A newsletter published by the University of Oklahoma Department of Philosophy
Welcome to the 10th newsletter for which I have been writing the greetings. Whew! Time flies when you are having fun. I’ve been looking over the past newsletters and have noticed that I appear to be getting wordier and wordier. A professional liability, I suppose. Well, it is time to change and keep things short – not because a lot has not happened, but because the newsletter can speak for itself.
I am thrilled to welcome
Professor Sherri Irvin who joined our department this Fall. Sherri received her doctorate at Princeton
and recently has been teaching at
During the year, we completed a successful self-study; celebrated Linda Zagzebski’s Romanell-Phi Beta Kappa Professorship lectures and our ninth David Ross Boyd Lectures with Professor Hilary Putnam; completed our 10th annual undergraduate colloquium; continued our active colloquium series; taught numerous students; and awarded 17 B.A.s in philosophy and ethics and religion and three M.A.s. Perhaps the most exciting news of all is that Linda was awarded a George Lynn Cross Research Professorship at this spring’s Faculty Awards Ceremony. A GLC is the highest research award that the University bestows and it is well deserved. Congratulations, Linda! Next year promises to be exhilarating as well. As you can see, this continues to be an exciting time in the life of the program, and we have no intention of sitting still.
Finally, I would like to thank all our alumni who have responded to our previous newsletters and various questionnaires. A special “thank you” goes to those of you who have contributed financially to the department. It is important, however, to hear from all of you, especially as we try continually to improve our program. The Philosophy Department has a Web site at http://www.ou.edu/ouphil. Among other things, the site has an online form alumni can fill out to provide information about themselves. Please, let us know how you are doing!
Hugh H. Benson, Chair
During the calendar year 2005, the following students graduated with a degree in Philosophy or Religion and Ethics:
Andrew Kaeleb Call, Gregory Pierre Chansolme, Matthew Ted Dorius (with distinction), Nathaniel Garrett Foell (with distinction), Tyler Emory Haas, Devon Julian Holcombe,Thomas Russell Hunter, David Lee Kersey, Jonathan Christian Lewis, Jennifer Brooke Mullins (with distinction), Sarah Beth Piazza, Sarah Kelly Price, Edward Lee Robertson, Damian Collin Russell, Gabriel J. Thomas, Joshua James Valentine, Mary Elizabeth Wikswo and Emily Anne Pain (Ethics and Religion)
In Spring 2006, the following students graduated with a degree in Philosophy or Religion and Ethics:
Ryan Mitchel Collins, Bryan Anthony Cook, James Dizikes (summa cum laude), William Floyd Hilderbrant, Christopher James Schaefer (summa cum laude), Zachary Don Troutt, Michelle Chanleur Verges, Kendall Morgan White (cum laude)
Ethics and Religion
Chelsie Lynn Elkouri, Kent David Gonser (summa cum laude)
The following students are to be congratulated for successfully defending their Ph. D. dissertations:
Clint Barrett, Jesse Butler, Dara Fogel, Kyle Johnson and Elliot Welch.
Dara Fogel is moving to
Kyle Johnson received
a visiting assistant professorship at King’s College in
Rusty Jones has broken all
records for research by graduate students in his first two years as an M.A.
student. He presented "Self-Love and Friendship: Reexamining the Argument
of Nicomachean Ethics IX.4" to
the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy at the Pacific Division Meetings of
the American Philosophical Association, March 24. His paper was one of only
three chosen out of more than 30 submissions, and the only one by a student. He
presented the same paper to the 29th Annual Workshop in Ancient
Rusty also presented
"Christian Belief, Platonic Rationality, and Expert Opinion" at the
Fifth Annual Donald G. Wester Philosophy Conference,
Elliot Welch will be taking a job at
Brian Barnett was the recipient of a number of honors: the Elizabeth Wade
Scholarship, established in honor of Elizabeth Wade (a Philosophy alumnus) by
her parents, Larry R. and Mary Jane Wade, of
Nathan Foell received the J. Clayton Feaver Scholarship for 2005. This scholarship honors the memory of
J. Clayton Feaver
(1911-1995), who was the first Kingfisher Professor of the Philosophy of
Religion and Ethics at the
Congratulations to Brian and Nathan, and many thanks to the donors whose generosity made the awards possible.
