The Kenneth Mark Drain Chair in Ethics at Trent University

Looking for my research? You probably need the Weebly website.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Music and the History of Ideas, Friday

From David Holdsworth:
With apologies for the extremely short notice and timing, it is a pleasure to announce to the Trent community that Professor Mark Evan Bonds, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Music History at the University of North Carolina, will visiting Peterborough on Friday, December 14th, and has kindly agreed to present an informal discussion of his recent research. Professor Bonds is the author of several influential books on music and the history of ideas, including Wordless Rhetoric, After Beethoven, and the Symphony as Thought. His work is of exceptional potential interest to students of cultural studies, intellectual history, and related fields. He will be speaking at Trent's Traill College, Scott House, Room 102.1.  All are invited.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TCP hosts feminist philosopher Shannon Winnubst

From TCP:
Centre for the Study of Theory, Culture and Politics - Speakers Series
Shannon Winnubst, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Ohio State University
"Politics or Ethics? Reconsidering Queer Critiques of Normativity in Neoliberalism"

(A Politically Queer/Queerly Political Event)
Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
Scott House 105 - Traill College

All Welcome

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Student CFP: Grad and Undergrad

The Graduate Students at the Department of Philosophy at the University of
Utah Proudly Present:

*The Tenth Annual Intermountain West Student Philosophy Conference*

March 21-23, 2013

Keynote Speaker: Lisa Downing<>

Ohio State University

Paper: “Locke and his Predecessors on the Status of Secondary Qualities”

Plenary Speaker: Dustin Stokes<>

University of Utah

The Philosophy Department of the University of Utah is proud to announce
the 10th annual Intermountain West Student Philosophy Conference (IWSPC) to
be held March 21-23, 2013 in Salt Lake City, UT. Papers in any area of
philosophy by graduate or undergraduate students are welcome. Papers should
be suitable for a twenty-five minute presentation with fifteen minutes of
commentary and Q & A.

Submission requirements: Papers should be no more than 3,000 words and
prepared for blind review. Only one submission per author will be
considered. The paper should be in .doc or .pdf form and submitted
electronically to UUIWGPC at gmail dot com.

Along with your paper, we ask that you also submit a cover letter including
the following information:

1. Paper Title
2. Author’s name
3. Word count
4. Abstract (100 words)
5. Institutional affiliation
6. Academic status (graduate or undergraduate student)
7. Subject area of paper
8. Email address

Deadline: January 7th. Notification of acceptance will be emailed no later
than February 7th. Each student who presents a paper will also be expected
to give a five minute commentary on another student's paper.

Our website:

Check out our facebook group: 2013 Intermountain West Student Philosophy

Follow us on Twitter: @UtahPhilosophyG

Any questions should be addressed to Anna at UUIWGPC at gmail dot com

Thursday, November 22, 2012

An American Thanksgiving

Coincidentally, I was about to abandon work and go celebrate Thanksgiving with family when I received a query about last year's First Anniversary Ethics lecture by Prof. Roger Gottlieb.  I was moved to share an article of his and draw attention to his blog, on which I read this about the recent election:

Is it possible to find some gratitude in our hearts, even in the face of such clownishness? Perhaps we could remember that bad as our system is—overpowered by money, shaped by an electorate half of which does not vote, keyed to satisfaction of beliefs and values which are so often opposed to our common good—it has some great goods in it. At times we have been able to make moral progress through political means—as in the civil rights and feminist movements. At times dissidents could make their voices heard to check an abhorrent foreign policy—as in mass popular demonstrations against the Vietnam War. At times corrupt politicians suffer for their corruption—as Nixon did. If there are lots of problems, there have been, at times, some real moves in the right direction. Despair over what is going wrong is perfectly understandable and appropriate, but so is a deep appreciation for what we have accomplished.
The last spiritual virtue I’ll mention is loving connection. Every religious tradition celebrates it, as do countless spiritual teachers who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” What does love mean in politics? Rooted in awareness of our own moral frailties, keyed to gratitude for the gifts that we have created, spiritual love in politics is a sort of activist kindness, a wish that all beings be happy and free of pain, a cheerful willingness to roll up our sleeves and make our communities and nation a little better, and a sense of wonder that human beings—with all our short-sightedness, selfishness, tendency to violence and moral narrowness—can ever live together with any care and justice.

Friday, November 16, 2012

CFP: Philosophy of Sport, student paper prize


IAPS is proud to announce the third edition of the “R. Scott Kretchmar Student Essay Award.” Interested undergraduate and graduate students should submit a full paper by June 17, 2013 (in addition to an abstract, see below). A separate announcement is posted at the IAPS website <> .

