News Archive


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 specializes in Medieval Philosophy with her teaching interests in Logic, Critical Thinking, History of Philosophy, and Philosophy of Religion.

Elisa Kilbourne featured in Threads of Life: "Miracles rising out of tragedy"

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.

University Affairs feature article: "Is philosophy having a moment?"

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 continue her medic work with the Canadian Armed Forces Army. Congratulations Denisa!

Congratulations to Lihan Liu, winner of the the Gold Medal for Honours Major in Philosophy

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!

Congratulations to Nadia Miller, winner of the 2020-21 Chair's Annual Essay Prize

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!

Philosophy alumnus Maggie O’Brien joins York University faculty

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 the 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

Remembering Prof. Louis Charland

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 ( with a memory or appreciation of Louis.

Michael Milde receives special mention from Jagmeet Singh on Thank a Teacher Day

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.

Philosophy department faculty members contribute to Museum London's 80ML exhibition

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⁣.

Benjamin Hill featured on Global News program Food For the Future

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.

Three postdoctoral associates in Philosophy focus on AI

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.

Philosophy alumnus Emma Williams will be clerking at the Supreme Court of Canada

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!

Philosophy alumnus Emma Ryman will be clerking for Justice Kasirer at the Supreme Court of Canada

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!

Philosophy alumnus Trevor Bieber appointed as Research Facilitator at King’s University College

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.

Philosophy alumnus Julie Walsh granted tenure at Wellesley College

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 alumnus co-authors article about homelessness and the pandemic

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.

Call for Papers: Rotman Graduate Student Conference(RGSC)

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.

Discussion of "Love and Social Justice" by Meena Krishnamurthy

Join Western's Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) chapter for a zoom-hangout on Thursday, January 28 at 1:00 pm. We're going to discuss the podcast episode, "Love and Social Justice", by Meena Krishnamurthy from Queen's University. It's a few years old, but still relevant, especially in light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day last week. Among other things, Meena talks about self-love and self-trust. Even if you don't have time to listen, that's okay. Come anyway, and plug into the great community we have at Western.

MAP 4th Annual Philosophy Undergraduate Conference

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.

Colloquium Speaker Series with Megan Stotts (McMaster), "Conversational Maxims as Social Norms"

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.

Please follow this link for full information.

A&H Student Panel on Anti-Racism

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

Click this event link to join.

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.

Philosophical Briefing with Michael Anderson, "Constraints as a Form of Explanation"

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.

Western's Department of Philosophy mourns passing of former graduate student Margaret Morrison

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) 

Recommended Pre-reads 

Future Sessions 

  • 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 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.

Chris Smeenk awarded the 2020 Faculty Scholars Award

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.

1Day Sooner reports that more than 35,000 people from 160 countries, including Canada, are ready to volunteer to be exposed to COVID-19.

But should we let them? Read the full story here.

2019-20 Chair's Annual Essay Prize

Congratulations to Abbey Horner, winner of the 2019-20 Chair's Annual Essay Prize for her essay, Reproductive CRISPR: Rese​arch 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.

Shannon Dea (PhD Philosophy Western) has been appointed Dean of Arts and Professor of Philosophy

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. 

Catherine Hudleby (PhD 2001) has been awarded the Mary Lou Dietz Equity Leadership 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.

Richard Marshall interviews Corey W. Dyck for 3:16am

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 CrusiusKant'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.

Reflections on Being a First-Generation and/or Low-Income Graduate Student

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!

Embodied Cognition: Implication in Science and Philosophy hosted by the Huron Philosophy Society

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
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. 

WHO publishes a document on "Ethical Considerations for Health Policy and Systems Research"

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:

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)  

Once an oasis of stability, Chile now burns

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.

Philosophy in China

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.

Impact Experience: Engage with local and global communities

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 culture, and contribute to a community-led service project. Amizade (community partner) has emerging relationships with a network that engages agricultural initiatives, programming on youth and education, and cultural learning. Depending on the needs of the community at the time, the 8-day exploration of Pine Ridge may include any of these service activities. The team will be working with a group of Lakota elders dedicated to ushering in a sustainable future for the health and wellbeing of the Oglala Lakota people.

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: 

Southwestern Ontario Feminist Philosophers Workshop

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:, for further details.

2018-19 Chair's Annual Essay Prize

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.

Student Reflections Snapshot: Heather Stewart

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.

