A Newsletter Published by the Department of Philosophy

The University of Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma 73019-0535

Number 1 November 1994


You hold in your hands the first issue of the OU Philosophy Department's annual newsletter. In this issue, and in future issues, you will be informed of the latest developments and activities of our faculty, students, and staff. You will also be notified of any upcoming major events, including speakers, seminars and workshops, among other things. We are also eager to hear about your achievements and to share your good fortune with other alumni. The newsletter will, therefore, serve to bridge the Department's present with its past, which in turn will help ensure a brighter future for our academic program. I look forward to hearing from you.

--Reinaldo Elugardo, Chair


Three graduate students have been appointed to tenure-track teaching positions in philosophy. They are: Anne Edwards (Mesa Community College, Arizona), Judith Little (SUNY at Potsdam), and Michael Silberstein (Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania). Karen Mizell, who taught at Clayton State College in Atlanta last year, received a summer fellowship at Brigham Young University and will be a visiting assistant professor there this fall. Ron Schlittler is teaching philosophy at Oklahoma State University this fall, while Lee Hester is teaching at Oklahoma City University. Darian DeBolt, Little, and Silberstein taught at the University of Central Oklahoma this past year. Darian has joined the OU faculty this fall as a Visiting Lecturer.

The following students recently received Ph.D. degrees from the Philosophy Department. Mark Hulbert (supervisor: Cook) whose dissertation on Descartes' theory of perception was awarded the 1992-1993 OU Dissertation Prize in the area of Fine Arts and Humanities. Farhad Rohani (Interdisciplinary Ph.D., 1993; supervisor: Boyd). Anne Edwards (1993; supervisor: Sankowski). Darian Debolt (1994; supervisor: Sankowski). Judith Little (1994; supervisor: Badhwar).

The following students were awarded M.A. degrees (with thesis). Lee Basham (1993; adviser: Badhwar). Limeng Yu (1993; adviser: Badhwar); T.J. Singleton, Jr. (1994; adviser: Sankowski).

The following students were granted M.A. degrees (non-thesis). Matt Hallgarth (1992). Richard Neal (1992). Toby Jay Townsend (1992). Laurie West (1993). Gordon Dabbs (1993). Randall Ridenour (1993). Bradley McLerran (1994). Alfredo Dean Tate, Jr. (1994).

We are all very proud of our students and we wish them continued success in their program and in their careers.


Chadwick Huckabay graduated with a 4.0 GPA and received the Department's 1993 J. Clayton Feaver Scholarship Award for outstanding academic achievement.

Chris Schultz received the prestigious Carl Albert Award for 1993-1994, and was selected as the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Senior for 1993-1994. He graduated with a 4.0 GPA, and has begun graduate work (with full aid) in philosophy at the University of Arizona. He also received the Department's 1992 J. Clayton Feaver Scholarship Award.


Each newsletter will cover the activities of our faculty over a one-year period, from the beginning of one fall semester to the beginning of the next. This premier issue will, however, highlight some of the major activities during the last three years.

Neera Badhwar was on sabbatical leave in 1993-1994 and was awarded a Bowling Green State University Visiting Scholar Fellowship in the Social Philosophy and Policy Center for the spring 1994 semester. She also received an FY94 Arts and Sciences Faculty Enrichment Grant to support travel in fall 1993 to the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and the Loránd Eötvös University at Budapest to present her work on rights and justice. Neera also participated in a symposium on "Moral Psychology" at the 1994 Meetings of the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division, last March. She was an NEH Fellow at the 1992 NEH Summer Institute on "Ethics: Principles or Practices?". Her anthology, Friendship: A Philosophical Reader (Cornell U.P.), was published in 1993. Neera was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 1993.

Hugh Benson is one of only seven faculty members, nationwide, to be selected for a Howard Foundation Fellowship for 1994-1995. He is on sabbatical leave this academic year. He is completing his book manuscript on Socratic epistemology. Hugh was a Fellow at the NEH Institute for University Teachers on "Knowledge, Teaching, and Wisdom", which was held at UC/Berkeley in June 1993. He also participated as a commentator in a session on Plato at the American Philosophical Association Central Division Meetings last April. His anthology, Essays on the Philosophy of Socrates (Oxford U.P.), was published in 1992. Hugh was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 1992.

Tom Boyd was elected President of OU's Faculty Senate for the academic year 1994-1995.

Monte Cook presented a paper, "Descartes and the Dustbin of the Mind", at the 1993 Central Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association.

Reinaldo Elugardo was a Fellow at the NEH Institute on "The Metaphysics of Meaning", which was held at Rutgers University in July 1993. He now chairs the 1995 APA Program Committee for the Pacific Division.