2013 IAPS Conference - Call for Papers <>

The International Association for the Philosophy of Sport invites the submission of abstracts to be considered for presentation at the 41st annual 2013 IAPS meeting. The conference will be held September 4-8, 2013 at California State University Fullerton.

Abstracts are welcome on any area of philosophy of sport, including metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics, and from any theoretical approach, including analytic philosophy and critical theory. While IAPS recognizes, values, and encourages interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies, acceptance is contingent on the philosophical content of the project. Emerging scholars are encouraged to submit works in progress.

A Program Committee of three IAPS peers will review abstracts. Contributors will be notified about the status of their abstracts by May 20, 2013

Proposals for round table and panel discussions, including a tentative list of participants, are also welcome and should follow the same format as paper abstracts.
IAPS is proud to announce the third edition of the “R. Scott Kretchmar Student Essay Award.” Interested undergraduate and graduate students should submit a full paper by June 17, 2013 (in addition to an abstract, see below). A separate announcement is posted at the IAPS website <> .

Abstracts should be 300-500 words long, in English, and must be received by April 1, 2013. Please, follow the following instructions (incomplete proposals will be returned). Provide:

1. Name, E-mail, current position, and employer
2. Title of Program
3. Key Words (three to five)
4. Primary Content Area/s (choose no more than 2)

* Ethics d. Epistemology g. Applied
* Metaphysics e. Phenomenology h. History
* Aesthetics f. Comparative i. Other (explain)

5. Indicate special Audio-Visual requirements (computer & projector will be provided)

The preferred mode of submission is by e-mail.

Please send the abstract blind-review ready as an attachment, preferably in Word, to the Conference Chair at:

Contributors who lack access to e-mail may send a hard copy instead to the following address:

Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza
IAPS Conference Chair
Associate Professor of Philosophy – Linfield College
4786 Brisa del Bosque
Los Alamos, NM (USA)

2 Student Philosophy Conference CFPs

CFP: Third Annual Philosophy Student Conference at Dowling College
    Adam Nov 15 07:23AM -0800

    CFP: Third Annual Philosophy Student Conference at Dowling College
    (Oakdale, Long Island, New York, April 6, 2013)

    *Sponsored by the Forum for Advanced Studies Gaetanno Massa, Rome, Italy*

    In order to increase student awareness of and interest in philosophy, and
    to encourage contributions to the scholarly community, Dowling College
    Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies invites students to submit
    papers relating to any philosophical topic or period. Authors of accepted
    papers will be given the opportunity to present their work at Dowling
    College’s third annual philosophy student conference. *Now extended to
    first and second-year graduate students!*

    Deadline for Submissions: January 5, 2013

    Submission Guidelines:

    1. Although papers must relate to a philosophical topic or period, that
    does not mean that other areas, such as psychology, sociology, neurology,
    biology, etc., are excluded. As long as the paper engages with its topic in
    a philosophical manner you are more than welcome to submit the paper.
    Presenters should plan on having 20 minutes to present their work (approx.
    10-12 pages long). Time limits will be strictly enforced.

    2. Attach a copy of your submission in .pdf, .doc, or .docx format to an
    email, and send it to Within the email,
    please include your name, email address, and college/university that you
    are affiliated with.

    3. Please do not include your name on your paper, so that it may be
    reviewed “blind” by a committee of conference organizers.

    4. Authors whose papers are accepted will be notified by February 3, 2013.

    5. When you submit your paper, please indicate whether you would be
    interested acting as a discussant for another speaker's paper.

    Please remember that you do not have to be a philosophy major to submit a
    paper! All currently enrolled undergraduates are welcome to submit their

    The Rudolph Campus of Dowling College is located in Oakdale, NY. This is
    50 miles from NYC, and 25 minutes walk from the Oakdale LIRR train station.

    For more information contact

Jim Bodington Nov 14 10:45PM -0800

University of New Mexico Philosophy Graduate Student Association Presents:

2013 Annual Graduate Student Conference

*Call for Papers*

*Philosophy of Art and Literature*

April 19th and 20th

Albuquerque, NM

Keynote Speaker: Professor John Lysaker (Emory University)

Faculty Speaker: Professor Iain Thomson (UNM)

Continental philosophy is often, and unfairly, dismissed as (bad) literary
criticism. While it is true that, thanks to Martin Heidegger, art and
literature have played a crucial role in the development of continental
thought, the past three decades have witnessed among continental thinkers
an increasingly pronounced abandonment of literary and artistic obsessions
in favor of an emphasis on the ethical and the political. In the meanwhile,
traditionally marginalized artistic forms (film, television, graphic
novels) have been granted philosophical importance, and writers
traditionally regarded as literary figures (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry
James, David Foster Wallace) are being considered part of the American
philosophical heritage. What is the status of the aesthetic in the wake of
these changes?

