5 Questions for Professor Carolyn McLeod on the CSWIP 2017 conference, “Feminism, Philosophy, and Engaging the Public"

1. What is CSWIP and how long have you been involved in it?
CSWIP is the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy, a sister organization of the original SWIP, which was started in the U.S. in 1972. There are now societies for women in philosophy in many countries outside of the U.S., including the U.K., Ireland, and the Netherlands, to name a few. They exist to nurture and sustain women in philosophy, who continue to be underrepresented in our discipline. Personally, I have benefited from the support that CSWIP provides since I was a PhD student (so for quite a long time).

2. How was the theme of the 2017 conference, “Feminism, Philosophy, and Engaging the Public,” settled on?
I think more and more, philosophers are doing what has been called “publicly engaged philosophy” or just “public philosophy,” which can either just focus on issues of importance to the public or can occur as well in a non-academic setting, that is, literally for the public. We wanted to showcase both types of philosophy at the conference, and discuss how philosophers who may be interested in the latter but haven’t done it before could go about doing it. Our keynote address by Françoise Baylis covered this very topic. Françoise is an inspiration to many of us who seek to do publicly engaged philosophy.

3. How is the theme of the conference reflected in your own work and in that of the other organizers?
I’ve used my skills as a philosopher to influence public policy, mainly in the areas of medicine and child welfare. For example, I worked behind the scenes to help shape current policies in Ontario on conscientious objection in medicine and public funding for in vitro fertilization. I also recently, with Erin Ingard Rau, made written and oral submissions to the Ontario Standing Committee on Justice Policy about Bill 89, “Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act.” While I’ve used philosophical argument to try to convince policy-makers to change public policies, my co-organizers Tracy Isaacs and Samantha Brennan have tried to persuade the public that “Fit is a Feminist Issue,” which is the title of their highly successful blog. Their goal is to make change by encouraging the public to reflect on fitness from feminist perspectives. All of us including Helen Fielding, another co-organizer, also teach and do research in feminist philosophy, which I think is inherently a kind of public philosophy. 

4. Did any former Western students participate in the conference?
The conference profiled many former Western students, including former undergraduate, MA, and PhD students. The former undergraduates were Catherine Clune-Taylor (Princeton) and Suze Berkhout (Toronto). Among the former MAs were Phoebe Friesen (CUNY). And a small army of former PhDs were on the program: Katy Fulfer (Waterloo), Stephanie Kapusta (Dalhousie), Katharina Paxman (Brighman Young), Emma Ryman (Toronto), Patricia Sheridan (Guelph), Angela Schneider (Western), and last but not least, Françoise Baylis (Dalhousie). What talented alumnae we have! I want to add that many of our current graduate students helped with the conference: Veromi Arsiradam, Nicole Fice, Austin Horn, Cecilia Li, Jaclyn Rekis, Valérie Therrien, and Aubrie Schettler. A big thanks to them, and as well to Amy Keating and Stephanie Brocklehurst from Women’s Studies and Feminist Research. 

5. When and where will the next CSWIP conference be held?
We don’t know when exactly yet, but we do know where: in beautiful Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The conference will take place sometime in the fall of 2018 and will be organized by Sylvia Burrow, who is yet another graduate of our PhD program.

5 Questions for Professor Corey Dyck on Women Intellectuals in 18th Century Germany

1. What was the impetus for your workshop on Women Intellectuals in 18th Century Germany, held Oct. 20-21, 2017 at UWO?
Historians of philosophy have been paying increasing attention to the contributions of women philosophers and intellectuals to the debates in the 17th and 18th century. Among the more prominent examples are Project Vox, run out of Duke University, and New Narratives in the History of Philosophy, a project based at SFU. I noticed, however, that these projects tended to focus on the British and French contexts and that in fact little scholarly attention had been paid to the intellectual contributions of women in the German-speaking lands of Europe. This is understandable as the German context presents unique challenges of its own (with a distinct intellectual tradition and being rather more conservative than its neighbours), but this presented me with an opportunity to convene a group of experts in the history of German thought to look more carefully at the texts published by German women in this period and consider their various other contributions to intellectual life.