Read the full interview here.

McLeod eyes responsibility of Philosophy chair

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.

New Western-led study explains why adoptive parents more "Time to Attach"

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.

Anthony Skelton sees 'lots of possibilities' in Rotman role

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.

2019-20 Graham and Gale Wright Distinguished Scholar

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.

Time to Attach research team awarded funds from the Conference Board of Canada

Professor Carolyn McLeod’s Time to Attach ( 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 result have misrepresented Hume’s argument and conclusions regarding miracles in fundamental ways. This book argues that Hume’s account of probability descends from a long and laudable tradition that goes back to ancient Roman and medieval law. That account is entirely and deliberately non-mathematical. As a result, any analysis of Hume’s argument in terms of the mathematical theory of probability is doomed to failure. Recovering the knowledge of this ancient tradition of probable reasoning leads us to a correct interpretation of Hume’s argument against miracles, enables a more accurate understanding of many other episodes in the history of science and of philosophy, and maybe also useful in contemporary attempts to weigh evidence in epistemically complex situations where confirmation theory and mathematical probability theory have proven to be less helpful than we would have hoped. 

Western's Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) Chapter host second annual Philosophy Undergraduate Conference

By Nicole Fice, March 19, 2019

Western’s Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) chapter hosted it’s second annual Philosophy Undergraduate Conference on March 15th, 2019. It celebrated the excellent philosophical work of undergraduate students at Western, with particular focus on under-represented areas of philosophy, including (but not limited to) philosophy of gender, race, sexual orientation, class, etc. All six speakers delivered outstanding presentations and showcased their unique philosophical ideas to Western’s philosophy community. Topics included LGBTQ+ sexuality and epistemic injustice, ethics and organ donation, economic inequality, gender, multiculturalism, and oppression in the context of legal and criminal justice systems. Each presentation was followed by an engaging Q&A session which continued philosophical conversations surrounding the authors’ ideas. We are already looking forward to next year’s conference!


Resisting Scientific Realism: Former Philosophy MA and PhD student publishes book with Cambridge University Press

Brad Wray, a former Western Philosophy MA and PhD student, has just published a book with Cambridge University Press. The book is called Resisting Scientific Realism

Brad completed his PhD at Western in 1997 under the supervision of John Nicholas.  Brad's dissertation was on social epistemology. Kathleen Okruhlik and Bruce Freed were readers, and Alison Wylie was a departmental examiner.  Cheryl Misak, from Toronto, was the external examiner.

If you are interested in learning more about Brad’s work, feel free to email him at

Journal of Medical Ethics appoints Charles Weijer to the editorial board

Charles Weijer has been appointed to the editorial board of the Journal of Medical Ethics. In 2016, JME was recently ranked number 1 in the “Top 50 Bioethics Journals” by Georgetown University. For more information see

Adoptive parents need more time off to bond with kids, say Western researchers

By Hala Ghonaim, December 3, 2018, CBC News

A group of Western University researchers and community partners are asking Canadian politicians to grant adoptive parents and caregivers more time to bond with their children during the early stages of adoption.

The London, Ont.-based research team and Adopt4Life: Ontario's Adoptive Parents Association officials were in Ottawa last month to request an additional 15-week "attachment" leave to be part of a new class of employment insurance benefits for adoptive parents and customary and kin caregivers. They met with members of parliament and policy advisors.

"Our concern is that there isn't a separate class of benefits that recognizes the unique challenges adoptive parents face," said lead researcher Carolyn McLeod. The Western University Arts and Humanities professor is also chair of the board at the non-profit.

"What we are asking for is parity with biological parents," she said.

Right now, both biological and adoptive parents are granted a parental leave of up to 35 weeks. However, biological mothers are granted an additional 15 weeks of maternity leave. Read the full story.

Adoptive parents seek longer leave

By Paul Mayne, December 4 2018, Western News

Western researchers are leading a national push for 15 more weeks of work leave for adoptive parents as an important way to strengthen the bond between parents and their adopted children.

Biological and adoptive parents currently receive parental leave of up to 35 weeks; biological mothers receive an additional 15 weeks of maternity leave.

“There are unique challenges that come with adoption, and there are unique challenges that come with biological parenting too, and we think the 15-week maternity leave responds to that,” said Philosophy and Women’s Studies & Feminist Research professor Carolyn McLeod.

