Congratulations to Jackie Sullivan on her recent election to the Governing Board of the Philosophy of Science Association
July 7th, 2021
Philosophy faculty member Jackie Sullivan has recently been elected to the Governing Board of the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA). The PSA was founded in 1933 and promotes research, teaching, and free discussion of issues in the philosophy of science from diverse standpoints. To read more about the PSA and its Governing Board please visit their website here. Congratulations Jackie!
Charles Weijer contributes to the world’s first reporting guidelines for trials modified by the Covid-19 pandemic
June 29th, 2021
Thousands of clinical trials globally were terminated, paused, or modified during the Covid-19 pandemic. These changes impacted hundreds of thousands of trial participants, and put the enrollment of millions of patients on hold. But how should trials impacted by the pandemic be reported? Philosophy faculty member Charles Weijer was part of an international team writing the world’s first reporting guidelines for trials modified by the Covid-19 pandemic and other extenuating circumstances. The CONSERVE 2021 guidelines were published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. Read more here.
Philosophy alumnus Sarah Hogarth Rossiter joins the Department of Philosophy and Humanities at Douglas College
June 28th, 2021
Sarah Hogarth Rossiter (Ph.D. Philosophy, Western) has recently secured a position as a faculty member with the Department of Philosophy and Humanities at Douglas College. Sarah has been working at Douglas College for the past three years, and specilizates in Mediveval Philosophy with her teaching interests in Logic, Critical Thinking, History of Philosophy, and Philosophy of Religion.
June 22nd, 2021
The Philosophy department's Administrative Officer, Elisa Kilbourne, has recently published an article with Threads of Life magazine. Threads of Life is a Canadian registered charity dedicated to supporting families after a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease. Please click here to read about Elisa’s story and her work as a Volunteer Family Guide.
June 18th, 2021
A recent article for University Affairs magazine by Ian Coutts highlights the rising enrollment in university philosophy programs across Canada. Coutts describes how philosophy is seen as a tool to understand and change the world, and explains the reasons why philosophers "out-earn every other humanities major except economics", and "every business major except finance". Read the full article here.
Congratulations to Denisa Logojan, winner of the Gold Medal for Honours Specialization in Philosophy
June 17th, 2021
Denisa will be graduating this June with an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a Specialization in Philosophy, and has been awarded the Gold Medal for Honours Specialization in Philosophy for her outstanding academic performance in the Philosophy specialization. Denisa will be attending law school at the University of Ottawa in the fall and will continute her medic work with the Canadian Armed Forces Army. Congratulations Denisa!
June 17th, 2021
Lihan will be graduating this June with an Honours Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies, with a Double Major in Philosophy and Finance. Lihan has been awarded the Gold Medal for Honours Major in Philosophy for her outstanding academic performance in the Philosophy major. Congratulations Lihan!
June 15th, 2021
Congratulations to Nadia Miller, winner of the 2020-21 Chair's Annual Essay Prize for her essay, Practical Nous and Akrasia in The Nicomachean Ethics. The paper was written for Professor Devin Henry's Topics in the History of Ethics. Congratulations on this achievement Nadia!
June 8th, 2021
Maggie O'Brien (BA Philosophy, Western) has recently accepted a position as a tenure track professor at York University. Congratulations Maggie!
Philosophy PhD candidate Heather Stewart guest edits the latest APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy
May 20th, 2021
Heather Stewart (PhD Candidate, Philosophy, Western) has guest edited the latest APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy with Arianna Faldo from Brown. Please visit the APA Newsletter here for more. Congratulations Heather!
Philosophy alumna Karen Detlefsen named vice provost for education at the University of Pennsylvania
May 19th, 2021
Karen Detlefsen, Western Philosophy MA '95, has recently been named vice provost for education at University of Pennsylvania. Detlefsen is a professor of philosophy in the School of Arts & Sciences, with a secondary appointment in the Graduate School of Education. She is chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts and Sciences, founding director of Penn’s Project for Philosophy for the Young and an affiliated faculty member of the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women. For more information on this role and Detlefsen's work please visit the University of Pennsylvania news post here.
May 11th, 2021
We are deeply saddened about the sudden death of our dear colleague, Prof. Louis Charland. Louis was an integral part of our department for 23 years, while also being jointly appointed with Health Sciences. As a philosopher of emotions, psychiatry, and medicine, he contributed greatly to the education of our students and the collective knowledge of our department. Our thoughts are with his family. For our online memorial to Louis, please click HERE. If you would like to contribute to this memorial please email Nicole Kirkpatrick (email@example.com) with a memory or appreciation of Louis.
May 5th, 2021
In a recent video for Thank a Teacher Day the leader of Canada's New Democratic Party Jagmeet Singh (BSc'01) gave a special thank you to our Arts & Humanities dean Michael Milde. Singh shared the story of how Dean Milde encouraged him to consider a career in law while taking his Philosophy of Law course. Singh had previously been considering a career in the sciences, and he mentions that it was Dean Milde's encouragement that led him to applying to law school and influenced "an entire career decision". To watch the full video please visit Singh’s Twitter page here.