2. Who participated the workshop?
The workshop featured an excellent group of scholars of 18th-century German philosophy. A number were specialists in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, the dominant figure in philosophy in this century, but others had broader interests in the period including the history of materialism, the history of aesthetics and popular philosophy, the thought of G. W. Leibniz, and Jewish Enlightenment thought. In the end, scholars from 6 different countries (Canada, USA, France, Italy, Germany, and Austria) participated.

3. What did you discuss in your presentation?
My presentation focused on the contributions of two very impressive women--Dorothea Christiane Erxleben, the first woman awarded a medical doctorate in Germany, and Johanna Charlotte Unzer, a well-known poet and author of the first philosophical text published by a woman in German. As I show in my presentation, while neither seems to have known of the other, both offer complementary defenses of women's access to education and indeed both adopt similar strategies of deploying, in frequently ingenious ways, the philosophical resources of their most influential (male) contemporaries to frame and motivate their respective defenses.

4. How does your interest in this topic fit in with your work on Kant?
I think that Kant scholars had, for a long time, regarded Kant as such a revolutionary thinker (a view that Kant himself encouraged) that his thought constituted a radical break from anything that came before. Recent scholarship, including my own, has shown that in spite of the many innovations of Kant's Critical philosophy, it remains importantly connected to the antecedent German philosophical traditions--and this is hardly a bad thing, since German philosophy before Kant was incredibly rich, including figures like Baumgarten, Herder, Platner, and Mendelssohn who can count the invention of aesthetics and anthropology among their accomplishments, and who made signal contributions to, among other fields, political theory, literary criticism, and religion. The point, then, is that my interest in Kant has led to an interest in the antecedent tradition considered on its own terms, and the women intellectuals considered in the conference are important if often overlooked part of this tradition.

Concerning Kant himself, there were not many women with whom he engaged intellectually, and there are even fewer for which there is a written record of their interactions. Kant did engage in an exceedingly interesting correspondence with one young noblewoman, Maria von Herbert (1769-1803) who sought Kant's moral advice and eventually committed suicide. Their fascinating exchange was the topic of one of the contributions to the conference.

5. What happens next?
I will be putting the contributions to the conference together into an edited volume, and putting together my own programmatic introduction that will make the case for the relevance of the contributions of these women to the history of German philosophy in the period. Given the quality of the contributions and the intrinsic appeal of the topic, I expect the volume to find a good home at a reputable press. Longer term, it would be nice if the conference and subsequent volume generates more interest in these women and more broadly in the many ways in which women succeeded in influencing and engaging with intellectual life in the German Enlightenment.

New program a chip off the Oxford block

By Adela Talbot, Western News, October 5, 2017

As of next year, Western undergraduate students will have the opportunity to enroll in a program inspired by what The Guardian and BBC once dubbed “the degree that runs Britain.”

Oxford University’s PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) program – which makes up a large proportion of British politicians and even counts former U.S. President Bill Clinton among its students – helped generate a similar PPE program at Western, housed within the Faculty of Social Science. Read more here. 

Ken Chung (1978- 2017)

It is with great sadness that we pass along the news that our former student Kenneth (Ken) Chung passed away on Wednesday, September 27, 2017. Ken graduated with a PhD in Philosophy from Western in 2010, having written a thesis on Kant’s ethics (supervised by Dennis Klimchuk) entitled “Kant and the Fact of Reason”. He was smart, creative, kind, and liked by everyone who knew him.

Ken started a blog on the day he received his diagnosis. You can find it at If you knew Ken, you will hear his voice in it; if you didn’t, you’ll get a sense of what he was like.

Ken's last blog post, which he wrote before his death, ran as follows: "Ken Chung died on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, eighteen months after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He wished he had more time to think, to write, to read, to figure out what life was all about. But mostly he wanted more time to spend with his wonderful wife, Emma Abman, and to hang out with his family and friends. He considered himself to be, on the whole, a lucky man. He was 39 years old."

Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy

Anthony Skelton has been made an Associate Editor of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy. For more information see

d.bourgetFour Western Projects earn CFI backing

By Jason Winders, August 16, 2017, Western News

From delving into the modeling neurodegenerative diseases to looking into digital philosophy, David Bourget is amoung the four Western researchers who will share in nearly $1 million in funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund – part of a larger $52-million investment in 220 new infrastructure projects at 51 universities – allowing researchers from around the country to carry out ground-breaking research in world-class facilities. Read the full story here.