“The problem is there isn’t a similar leave for parents who provided permanent homes for children in care.

The team’s main partner is Adopt4Life: Ontario’s Adoptive Parents Association, of which McLeod is chair. McLeod said the ‘attachment leave’ would offer adoptive parents caregivers and children more time to address the unique needs of adoptive families. Read the full story.

World-changing research fueled by new CRCs

By Communications Staff, November 15 2018, Western News

Western will be home to three new Canada Research Chairs whose work will have global impact on earthquake disaster preparedness; psychology and brain science; and neuroimaging to help people with epilepsy.

The federal announcement this week also highlights one researcher upgraded to a Tier 1 (from a Tier 2), specializing in wireless engineering; and three renewals for researchers working in advanced robotics in health settings; meteor analysis; and particle technology.

The Canada Research Chair Program is intended to attract, support and retain outstanding scholars and scientists. Funding flows through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSRC), National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Chairholders with Tier 1 designation are outstanding researchers acknowledged as leaders in their fields; Tier 2 chairs are exceptional emerging researchers recognized for their potential to lead in their fields.

Western’s new Canada Research Chairs:
Michael Anderson, Philosophy, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Science (SSHRC): His research explores new conceptual systems for psychology and provides a deeper understanding of how the brain works. His work emphasizes an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the cognitive sciences in helping researchers understand complex systems like the brain. Anderson comes to Western from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Read the full story here.

Western’s MAP Chapter is pleased to announce that our second Philosophy Undergraduate Conference will be held on MARCH 15th, 2019. 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 any of the following areas: philosophy of gender, race, sexual orientation, class, disability, etc. These themes can intersect with other areas of philosophy. Although papers should be philosophical, authors who apply need not be specializing, majoring, or minoring in philosophy.

Presentations will be no more than 15 minutes in length, followed by a short Q & A period.

Students are encouraged to submit a relevant term paper from a previous class, roughly 1500-2000 words or 15 minutes read aloud.
Papers will be reviewed anonymously and selected by faculty based on relevance to the theme of this conference. The selected authors will be notified by email. Faculty and graduate student organizers will be available to help authors of accepted papers prepare for the conference.

Please submit papers to Western’s MAP email address: by JANUARY 31st, 2019.

If you have any questions about this conference, please send an email to Western’s MAP email address (

Summer Vacation with Professor Wayne Myrvold

Andrew Botterell, Department Chair, sat down with Philosophy professor Wayne Myrvold to chat about what he did during his summer vacation.

AB: Can you talk a bit about your philosophical background and research interests?

WM: I’m a philosopher of science, with particular interest in philosophy of physics.  My route into philosophy was one that, I believe, is a common one for philosophers of science.  I started out, as an undergraduate, in a science major (physics), became intrigued by philosophical questions arising from the science, and made a move into philosophy for my PhD.  Much of my work has been on the foundations of quantum mechanics, but more recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of probability in physics, and, in particular about its role in statistical mechanics.  Early this summer I completed a draft of a book manuscript on the topic, which I hope will be published in the none-too-distant future. It’s called Beyond Chance and Credence.

AB: I understand that you participated in several conferences and events this summer; can you say more about them?

WM: For me, the value of going to conferences is that it gives me an opportunity to talk to people face-to-face about matters of mutual interest, to meet new people and re-establish connections with people I’ve known for a long time, and to be exposed to work that might otherwise escape my attention.  This year I was involved in four events.  The first was New Directions in Foundations of Physics, an annual conference that brings together philosophers and physicists to discuss topic in foundations of physics.  Participants are encouraged to float new ideas, so it’s a terrific opportunity to be exposed to work that I might otherwise be unaware of.  This year it was in a lovely location: Viterbo, in Italy.  This year’s conference was special for me because it included a session in honour of our sorely missed long-time colleague, Bill Demopoulos, who passed away last year.  This included talks by a member of our department, Robert DiSalle, and by one of my former graduate students, Michael Cuffaro.

That was in early June. Later in June there was a workshop I organized, called Thermodynamics as a Resource Theory, bringing together physicists and philosophers to discuss what I regard as an exciting recent shift in direction in work on thermodynamics.  You can see videos of the talks on YouTube.

The other events were in July.  I attended, and gave a talk at, Foundations 2018, in Utrecht, and was participating faculty at a summer school in Split, Croatia, with the title The Chimera of Entropy.  The Foundations conference was this year’s instantiation of a longstanding series of interdisciplinary conferences in the UK and Europe.  These are huge events, involving philosophers and physicists at all stages of their careers. 

