Resources for... William & Mary
William & Mary W&M menu close William & Mary

Philosophy Newsletter: September 2013

Dear Alumni and Friends:

Fall is upon us, and we in the William & Mary Philosophy Department would like to invite you to make plans now to join us at the Department’s Homecoming Reception on Friday, October 25th! The reception will be from 3:30 – 5 pm, in the Frank McDonald Department Library (James Blair 127). Drop in for refreshments and conversation with other alums, friends, students, and our faculty. We would love to see you and catch up.

 I write this letter as new Chair of the Department of Philosophy. I am very pleased to be here, and I thank Laura Ekstrom, my predecessor, for her capable leadership. (You will no doubt hear from her again. My term as chair will be interrupted by a Scheduled Semester Research Leave, and she has graciously consented to fill in for a year when I am away.)

The Philosophy Department has just welcomed its newest tenure-track faculty member, Christopher Tucker, who most recently taught "down under" at The University of Auckland. Chris received his Ph.D. from Purdue and has much teaching and research experience. He works in the areas of epistemology, philosophy of religion, and ethics.

 The 2012-13 academic year was a very productive one. I'm happy to say that three seniors were recipients of the Jerry Miller Essay Prize at May graduation: Justin Burnam, Grace Mendenhall, and Zach McCarty. We are grateful to Bill Richardson for the funding of this annual award. I can also report that the department took a very active role in discussions of a new general education curriculum for William & Mary. Development of the new curriculum will be on-going this coming year, and the department will soon be engaged in the tailoring of new courses.

 I would like to spotlight some of the significant accomplishments of our faculty in this past year:

Neal Tognazzini co-edited a book on blame and how it affects the moral community. You can watch an interview with Neal about his book here.

Robert Sanchez, who also works with the Latin American Studies Program, co-led a group of students to the Mexican border over winter break, to explore the ethical dimensions of immigration issues. Robert’s work is highlighted here.

 Tim Costelloe published a collection of original essays on the topic of “the sublime,” awe-inspiring experiences of beauty. You can read about Tim's collection here.

 Alan Goldman’s newest book, Philosophy and the Novel, which discusses iconic novels like Pride and Prejudice and Huckleberry Finn, is featured here.

I am pleased to announce that the Department’s next biennial conference will be held Friday, October 3rd, 2014, at the Alumni House on campus. It will be a day-long event, addressing the topic of “The Authority of Tradition.” The presentations will investigate the tension between the power that tradition has over our attitudes and behavior, on the one hand, and the suspicions we have about it as a source of authority for us, on the other. We have so far confirmed speakers from Oxford University and Columbia Law School. A website for the conference will be up shortly, so please look for it! We are very grateful to Theresa Thompson for establishing the endowment that makes possible our conferences, and to Michael Foradas for generous contributions that support our conference and our speaker series.

 I also would like to invite you to the Department's fall speaker series, with talks by Trenton Merricks (UVa) on Sept. 13th, Christian Miller (Wake Forest) on Oct. 4th, and Jamie Dreier (Brown) on Nov. 15th. Please check out the "Events" section on our homepage for titles, times, and rooms.

We appreciate all of your donations, no matter the size. We would especially like to acknowledge the substantial gifts this past year from James D. Bassage, on behalf of the Hummingbird Foundation; Stephen Nathan Chase and his firm, KPMG, LLP; and H. Edward Mann.

 Finally, I invite you to send us news about yourself. We are always interested in knowing what the graduates of the W&M Philosophy Department are up to. So, feel free to use this on-line form to contact us.

We hope to see you in October at the Homecoming reception!

Warmest wishes,

Elizabeth S. Radcliffe

Professor & Chair, Department of Philosophy