The John Locke Society to take over ownership of Locke Studies in 2018

We are pleased to announce that The John Locke Society will take over ownership of Locke Studies in 2018. The journal will be moved to Western University and Benjamin Hill (Western) will be taking over as interim editor for 2018-19. The newly formed Editorial Board will appoint an editor to serve a five-year term beginning in 2020. The new website and portal for the journal will be available this fall. When it is ready, an announcement that we are accepting submissions for the 2018 issue will be released

Members of the new Locke Studies Editorial Board are Peter Anstey (Sydney), Martha Brandt Bolton (Rutgers), Jacqueline Broad (Monash), Mark Goldie (Cambridge), Antonia LoLorodo (UVA), Timothy Stanton (York), and Udo Thiel (Graz). Members of the Editorial Board will sit for six year terms.

The move to Western will transform the journal from a subscription-based print journal to an open access e-journal. The journal will use the BePress e-publishing platform and will be housed on Scholarship@Western, supported by Western’s Library system and staff. There are significant advantages to publishing as an open access e-journal. Articles will be published as they are reviewed and readied rather than waiting for the end of the calendar year. Desktop delivery of articles will be available to members of The John Locke Society and on-demand delivery available to anyone in the world with internet access. The time between submission and acceptance will be driven downward toward a target of two months. Metrics for article downloads and views will be available. Special issues devoted to interesting topics and themes can be solicited and published and the journal would be able to expand issues and grow as submissions and readership demands. Western’s Philosophy Department is also offering the journal a Graduate Research Assistantship position for an editorial assistant.

We will also be making all of the back issues of Locke Studies and The Locke Newsletter available electronically as word searchable PDFs via the e-publishing platform. Past issues will be made available as they are digitalized and ready for distribution.

Locke Studies was founded by Roland Hall (York) in 1970 as The Locke Newsletter and has been edited by Timothy Stanton (York) since 2013. The Steering Committee of The John Locke Society would like to thank Roland Hall for his vision and tireless service to Locke scholarship for founding and maintaining the journal for so many years and Timothy Stanton for taking up the reins from Professor Hall and continuing to serve the community of Locke scholars. We are honored and excited to follow their leadership and move Locke Studies forward for the next generation of scholars.

More information about The John Locke Society, becoming a member, or accessing the new e-platform is available at . Please sign up for our newsletter, follow our blog, or like us on Facebook to keep abreast of the developments this fall and winter.

locke society2017 John Locke Workshop, Toleration: Its Epistemic and Anthropological Bases

The Western Philosophy Department, along with the Western Political Science and Columbia Philosophy departments, hosted the 2017 edition of the John Locke Workshop. This year's theme was Toleration: Its Epistemic and Anthropological Bases.

An international line-up of distinguished scholars from Philosophy, Political Science, and Religious Studies programs met over the course of three days to discuss the origins of Locke's thinking about toleration and the background to his famous letter concerning Toleration. Much of the conversation centered around emerging research on the nature of Locke's theological commitments and their role in structuring his thinking about toleration and the limits of political authority.

A second significant topic of discussion was the importance of Locke's conception of human nature, enthusiasm, and the workings of the human mind in driving his judgment toward toleration as a public policy. One of the additional highlights of the workshop was the presentation of two heretofore unknown Locke manuscripts (both discovered in North American library holdings) that are directly connected to the composition of Locke's 1667 Essay concerning Toleration and his early explorations of the toleration debates.

Descriptions of each of the sessions can be found on the blog at (thanks go out to Western's Alastair Crosby for blogging during the workshop!). Entertainment during the workshop included an excursion to the Stratford Festival to see Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. We'd like to thank the following members of the local scholarly community from joining us during the workshop: Lorne Falkenstein, Tom Lennon, Rob Stainton, and graduate students Remi Alie and Alastair Crosby. The workshop is part of an annual series of workshop organized under the auspices of The John Locke Society. The 2018 edition of the Locke Workshop will be held at Mansfield College, Oxford University, July 16-18. Keynote speakers for the 2018 workshop will be Lisa Downing (OSU), Edwin McCann (USC), and Timothy Stanton (York). A call for papers will be released sometime this fall. More information about the Society and its activities can be found at

ppeNew Honors Specializations in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE)

The Departments of Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics are pleased to announce the introduction of two new PPE (Politics, Philosophy, and Economics) modules, to be launched in the 2018-19 academic year; interested incoming students will need to take the required first-year courses in AY 2017-18.