May 4th, 2021
Carolyn McLeod and Mike Anderson were recently selected to contribute in Museum London's 80ML virtual exhibition in celebration of the museum's 80th year. This exhibition focuses on the people, makers, artists, and citizens who call London, Ontario home. 80 respondents from all ages, walks of life, and lived experiences were asked to create individual responses to 80 artifacts and pieces of art from the museums vast collection. This virtual exhibition pairs each community member’s response with newly-photographed images of the art and artifacts. For more information and to view this exhibition please visit 80ml.museumlondon.ca.
April 21st, 2021
Benjamin Hill will be featured on Peggy O'Neil's Food For the Future radio program this Saturday, April 24th at 8:30 am on Global News 980 CFPL. For more information or to stream the episode after it airs, please visit the Global News website here. This interview will also highlight Prof. Hill's upcoming course Philosophy 2997F: Food, Culture, and Values, which will encourage self-reflection and critique of our personal and cultural values through the lens of food.
April 20th, 2021
Artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies pose new opportunities and challenges across many domains of our lives. Philosophers are uniquely equipped to address the underlying assumptions and potential conflicts that arise from integrating these technologies with important societal values such as justice, privacy, and trust.
As part of a newly developed interdisciplinary initiative on the ethical and societal impact of AI, members of Western’s Department of Philosophy and Rotman Institute of Philosophy are collaborating with members of the faculties of Information & Media Studies, Science, Medicine & Dentistry, Health Sciences, and Law to explore questions surrounding the development and use of these technologies. Read more here.
Charles Weijer featured in Schulich News: Experts call for research transparency on human challenge studies for COVID-19
March 25th, 2021
A recent commentary article by Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry underscores the importance of trasnparency during the world's world’s first COVID-19 human challenge trial, which began in London, UK one week ago. Philosophy faculty member Charles Weijer's opinion piece for the British Medical Journal is highlighted, and describes the ethical implications for trials of this kind. Read the full article here.
Charles Weijer publishes essay in Cato Unbound: SARS-CoV-2 Human Challenge Studies Should Not Be Permitted
March 16th, 2021
Faculty member Charles Weijer joins Ben Bramble (Australia National University) and Jessica Flanigan (University of Richmond) in the March 2021 issue of Cato Unbound magazine. Cato Unbound is a monthly magazine dedicated to the exchange of big ideas and it is published by the Cato Institute in Washington, DC., and this month’s issue is dedicated to the ethics of human challenge studies. Read the full article here.
March 8th, 2021
Emma Williams (BA Honours Specialization Philosophy 2017) has secured a position as a Supreme Court clerk for 2022-23. Emma will be clerking for the replacement for Justice Abella. Congratulations Emma!
March 5th, 2021
Philosophy department alumnus Emma Ryman (JD; PhD Western Philosophy 2017) has recently secured a position as a clerk for Justice Kasirer at the Supreme Court of Canada. For more information on Emma's research please visit her website. Congratulations Emma!
February 12th, 2021
Philosophy department alumnus Trevor Bieber (PhD, 2014) has been appointed to the position of Research Facilitator with King’s University College, an affiliate of Western University.
Trevor has been leading the Western Research Development team’s post-award portfolio since 2019, providing key support to finalizing awards for CFI, the Ontario Research Fund, and many other programs including compliance and monitoring for US government grants. Prior to joining the Development team, he was a Grants Officer with the Research Services team from 2017 to 2019 and supported a range of Faculties and granting programs.
In his new role, Trevor will help King’s faculty apply for and manage research funding. This is a newly created position at King’s and he will play an important role in helping King’s advance its strategic goal of expanding the research support it offers its researchers.
Februry 10th, 2021
Philosophy department alumnus Julie Walsh (PhD, 2009) has recently been granted tenure at Wellesley College. Julie is currently Assistant Professor with Wellesley's Department of Philosophy, and she teaches and researches topics in early modern philosophy with a focus on theories of human freedom and philosophical method in both rationalist and empiricist traditions. View Julie's full profile here.
Philosophy department alumnus Valere Gaspard (BA, 2020) recently co-authored an article for Policy Magazine titled, "Homelessness and the Pandemic: Seeking Shelter from the Storm”. Last year Gaspard took Andrew Botterell’s class on justice, and he cites discussions about framing homelessness through the notions of freedom and property that took place during the course as his inspiration for the topic.
The Rotman Institute of Philosophy is excited to announce the Inaugural Rotman Graduate Student Conference, taking place on Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16, 2021 over Zoom. We are pleased to announce Biologist, Dr. Daniel McShea (Duke University) and Presidential Professor of Philosophy, Dr. Muhammad Ali Khalidi (City University of New York) as our keynote speakers.
Call for Papers: This year’s conference will focus on metaphysical, epistemological, and conceptual aspects regarding the relationship between complexity and explanation in the sciences. We encourage graduate students completing interdisciplinary work in philosophy and science to submit original papers that raise important problems or are motivated by questions connected to complexity and explanation, broadly construed. Please see the conference page for full details.
Western’s MAP Chapter is pleased to announce that our fourth annual Philosophy Undergraduate Online Conference will be held on March 5, 2021 at 10am-1pm. This conference celebrates the excellent philosophical work of undergraduate students at Western. Reflecting the commitments of MAP, the theme of the conference will broadly focus on relevant areas such as philosophy of gender, race, sexuality, class, and disability. These themes can intersect with other areas of philosophy. Please follow this link for full information.