*We invite papers that consider this question from a variety of
perspectives. Some lines of inquiry that might be addressed include:*

· What role can the encounter with a work of art or literature
continue to play in shaping philosophical reflection?

· What relationship does the production of art and literature bear
to the (political) organization of public space?

· Do literary and poetic forms have a home in philosophical
discourse? Are there modes of philosophical reflection that require for
their expression poetic or literary form?

· What promise remains in the Heideggerian inheritance that has, in
many ways, been disregarded?

· Is there an inherent connection between the art work’s resistance
(to interpretation, to appropriation) and political resistance?

· What counts as art today, and what is at stake in that decision?
Have the answers to this question fundamentally changed?

· How does art shape or reshape the everyday and life as such?

* *

*We welcome papers from graduate, and advanced undergraduate, students in
any area.*

*Please submit papers of 3,500 words or less prepared for blind review to:*


*Deadline for submission: January 15, 2013*

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Students with French language and interest in a Master's

MA Contemporary European Philosophy
A new joint MA between London (CRMEP) & Paris (University of Paris 8)
CRMEP is pleased to announce two £5000 competitive scholarships for international (non-EU) students to study on MA Contemporary European Philosophy, 2013/14, its new joint award with University of Paris 8.

Deadline for applications: Monday 21 January 2013

MA Contemporary European Philosophy is a unique, 18-month programme offering students an international and interlinguistic orientation in current philosophical work in the Modern European Tradition. Students spend the autumn semester in London, the spring semester in Paris, and the final six months working on a dissertation in either city. The programme combines the strengths of Kingston's CRMEP with the renowned expertise and experience of the Philosophy Department at Paris 8. A good reading knowledge of French is a requirement for admission to the programme. Language support is offered in London in semester 1. For further details go here.

CRMEP is also offering a £2000 scholarship for each of our three, one-year, taught MA programmes
MA Aesthetics and Art Theory
MA Modern European Philosophy
MA Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory

All applications to these MAs received by Friday 19 April 2013 will automatically be considered for these scholarships. See here for further details of these MAs.
The MA teaching team in CRMEP currently includes:
Éric Alliez             Étienne Balibar                 Howard Caygill          Peter Hallward
Catherine Malabou       Peter Osborne           Stella Sandford

Enquiries: S.Sandford [at]

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Philosophy Grad School Info-Panel, Oct. 10

Students, take note!  
THIS WEDNESDAY: Are you going to graduate school next year? Come to Philosophy's Graduate School Information Session, 2 p.m., Bata 402! The panel of sages includes Byron Stoyles, James Connelly, Kate Norlock and Karen Robertson. Tell everyone you know who hopes to apply to graduate programs in Philosophy in the coming year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Trent professors rank high, outperformers!

The news broke before school started back up, so colleagues and students weren't all hip to the latest bulletin, which is that we are amazing.  Trent U faculty both out-perform other (and bigger!) universities and over-perform for our size.  In short, our professors and research impact are impressive! That's right, we're highly ranked in sciences and humanities according to HESA (that's the Higher Education Strategy Association). They report that our professors are exceptionally productive and widely cited researchers. Indeed, they voice surprise on every other page, which is gratifying, but I'm not as surprised as they were. See the full report, "Measuring Academic Research in Canada," here. [Launches a pdf]

Of course, I cannot resist suggesting that, given this clear and recognized strength, we would be crazy to squander our hard-earned reputation as outstandingly productive research scholars by teaching the same load year-round. I hear the wheels of the three-year-degree bandwagon rolling on, but why squander nationally reputed and hard-earned scholarship rankings to gain speed?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sustainability Studies defense on Friday

The Sustainability Studies Graduate Program is pleased to announce the following upcoming M.A. thesis defense:
Geoffrey Eve
"Sustainability Reporting in the Oil Sands: A Narrative Analysis of Energy Company Approaches to Sustainable Development"
Friday, September 14, 2012
11:15 a.m.
Blackburn Hall Room 126, Trent University
All are welcome; seating is limited.
Supervisor: Professor John Bishop
Committee: Professor Stephen Hill, Professor Graham Taylor
External Examiner: Professor Hevina Dashwood (Brock University)
Chair: Professor Kathryn Norlock
Given the lack of public trust and recent notable environmental problems in the Alberta oil sands industry, I have proposed the question: Should the energy industry operating in the oil sands follow and commit to a more normative approach of the natural-resource-based view in their sustainable development strategies, and thereby become more responsible corporate stewards?
Through a narrative analysis of sustainability reports for four energy companies operating in the oil sands, I have discovered that most disclosures of sustainable development are textually conceived to appear as normative motivations demonstrating moral obligations to stakeholders. However, these disclosures are disguising firm instrumental business-as-usual practices. Sustainable development is defined by companies through the natural-resource-based view, where environmental issues can be solved through eco-efficiency practices. I suggest why energy firms may have to change their strategies towards achieving sustainable development in their operations based on a more normative approach, and how to achieve it.
Keywords: Alberta, oil sands, stakeholder theory, legitimacy theory, natural-resource-based view, corporate stewardship, sustainable development, corporate reporting, eco-efficiency, narrative analysis. 