Presentations: “Friendship and Commercial Societies,” 2005 Joint Session of the Mind Association and the Aristotelian Society, University of Manchester, England; “Carnal Wisdom and Sexual Virtue,” Colloquium on Sex and Virtue, American Philosophical Association, March 2005; “International Aid: When Giving Becomes a Vice,” Panel on Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, Association for Private Enterprise Education, April 2005;
“Is Realism Really Bad for You? A Critique of Some Critiques of Realism,” The Carl M. Williams Institute of Ethics and Values, Conference on Virtue Ethics and Moral Psychology, October 2005;
“Philosophical, Psychological, and Economic Perspectives on Happiness,” Association for Private Enterprise Education, 2006;
“Happiness as the Highest Good,”
▪Neera was invited to visit the
▪“Friendship and Commercial Societies,” in Bernard Schumacher, ed. L'amitié (
▪“Friendship and Sexuality,” Sex from Plato to Paglia: A Philosophical Encyclopedia, ed. A. Soble (2005), 390-97.
▪“International Aid: When Giving Becomes a Vice,” Social Philosophy and Policy, issue on Justice and Global Politics, Vol. 23, Winter 2006, 69-101.
Presentations: “Plato’s Dialectic Method” at the Arizona Colloquium on Plato
“The Socratic Method” at the XVIth International Symposium of the Olympic
Center for Philosophy and Culture,
▪The Olympic Center for Philosophy and Culture awarded him an Honorary Commendation for his work on Socrates and Plato. (Congratulations, Hugh!)
▪“Plato: The Republic” in Central Works of Philosophy 1: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, ed. J. Shand (2005);
▪“Plato’s Rationalistic Method” in Blackwell Companion to Rationalism, ed. Alan Nelson (2005).
Presentations: "Desgabets as a
Cartesian Empiricist" at the
▪"Desgabets on the Creation of Eternal Truths," The Journal of the History of Philosophy, January 2005, pp. 21-36.
Presentations: “Core Meaning” at the Canadian Philosophical Association Meeting in May 2005 in an “Authors Meet Critics” session on Cappelen and Lepore’s Insensitive Semantics. He also participated in an APA Pacific Division Symposium on Roger Wertheimer’s “Quotations, Displays, and Autonomes” and commented on Jon Cogburn’s “Notes from the Ungerground” at the APA Central Division and APA Pacific Division Meetings (although Jay Newhard had to present the comments, as Ray fell ill).
▪An anthology coedited with Robert Stainton, Ellipsis and NonSentential Speech (Kluwer, 2005);
▪“Fodor’s Incompleteness Argument” in ed. E. Machery, G. Schurz, and M. Werning, The Compositionality of Concepts and Meanings: Foundational Issues (Ontos).
Presentations: “Another Representation of Jeffrey Updating and the Uniformity Rule,” Second Annual Austin–Berkeley Formal Epistemology Workshop, FEW 2005,
“Nonmonotonic Conditionals that Behave Like Conditional Probabilities
Above a Threshold,” Fourth International Workshop on Computational Models of
Scientific Reasoning and Applications (CMSRA IV),
“Graded Belief or Degrees of Belief: A Friendly Amendment to Christensen’s Probabilism,” American Philosophical Association, 2006.;
“On the Logic of Comparative Confidence and Belief;” Decision Theory Workshop,
▪“Degree of Belief and Degree of Support: Why Bayesians Need Both Notions,” Mind.
▪“Nonmonotonic Conditionals That Behave Like Conditional Probabilities Above a Threshold,” Journal of Applied Logic.
Presentations: “Artists, Institutions and the Shaping of Contemporary Artworks” at the meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics,
“Apprehension and Interpretation of Artworks” at meetings of the Canadian Philosophical Association and the Society for the Philosophic Study of the Contemporary Visual Arts,
“Everyday Aesthetics” at the meeting of the Société de philosophie de Québec,
“Museums, Curators and the Nature of the Artwork” at the Thinking About
Museums conference in
▪Sherri won the American Society for Aesthetics John Fisher Memorial Prize for the best paper in aesthetics by a philosopher within five years of receiving the doctorate. She also was awarded some cushy Canadian grants she had to give up to come to OU.
▪In April 2006 she ran her first marathon in 4:19:13. She hopes that by the time the newsletter comes out in 2007, she will have her time down to four hours.
▪“The Artist’s Sanction in Contemporary Art.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (2005), 315-326.
▪“Appropriation and Authorship in Contemporary Art.” British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (2005), 123-137.
▪“Interprétation et description d’une œuvre d’art.” Philosophiques 32 (2005), 135-148
Kenneth Merrill retired the first of July 2005, after 47 years at OU. He still goes to his office every day – or rather, every midnight — but no longer has to grade papers — or edit this newsletter. Nor does he have to attend department or committee meetings or advise or …. (all of which, in any case, take place during the day). For a while, he took positive delight in not attending those meetings, but eventually decided that his attitude was verging on Schadenfreude (though he was never glad that others were obliged to go). He saw his final Ph.D. student through the commencement exercise in May 2006 — a distinctly happy way to end his academic career. So far, he is finding retirement very much to his liking. He completed A Historical Dictionary of Hume’s Philosophy and sent it off to his publisher.