Join us for our next Speaker Series talk of the 2020-21 academic year with Megan Stotts (McMaster) on February 12 at 3:30-5:00pm.
Conversational Maxims as Social Norms
I argue that although Paul Grice’s (1989) picture of conversational maxims and conversational implicature is an immensely useful theoretical tool, his view about the nature of the maxims is misguided. Grice portrays conversational maxims as tenets of rationality, but I will contend that they are best seen as social norms. I develop this proposal in connection to Philip Pettit’s (1990) account of social norms, with the result that conversational maxims are seen as grounded in practices of social approval and disapproval within a given group. This shift to seeing conversational maxims as social norms has several advantages. First, it allows us to neatly accommodate possible variation with respect to the maxims across well-functioning linguistic groups. Second, it facilitates a more psychologically plausible account of flouting. And third, it generates interesting insights about the nature of social norms themselves.
The Arts & Humanities Anti-Racism Committee is pleased to present a student panel on anti-racism, to be held on Thursday, January 28, 2021, from 12:00-1:00pm (EST) on Zoom: "What do faculty need to do to provide students with an anti-racist environment in which everybody is truly welcome?"
Panel Moderator: Naveera Ahmed, English graduate student
Panelists: Matthew Dawkins, SASAH undergraduate student; Chinelo Ezenwa, English graduate student; Jaipreet Mattu, Philosophy graduate student
Western News article on research by Charles Weijer: "More evidence needed to inform policy on sending kids back to school"
How and when should schoolchildren return to in-person learning? Are kids in schools driving community transmission of COVID-19, or is it the other way around? These questions are difficult to answer and researchers at Western University say policy makers are lacking rigorous data to inform their decisions. This uncertainty could be clarified by conducting cluster randomized trials when students return to class, according to a new publication from an international team of experts co-led by Dr. Charles Weijer, professor at Western University. Read the full article here.
Join us for a Philosophical Briefing on Friday, January 15 from 1:30- 2:30pm with Michael Anderson, “Constraints as a Form of Explanation”.
The Philosophical Briefing is an informal event with our own faculty members briefly discussing a topic related to their research and then engage with the audience on that topic. Please follow this link for full information.
Margaret Morrison (1954-2021) passed away on 9 January 2021, after a battle with cancer. The Department mourns her loss. Professor Morrison received her MA and PhD from Western’s Department of Philosophy in 1982 and 1987 respectively. She went on to have a stellar career in philosophy, holding appointments at Stanford University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto, where she spent the bulk of her career. Morrison made many important contributions to the history of philosophy and the philosophy of science. She was widely known for her work on models in science and unification in physics. She authored numerous articles and two books, Unifying Scientific Theories and Reconstructing Reality. She was a member of the Royal Society of Canada and Leopoldina – The German National Academy of Sciences. In 2017, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her work on the role of mathematical frameworks in explaining the behaviour of complex systems. Her passing is a great loss to the philosophical community.
"Diversity is Not Enough: Promoting Inclusivity in Academic Philosophy" session at 2021 APA Eastern Division Meeting
The APA Graduate Student Council is planning a special session at this year's APA Eastern Division that will be co-chaired by Western graduate student, Heather Stewart. "Diversity is Not Enough: Promoting Inclusivity in Academic Philosophy" will take place on Saturday, January 16 at 11:00 am. Please view the attached poster and visit the APA conference page to learn more.
Charles Weijer writes two opinion pieces on COVID-19 vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines are worthless if people aren't vaccinated
By Andrew Peterson, Charles Weijer and Emily A. Largent, Opinion Contributors, The Hill, Dec. 12, 2020
The finish line in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is in sight. Yesterday, an independent advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) green lighted the use of Pfizer’s vaccine, setting up an FDA decision that could result in Americans being vaccinated in the next several days. This decision follows announcements from Pfizer and Moderna that their vaccines for COVID-19 were more than 90 percent efficacious, fueling speculation that COVID-19 vaccines could be distributed in the United States by the end of the year. But as the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine concludes, a new one begins: the race to ensure that enough people are vaccinated to end the pandemic. Read the full article here.
How pharma can build trust in COVID-19 vaccines: Transparency on trials and side-effects
Charles Weijer, The Conversation, 2020
Promising results from large clinical trials testing three vaccines to prevent COVID-19 bring us a step closer to a widely available vaccine.
On Nov. 9, Pfizer’s interim analysis from its Phase 3 vaccine trial revealed it prevented 90 per cent of COVID-19 cases. (The vaccine’s efficacy was revised to 95 per cent in a recent more complete analysis of the data.) Just one week later, Moderna announced interim results from its own Phase 3 trial: its vaccine conferred 94.5 per cent protection against illness.
On Nov. 23, AstraZeneca reported an interim analysis from two separate Phase 3 trials that looked at two dosing regimens. Its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, was 70 per cent efficacious overall, with one dosage regimen protecting against the disease 90 per cent of the time.
But a vaccine that works is useless if people are unwilling to take it. Read the full article here.
Colloquium Speaker Series with Amie Thomasson (Dartmouth), "Should Ontology be Explanatory?"