Philosophy majors are GRE champs!

Philosophy is still the best-performing major on GREs, according to this.  The sciences beat philosophers at the Quantitative section, but philosophers are right behind them, and tops in the other two-thirds.  We're some keen thinkers! You know why?  Practice, practice, practice.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Course on Punishment in Canadian Society

Students who enjoyed discussing what little we covered on this in Moral Issues should be considering enrolling in this course!  It's not cross-listed in Philosophy but there is some philosophical content, in addition to valuable social and political information that you asked and that I could not give you:

CAST 4952Y: Punishment in Canadian Society
2012-13 FW

Course Description:

Punishment in Canadian Society will be an interdisciplinary examination of punishment under the law. It would be best suited as a senior level offering. The course will discuss multiple dimensions of punishment, but the key focus will be placed on incarceration. The course will be divided into three primary sections. These are the philosophy of punishment, the history of punishment, and contemporary socio-legal dimensions of punishment.

The class is intended to introduce students to the key philosophical debates surrounding the justifications for punishment in Western societies. The course will also introduce students to the key academic investigations of punishment that have uncovered particular dynamics of power and inequality in the practice of criminal justice. These will include discussions of gender (including discussions of masculinity), working class representation amongst prison populations, issues of race, and geo-political differences between national justice policies (comparing the UK, United States, and Canada). 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

MASS defense today!

The Sustainability Studies Graduate Program is pleased to announce the following M.A. thesis defense:

Emily McCullogh, "The Value of Personal Relationships in Relation to the Success of Aid Programs: Experiences of Aid Workers in Post-Earthquake Haiti"

Thursday, August 16, 2012
10:00 a.m.
Blackburn Hall Room 126, Trent University
All are welcome; seating is limited.

Supervisor: Professor Kathryn Norlock
Committee: Professor Ray Dart
External Examiner: Professor Walter Perchal (York University)
Chair: Professor Asaf Zohar


            This thesis addresses the branch of sustainability that is concerned with the care provided to human beings in disaster situations and the success of programs designed to address their needs. First, it argues that the individual experiences of aid workers in this context are valuable and should be considered when evaluating the effectiveness of post-disaster aid work. There is growing recognition of the importance of the quality of care in these environments and one approach to expanding our knowledge in this area is to seriously consider the individual experiences of aid workers that have had direct contact and interaction with aid recipients in post-disaster environments. Second it argues that communication and collaboration with the community are measures that contribute to the success of programs in that context. The participants in this study articulate the importance of personal relationships with aid recipients in the success of program design and implementation. Relationships that are positive and supportive enable a higher degree of communication and collaboration with the community, which results in higher success rates as well as an increase in the probability that the program will be successful without the support of aid workers. Overall quality of care is a category of concern.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Teaching this fall: Kant's ethics

My fourth-year course looks, to my eyes, perfect. (Sorry, students, I'm not teaching another course this term, as I chair the Philosophy department instead.) 

Students may notice that what I consider perfect, they consider a crushing workload suitable to graduate school.  To which I can only say, Yes, that sounds about right!  Trust me, you'll learn a lot if you try to do it all.  You may not get an A, but that's hardly the point.  And I didn't put the A out of reach; it's just that you have to read some of the most difficult philosophical works, and write about them with consistent excellence, to get it.  Let me know if I can help with that.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gender Gap in Undergrad Philosophy: Quantified

I'm happy to get the PhilPapers update that the Paxton et al research on the gender gap in philosophy is out in print!  This is the source of the current understanding that there is an "intro-major cliff" for women in higher education who take philosophy.

Molly Paxton, Carrie Figdor & Valerie Tiberius (2012). Quantifying the Gender Gap: An Empirical Study of the Underrepresentation of Women in Philosophy. Hypatia 27 (2):n/a-n/a.
The lack of gender parity in philosophy has garnered serious attention recently. Previous empirical work that aims to quantify what has come to be called “the gender gap” in philosophy focuses mainly on the absence of women in philosophy faculty and graduate programs. Our study looks at gender representation in philosophy among undergraduate students, undergraduate majors, graduate students, and faculty. Our findings are consistent with what other studies have found about women faculty in philosophy, but we were able to add two pieces of new information. First, the biggest drop in the proportion of women in philosophy occurs between students enrolled in introductory philosophy classes and philosophy majors. Second, this drop is mitigated by the presence of more women philosophy faculty.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Creery winner, congratulations!

