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Philosophy Newsletter: October 2018

Hello Alumni and Friends!

Before diving into the news about our students, faculty, and alumni, let me invite you all to join us at the Department’s annual homecoming open house on Friday, October 19. As usual, it will be from 3:00 to 4:30 pm, in the Frank MacDonald Library, James Blair Hall 127. If you’re in town for the festivities and feel like having some philosophical conversation – or if you feel like reminiscing about philosophical conversations of years past – come on by. It would be great to see you and hear what you’re up to. There will be plenty of snacks and drinks and, we hope, familiar faces.

 If you do come to the homecoming reception, you’ll actually be able to see what a difference alumni donations make: after more than twenty years, the library now has new carpeting! And, after correcting a common color estimation error that briefly resulted in walls that were too bright to look at safely (see killer yellow) the seminar room is now a gentle yellow that makes it seem like summer all year long. Thank you for your contributions! Special thanks to Matthew and Carrie Sullivan, Jeremy Lazarus, William Rollins, Zachary Stroud and Linda Heffernan, and Andrew and Meghan Welch.

 ~Student News~

This past May the Department graduated nearly twenty majors, half of whom were double majors with another discipline. Special recognition goes out to Yuanchen Lu, Abe Wang, and Hannah Winkler-Olick, who completed Honors theses.

Last October, Lynette Shen and Mason Davenport were each awarded Jennifer Bosanko Memorial Scholarships, while this October Michael Cairo was the sole recipient. The Bosanko scholarships are awarded each fall to one or two Philosophy majors who demonstrate intellectual curiosity, industriousness, and a well-rounded approach to the world: the sort of virtues that characterized Jen Bosanko. We received many contributions to the Bosanko Fund this past year and are very grateful to everyone who helped celebrate the memory of Jen.

The Jerry Miller Essay Prize was awarded in May to graduating senior Abe Wang for his paper, “Epiphenomenalism, Property Dualism and Panprotopsychism.” As always, heartfelt thanks to Bill and Mary Richardson, whose generosity was instrumental in establishing the prize fund, and whose thoughtfulness keeps the memory of Jerry Miller alive.

The Diverse Philosophies Club was led by students Noah Terrell and Michael Cairo again this past year. It held weekly meetings in which the students discussed such topics as the meaning of Nietzsche's “God is Dead,” Adorno's critique of free time, Queer Theory, an argument against universal suffrage, panpsychism, the Futurist movement and aesthetics, the metaphysics of race and gender, pre-destination and free will, Marxism, and the inexhaustible topic of moral luck. With support from the Department and the Reves center, the club also held its annual undergraduate conference on March 17th and 18th. The keynote speaker was Dr. Andrew Moon of Virginia Commonwealth University. It also featured talks by William & Mary students, as well as students from across the country. Here is the conference program along with some more information about the club.

~Faculty News~

Elizabeth Radcliffe had a banner year in 2017-18, with the publication of her book, Hume, Passion, and Action, with Oxford University Press. This book is the culmination of decades of work, and is arguably the best book on Hume published in the past forty years. You can read a little about it here. Elizabeth also gave a public lecture on Hume as part of the prestigious Royal Institute of Philosophy’s London Lecture Series.

Tim Costelloe also continues to produce books. This year he came out with his third monograph: The Imagination in Hume's Philosophy: The Canvas of the Mind, published by Edinburgh Press.

I myself appeared for the first time in a podcast, Hi-Phi Nation, defending the idea that revenge is indeed sweet.  And Chris Freiman talked about liberty and poverty on the Rubin Report.

~Department Events~

In mid-April our own Aaron Griffith hosted the 5th Annual Early Career Metaphysics Workshop
This Workshop is held every year at a different institution and focuses on research by early-career scholars working in metaphysics.

We also had our Biennial Conference a few weeks ago, at the magnificent Williamsburg Lodge. The focus of the conference was Neo-Pragmatism: an approach to philosophical problems that seeks to dissolve them by replacing talk of truth and truth-making with a focus on the idea of language as a tool for getting things done. It featured an all-star cast of speakers including Simon Blackburn (Cambridge and UNC-Chapel Hill), Huw Price (University of Cambridge), Mazviita Chirimuuta (Pittsburgh), John Roberts (UNC-Chapel Hill), Amie Thomasson (Dartmouth), Philip Pettit (Princeton), Jose Zalabardo (University College London), and Jamie Dreier (Brown). This conference attracted an audience of highly regarded philosophers from all over the country, and brought students up from ODU, and down from Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon.  You can get more information about the conference, and past biennial conferences, here.

Just this past weekend Elizabeth Radcliffe hosted a workshop on Hume's Second Enquiry. This workshop featured talks by the contributors to A Critical Guide to Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, which will be coming out with Cambridge University Press.

We also have an exciting lineup of guest speakers in our colloquium series.  On Friday, October 26th Elizabeth Barnes of the University of Virginia will give a talk entitled “Wellbeing and the Value of Health” from 3:30 to 5:00 pm in Blow Hall, room 333. This talk is part of the 100 Years of Women at W&M celebration. If you’re in town, please come!

More talks this academic year include Carla Merino-Rajme from UNC/Chapel Hill, James Binkoski of Dartmouth College, and both Keith Lehrer and Steve Wall of the University of Arizona.  You can find the times and places for these talks on our homepage.

All these conferences, workshops, and colloquium talks are made possible by the support of Teresa Thompson and Michael Foradas. Their very generous gifts, along with gifts from so many of you, have contributed a great deal to the intellectual vibrancy of the department, and have helped raise the profile of William & Mary, and the Philosophy department.

~Send Us your News~

Please let us know what and how you are doing; submit your updates online using this form, or send them to me via email, and we’ll post them on our website.

We hope to see you at the Homecoming reception on October 19!

Best wishes,
Joshua Gert
Philosophy Department Chair