AB: Which event did you find most interesting/rewarding?

WM: Well, going to Italy involves eating Italian pizza, and there’s little that’s more rewarding than that.  Though, I must say, since Split is on the Adriatic coast, and attracts a lot of Italian tourists, they do pizza pretty well, there, too. Professionally, I’d have to say that it’s a toss-up between the workshop I organized, and the Split summer school on entropy. It’s always great to meet and interact with graduate students and other up-and-coming researchers from other institutions, and I’m pleased to say that, at the summer school, many of them took full advantage of the opportunity to ask questions in between sessions.  One of the things that the organizers did right was to schedule a day in the middle in which there were no talks, and participants had an option to join on an excursion to Trogir, just up the coast.  That meant that we were all on a boat for several hours, talking to each other.  Lots of good conversations.

AB: What value do you think these sorts of summer schools have for students and faculty members?

WM: One thing that’s very important, for students, is that they get exposed to different approaches to the subject.  We all do our best to steer our students towards what is most important. There’s a danger that students will become too enmeshed in a particular approach, and not realize that the presuppositions of that approach are not universally shared. It’s also valuable to have discussion face-to-face, as things that people take for granted, and don’t explicitly say in their published work, can come out.  For me, it’s valuable, as I get to meet at an early stage of their career people who are on the way to becoming the leading researchers of tomorrow.

AB: Will any of the issues discussed in Croatia make their way into your teaching or research?

WM: Absolutely.  As soon as I got back I made some adjustments to the draft of the book I mentioned earlier, in light of the discussions at the summer school. In particular, I added a section because of a question and follow-up discussion with one student, which made me realize that there was need of an explanation of a point brought out in the discussion that isn’t clearly made in any of the existing literature, as far as I know.  This will affect how I teach the topic next time I do a seminar on it.  And I’ll be doing a grad course on philosophy of quantum mechanics in the Winter term, and some of the things I learned at Utrecht conference will find its way into that.

2017-18 Chair's Annual Essay Prize

Congratulations to Nicole Nowoselski, winner of the 2017-18 Chair's Annual Essay Prize for her essay "The Unbecoming of the Self? An Existential Analysis of Identity and Dementia". The paper was written for Professor Helen Fielding's course PHIL 3555G: Continental Philosophy.

Chris Smeenk and James Weatherall (UC Irvine) awarded a grant from the John Templeton Foundation for their project: New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology

Chris Smeenk, Director of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Western University, and Jim Weatherall, Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of California, Irvine, have been awarded a grant from the John Templeton Foundation for $1.37-million USD. Their project, entitled New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology, will offer a new model for collaboration between philosophers and cosmologists.

Physical cosmology has enjoyed decades of progress, leading to a new understanding of the cosmos and our place in it. But this success comes with new puzzles. Cosmologists seek to understand events that are far removed from us. Moreover, in many cases they study historical episodes that are apparently unique – such as the origin of the universe – and which cannot be studied experimentally. To overcome these challenges, cosmologists have often revisited basic questions concerning what constitutes an acceptable scientific theory, what sorts of explanatory demands a theory of cosmology can meet, and how to understand confirmation in this context. Their answers to these – essentially philosophical – questions have shaped the character of cosmological theory. 

The principal goal of this project is to articulate and scrutinize the philosophical commitments behind cosmology’s Standard Model. The project will dive more deeply into two pressing conceptual issues, identified in collaboration with cosmologists James Bullock (UCI) and Robert Brandenberger (McGill), both of whom are collaborators on the grant: (1) the epistemological significance of the crucial role now played by simulations in linking cosmological theory with observations; and (2) the status of the large-scale structure of the universe in light of suggestions from quantum gravity that characteristic features of general relativity, such as singularities, may not persist into future theories.

Find out more information about the New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology and visit the John Templeton Foundation.

Forging on the feminist fitness journey

By Adela Talbot, April 12, 2018, Western News

Nearly six years ago, it started as a personal blog on which philosophers Tracy Isaacs and Samantha Brennan would share their fitness journeys, publicly tackling a challenge to be in the best shape of their lives by the age of 50.