The new PPE modules are composed of two distinct streams: PPE-E, which emphasizes Economics; and PPE-P, which emphasizes Philosophy and Political Science. Details of the modules can be found on the websites of the Departments of Political Science and Economics.General questions about the PPE program should be directed to the PPE Director, Professor Terry Sicular (Economics). Specific questions about Philosophy course selections for the PPE module can be directed to Professor Andrew Botterell (Philosophy).

bill demopolsProfessor William George Demopoulos, 1943 - 2017

After a distinguished career as a philosopher, teacher, and mentor, William (Bill) Demopoulos died on May 29th, 2017. Read more here.

Trace search in Halle: Forgotten philosopher and German metaphysicians

By Scientia Halensis, May 16, 2017

Corey Dyck was recently interviewed on his Humboldt Fellowship research project and his research on women philosophers in Halle (in German). Read more here.

Brennan: Why I didn’t protest Jordan Peterson’s visit but newspaper coverage almost makes me wish I did

By Samantha Brennan, Western News, March 30, 2017

Samantha Brennan writes about Jordan Peterson's recent visit to the Western campus. Read more here.

Professors’ feminist fitness blog named among top health influencers

By Tara Filipovich, Western News, March 16, 2017

WesternprofessorsTracy IsaacsandSamantha Brennanwererecently nominated as one of OptiMYz magazine’s Top 100 Health Influencers. Their blog, Fit is A Feminist Issue, was ranked fifth for its positive messages and community discussion around issues related to fitness and health.Read more here.

Western Philosophy ranked as one of the top 50 Philosophy departments in the world for 2017.

By The Guardian, March 8, 2017

Western University named among the top 50 universities in the world for philosophy, as ranked by higher education data specialists QS. Read more here.

James Overton (Ph.D. Philosophy 2012) speaks with Phil Skills about his change from academia to scientific ontologies

James Overton (PhD Philosophy, 2012) recently spoke about his shift from PhD student in philosophy of science to his current non-academic job as a founder of Knocean, Inc. Read more here.

Ask her anything: Philosophy professor connects with online community

By Julia Beltrano, Western News, February 9, 2017

Samantha Brennanspeakswith Western News about her recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit, "It’s important for all academics to engage with the public about our work and our ideas, not just philosophers. But I do think philosophers have both a special obligation and a special ability to engage with the public since we are concerned with issues everyone thinks about to some degree."Read the article here.

Scientific Society for the Exploration of the Enlightenment was founded in Halle (Saale)

By Editors Hall Post, Halle Post, January 31, 2017

Corey Dyck participated in the founding of the 'Christian Wolff Society for the Philosophy of the Enlightenment' in Halle, Germany. Read the article here.

Forgotten role of reproductive justice in Zika crisis

By Nicole Fice, Cory Goldstein, Austin Horn, Western News, January 25, 2017

Ph.D. students, Nicole Fice, Cory Goldstein and Austin Horn, write in the Western News about the response to the Zika virus and the effect on women's reproductive rights. Read more.

Winter 2017 Newsletter

The Departmental newsletter for Winter 2017 has been released featuring the latest publications, presented papers and upcoming events. Read more.

Competing Interests: The team doctor’s dual loyalty problem

By Roger Collier, CMAJ, January 10, 2017

Samantha Brennan comments on the difficult position team physicians face when dealing with sports team injuries. Read the full article here.  

2015-16 Teaching Honour Roll features nine Philosophy professors for their teaching excellence

TheUniversityStudents' Council (USC) presents the 2015-16 Teaching Honour Roll awarded to Western'sbestinstructors,recognizing their exceptional efforts and contributions. In order to receive honour roll standing, an instructor must receive a cumulative average of 6.3 or higher out of 7.0 for the first 14 questions on the UWO Instructor & Course Evaluations. Evaluations are completed by students for every course taught at Western and it’s affiliate colleges. The following instructors in the Department of Philosophy received this distinction for their teaching Andrew BotterellLorne FalkensteinDennis KlimchukAngela MendeloviciRodney ParkerRyan RobbAnthony SkeltonChristopher SmeenkJackie Sullivan, and John Thorp

How two women are rethinking what it means to be fit

By Lisa Mesbur, Canadian Living, January 5, 2017

Tracy Isaacs and Samantha Brennan speak with Canadian Living about what it means to be fit and who gets to claim the title. Read the full article here.

