OU Department of Philosophy

Newsletter 13

Spring 2008





Let me begin by apologizing for the delay in the delivery of this year’s newsletter.  For a variety of reasons we were simply unable to get the newsletter out last spring and so ultimately we decided to combine two years into one.  I supposed this failure might be taken as a sign of a flourishing department.  And indeed, we do continue to flourish due to the help and support of many people, including our students, faculty, alumni, and friends. 


I am happy to report that we successfully completed a national search in the area of philosophy of religion.  Neal Judisch (Ph.D. Texas) who had been visiting us in 06-07 has joined the regular faculty this fall.  He was joined by Martin Montminy (Ph.D. Montreal) who we successfully recruited the year before at the Associate level.  That’s roughly five new faculty members in the last five years!  This is indeed an exciting and busy time in the life of the department.


But the excitement is not confined to the faculty.  There has also been a physical change in the department.  The old department library, or as Professsor Cook preferred to call it ‘the book room’ has been converted into an office space for the graduate assistants, who affectionately call it ‘the cave’.  The lunch room has new furniture.  I don’t mean different furniture.  I mean genuinely new furniture.  It even has a water cooler!  The lunch room renovations are due largely to the generosity of Professor Zagzebski.  (Thanks Linda!  I guess it takes a GLC Professor to see that we needed better digs.)  The seminar room has also been completely refurbished with high tech IT, carpet, new tables and chairs.  For the seminar room we owe our gratitude to the College of Arts and Sciences and Dean Bell.  (Thanks Paul!)  This is the first time for any of this in the 20 plus years I have been at OU. 


We also welcomed Ileah Murray as our new secretary – the voice and face of the department, Professor Zagzebski as our new George Lynn Cross Professor (the University’s highest research award), new undergraduate and graduate students, new bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees, a first rate colloquium series (including our 12th annual Undergraduate Conference, a formal epistemology conference whose participants were among the best in the world, and Professor Christine Korsgaard as our 10th David Ross Boyd Lecturer), and much, much more.


Next year promises to be just as exciting, hopefully with the newsletter out on time. 


Again, I would like to thank all of you 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


Among other things, the site has an on-line form alumni can fill out to provide information about themselves.  Please, let us know how you are doing!


                                                                        Hugh Benson





The department is pleased to welcome two new faculty members and one new staff assistant. 


Associate Professor Martin Montminy joins the department from a post at University of Ottawa.  His research focuses on philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and epistemology.  For a selection of his most recent work, see Faculty News below.  In addition to his research and teaching, Martin has also become the department’s new Placement Director and has been working energetically for our students on the market, for which we and the students are very grateful.  Martin was born in Sept-Iles, Québec, Canada, on a day when temperatures reached -40 oF.  Perhaps because of this chill entry into the world, Martin’s dream, as a child, was to play professional ice hockey.  Martin is married to Professor Sherri Irvin and says that the things he likes about Norman are: “the fact that Sherri lives here, my colleagues, the trees (even after the storm), the climate (three seasons out of four), Forward Foods, the OU women’s basketball team.”


Assistant Professor Neal Judisch joins the department as a tenure-track assistant professor after having spent a year with us as a visitor.  Prior to coming to Norman, Neal earned a PhD at the University of Texas at Austin and held a position at Texas Tech University.  His research focuses on metaphysics, action theory and philosophy of religion, and he is especially interested in issues that intersect with all three fields.  Some of Neal’s most recent work is listed below under Faculty News.  Neal and his wife have three children, ages 7, 5, and 3, and another due to arrive sometime in April.  Neal says that his time outside of work is largely “consumed with child’s play (literally).”  However, he is also an accomplished guitarist and composes his own music.  While the intrepid Newsletter reporter does not wish to blow his cover, it is also rumored that Neal favors a football team located to our south.


Ileah Murray, staff assistant, joined the department as a replacement for Lindsay Rice, who left to take a job in another university department.  Before coming to work in the department, Ileah worked for a law firm in downtown Oklahoma City.  She is a Norman native, graduate of Norman North High School, and the proud mother of an “almost” 3 year old girl.  When not in the department, Ileah enjoys dancing, outdoor activities, and spending time with family and friends.  She is also, from what we can tell, the first member of the department to win a radio contest, a trip to the bowl game last winter.





As Hugh notes above, the department has enjoyed a happily busy couple of years.  Here are just a few of the highlights.


Ice Storm

In December of last year, Norman experienced a dramatic ice storm that resulted in lost power to thousands of homes and damage to many trees.  For days, the town was dark by night and shiny with crystalline ice by day. The storm arrived on the eve of finals week and faculty and students scrambled to carry on, with some camping in the offices and some writing essays or grading by candlelight.  While life in Norman has resumed a more ordinary quality, the damage wrought by the storm to Norman’s trees will be with us for some time.  Clean up of the downed trees and limbs is expected to take months and only with spring will it become clear how many of the standing trees will have survived.  Many local groups are working energetically on “re-greening” efforts to bring back the canopies of trees that have made the campus and Norman so beautiful.