Readership grew quickly, and the blog, Fit is a Feminist Issue, soon became an online community, with more than 200 individual contributors sharing their personal challenges, experiences and feminist views of fitness.

This month, Isaacs, Associate Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities and Philosophy professor at Western, and Brennan, a former Philosophy professor at Western (now the Dean of Arts at the University of Guelph) released a new book, Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness JourneyRead the full story here.

 Corey Dyck among the 2018 Western Faculty Scholars

Western selected 15 Faculty Scholars to recognize their 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. Read more.

Professor crosses Borders for global understanding

By Adela Talbot, March 22, 2018, Western News

Andrew Botterell couldn’t ignore the email. When a note from Academics Without Borders (AWB) popped up in his inbox, requesting curriculum support for Bahir Dar University’s law school in Ethiopia, it might as well have addressed him directly.

Botterell, who is the Chair of Western’s Department of Philosophy, and holds a joint appointment with the Faculty of Law, has adopted two children from Ethiopia. With a connection to the country and the skills to answer Bahir Dar’s need, he saw an opportunity to give back. It just happened to be during a time of political tension in the country. 

“The proposal (from AWB) was to have someone visit their law school and teach a course on advanced jurisprudence, or the philosophy of law. Bahir Dar wants to create a new PhD program in law but, to do that, they need people who can supervise PhD students,” Botterell explained.

“As I was getting ready to travel in February, the Ethiopian Prime Minister (Hailemariam Desalegn) resigned. The Minister of Defence declared a state of emergency in the country. There had been a lot of protests against the government, and while this was the first voluntary handing over of power in Ethiopia, the understanding is he was going to get pushed out, anyway,” he continued. Read the full story here.

Western's Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) Chapter hosted its first annual Philosophy Undergraduate Conference

By Hannah Eastman, Nicole Fice, Julia Lei, March 16, 2018

On March 2nd, 2018 Western’s Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) Chapter hosted its first annual Philosophy Undergraduate Conference.  The event aimed to support undergraduate work in philosophy at Western by providing students an opportunity to present and share their work with their peers, graduate students, and faculty. Approximately 50 people attended the event and engaged thoughtfully with students’ ideas, which included themes like human nature, technology, structural racism and health care, marginalization, racialized children, oppression, and identity.

MAP is a multi-university network with 86 individual chapters around the world. It aims to examine and address theoretical issues regarding gender, race, sexual orientation, class, disability, native language, indigeneity, etc., and to increase participation of underrepresented groups in academic philosophy. In this regard, the organization, including our chapter, aims to support philosophers who identify as minorities in our discipline and support minority areas of philosophy.

The MAP undergraduate conference was necessary. It provided students with the opportunity to meet with professors as well as graduate students to hear their peers present papers on topics that are not always discussed in the classroom. Popular philosophical perspective tends to lack intersectional topics and opinions. Philosophy aims to weave together answers and truth, yet for many underrepresented groups in this field of study, our stories and our quests for truth are missing. Being a visible minority, I sometimes feel like an island within my program. As our keynote speaker so accurately expressed, standard western philosophical programs narrow in on topics that do not acknowledge the underrepresented. This conference was the first step in creating a space for the underrepresented groups within the UWO philosophical field. The topics presented ranged from oppressive aspects of technology, racism within healthcare and childhood, the dehumanizing stigma surrounding illnesses such as dementia, to other issues that need to be discussed. It was such an encouraging experience to meet like-minded peers, eager to become advocates for the untold stories of the minority. To sit in that room with a group of people all at different stages of their philosophical career, all willing to place these stories, my story, at equal value to the popularized Eurocentric philosophy was perspective changing. I am a part of the underrepresented and I look forward to attending this conference again.

The representatives for Western’s MAP Chapter (Nicole Fice [] and Helen Fielding [ would like to thank Western’s philosophy department, it’s climate committee, the Arts and Humanities Student Council, and the Marc Sanders Foundation for supporting this event. We would also like to thank the volunteers that helped make this event a success: Julia Lei, Hannah Eastman, James Belford, Cecilia Li, Sarah Murdoch, and Elisa Kilbourne. Finally, we would like to thank the speakers and everyone who attended the Philosophy Undergraduate Conference. 

Summaries of each talk can be found here.