Join us for our next Speaker Series talk of the 2020-21 academic year with Amie Thomasson (Dartmouth) on November 20 at 3:30-5:00pm.
Should Ontology be Explanatory?
Since Quine, it has been common to hold that the goal of ontology is to determine what entities we should or must ‘posit’ as part of a best total explanatory theory. Accordingly, whether putative entities such as meanings, properties, or numbers contribute explanatory power is often taken as a central criterion for whether we should accept that they exist.
I will argue that this is a mistake. The explanatory power criterion arises from failing to understand the diverse functions that different areas of discourse can serve. A deeper understanding of the way these forms of discourse enter language, and of the functional roles they play, makes clear why we should reject the explanatory power criterion, and reject the explanatory conception of ontology. I will close with some remarks about how we should rethink our approach to existence questions—and, more deeply, how we should re-focus our philosophical efforts. Please follow this link for full information.
Philosophical Briefing with Anthony Skelton, "What do I do when I ought to tell the truth?"
Join us for our first Philosophical Briefing on Friday, November 13 at 3:30- 4:30pm with Anthony Skelton, “What do I do when I ought to tell the truth?”.
The Philosophical Briefing is an informal event with our own faculty members briefly discussing a topic related to their research and then engage with the audience on that topic. Please follow this link for full information.
WOEMP (Western Ontario Early Modern Philosophy Research Group) "Race in Dialogue"--Continuing the Conversations
How can we as scholars and academics act as antiracist allies helping to foster real, systemic change within our fields of study? What can we really do—as mere teachers, students, researchers, and individual academics—within our local environments and spheres of influence to foster real change?
The Western Ontario Early Modern Philosophy Research Group would like to continue the conversations occurring within the Newberry Library’s “Race in Dialogue” seminar series this year and direct them toward these questions about effective allyship in our local academic environments. And we’d like to invite you to join us for an informal, honest and open conversation about antiracist allyship at Western as occasioned by the Newberry dialogues.
As a Newberry consortium member, all Western people are eligible to participant in these Newberry online sessions (registration here). We will be meeting via Zoom (ID # 952 5606 7593; Passcode “Antiracism”) a few hours after the seminars, 20:00 Eastern, for extended conversation about the day’s seminar and its application to us as allies at Western. Please join us!
The first session is Friday Nov 13.
- Newberry Seminar, 13:00 Eastern (Registration), Kim F. Hall’s Things of Darkness: Economics of Race and Gender in Early Modern England at 25.
- WOEMP Conversation, 20:00 Eastern, (Zoom ID: 952 5606 7593, Passcode: Antiracism)
- Kim Coles, Kim F. Hall, and Ayanna Thompson, “BlacKKKShakespearean: A Call to Action for Medieval and Early Modern Studies,” Profession by MLA, Fall 2019, https://profession.mla.org/blackkkshakespearean-a-call-to-action-for-medieval-and-early-modern-studies/.
- Feb 26, Peter B. Erickson and Brandy C. Williams, Accomplices and Allies in Premodern Critical Race Studies
- April 13, Scott Manning Stevens and Blaire Topash-Caldwell, Indigenous Studies in the Archives
Please direct any questions to Dr. Benjamin Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone wishing to become a member of WOEMP should also contact Dr. Hill.
Responsibilities to Others: 2020 Philosophy Lecture Series, November 5 to 26, 2020
Our attempts to deal with the effects of COVID-19 have revived significant interest in a question of enduring philosophical interest: what do we owe to each other? This series of public lectures will examine our responsibilities (if any) to others. It will include discussions on the evolution of altruism, on the idea that both individuals and collectives can have moral responsibilities, on how moral philosophy might assist us in thinking about whether we ought to mandate vaccination for Covid-19 once a vaccine is developed, and finally, on what it would mean to grant legal personhood status to non-human animals.
The annual philosophy lecture series is prepared in partnership with the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, the Department of Philosophy at Western University, and the London Public Library. This year’s events will be held via Zoom webinar and will take place on Thursdays in November. Attendance is free, but advance registration will be required in order to obtain the link to join the webinar.
- Nov 5 at 12:00 pm | Evolution, Selfishness & Altruism | Samir Okasha, University of Bristol
- Nov 12 at 7:00 pm | Individual and Collective Responsibility and Interests during COVID-19 | Tracy Isaacs, Western University
- Nov 19 7:00 pm | Ethics in the Time of Coronavirus | Anthony Skelton, Western University
- Nov 26 7:00 pm | Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders | Maneesha Deckha, University of Victoria
Each event will begin with a short presentation by the speaker, lasting approximately 15 – 20 minutes. Rotman Institute Associate Director, Eric Desjardins, will act as host and ask the speaker a number of follow-up discussion questions. Registered attendees will have the option to ask additional questions live via Zoom, or to submit questions in advance via email. This will be a new format for our annual library series and we look forward to having an engaging discussion with everyone in attendance in this new online setting! Please follow this link for information on registration, talk abstracts, speaker profiles and suggested readings for each event.