James Hawthorne will be presenting a paper, "On the Nature of Bayesian Convergence", to the 1994 Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, which will be held in New Orleans, October 13-16. He delivered another paper, "Mathematical Instrumentalism Meets the Conjunction Objection", at the 24th Annual Meeting of the Society For Exact Philosophy, which was held in Austin, May 12-15.

Kihyeon Kim served as a commentator in a session on Coherentism at the 1994 Meetings of the Americian Philosophical Association, Pacific Division, in March.

Kenneth Merrill's paper "Hume's 'Of Miracles', Peirce, and the Balancing of Likelihoods" appeared in The Journal of the History of Philosophy. He is currently doing work on Hume's defense of suicide and on realism and nominalism in Hume and Peirce.

At the invitation of the Philosophy Department at the University of Cape Town, Edward Sankowski presented a series of lectures on autonomy during July and August of 1994. He also presented a paper, "Art Museums, Autonomy, and Canons", at the American Society for Aesthetics, Rocky Mountain Division Meetings, which were held at St. John's College, Santa Fe, July 9-11. He participated in the 1992 Institute on "Ethics: Principles or Practice?" as an NEH Summer Fellow. Edward was promoted to Full Professor in 1993 and is on sabbatical leave this fall.

Last fall, Chris Swoyer presented a paper, entitled "Logic, Properties, and Probabilities", at Loránd Eötvös University (Budapest, Hungry) and another paper, entitled "Leibniz on Identity and Congruence", at Filosoficky Ustav (Prague, Czech Republic). Both papers were delivered during his 1993 sabbatical. He will be presenting a paper in a symposium on "Metaphysical Conceptions of Properties" at the 1995 Meetings of the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division next March.

Zev Trachtenberg is one of four faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences to receive a three-year NEH/NSF/FIPSE Leadership Opportunity in Science and Humanities Education Program Grant. The grant will be used to a generate a set of courses that will serve as a new minor, entitled Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment. Zev was a Fellow at the 1994 NEH Summer Institute on "Plato and the Polis" which was held at Duke University. In 1993, he presented papers to the North American Society for Social Philosophy, the North American Society for the Study of Rousseau, the American Society for Aesthetic, and the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy. His book, Making Citizens: Rousseau's Political Theory of Culture (Routledge), was published in 1993.


Shelley Konieczny joined the department's staff in July 1993. She has become a valuable member of the departmental family. Welcome aboard, Shelley!

Susan Nostrand, who is our Administrative Assistant, is celebrating her 21th year as a staff member in our department. The University of Oklahoma officially recognized her 20 years of service last year with an award. Everyone in the department is very grateful for her outstanding work and dedication over the years. Congratulations, Susan, and thank you ever so much!


Tom Boyd, who holds the Kingfisher Chair of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, was honored in April with the distinguished 1994 Regents Award for Superior Teaching. This is a University-funded award given to faculty members who have a distinguished record in teaching. Recipients are nominated and selected on the basis of strong evidence of teaching excellence. Tom has been one of the most inspiring and popular teachers on the OU campus for the past 25 years, as made evident by the fact that he has also received, in years past, the AMOCO Foundation Good Teaching Award and the Baldwin Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Congratulations, Tom!


In honor of Professor Kenneth R. Merrill's long and distinguished career in teaching and in service, the Philosophy Department established, in January, the Kenneth R. Merrill Graduate Teaching Award. The award, which is a stipend for $800, will be used to recognize graduate students who have done outstanding teaching. It will be made on a one-time basis each fall in recognition of excellent teaching during the previous year. The first recipient of the award will be announced in October 1994. The department is grateful to Mr. Mark Conkling, a Ph.D. philosophy alumnus, for his generous donation and for his help in establishing this award.


In honor of Professor Clayton Feaver's contributions to the Philosophy Department curriculum while he served as the Kingfisher College Chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, the J. Clayton Feaver Scholarship was established by Mrs. Audrey (Ellsworth) Maehl. The recipients are undergraduate Philosophy majors and Ethics & Religion majors who are selected on the basis of their academic records. Mrs. Maehl was the first Kingfisher College Fellow at the University of Oklahoma. The department is very grateful for her tribute to Dr. Feaver which has enabled us to recognize some of our outstanding undergraduate majors.

The Philosophy Department also has several other undergraduate scholarships that are awarded to majors on the basis of their academic performance. For further information, please contact: Reinaldo Elugardo, Chair, Department of Philosophy, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019. Phone: (405) 325-6324. E-mail: ab1927@uokmvsa.bitnet.


The Department of Philosophy is pleased to announce that the third David Ross Boyd Lectures will be presented by Professor Alvin Plantinga (University of Notre Dame), October 5-7, 1994. (Professors Donald Davidson and Joel Feinberg presented the previous two lecture series). Professor Plantinga will present three lectures on the general topic of Warrant and Christian Belief. The titles of his three lectures are "What's The Question?", "Warranted Christian Belief", and "An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism". For more information, please contact: Reinaldo Elugardo, Chair, Department of Philosophy, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019-0535. Phone: (405) 325-6324. E-mail: ab1927@uokmvsa.bitnet.