Robert Stainton launches new book series in Philosophy of Language with Rowman and Littlefield

With the help of two colleagues, Professor Robert Stainton is launching a new book series with Rowman and Littlefield. It is called Philosophy of Language: Connections and Perspectives. The goal of the series is to publish volumes that connect philosophy of language to other areas of philosophy: aesthetics, ethics, history of philosophy, mind, science, social-political, etc. To areas of linguistics broadly construed: theoretical syntax and formal semantics, but also acquired and genetic impairments, dialectology, L1 and L2 acquisition, sociolinguistics, etc. And to social sciences such as anthropology, psychology, and sociology.

The series will include both monographs and anthologies. Among the former, the series will occasionally publish translations of especially important works fitting the above criteria, plus exceptional post-revision dissertations. The series will mostly aim, however, to publish regular scholarly monographs. Among the edited volumes, the focus will be on collections of peer-reviewed commissioned papers on a specific topic. Again, however, the series will occasionally to bring out language-focused festschrifts and proceedings of conferences/workshops. At present, the intended target audience for all of the above are fellow scholars and advanced students.

More information can be found at

New Edition, Revision and Completion of the Works of Immanuel Kant

Corey Dyck has been named (co-)editor of Kant's Anthropologie to be included in volume VII of the new edition of Kant's Werke by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. For more information on the new Academy edition, see here (in German)."

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 a 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 in 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 defences of women's access to education and indeed both adopt similar strategies of deploying, infrequently ingenious ways, the philosophical resources of their most influential (male) contemporaries to frame and motivate their respective defences.

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

Four 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 among 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.

2017 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

New 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).

Professor 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.

Professors’ feminist fitness blog named among top health influencers

By Tara Filipovich, Western News, March 16, 2017

Western professor Tracy Isaacs were recently 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.

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.

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

The University Students' 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 affiliated 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 speaks with Canadian Living about what it means to be fit and who gets to claim the title. Read the full article 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.

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

Charles 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


Appreciating Einstein's bridge between philosophy and science a century after Relativity

By Chris Smeenk, Western News, November 19, 2015

Chris Smeenk celebrates the centenary of Einstein's discovery of a new theory of gravity- general relativity. Einstein's achievement required perseverance and enormous creativity, as he struggled over a rough and winding road for eight years to formulate the theory. Read more.

Celebrating Einstein

By Craig Fox, Western News, November 19, 2015

Craig Fox writes about celebrating Einstein's discoveries. Read more.

Building families equitably in Ontario

By Carolyn McLeod, Toronto Star, October 30, 2015

The new proposed funding for infertility and adoption in Ontario is clearly inequitable, writes Carolyn McLeod, Department of Philosophy at Western. Read more

2014-15 Chair's Annual Essay Prize

Congratulations to Andrew DiMarco, winner of the Chair's Annual Essay Prize for 2014-15 for his essay "Celebrated Texts of Aristotle: Solving Zeno's Dichotomy". 

A life examined: Joseph Rotman's legacy at Western

By Henrik Lagerlund, Charles Weijer & Christopher Smeenk, Western Alumni Gazette, Spring 2015

Western Chancellor Joseph L. Rotman, BA’57, LLD’09, O.C., a renowned Canadian business mogul and philanthropist, died January 27th in his 80th year in Toronto. As a memorial, Western Philosophy professors Henrik Lagerlund and Charles Weijer, and Christopher Smeenk offer thoughts on the legacy of learning Rotman leaves behind on Western’s campus. Read more.

Feminist Quarterly Journal Launched

August 01, 2015

A new online, open access, peer-reviewed journal called Feminist Philosophy Quarterly (FPQ) has just launched. Edited by Samantha Brennan (Philosophy/Women's Studies), this initiative 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 more.

Skelton: Firing may be severe, but not unreasonable

By Anthony Skelton, Western News, June 18, 2015

Anthony Skelton weighs in on questions about the public and private self, and an employer’s responsibility to govern the latter at the expense of the former. Read more.

Western Philosophers listed among most cited worldwide

By Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog, May 28, 2015

Charles Weijer and Stathis Psillos from the Rotman Institute of Philosophy are listed among the top 85 most-cited living philosophers worldwide, according to the popular philosophy blog The Leiter Reports.