The James Creery Memorial Prize in memory of James Harold Creery, a Trent student of Philosophy in 1972-74, is awarded annually for the best philosophical essay written by an undergraduate at Trent.  I am very pleased to announce that the Department of Philosophy has selected Sarah McLay's essay, “Brute Emergence and Narrativity,” as the winner of this year’s James Creery Memorial Essay PrizeSarah McLay is a graduating fourth-year student who has already been accepted to the graduate program in philosophy at Concordia University for study toward a Master's degree. Congratulations to Sarah McLay! The competing papers were worthy and her selection is an achievement.

Sarah McLay (left), Creery award winner


Monday, June 4, 2012

Implicit Bias & Philosophy, July 12-13

Student Gilbert Enenajor and I will be in Sheffield for the third Implicit Bias workshop, "The Ethical and Political Implications of Bias."  The list of participants is amazing, from Samantha Brennan to Virginia Valian! What can't we learn at such a workshop?

Our plan is to bring back what we learn for a project right here at Trent U.  More on that as it unfolds.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Canadian Philosophical Association, May 27 to 30

It is an ongoing pleasure to be new in Canada.  First, I get to go to conferences I've never gone to in my life, including the Canadian Philosophical Association.  Second, no matter where it's held, the chances are that it's my first time there!  So this will be my first trek to Waterloo, because the annual meeting of the CPA will take place during the Congress of the Humanities 2012. Is it square of me that I rather like the sound of taking in a tour of the region?  And look at those opportunities to meet people who know things!  Sunday morning:
Tracy Isaacs' Moral Responsibility in Collective Contexts

O: A. MacLachlan (York)
O: A. Harbin (Dalhousie)
C. MacDonald (St Mary’s)
B. Lawson (Ind. Sch.)
A. MacLachlan (York)
A. Harbin (Dalhousie)
R: T. Isaacs (Western)

Plus: Meeting of department chairs in philosophy, a panel on the future of the profession, and the next morning kicks off with the Equity Committee. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Montreal, April 21-22: Status of Minorities in Philosophy UPDATED

Come join us!

Update: The program is now up, and look at those sessions! Note that Saturday begins with the incomparable Prof. Alexis Shotwell, followed by this new cat:

Samudhya Jayasekara (Trent University), presenting her paper, “Oppression and Epistemology: Do the Oppressed have Different Intellectual Virtues?”

If you think this sounds tremendously like the name of our own undergraduate philosophy major, you guessed correctly! That's a Trent student speaking after a prominent Canadian philosopher. 

My own session is the last one, which is kind of excellent, actually. I'm bringing my beloved data to my presentation, "We Know What Works: How to Improve Philosophy for Everyone."  Afterwards, I have to catch a train, but there's a roundtable workshop to wrap up all the big issues.

UPDATED to add their poster image; wow, these schools outdo me in excellence of poster:


Monday, April 2, 2012

Next stop: Little Rock, Arkansas

April sees me on the road a couple of times.  Later in the month, I am invited to address the Concordia-McGill conference on the status of minorities in philosophy, but first, I speak here, University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Another really impressive poster! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Colleagues, we work hard

Not at all coincidentally, I do not have time to do more than link to this, what with the hard working! Enjoy:  Do college professors work hard enough?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Presenting pessimism at LaFayette College

If you're looking for me, I'll be in Easton, PA this weekend, presenting arguments for active (and activist) pessimism!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Prof. Sally Haslanger of MIT is this year's Ryle Lecturer (UPDATED)

Doing Justice to the Social
March 19 through 21, 2012

*All are welcome to the reception following the final lecture on Wednesday, March 21.  The Alumni House will host our reception from 9 p.m. until 10:30; food is free, with cash bar available.  

Sally Haslanger is a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT, and Director of the MIT Women's and Gender Studies Program.  Her recent work is on the social construction of purportedly natural categories such as gender, race, and the family, and on topics in feminist epistemology. Her book, Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique is forthcoming from Oxford University Press (2012). She has co-editedAdoption Matters: Philosophical and Feminist Essays (Cornell University Press, 2005) with Charlotte Witt, Theorizing Feminisms (Oxford University Press, 2005) with Elizabeth Hackett, and Persistence (MIT Press, 2006) with Roxanne Marie Kurtz. She has also been a member of the philosophy faculty at the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and the University of California-Irvine.
Schedule of addresses:

Mon., Mar. 19, 7 to 9 pm – FPHL 117: What are social structures?
Tues., Mar. 20, 7 to 9 pm – FPHL 117: Ideology is a moral issue
Wed., Mar. 21, 7 to 9 pm – GCS 114: Epistemic wrongdoing
The Ryle Lecture Series, named in memory of the late Professor Gilbert Ryle of Oxford University, was established by the Philosophy Department at Trent in 1977. Each year a distinguished philosopher visits the University to present lectures and attend meetings. A grant from the Franklin J. Matchette Foundation and an endowment established by Department members, alumni and friends funds the Ryle Lectures, as well as, this year, generous support from the Kenneth Mark Drain Chair in Ethics at Trent University!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The future of Trent: More than half our credits online?