Special Virtual Issue of Kantian Review—Kantian Thinking in a Time of Crisis
edited, selected and introduced by Corey W. Dyck, on behalf of the editors
This year, Kantian Review will complete its 25th volume. Since its founding in 1997, the journal has published leading scholarship in every area of Kant studies, by authors throughout the English-speaking world and beyond. Of course, 2020 has also seen the world confronted with the dual crises of a global pandemic and systemic racism: the former a fast-developing challenge unprecedented in our lifetime, and the latter a longstanding problem the pervasiveness of which has been made undeniable through the recent murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. Though unrelated in nature, these crises are nonetheless intertwined in their effects as it has now been well documented that communities of colour have been disproportionately impacted by COVID. Read the full piece here.
A Line in the Sand
By Ashley Rabinovitch, Rapport 2020
"Somebody once said that in a pandemic, everyone is a utilitarian,” mused Dr. Charles Weijer. “But I know that’s not true, because I’m not one. Lowering our ethical standards may be useful, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.”
For the past 15 years, Dr. Weijer has occupied a unique space as a joint appointee between Medicine at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities. Trained as a physician and a philosopher, he describes himself first and foremost as an interdisciplinary researcher with a responsibility to respect the “singular and pivotal importance of human dignity” in every health research project he undertakes. Read the full story here.
The Faculty Scholars Award recognizes the significant achievements in teaching or research. The recipients are considered all-around scholars and will hold the title of Faculty Scholar for two years and receive $7,000 each year for scholarly activities.
2020: Chris Smeenk; Philosophy
2018: Corey Dyck; Philosophy
2016: Carolyn McLeod; Philosophy
2011: Tracy Isaacs; Philosophy, Women's Studies and Feminist Research
2009: Helen Fielding; Philosophy, Women's Studies and Feminist Research
Charles Weijer publishes article in The Conversation: Ethics must not be ignored when testing COVID-19 vaccines
By Charles Weijer, August 25, 2020
The grassroots organization 1Day Sooner has been asking people to indicate their willingness to volunteer for human challenge studies of COVID-19. Challenge studies, in which healthy people are intentionally exposed to infection, may, they believe, speed vaccine development.
But should we let them? Read the full story here.
Congratulations to Abbey Horner, winner of the 2019-20 Chair's Annual Essay Prize for her essay, Reproductive CRISPR: Research at the Intersection of Reproductive and Disability Rights. The paper was written for Professor Carolyn McLeod's Scholars Electives Research Program.
Read. Watch. Listen. with Francesca Vidotto
Read. Watch. Listen. introduces you to the personal side of our faculty, staff and alumni. Participants are asked to answer three simple questions about their reading, viewing and listening habits – what one book or newspaper/magazine article is grabbing your attention; what one movie or television show has caught your eye; and what album/song, podcast or radio show you’re lending an ear to.
Professor Francesca Vidotto is a theoretical physicist working in the Departments of Applied Mathematics and Philosophy. She investigates the quantum properties of gravity that are important to understand the primordial universe and the evolution of black holes.
Today, she takes a turn on Read. Watch. Listen. Read the full story here.
Western scholar contributes to WHO human trial guidelines
by Crystal Mackay, May 27, 2020 Western News
Human trials may offer a pathway toward a COVID-19 vaccine, but the effort is rife with ethical pitfalls that need to be navigated. It is a journey that requires a well-developed roadmap forward, according to one Western researcher.
Western scholar Charles Weijer joined an international team that developed Key criteria for the ethical acceptability of COVID-19 human challenge studies, a 19-page set of guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this month.
“Even with all of the important public-health interventions that have been implemented, there is a strong sense that we, as a society, are not going to get past the COVID-19 threat until there is a widely available and effective vaccine for the virus,” said Weijer, a professor in the departments of Medicine, Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Philosophy.
Traditional vaccine development, however, is a stepwise process that can take years to complete.
“This led a lot of people to start considering how we could speed up vaccine development and consider whether human challenge studies might be an important part of that,” Weijer said.
Human challenge studies involve intentionally infecting healthy volunteers with a disease to test potential treatments or vaccines. They allow us to test vaccine candidates quickly and identify the most promising among them for field trials. Human challenge studies have been carried out for decades in highly controlled laboratory environments for diseases like malaria, influenza and cholera. Read the full story on Western News.
Carolyn McLeod publishes her latest book, Conscience in Reproductive Health Care: Prioritizing Patient Interests
Conscience in Reproductive Health Care responds to the growing worldwide trend of health care professionals conscientiously refusing to provide abortions and similar reproductive health services in countries where these services are legal and professionally accepted. Carolyn McLeod argues that conscientious objectors in health care should prioritize the interests of patients in receiving care over their own interest in acting on their conscience. She defends this "prioritizing approach" to conscientious objection over the more popular "compromise approach" without downplaying the importance of health care professionals having a conscience or the moral complexity of their conscientious refusals. McLeod's central argument is that health care professionals who are gatekeepers of services such as abortions are fiduciaries for their patients and for the public they are licensed to serve. As such, they owe a duty of loyalty to these beneficiaries and should give primacy to their beneficiaries' interests in accessing care. This conclusion is informed by what McLeod believes is morally at stake for the main parties to the conflicts generated by conscientious refusals: the objector and the patient. What is at stake, according to McLeod, depends on the relevant socio-political context, but typically includes the objector's integrity and the patient's interest in avoiding harm. For more information, please click here.
University of Regina, April 8 2020
Shannon Dea currently Professor of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, has been appointed Dean of Arts and Professor of Philosophy. The appointment is effective 1 September 2020.