Rotman Institute of Philosophy shares BIG IDEAS

By Jason Winders, Western News, May 07, 2015

In this special edition of Western News, members of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy offer up their BIG IDEAS on the questions you’ll be facing tomorrow – and beyond. Read the full article

Weijer interviewed on life support ethics

By Joanne Faryon, inewsource, May 05, 2015

Charles Weijer, Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and member of Rotman Institute of Philosophy, comments on a California medical case involving an unidentified man who as been on life support for the last 15 years. Read the full article

Philosophy cracks global Top 50

By Jason Winders, Western News, April 29, 2015

Western Philosophy was named among the Top 50 programs in the world, according to the 2015 QS World University Rankings by Subject. In total, Western programs ranked among the world’s elite institutions in 23 of 36 areas. Read the full article 

Course opens eyes to food sourcing, security

By Julian Uzielli, Western News, February 26, 2015

Henrik Lagerlund, "The problems with the food industry cut across, of course, being a vegetarian or vegan. Because part of the problem is the labour issue. Even if you just eat salad, at least if you eat salad coming from the grocery store, you're still buying into this conventional food system." Read more.

Why don't people trust science?

By Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen, February 24, 2015

Charles Weijer comments on skepticism and opposition to science. Read more

Rights & Tort Law: A Canadian Perspective

Andrew Botterell is awarded a Bridge Grant from the University for the project: 'Rights & Tort Law: A Canadian Perspective". Read more.

Massacre opens eyes to different ways women experience the world

By Andrew Botterell, Western News, December 11, 2014

Andrew Botterell reflects on the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Read more.

What if anorexia wasn't a disorder, but a passion?

By Louis Charland, The Globe and Mail, September 14, 2014

Louis Charland challenges conventional ways of thinking about the illness with a theory involving archaic ideas about torturous passions and their power to take over mind, body, and soul. Read more. 

Professor fuses philosophy, technology for answers

By Adela Talbot, Western News, November 21, 2013

Philosophy professor David Bourget is the director of the new Centre for Digital Philosophy at Western. With a mission of advancing philosophical research through technology, the center maintains and develops online tools and services that are widely used by philosophers. Read more.

New CRC looks to bridge science-philosophy divide

By Paul Mayne, Western News, November 13, 2013

Western professor Stathis Psillos, recruited from the University of Athens, has been named the Rotman Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Science. Part of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Psillos is a leading philosopher in examining aspects of scientific realism. Read more.

Philosophy Professor Charles Weijer comments on Hassan Rasouli case

Charles Weijer, Canadian Research Chair in Bioethics and member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, was recently asked to comment on the Hassan Rasouli case on CTV NewsGlobal News, and Maclean's Magazine.

Spin cycle - Armstrong, doping and the lies he told

By Samantha Brennan, Western News, January 24, 2013 

As a philosopher whose main area of research is ethics, and as a cyclist, I’m saddened, angered and intellectually puzzled by Lance Armstrong’s behaviour and recent confession. Like many, I’ve followed his career closely. It’s a compelling saga, triathlete turned Tour de France champion seven times over, with a life-threatening battle with cancer along the way. In the past, I believed Armstrong when he said he was clean, when time after time he denied accusations of doping, and when he said he was the victim of...Read more

Head start, hard work pay off in Ivy League bid

By Adela Talbot, Western News April 19, 2012

Imagine being able to write your own academic ticket to an Ivy League school of your choice. That’s just what Emily Kress was able to do. Thanks to Western’s Initiative for Scholarly Excellence, the 21-year-old got a head start to her post-secondary studies. Read more

Stepping into the Ivy League

by Paul Mayne, Western News June 7, 2012

Matthew Leisinger came more than 4,000 kilometers from his hometown of Prince George, B.C., to earn an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Western. So what're another 1,000 kilometers – especially when he’ll find himself walking the hallowed halls of Yale University this fall? Read more

Philosopher named among year's best

by Communications Staff, August 27, 2012

A paper by Western Philosophy professor Wayne Myrvold, a member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, has been named among the 10 Best Papers of 2011 by Philosopher’s Annual. Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics: A Maxwellian View was published in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Vol. 42.l. Read more

Confronting ethical implications of detecting awareness in the vegetative state

by Andrew Peterson and Lorina Naci, Western News, December 13, 2012

Imagine that a close family member of yours was involved in a terrible car accident. The accident caused a traumatic brain injury that, despite the best efforts of physicians, has left your family member with a nebulous prognosis and severely diminished levels of consciousness. The attending neurologist explains to you that your family member has received a diagnosis of vegetative state — a disorder of consciousness characterized by cycles of wakefulness without concomitant awareness. Read more