Wayne Riggs and his wife, Karen, stopped being
faculty-in-residence in May 2005, and moved out of the
Presentations: Chris gave the presidential address to the Southwestern Philosophical
▪Chris says he would be happy to take on some of the American philosophy courses that Ken used to teach, but having just taught a seminar on American philosophical naturalism, he’s finding that mastering the material is more work than he’d expected (so is he still happy about teaching some of Ken’s courses? “Yeah, I guess so.”). He also remains concerned about how well the critical thinking and introductory logic courses work for students.
▪“Conceptualism” in Sir Peter Strawson and A. Chakrabarti, eds., Universals, Concepts and Qualities (Ashgate), 2005.
▪Review of second edition of Layman’s The Power of Logic.
▪Chris’s critical reasoning manuscript, available on his Web site, has now been used by at least the following people in one or more sections of critical reasoning (or comparable courses elsewhere): Jesse Butler, Monte Cook, Ed Cox, Dustin Denson, Steve Ellis, Mary Gwin, Mark Gutel, Vassiliki Papapostolou, Michael Silberstein, Sara Sweet, Chris Swoyer, Robert Thompson, Stuart Barnum, Randy Ridenour and Jason Oakes, and portions have been used by others. At least 2,500 students have used it. Perhaps some day he’ll try to publish it, but he’s mindful of its limitations (he thinks it’s the best thing out there, but it still has a long way to go and he doesn’t know how to improve it).
Presentations: a paper at the biannual meeting of the Rousseau Association, comparing Rousseau's and Henry David Thoreau's attitudes toward nature.
▪Zev continues to serve on the City of
▪ An anthology co-edited with a team of social scientists, Swimming Upstream: Collaborative Approaches to Watershed Management (MIT, 2005).
In November he appeared on a panel about the book at the annual meeting of the American Water Resources Association — he was the only philosopher at the meeting!
Presentations: Linda gave talks at SUNY Brockport, the University of Notre Dame, the
▪Linda was named the Romanell Professorship of Phi Beta Kappa for 2005-06. As part of this professorship, she delivered three lectures at OU (see “Speakers”).
▪On April 6, Linda was awarded the George Lynn Cross Research Professorship at OU, the highest research award in the university. (Congratulations again, Linda!)
▪Linda is president of the Society of Christian Philosophers and co-editor of the Philosophy of Religion section of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
▪“Sleeping Beauty and the Afterlife”
▪“The Ethics of Belief and the Primacy of What We Care About”
▪“More Suggestions for Divine Command Theorists.”
__________ _STAFF CHANGES_________________
In case you have not heard, Susan Nostrand retired from the University last September. Susan has been caring for the department for over 36 years, and it was traumatic for those remaining in the department to see her leave. From all reports, Susan is enjoying her retirement. Some say that she has not stopped smiling since her last day in the department. I myself have seen the smile a few times since September. Congratulations, Susan! A well-deserved respite!
Shelley Konieczny has moved into Susan’s office and is holding down the fort. As all of us know, there is a lot to do in that office and much to learn, but the department is in good hands.
Lindsay Rice joined the department in August. Some of you may already have met her. She is the pleasant voice of the department, among her many other duties. Welcome aboard, Lindsay!
Susan Alvarado (M.A., 2001; Ph.D. in Education, 2006 from
Lee Basham (Ph.D.,
1998; Labash@earthlink.net) is assistant
Lee won two awards for his paper, “Zionism as Rape? The Nakba and
Palestinian Self-Conception” (2003):
▪"Conspiracy Theories, Resilience and Ubiquity," in Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate (Ashgate, April 2006), ed. David Coady.
▪“Living With the Conspiracy,” Philosophical Forum, 2001, reprinted in Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate
▪“Malevolent Global Conspiracy,” Journal of Social Philosophy, 2003, reprinted in Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate.
Two other chapters in the book are replies to Lee’s views concerning the epistemic status of conspiracy theories. (Lee is not a conspiracy theorist, but he sure looks like a Metaconspiracy Theorist. He defends a studied agnosticism toward many of the more ambitious conspiracy theories, past and recent.)
Greg Bassham (B.A., 1982; M.A., 1985; Gregbassham@aol.com)
is professor of philosophy and department chair at King’s College,
anthology, The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy (
▪Essays in More Matrix and Philosophy (2005).
▪Essays in Poker and Philosophy (2006).
(Greg still claims to be the planet’s Most Clueless Person about popular culture except, perhaps, for Ken Merrill. Ken may disagree.)
A. Bender (M.A., 1968) died in June 2005. Fred taught at
Charles Brown (Ph.D., 1983, professor at Emporia Stare University, Emporia, Kan.).