Department Renovations (or If the Body is a Prison, Why are we so Comfortable?)

As Professor Benson notes, the department has recently renovated its seminar room, library, and lounge.  Special thanks are owed to Dean Bell of the College of Arts and Sciences for funding the seminar room renovations, to Linda Zagzebski for both the funding and aesthetic judgment she provided in the lounge renovation, and to Wayne Riggs who paid in much sweat equity to reconfigure the old library.


The seminar room is equipped with technological amenities, gleaming new tables, and comfortable chairs.  The library has become the working home to many of the department’s teaching assistants.  While the changes there are less dramatic, “The Cave” now features more effective work spaces and computer stations.  Changes in the lounge are quite startling.  The lounge now features new leather couches and soft chairs, a small library for current journals, and artwork for the walls, as well as new kitchen equipment.  While these changes awoke in some ruminations on the possible disadvantages of comfort and respectability, most were content simply to sit in chairs that don’t break.  All is not changed, however.  The dish soap Professor Emeritus Ken Merrill purchased several years ago is still more than half full and the coffee pot is kept well away from any cleaning agents, ensuring that the coffee still offers the full-bodied, almost archeological, flavor students and faculty prize.


In addition to renovations to our physical spaces, the department is currently investigating ways to renovate our website.  Our hope is that by this time next year, we will have a shiny new website that will keep virtual pace with our shiny new lounge and seminar space.  The newly designed site will feature much of the information contained on the current site, but will additionally include many more links to current faculty research and the most up-to-date information about happenings in the department.  Special thanks to Sherri Irvin for helping the department make this transition.  Stay tuned and keep checking back for the new look.


OU International Philosophy Conference

In April of 2007, Wayne Riggs and Jim Hawthorne organized and hosted an international Epistemology Workshop at OU.  The conference proved so enjoyable and useful that the department is laying plans to make thematic conferences with scholars drawn from around the world a biennial affair.  We hope to host conferences in ancient philosophy, on the intersections of ethics and aesthetics, in philosophy of language, and more.  Efforts are already underway to plan our next conference and secure the funding that will make this a lively part of our regular activities.  


Our first effort, the epistemology workshop, included Luc Bovens (London School of Economics), David Chalmers (Australian National University), Branden Fitelson (University of California, Berkeley), Alan Hajek (Australian National University), Jon Kvanvig (Baylor), Adam Morton (University of Alberta), Scott Sturgeon (Birkbeck College, University of London), and Paul Weirich (University of Missouri, Columbia). A two-day affair, the conference provided an opportunity for extended and collegial discussions among faculty and participants.  In addition to planning the conference, Wayne and Jim additionally established a blog aimed at providing the essays to a wider audience and creating a forum for additional discussion.  The blog, with all of the essays, may be accessed at:   http://ouepistemology.blogspot.com/


David Ross Boyd Lecture Series

In the Fall of 2007, the department welcomed Professor Christine Korsgaard of Harvard University to give the Tenth David Ross Boyd Lectures.  Professor Korsgaard gave a series of three formal presentations organized around the theme, Moral Animals:  “Animal Nature and the Good,” “That short but imperious word ought: Human Nature and the Right,” and “Human Beings and the Other Animals.”  The department enjoyed hosting Professor Korsgaard and appreciates her contribution to one of our most longstanding and successful efforts to bring some of the best research in the field to campus.


Faculty Research Workshops

In 2007, the faculty began a series of work-in-progress workshops designed so that we may learn from each other’s work and present ongoing projects for informal discussion and critique.  Highlights of these workshops include Martin Montminy’s vagueness questionnaire which led some to warily consider, among other things, how old one must be to count as “old;” Wayne Riggs’ fictional ditch-jumping (or not) boys; Steve Ellis’ fictional high school drop outs in a face off with the department’s actual high school drop out, Amy Olberding; and Sherri Irvin’s brave attempts to present her sophisticated grasp of art to colleagues who habitually preface their remarks with variations on the claim, “Now I don’t know much about art, but…”  It will be interesting to see how these collective efforts to address individual research leave their traces in faculty work.


Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Since our last edition of the Newsletter, the department hosted the Twelfth Annual Undergraduate Conference.  As part of the conference, the department hosted Susan Wolf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as our keynote speaker.  Her talk, entitled “Moral Psychology and the Unity of Virtue,” capped off a day of papers presented by students from around the region.  Special recognition is due to the OU undergraduate and graduate students who helped plan the conference, chaired sessions, and provided commentary:  Laura Calvery, Landon Schurtz, Jason Oakes, Bobby Johnson, Charity Smith, Shain Alexander, and Paul Franks.