A former Director of Women’s Studies at the University of Waterloo, Dr Dea has also served as both Undergraduate and Graduate Associate Chair of Philosophy, as a two-time faculty Senator and a two-time member of the Board of Governors, as well as on multiple department, faculty, university, and extra-university committees and working groups. She is currently the Vice-President of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Philosophical Association.
Dr Dea earned her BA in Philosophy and Russian Language and Literature from the University of Waterloo, her MA in Philosophy from Queen’s University, and her PhD in Philosophy from Western University.
She researches and teaches about academic freedom, harm reduction, sex and gender, LGBTQ issues, pedagogy, equity, and the history of philosophy. She is the author of Beyond the Binary: Thinking About Sex and Gender, and of numerous articles and book chapters. The author of a monthly University Affairs column called "Dispatches on Academic Freedom," Dr Dea is also the principal investigator on a SSHRC-funded project that seeks to develop better academic freedom protections for precarious and minoritized scholars.
Dr Dea regularly engages with the public and the media on topics ranging from freedom of expression to social justice issues, and has worked closely with community agencies aimed at supporting some of society’s most vulnerable members. She is a recipient of the Ontario Women’s Directorate’s Leading Women Building Communities Award and of University of Waterloo’s Distinguished Teacher Award.
University of Windsor DailyNews, April 7 2020
Catherine Hudleby (PhD 2001) is the 2020 recipient of the Mary Lou Dietz Equity Leadership Award from the Windsor University Faculty Association’s Status of Women, Diversity and Equity Action Committee.
The award, which hours individuals who demonstrate leadership through their contributions to creating an equality culture on campus, is named after Mary Lou Dietz, a late UWindsor faculty member and head of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, in recognition of her contributions to advancement of women in Canadian universities and colleges.
The committee calls Dr. Hundleby a “champion of inclusion, diversity, and equity” in the Department of Philosophy, the University of Windsor, and the discipline of philosophy across North America and Europe.
She works in a discipline which is still male-dominated, and has been a force for change. She has pushed the department and each member to re-think and revise reading lists to open them to women’s and marginalized voices outside of the traditional canon. Within her own field of philosophy of science and argumentation studies, she has pioneered new directions to feminist epistemology and theories of argumentation.
Hundleby is a progressive activist philosopher, primarily concerned with equity and social justice, who has had a significant impact at the University of Windsor and on the professional groups of which she is a part of.
Interview by Richard Marshall
Corey W Dyck specializes in the history of German philosophy, with an emphasis on the eighteenth century. His recent research has focused on issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind in the period from Leibniz to Kant. Here he discusses the influence of Hegel on how the German philosophical tradition has been discussed, the importance of Wolff and the Pietists for Kant, Lambert, Tetens and Mendelssohn, the Morgenstunden, Christian August Crusius, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason as a rather pernicious form of scepticism, the Paralogisms of Pure Reason and rational psychology, kant's criticisms of rational psychology and his resulting view of the soul, the relevance of the Fourth Paralogism, the soul and immortality, German materialism, the ‘quarrel of women’ (querelle des Femmes), Erxleben’s ‘Rigorous Investigation’ and why women's philosophy is missing from accounts of early modern German philosophy. Read the full interview here.
By Arianna Falbo and Heather Stewart March 10, 2020
The 2020 Eastern Division Meeting of the APA in Philadelphia featured a panel discussion that we, Arianna Falbo and Heather Stewart, members of the APA’s Graduate Student Council, organized, entitled: “Outsider’s Within: Reflections on Being a First-Generation and/or Low-Income Philosopher.” To the best of our knowledge, this panel is the first of its kind at the APA, which we hope will reflect the beginning of many important discussions to come concerning the experiences of first-generation philosophers, and philosophers who come from low-income and working-class backgrounds. Read the full story here.
David Hakim, MA Philosophy, will be clerking for Justice Karakatsanis at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2021-22
After completing a clerkship at the Ontario Court of Appeal, David will be clerking for Justice Karakatsanis at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2021-22. Congratulations!
Emma Ryman, PhD Philosophy, Western 2017, awarded a prestigious clerkship at the Ontario Court of Appeal
Emma is currently doing a JD in law at the University of Toronto. Our congratulations on her success!
Is Cognition centralized or embodied?
Is the Computational Theory of Mind accurately representing the mind and cognition?
Where exactly is the information we pick up through perception?
Is perception active or passive?
Is consciousness extended or private?
Is the brain more dynamical or localized specializations?
How does the kind of body one has structure their lived experience?
These are just some of the questions addressed in Embodied Cognition. Embodied Cognition views cognition as embodied rather than centralized within, for example, the brain. Embodied cognition is slowly growing and in recent years the interest in embodiment has drastically increased. This rise of Embodied Cognition is most evident in Philosophy and Psychology but has had advocates incorporate it into Feminist Theory, Dynamical Systems Theory, Phenomenology, Linguistics, Robotics, Biology and Public Policy. This one day workshop will host speakers whose research is bringing new insights to and from Embodied Cognition. Our event aims to show you how Embodied Cognition is helping researchers study human and animal cognition.
