Publishing company to write two books by July 15 in their new series on great philosophers. One book will be on Kierkegaard, and the second book will be on Mill.

    Honors and Awards

    Steve McGrade has been elected to a two-year term as president of the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy.

    Sam Wheeler has been appointed to the editorial board of Public Affairs Quarterly.


    Ruth Millikan served as the external dissertation advisor for Anthony Chemero, Dept. of Philosophy, Indiana University. He successfully defended his dissertation "How to be an Antirepresentationalist" Dec. 10, 1998.



    Gordon Stevenson's paper "Humean self-consciousness Explained" has been accepted by Hume Studies.

    Virgil Whitmyer: Philosophical Psychology has accepted for publication the paper "Ecological Color".

    Xinli Wang has published "Is the notion of Semantic Presupposition Empty?" in Dialogos, vol. 73 (1999), pp. 61-91.

    Work in Progress

    Gordon Stevenson is completing a paper "Naturalizing Intentional Kinds: A Beginner's Guide" which he plans to submit as a conference presentation.

    Alumni News

    Congratulations to Inna Kupreeva who successfully defended her dissertation "Alexander of Aphrosisias on the Soul as Form" (pp. 1-26 of Bruns' edition of "De Anima") in the Department of Classics at the University of Toronto. Inna sends her warm greetings to the department, and extends special thanks to Scott Lehmann whose methods and materials she depends on when teaching Introduction to Symbolic Logic.

    In December Peimin Ni (Ph.D 1991) was elected President of the Association of Chinese Philosophers in America. This past summer Peimin again served as leader and organizer for his fourth Summer Seminar on Chinese Philosophy held in China. He is looking forward to his first sabbatical leave next semester from Grand Valley State College where he is a member of the Philosophy Department.

    Shannon O'Roarke (Ph.D. 1997) is looking forward to presenting a paper on self-esteem at a conference on parenting to be held at Pace University in February. Shannon is busy teaching "Knowledge and Reality", "Ethics", and "History of Modern and Contemporary Philosophy" at Houghton College where she holds a tenure-track position.

    Library News

    Richard Fyffe , library liaison to Philosophy and Linguistics gives us the following report on a new research resource called JSTOR.

    JSTOR is an electronic archive of 117 prominent academic journals in a wide range of disciplines, including anthropology, ecology, economics, history, mathematics, philosophy, and sociology, among others. Over 2 million pages of text are available for searching, reading, and printing from home and office computers and in library buildings.

    Funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation and by fees paid by participating libraries (the University of Connecticut Library is a charter member), the JSTOR archive contains complete backfiles of core academic journals and reproduces the entire content of each issue in the archive. Backfiles are usually current to within 5 years of the present, and are updated with each passing year. The electronic files are in page-image formats and can be printed but not (for copyright reasons) downloaded to a user's computer. The JSTOR site includes a search engine that can search for words and phrases in the entire archive, in all the journals in particular subjects, or in individual titles. Faculty, students, and staff at the University of Connecticut with access to the network domain (directly or by proxy) can use the JSTOR archive at:

    The following philosophy titles are currently available:

    Journal of Philosophy: vols. 1-90, 1904-1993
    Mind: vols. 1-16, 1876-1891; new series, vols. 1-100, 1892-1991
    Nous: vols. 1-27, 1967-1993
    Philosophical Perspectives: vols. 1-7, 1987-1993
    Philosophical Quarterly: vols. 1-43, 1950-1993
    Philosophical Review: vols. 1-104, 1892-1995
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: vols. 1-53, 1940-1993

    Titles in progress but not yet released include:

    Ethics (1890-1993)
    Journal of Symbolic Logic (1936-1994)
    Philosophy and Public Affairs (1971-1993)

    C A L E N D A R

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

    Upcoming Colloquia:

    Louise Antony, Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina and Alexander Rosenberg, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Georgia will give a colloquium on Friday, February 26 at 3:30 in the Konover Auditorium of the Dodd Center on the topic "Minds vs. Brains vs. MicroParticles".

    To see the complete listing of colloquia scheduled for spring please go to our Colloqium Series page.

    Recent Colloquia

    Michael Ruse, Professor of Philosophy, University of Guelph, presented a paper "Naturalizing the Philosophy of Science: A Case Study in Evolutionary Theory" on Monday, February 8. Co-sponsored by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

    Philip Pettit, Professor of Social and Political Theory, Australian National University presented the Parcells Lecture on Friday, February 12. The title of his talk was "A Sensible Perspectivism".

    Departmental Profile

    Shelly Korba Burelle

    The faculty and graduate students of the Philosophy Department would be lost without the technical expertise and good-humored clerical support of Administrative Assistant Shelly Burelle. As a 19-year veteran of the University of Connecticut, Shelly is an able navigator through all the administrative forms and reports that must be filled out in triplicate, and a master of the mysteries of the UConn mainframe. Shelly's skills and responsibilities have evolved along with the available computer technology, which is lucky for the department given that Shelly is identical to the entire support staff of the department. In addition to knowing Word, Access, HTML, FRS, and "THESIS", Shelly has learned Excel and is in charge of the department's impressive Webpage.

    Born and raised in Columbia, Connecticut until the age of 16, Shelly feels most at home in the country. As a child she and her two older sisters loved their dog, cats, and horse Opata, who Shelly says was always nice enough to come back and get you after you fell off. After graduating from Parish Hill High School, Shelly came to work at the University of Connecticut, first in the Bursar's Office with the official title of "University Helper", and then in the typing pool (she has seen a lot of different departments). After a 5-year stint in the sociology department, Shelly joined the philosophy department where she has worked for the past 14 years. Shelly says that she enjoys the "laid-back" attitude of philosophers, but most of all she appreciates the respectful treatment by the philosophy faculty and graduate students.

    At the top of Shelly's list of favorite activities is playing with Karly, and after that, in no particular order, are sewing clothes for Karly, painting furniture for Karly, growing flowers for Karly, and SPINNING (a high intensity aerobic workout) so that she can keep up with Karly. (Is there a pattern here?) When she has time, which isn't often, Shelly enjoys reading science fiction and bicycling.


    This newsletter was designed by the Philosophy Department's Administrative 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

    Department of Philosophy
    U-54, 344 Mansfield Rd.
    Storrs, Connecticut 06269-2054
    Telephone: 860-486-4416
    Fax: 960-486-0387