I sat down to my breakfast and opened my paper to this:
Ontario universities need to cut undergraduate degrees from four to three years, offer classes year-round and allow students to earn more than half their credits online, says a government paper obtained by the Star.
The report is written by staff in the office of Colleges and Universities Minister Glen Murray, who is quoted as saying work on the report continues before its planned release for public discussion in March.  But I cannot wait until March to say that I think it a disservice to Trent students to move to earning more than half of a B.A. online.

I am not averse to change.  (Okay, sometimes I am, but it's not always rational.)  I am receptive to the possibility that even changes which sound bad will turn out to be good, or at least the norm.  Intuitions can be wrong, misleading, and reflective of mere fear of uncertainty.  So I will likely discuss with my department the positive aspects of offering one or two philosophy courses online, especially practice-based courses like Critical Thinking.  But the statement that it is important we respond to technological advance in order that our degrees "hold their value" is undermined by doing something the very best universities do not seem at all inclined to do.  Are Oxford and Harvard hastening to see that their students earn more than half their degree credits online?  Trent's not Oxford or Harvard, but what becomes of my students when they graduate from here with a largely online degree, and compete for jobs, internships, or placement in graduate and professional school alongside students from excellent institutions?  In the past, my students couldn't claim to be alums of a school with a halo of prestige, but they could demonstrate that their skills and experiences were not vastly different from those of graduates from elite universities.  Will they still be able to do so when earning over half of their degrees online, while prestigious institutions meet in person, and interactively develop all the skills of their students?

And what happens to Trent if the professors who value interpersonal development look elsewhere, or don't apply here because they hope for better?  It seems like a recipe for the opposite of recruitment of the best scholars and professors.  It's so, so far from the Trent I heard about, the one with tutorials, intensive discussion, unforgettable seminars by the river.  Where are we going?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Canadian philosopher interviewed at NewAPPS

Laurentian University's Alexis Shotwell is the featured philosopher interviewed at the NewAPPS blog.  Blog interviews can be dull affairs, but this one is really interesting!   

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reputation via student success

My inspiration for the day, and a reason for persistence:
We have stated a model that supports the view that academic institutions seeking excellence must recognize that their mission is to maximize the aggregate achievement of their current students. Attempts to prematurely raise academic standards before a pool of high quality students is attracted to the institution are likely to be futile. Reputation-building efforts to attract good students, other than optimizing current student achievement, are of secondary importance. As an institution succeeds in increasing its student’s achievement, it will be rewarded with an increased reputation that will in turn attract better students.  (487)
- D. Mayer-Foulkes / Economics of Education Review 21 (2002)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trent Student Symposium: March 24, 2012

*CALL FOR PAPERS* deadline February 18, 2012.

The Philosophy Society is proud to present a Symposium on March 24, 2012.  The Symposium is a longstanding tradition of the Philosophy Department.  It is a one-day event hosted by the Philosophy Society and focusing on the presentation of students’ original work.

This is a call for papers to be considered for presentation at this year’s Symposium.  With this call, we ask that you submit a paper that you would like to present to an audience of your peers.   Typically, students participating in this event present versions of term papers or research projects.  However, submissions need not have been previously submitted for credit—works in progress will be considered too.  We welcome submissions that present ideas you find interesting and are likely to raise questions and spark conversation.

Papers are to be submitted to Professor Byron Stoyles (Lady Eaton College, N114).  This can be done by leaving your paper with Kathy Fife in the Departmental office (Lady Eaton College, S.118).  Submissions can also be emailed directly to Professor Stoyles (byronstoyles [at] trentu [dot] ca).  All submissions must be received no later than February 18, 2012.