We welcome students, faculty, and locals to join us! We will be providing an early small dinner to all guests If you request any dietary accommodation please email email@example.com.
In order to ensure we have enough food for everyone, we ask that you RSVP us here.
For full details, including the speaker schedule and location, please click here.
Philosophy of Neuroscience Conference keynote speaker: Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson will be one of the keynote speakers for the upcoming conference on Philosophy of Neuroscience: Content, Self, and Cognitive Ontology at the University of Colorado September 4-6, 2020.
Heather Stewart, PhD student, selected to be an instructor at Johns Hopkins' Centre for Talented Youth Program
Heather Stewart will be the instructor for the course on "Playing God: The Ethics of Human Subjects Research" for a session of Johns Hopkins' Centre for Talented Youth Program. She will be teaching the course at Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey. The course will cover the history of human subjects research (and its historical and ongoing impact on vulnerable populations), and raise ethical questions around content, privacy and confidentiality, and the weighing of harm to individuals against potential collective benefits.
December 4, 2019
The World Health Organization published a document on “Ethical Considerations for Health Policy and Systems Research" written by Charles Weijer and colleagues from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.
HPSR seeks to generate knowledge to improve "how societies organize themselves to achieve health goals.” HPSR’s focus on systems, policies and programmes means that studies may be both organizationally and ethically complex. "Ethical Considerations for Health Policy and Systems Research" provides a novel systematic approach to analyzing ethical issues in HPSR for researchers and RECs globally.
WHO’s Senior Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says: “This document will be of value to all involved in undertaking or using HPSR, including researchers, educators and students, as well as policy-makers and practitioners involved in co-producing research on health policy and systems. Research ethics committees – especially those that have limited experience of dealing with HPSR – will find it particularly helpful, as it illustrates the points made with clear and relevant examples. I hope that the contents will stimulate further thinking and development of guidance in this field."
The published document can be found here: https://www.who.int/alliance-hpsr/resources/publications/ethical-considerations-hpsr/en/
Dr. John Bell's Retirement Party
November 16, 2019
Western colleagues celebrated the career of John Bell at his retirement party, themed "Signs & Symbols". (Photo Album Link)
By Ignacio Moya Arriagada, October 23, 2019, The Globe and Mail
Ignacio Moya Arriagada is a Chilean-Canadian doing his PhD at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.
The streets of Chile are on fire. Barricades light up the night sky, soldiers patrol the streets and thousands of people defy curfew. In a world of unrest, the crisis in Chile is unique in that it calls into question not just the unfair wealth distribution, but also a very specific way of doing politics.
For a long time, Chile was held up as an example of what good governance can accomplish. This is particularly true in the context of Latin America where successive crises in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and Honduras have helped to reaffirm the long held image that Latin America is a place where corruption and instability are a part of everyday life.
But Chile, as President Sebastian Pinera recently said, was an oasis of peace and stability. Almost 30 years of uninterrupted democratic rule, economic growth and social peace seemed to prove him right. But Chile is no longer an oasis. Continue reading here.
Recently, Professor Carolyn McLeod went to China as part of a delegation from Western Arts & Humanities and Music. She met with people from top Philosophy Departments in China, including the departments at Peking University, Renmin University (see its Centre for Analytic Philosophy), and Fudan University. Here are some pictures from her trip. The image below is of members of the Western delegation with members of the Philosophy department at Fudan.
Sarah Murdoch (undergraduate program coordinator) has been selected as a team leader for the May 2020 Pine Ridge, South Dakota- Lakota Life. Through the program, the team will have the opportunity to learn about Lakota life and
Staff, Faculty and Graduate Students are eligible and invited to engage with communities, both locally and globally. Impact Experience collaborates with communities to develop and implement projects that align with their needs. Impact Experience is more than just a one-week experience - it is a six-month program with leadership elements, workshops, pre-departure modules, combined with service and reflection. Team leaders are vital to the success of the program. As an ambassador from Western, this is an opportunity to gain and impart the development of intercultural perspectives.
For more information on Impact Experience, please click here: http://cel.uwo.ca/faculty_and_staff/impact/index.html
On October 3rd, Western Philosophy will be hosting the Southwestern Ontario Feminist Philosophers Workshop. The event will focus on papers by Jennifer Saul (Waterloo), “Figleaves,” and by Heather Stewart (Western), "Paving the Road to Truly Free Speech: Establishing a More Just Free Speech Infrastructure on Campus and Beyond.” The papers are to be read in advance and will be circulated by September 19th. All are welcome to attend. We’re meeting in StvH 1145 from 4-6pm, and we’ll go to dinner afterwards. Please contact Carolyn McLeod: firstname.lastname@example.org, for further details.
Congratulations to Olivia Gordon, winner of the 2018-19 Chair's Annual Essay Prize for her essay Kant’s Erroneous Objectification of Animals by Regarding their Worth as Indistinguishable from the Worth of “Things”. The paper was written for Professor Corey Dyck's course PHIL 3170F: Kant's Groundwork.
August 21, 2019 by Sabrina D. MisirHiralall
This series of Student Reflections is based on interviews conducted by Elyse Purcell and Sarah Horne during the APA’s 2019 Central Division Meeting in Denver, Colorado. Heather Stewart is currently a Philosophy PhD Candidate at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Her research highlights the intersection of feminist philosophy, political philosophy, and bioethics, with a special interest in the philosophy of microagressions.