Spring 2017 Reddit Ask me Anything (AMA) featuring Samantha Brennan


Samantha Brennanwillbea guest on the Reddit PhilosophysubforumAskmeAnything (AMA) on January 25th at 2:00 pm. After an excellent series of AMAs in Fall 2016, the moderators of r/philosophy are continuing this spring with another series of AMAs by professional philosophers. If you'd like to check out all the previous AMAs done on/r/philosophypleasevisittheWiki page here. Fulldetailscanbefound here.

Call for papers and abstracts: Feminism, Philosophy, and Engaging the Public: Theory, Policy, and Practice

The conference will feature a workshop from feminist philosophers involved in policy. We welcome submissions about the variety of ways that feminist philosophers engage the public whether that’s through blogging and social media, taking part in policy decisions, philosophy cafes, or through activism. More information can be found here.

Finding reason for hope in a wrong-way election

By Tracy de Boer, Western News, November 17, 2016

Tracy de Boer, comments on finding hope after the 2016 Presidential election results. Read more.

Is this generation too soft?

By Tracy de Boer, Western News, October 26, 2016

Tracy de Boer, a Ph.D. student in Philosophy, asks the question, "Is this generation 'soft'?" in the latest issue of the Western News. Read more.

Feminist Philosophy Quarterly: Volume 2, Issue 2 (2016)

Feminist Philosophy Quarterly (FPQ) has just released their newest issue, Volume 2, Issue 2 (2016) Fall 2016. FPQ is dedicated to promoting feminist philosophical scholarship and strives to be a platform for philosophical research that engages the problems of our time in the broader world.Read it here.

2015-16 Chair's Annual Essay Prize

Congratulations to Francesco Lucia, winner of the Chair's Annual Essay Prize for 2015-16 for his essay "On the Alleged Inconsistency of Weak Epistemic Egoism”. The paper was written for Professor Sullivan’s PHIL 3501G: Epistemology.

Chris Bosh's Desire to Play Leaves Heat at an Ethical Crossroads

By Samantha BrennanNew York Times, September 27, 2016

Samantha Brennan comments on the ethically challenging Chris Bosh case in the New York Times. Read more

Fall 2017 Newsletter

The Departmental newsletter for Winter 2017 has been released featuring the latest publications, presented papers and upcoming events. Read more.

Scholars named among Royal Society elite

By Jason WindersWestern News, September 1, 2016

Royal Society 2016Charles Weijer, Philosophy and Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, has been named among the nation's top scholars in the arts, humanities, and sciences by the Royal Society of Canada. Read more.

Treating with emotions: The 'passion theory' of anorexia

By James Purtill, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 23, 2016

Louis Charland shares views about disorders and addictions being treated as passions. Read more.

Commentary: Verdict did not acquit misconceptions

By Tracy DeBoer, Western News, May 11, 2016

Tracey de Boer, a Philosophy Ph.D. candidate, comments on the Jian Ghomeshi acquittal. Read more

With their brains not maturing until their mid-20s, it’s time to use a different approach to life and learning with our young men

By Henrik Lagerlund and Erika Simpson, London Free Press, May 09, 2016

Henrik Lagerlund and Erika Simpson, Political Science, recommend a different approach to life and learning with young men. Read more.

Andrew Peterson discusses ethics of brain research on CBC ideas

CBC Ideas, May 04, 2016

Andrew Peterson, a Philosophy Ph.D. student, discusses the ethics of medical research on severely brain injured patients on an episode of CBC Ideas, "Ideas from the Trenches- The Open Mind". Read More

Physician Assisted Death: Challenges for Social Policy in Canada

By Cory Goldstein, Rotman Institue, April 5, 2016

Cory Goldstein, Philosophy Ph.D. Candidate, and a member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy comments on physician-assisted death in Western News. Read more

Western Philosophy program named among global elite

By Jason Winders, Western News, March 21, 2016

Western Philosophy ranked 38 of Top 50 in QS World University Rankings by Subject Read more

What to make of Barbie's new bod

By Tracey de Boer, Western News, March 9, 2016

Tracey de Boer, a Ph.D. student in Philosophy and a member of the Rotman Insitute of Philosophy, comments on the new changes to Barbie's body. Read more