Publications: Co-edited anthology, Eco-Phenomenology: Back to the Earth Itself, SUNY Press, 2003.
(Ph.D., 2003; Stephen.Brown@briarcliff.edu)
is an assistant professor in the Department of Theology and Philosophy at
Bill Ferraiolo (Ph.D., 1997; firstname.lastname@example.org)
has been teaching at
▪“Against Compatibilism: Compulsion, Free Agency
and Moral Responsibility,” Sorites
▪“Eternal Selves and the Problem of Evil,” Quodlibet (2005).
Curtis Hancock (M.A., 1974 Curtis.Hancock@rockhurst.edu)
is professor of philosophy at
Peter Hutcheson (Ph.D., 1979; email@example.com)
is professor of philosophy at
John Link (B.A., 1965; M.F.A. in painting, 1968; firstname.lastname@example.org) is professor of art at
Publication: “Perceiving Beauty,” http://www.newcrit.org/plain/JLbeauty.html
Harry Moore (Ph.D., 1998) has been teaching at
Albert B (Bert)
Randall (Ph.D., 1972; RANDALLA@apsu.edu) continues to teach in the Department
of History and Philosophy at
▪Strangers on the Shore: The Beatitudes in World Religions (Peter Lang, 2006).
Randy Ridenour (Ph.D., 2000; Randy.Ridenour@okbu.edu)
Congratulations are in order for Randy, who was granted tenure and promoted to
associate professor at
Rafael Rondón (Ph.D., 1997; email@example.com)
Michael Silberstein (Ph.D., 1994; firstname.lastname@example.org)
is associate professor of philosophy at
Michael presented a
paper on quantum mechanics and special relativity at the American Institute of
Physics at an annual conference sponsored by UMD called New Directions in
Physics (2005). He gave that same paper at The Centre for Time at the
University of Sydney, Australia (2005). He also presented a paper on emergence
and causal closure at various places, including the Rutgers philosophy
department and also the philosophy department at
Earl Spurgin (M.A., OU, 1988 and Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,
1995; email@example.com ) is chair of the
Department of Philosophy at
Don Viney (Ph.D., 1982; firstname.lastname@example.org),
▪”A Lamp to Our Doubts: Ferré, Hartshorne, and Theistic Arguments,” in a festschrift for Frederick Ferré (Heritage Press).
Spencer K. Wertz received his Ph.D. in 1970 and has been on the faculty at
We celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Undergraduate Colloquium in April 2005 with a special t-shirt and catered dinner at Hugh and Ann Benson’s home. The driving force behind these special events was Michelle Verges, who has since graduated from OU. Robert Johnson was the program director. Mary Gwin and Michelle Verges also were on the committee. Two of the papers were given by OU undergraduates Justin Donathan and Sarah Price. OU graduate students Carl Gustafson, Rusty Jones, Robert Johnson (whose comments were presented by Josh Spears), Jason Southworth and Andrea Taylor served as commentators on the papers delivered at the conference.
In April 2006, we held our 11th Undergraduate Colloquium with Rusty Jones as the program director. Brian Barnett, Grant Mowser and Andrea Taylor also were on the committee. One of the papers was given by OU undergraduate Christina Leinneweber. OU graduate students Ruth Dysart, Rusty Jones, Robert Mackey, Buffy Price, Jeff Schaffner and Paul Franks served as commentators.
January 28, Bryan Frances,
January 31, Matthew Boyle,
February 4, Matthew Weiner,
February 11, Sherri Irvin,
February 25, Kathleen Dougherty,
▪April 8: "Prerogatives, Restrictions and Rights."
▪April 9: Keynote address, "Lockean Provisos, Self-Ownership, and the Most Abject Proletarian."
● In the
week of Sept. 26, Linda Zagzebski,
1. Lecture I: “The Admirable Life and the Desirable Life”
2. Lecture II: “The Desirable Life and the Ethics of Belief and Assertion”
3. Lecture III: “The Ethics of Belief and the Diversity of Religions”
● In the week of October 23rd, Hilary Putnam,
“William James, John Dewey and the Future of Philosophy”
1. Lecture I: "The Story of Pragmatism"
2. Lecture II: "Some Reflections on the Story"
3. Lecture III: "Pragmatism and the Future of Philosophy"
▪April 7: "Art and the Divided Self."
▪April 8: "DuBois and Douglass on the Sorrow Songs."
We welcome your updates and comments. Please fill out this page and return it to Editor, OU Philosophy Newsletter, Department of Philosophy, 455 West Lindsey, Room 605, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019-2006; or fax it to (405) 325-2660. You can also respond online at the department’s Web site http://www.ou.edu/ouphil Thank you.
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