What inspired you to pursue a graduate degree in philosophy?
When I discovered philosophy in university, I realized I would not be content doing anything else – likely to the confusion, and perhaps dismay, of my parents and mentors!
When I first moved to Louisville, Kentucky to attend the University of Louisville, I assumed that I would become a pediatrician. As a first-generation college student who grew up on the lower end of working class, having the opportunity to attend college at all was somewhat of a pipedream (one that a combination of scholarships, grants, and student loans made possible). Knowing that I was the first in my family to have that opportunity – and also reckoning with the fact that I had to put myself into fairly substantial debt to do so – meant that the obvious choice (or, the only choice) would be to pursue a career that would lead me toward long-term financial stability. The only such possibilities I could really envision were medical school and law school, though, having spent a lot of time with pediatricians dealing with my own chronic illness as a child, I was fairly quickly compelled in that direction. I began doing all of the right things – taking natural science-filled semesters to complete the pre-med curriculum, studying incessantly, and volunteering at the local children’s hospital in my (wildly limited) spare time. I was on the track I always assumed I would be on. But over time, my courses began to bore me – they were heavy on memorization of facts without an interrogation of those “facts,” or indeed, even a good understanding of them. At about the same time, I was shadowing in pediatric emergency and began to grapple with the many contradictions of health care delivery under the American system. Fairly quickly, I became more interested in health care policy, and the ethical questions that play out in real time in the clinic.
By Paul Mayne, May 31 2019, Western News
Even running one of the world’s best programs, Carolyn McLeod sees the challenges clearly.
The Department of Philosophy ranks among the Top 50 programs in the world, and among the top two in the country, behind only the University of Toronto, according to the 2019 QS World University Subject Rankings. It is a lofty standing Western has enjoyed for the last five or six years.
Known not only for the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, the department also benefitted from a broad base of research strengths, including being one of the foremost departments in North America in feminist philosophy.
But times are changing in Philosophy departments across the country and around the world.
That didn’t stop McLeod from seeking its leadership post.
“We’ve had challenges – and, yes, there were times during those challenges where I thought there was no way I’d take this on,” said McLeod, who will assume the Department Chair role July 1. “I’ve always felt chair is a responsibility I should take on at some point.”
In her 17th year at Western, McLeod points to fewer faculty members – down almost a third to 24 today – as creating a different type of environment. “You can have more of a community feeling when it’s smaller, like we are all in it together to create this great department, as long as you have the people you need to run the programs you want to run.” Read the full story.
May 15, 2019
The child welfare system in Canada is in “a state of crisis,” according to a new report from Western University. There are too many children and youth flowing into the system, especially from marginalized social groups including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, and African Canadians. There are also not enough children or youth leaving the system to join permanent, safe, and loving homes.
There are two main objectives of the report, which is titled Time to Attach: An Argument in Favour of EI Attachment Benefits. First, to show that when these children are placed in permanent families, they need more ‘time to attach’ to their new parents or caregivers than Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits system currently allows them to have; and second, to argue that the government should introduce new ‘attachment benefits’ for these families.
Time to Attach recommends attachment benefits should, at the very least, be equal to maternity benefits. This means they should be available for 15 weeks at a rate of 55 per cent of average weekly insurable earnings. Read the full story.
By Paul Mayne, May 8 2019, Western News
Anthony Skelton knows a lot about the nature well-being – perhaps that is why he has no hesitations taking over as Acting Director of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy.
“There is a sense of permanency. There are lots of possibilities,” said Skelton, noting the recent celebration of the institute’s 10th anniversary. “We have a core faculty and lots of affiliate faulty. We have great people coming from all over the world, doing great things in so many areas – philosophy of science, neuroscience, biology, research ethics and bio-ethics.
“It’s a very dynamic area; the possibilities are there for more growth. It’s very fertile soil in which different people in different research lines can grow. I’m excited about that prospect.” Read the full story.
Anthony Skelton has been named a Graham and Gale Wright Distinguished Scholar for 2019-20. This Faculty-wide award recognizes the prominent contributions of internationally-recognized researchers in their fields. Anthony joins an impressive list of philosophers who have previously received this prestigious award: Wayne Myrvold, 2017; Corey Dyck, 2015; Carolyn McLeod, 2011; Robert DiSalle, 2009; Lorne Falkenstein, 2008; and John Bell, 2006
Professor Carolyn McLeod’s Time to Attach (timetoattach.com) research team has been awarded $15,000 from the Conference Board of Canada to complete a report on inequality in, and the inadequacy of, the Canadian government’s current parental benefits system
David Hume on Miracles, Evidence, and Probability: Former Philosophy MA and PhD student publishes book with Lexington Books
William Vanderburgh's book, David Hume on Miracles, Evidence, and Probability, will be published by Lexington Books (an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield) in mid-April 2019. David Hume’s argument against believing in miracles has attracted nearly continuous attention from philosophers and theologians since it was first published in 1748. Hume’s many commentators, however, both pro and con, have often misunderstood key aspects of Hume’s account of evidential probability and as a
Western's Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) Chapter host second annual Philosophy Undergraduate Conference
By Nicole Fice, March 19, 2019