The Philosophy Department hosted the 16th Annual Workshop In Ancient Philosophy on February 25-28, 1993. Scholars from several fine institutions, including UT/Austin, Emory University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, among others, convened at OU to present working papers on a range of issues in Ancient Greek Philosophy. Several of our graduate students participated as commentators (DeBolt, Little, Paleologou, Ridenour, and Vaughan). The workshop was organized by Professors Hugh Benson and Reinaldo Elugardo, and was partially supported by the Franklin J. Matchette Foundation.


We had, in 1993-1994, a provocative series of colloquia that covered a wide range of subjects. Professor Austen Clark (University of Tulsa) defended a version of eliminative materialism, while Professor Mikael Karlsson (University of Iceland) defended the Aristotelian idea that there are different, non-competing forms of explanation. Professor Igal Kvart (Hebrew University) presented an account of probablistic causation. Professor Holmes Rolston III (Colorado State University) argued that moral values and norms are grounded in natural evolutionary processes. By contrast, Professor Ernest Sosa (Brown University) offered a critique of ethical naturalism. Professor Wade Robison (Kalamazoo College) discussed the rationalistic roots of David Hume's denial of natural necessity.

The Philosophy Department joined forces with other departments and programs to sponsor guest speakers. In conjunction with Women Studies and the History of Science Department, we co-sponsored Professor Sandra Harding's (University of Delaware) lectures on feminist epistemology. Also in conjunction with the History of Science Department, we helped bring Professor Dennis Sepper (University of Dallas) to lecture on Descartes' philosophy of science.

Two other speakers visited the department under the auspices of other departments or programs. Professor Charles Taylor (McGill University), who was sponsored by the Oklahoma Scholar-Leadership Enrichment Program, presented a fascinating series of public lectures and a departmental talk on the topic of modernity. Professor Leon Henkin (Stanford), famed logician and mathematician, visited the department (under the auspices of the Department of Mathematics and the Honors Program) and gave an informal, stimulating talk on mathematical knowledge and understanding.

For the academic year of 1994-1995, Professor Alvin Goldman (Arizona) is scheduled to present a talk to the department. For more information about the fall and spring schedule of speakers, please contact Professor Kihyeon Kim, Department of Philosophy, the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019-0535.


Professor Mary Gregor (San Diego State University emeritus) joined the department as a Visiting Professor for Spring 1994. She taught a graduate seminar on Kant's political philosophy and a course in the history of ethics. She is renowned Kant scholar. Among her many publications on Kant, her most well-known work is The Laws of Freedom.

Professor Adam Morton (University of Bristol) held the Sutton Chair in 1992-1993. He taught a graduate course in philosophy of language and a seminar on realism. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including Frames of Mind and A Guide Through the Theory of Knowledge.

The Department is pleased to welcome Jeffrey Purinton to its faculty for the academic year 1994-1995. He is teaching Professor Hugh Benson's ancient philosophy courses while Hugh is on his year-long sabbatical. In addition to two undergraduate courses, Jeff is teaching a graduate seminar on Aristotle's ethics this fall and will offer a graduate survey on Plato in the spring. Jeffrey is a recent Princeton graduate in Classics and has published in scholarly journals that specialize in ancient philosophy.


Under this rubric, we intend to report news sent in by students and colleagues of the distant and recent past. If you know of any graduates not receiving copies of our newsletter, please inform us of their present addresses for our mailing list. We want to hear from you.

John Biro, former chair of the OU Philosophy Department, now chairs the Philosophy Department at the University of Florida (Gainesville). Among his recent publications is his "In Defense of Social Content," Philosophical Studies (1992).

Catherine Blaha, a former staff member, is now the Assistant to the Director of the Science and Public Policy Program in the Sarkey Energy Center at the University of Oklahoma.

Mark Hulbert ('92 Ph.D. graduate) had a tenure-track job at the University of Central Arkansas for the last two years but is now attending Columbia Law School.

Charles Mills, a former OU faculty member, is a tenured associate professor at the University of Chicago and continues in political and social philosophy.

Cindy Stern, a former OU faculty member, is a tenured associate professor at California State University (Northridge Campus) and continues to publish and present papers in the field of metaphysics.

Terry Thomas ('92 BA) has completed his second year of law school at Stanford University.

Kythe Walkswithwind ('92 BA cum laude) is in her second year of graduate study at the University of Arizona.

Laurie West ('93 M.A.) is in her third year of Law School at the University of Oklahoma.


We welcome your updates and comments. Please fill out this page and return it to:

Editor, OU Philosophy Newsletter

Department of Philosophy

The University of Oklahoma

Norman, OK 73019-0535


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