Submissions should be suitable for presentation.  To allow time for questions and comments, each presentation will be 20 minutes in length or less.  This means that papers submitted for consideration should be limited to approximately 8-pages of double-spaced, 12-point font.  They can be shorter.  Please include a separate title page with your paper.  The title page should make clear that the submission is to be considered for presentation at the Student Symposium.  The title page should also indicate the title of the paper, your name and your contact information (especially your email address).  Submissions will be reviewed by members of the Department of Philosophy.  Authors will be notified by email of whether their papers have been accepted for presentation.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Moira Howes, Feb.16: Reasons Women Should Study Philosophy

Prof. Moira Howes
The Trent Philosophical Society presents
Important Reasons Why Women Should Study Philosophy
Thursday, February 16, 2012
3:00pm until 6:00pm

Come to PLANET NORTH CAFE in the front of Trent's Athletic Centre to join the discussing with faculty and students lead by Professor Moira Howes. The discussion will loosely include topics from women in graduate school, tips for applying, gender discrimination in the work place and academia, reading more women philosophers' writings... and more.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CSWIP poster!

CFP: Theorizing the body with CSWIP

The longer version of the cfp below, with all the details, can be found here, and an eye-catching, awesome poster is available in pdf here.  Deadline: FEB. 15!


Theorizing the Body, Embodiment, and Body-Practices


Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB
Friday (pm) October 26 - Sunday (am) October 28
THEME: Theorizing the Body, Embodiment, and Body-Practices

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Cressida J. Heyes, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality, University of Alberta

The Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy invites papers from all areas of philosophy related to the theme of the conference, including the history of philosophy, analytic and continental philosophy. We also welcome submissions of panel proposals that focus on specific questions, problems and concepts at work within analyses of the body, embodiment, and body-practices.
Topics might include, but are not limited to:
• The metaphysics of the body itself and the materiality of somatic practices like dance, sports, and yoga
• The aesthetic, ethical, or moral dimensions, real or imagined, of body-practices
• The role of bodies as the subjects of research science, in scientific testing, and in scientific practice more generally
• The integrity of the body in medical practice and intervention
• The taxonomies of bodies, like identity-categories of sex, gender, sexuality, race, disability and fatness, as well as the social, political, biomedical and epistemological processes by which such categories are mobilized, reinforced, and undermined
• How technologies of the body intersect with conceptions of health, bodily capacity, and life, and, conversely, with norms that give rise to judgments of deviance, incarceration, and other forms of social exclusion
• Personhood, language and agency in human and non-human animal bodies
• Methodological debates about the study of embodiment, including somatocentric and phenomenological explanations of behaviour, the study of embodied consciousness and situated cognition, and the relations between cognitive and corporeal processes
• Theoretical accounts about the embodiment of pedagogy and the complex interplay between desire, affects, and bodies in the classroom
This conference will be an accessible conference, and if you have any questions about accessibility, please do not hesitate to contact the conference organizer, Ada Jaarsma, at: ajaarsma at Ada Jaarsma
Feel free to print, post or distribute posters: EmbodimentPoster_English.pdf

Standard submissions:
Submissions of long abstracts (1000 words) are invited (for eventual presentation of papers not exceeding 3000 words). Please email the abstract as both a double-spaced Word.doc and also as a RTF attachment, prepared for anonymous review. Please note: this requires that you remove all identifying-author tags from your document content and file properties. Please include your full contact information in the email only (not with the abstract). Along with your contact information, we are asking for the brief biographical material that will be required for our SSHRC conference grant application: your institutional affiliation and degrees (starting with the most recent and specifying the discipline); recent positions, especially those relevant to the event; recent publications, especially those relevant to the event.

We welcome submissions of panel proposals, and so if you are submitting a panel, please send all of the long abstracts and the biographical information in one email, indicating clearly that this is a panel submission.
Submission deadline: midnight Mountain time, Wednesday Feb 15, 2012.

Carolyn McLeod at Trent University

'Not for the Faint of Heart': Adoption and Licensing 

Monday, February 6, 2012
6:00 to 8:00 pm
SC 115
Prof. McLeod, whose publications include Self-Trust and Reproductive Autonomy, is Associate Professor and Graduate Chair in the Department of Philosophy, an affiliate member of the Department of Women's Studies and Feminist Research, and a member of Rotman Institute of Science and Values.
The process of adopting a child is not for the faint of heart. This is what we were told when we, as a couple, began this process. Part of the challenge lies in fulfilling the licensing requirements for adoption, which, beyond the usual home study and background checks, can include mandatory participation in parenting classes. For many of us who struggle to meet these requirements, the question arises whether they are morally justified. We tackle this question in this paper and argue that some form of licensing for adoption is indeed morally necessary. After clarifying the reasons why this is so, we identify the kind of licensing that the reasons support. We leave open the question whether the licensing of so-called “natural” parents may be justified as well.   
The paper begins with an examination of reasons against licensing adoptive parents. Some of these reasons are general, being identical to those found in the philosophical literature on parental licensing. For example, if we require that parents be licensed then we will inevitably harm some people for whom parenting is an important interest by preventing them from becoming parents, including adoptive parents. This is a general reason not to require parental licensing. Some of the reasons not to license adoptive parents are, however, unique to adoption and include the harm done to children who would otherwise have parents but for a system of licensing that prevents some adoptions from occurring. A failure to be licensed for adoption may also harm adults who have a special interest in becoming adoptive parents, rather than mere parents. We argue that because many of the reasons against licensing are morally significant, any system of licensing must be supported by strong reasons. 
Turning to those reasons, we again note that they, like reasons against licensing adoptive parents, may or may not be unique to the adoption context. For example, worries about child trafficking in this context are part of a larger concern about disastrous parenting, which provides the state with reasons to license all parents. Some contend, however, that disastrous parenting is more likely to occur in adoptive families because of the absence of biological ties within these families. This concern is clearly specific to the adoption context. We consider those arguments in favour of licensing adoptive parents that focus on the absence of biological ties and show that they are unpersuasive.
There is, however, one reason in favour of licensing adoptive parents that we find compelling and that does not apply to natural parents (or at least not to all people who reproduce in order to become parents). The reason highlights the fact that before an adoption occurs there is a child for whom someone—the state or an actual person—is responsible. Surely, the transfer of responsibility for this child to the adoptive parent(s) ought to occur in a morally serious manner. But that can happen only if the party or parties who relinquish responsibility for the child can reasonably expect that the child’s future will be good or at least decent. Licensing serves the role of providing such assurance to the child’s pre-adoptive guardians. We defend licensing for adoption on these grounds and conclude by considering whether our position on licensing adoptive parents commits us to the licensing of parents who reproduce with the assistance of third parties, namely gamete providers or contract pregnant women.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Society for Analytical Feminism's new page

Carol Hay designed a fresh new webpage for SAF.  As SAF 2012 conference organizers have more developments on the big shindig at Vandy, we'll post conference details there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dempsey, all over Strawson, tonight at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 
Philosophy's Colloquium speaker series features our own Liam Dempsey tonight!
The topic: 
Micropsychism and the Explanatory Gap: 
Assessing Galen Strawson's Panpsychic Physicalism
6:00 to 8:00 pm - Champlain College Council Chambers (CCN M2), Trent University

Friday, January 20, 2012

Montreal, in April: The Status of Minorities in Philosophy

Graduates and undergraduates, note the extension of the CFP to FEBRUARY 1 for this lovely looking conference, accepting abstracts of 300-600 words.  Hmm, I wonder if I know any talented young people in Canada who philosophize, hmmm...

Friday, January 13, 2012

CFP: Conference of the Society for Analytical Feminism

SAF in 2012!
Special Conference Theme:
Take it to the Bridge:
Crossing between Analytic and Continental Feminist Philosophies
October 4-7, 2012
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Submission deadline: May 30, 2012

Take it to the bridge: 1. (In music) A phrase that connotes a change of key, a connecting but distinctive series of notes

The Society for Analytical Feminism invites long abstracts (1000-1500 words) on all topics in feminist philosophy.  Analytical approaches to feminist topics are happily invited as usual.  

In addition, special consideration will be given to abstracts that bridge feminist analytical and continental approaches, including the history of the analytic/continental “divide” in philosophy, mutually informing applications of analytic and continental philosophical methods to specific questions, analyses of the work of philosophers who bridge analytic and continental traditions or of collaborations between analytic and continental philosophers, methodological debates about the study of philosophy, including the value of different traditions, theoretical accounts of pluralism in philosophy.

Plenary speakers

Brooke Ackerly, Vanderbilt University
Amy Allen, Dartmouth College
Samantha Brennan, U of Western Ontario
Sharon Crasnow, Norco College
Heidi Grasswick, Middlebury College
Kelly Oliver, Vanderbilt University
Anita Superson, University of Kentucky
Naomi Zack, University of Oregon

Submission information

Send abstract in MSWord as an attachment via email to the chair of the program committee at <safcon2012 [at]>.  Please delete self-identifying information from abstract. Include in body of e-mail: name, title, contact information, and, if applicable, institutional affiliation.

For questions about local arrangements, including accessibility, at Vanderbilt University, contact Marilyn Friedman: <marilyn.friedman [at]>.

 Generous support for the conference has been provided by the Philosophy Department and the Dean of Arts & Sciences of Vanderbilt University.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My courses for 2012-2013

My courses for next year are, in a way, all new!  This will be interesting.

FALL 2012
PHIL 2010: Love and Desire
PHIL 2110H: Moral Issues
PHIL 4010H: Major Texts I
PHIL 1100H: Introduction to Philosophy: Moral and Political (est enrolment 200)
PHIL 3180H: Social and Political Philosophy