As usual, the department hosted a diverse group of scholars in our departmental colloquia.  Colloquia since we last published the Newsletter featured:



Steve Ellis (OU), “The Many and the One:  Sen and Hausman on Preferences”

John Doris, (Washington University-St. Louis), “How to Build a Person”

Bernard Linsky (University of Alberta), “The Second Edition of Principia Mathematica:

            Manuscripts and Letters in the Bertrand Russell Archives”

Wayne Riggs (OU), “Knowledge Undermining Luck:  Safety or Control?”

Brian Weatherson (Cornell Univsersity), “The Bayesian and the Dogmatist”

Jesse Butler (OU), “On Knowing what it is Like:  Self-Constitutive Knowledge of our own

            Conscious States”

Joshua Blander (University of California-Los Angeles), “Scotus’s Account of Formal Identity and


Neal Judisch (OU), “Conservation, Determinism and the Problem of Evil”

E.J. Coffman (OU), “How Seriously Can God Deliberate?”

Graeme Hunter (University of Ottawa), “Discordant Harmonies:  A Fault Line in Leibnizian


Christopher Herrera (Montclair State University), “Can Virtue be Taught (in Ethics Classes)?”

            Alumnus speaker for the Annual FOCAS week.

Robert Stainton (University of Western Ontario), “Pragmatic Abilities in Autism Spectrum

            Disorder:  A Case Study in Philosophy and the Empirical

Susan Wolf (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), “Moral Obligations and Social




Andrew Roche (OU), “Transcendental Idealism.”

Christopher Shields (Oxford University), “The Priority of Soul in Aristotle.”

Anna Christina Ribeiro (Texas Tech University), “Aesthetic Attributions: The Case of Poetry.”

Steve Ellis (OU Philosophy) and Scott Greene (OU Geography), “Climate Change as an

Externality: Why DON’T We Stop Ourselves from Doing This, Anyway?” In conjunction

with the Focus the Nation initiative on climate change.

Stephen Brown (Briar Cliff University), “From Ethical Naturalism to Ethical Skepticism: A

Philosopher’s Development.” Alumnus speaker for the Annual FOCAS Week.

Terry Horgan (University of Arizona), “Transglobal Evidentialism-Reliabilism.”

Sanford Goldberg (Northwestern University), “Assertion and the Acceptance of Testimony”





The department extends hearty congratulations to the following students who recently completed degrees:



Tim Miller, “Continuous Creation, Persistence, and Secondary Causation: An Essay on the

Metaphysics of Theism” (Zagzebski)

Howard Short, “On Middle Knowledge” (Zagzebski)

Elliott Welch, “Socratic Definition in Plato’s Dialogues” (Benson)



Michael Garrison

Robert Mackey


BA:  Philosophy

Adam Banner

Brian Barnett

Kevin Bowen

John Braly

James Broda

Laura Ann Calvery

Jordan Challis

Ryan Collins

John Dell

James Dizikes 

Jessica Eeds

Jeremy Fried                          

Christine Geary

Timothy Haverkamp

William Hilderbrandt

Stephen Johnson

Jeremy Jones

Justin Keller

Phillip Lewis                           

Justin Malloy

Russell McCurdy

Lucius Ramos

Christopher Schaefer

James Sheffield          

John Sielert

Brandon Strange

Aaron Tait

Zachary Troutt

Michelle Verges

Kendall White 

Joshua Woods                                                                                                                        

BA:  Ethics and Religion

Chelsie Elkouri

Kent Gonser

Jonathan Shea

Andrew Winningham






We continue to draw high quality undergraduate majors and want to congratulate in particular those students honored in the past year for their academic accomplishments.


Brian Barnett was awarded the Clayton Feaver Scholarship.  Barnett, who majored in philosophy and mathematics with a minor in religious studies, is a 2001 graduate of Spiro High School. He was also the 2005 recipient of the Wade Scholarship, and has also been recognized with scholarships from the Mathematics Department and the College of Arts and Sciences.  He was selected by the McNair Scholars program to attend workshops and present his own research at the University of Maryland.  For more about Brian’s activities since graduation, see the Alumni/ae News section below.


Daniel White, the 2006 Wade Scholarship recipient, graduated from Norman North High School in 2004. He is majoring in philosophy and physics, and worked in Dr. Lloyd Bumm’s physics lab.  He is currently studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany, where he is taking courses in both philosophy and physics. He plans to attend graduate school in one of those fields.


Laura Calvery was honored with service as the department’s Banner Carrier at Convocation, recognition awarded to an exceptional graduating senior each year. 





The Kenneth Merrill Teaching Award is given annually to the graduate teaching assistant who shows exceptional skill and commitment in teaching.  Congratulations are due to Jason Oakes who received the 2007 Merrill Award.   


Hammad Hussain will present his paper on Aristotle’s  Posterior Analytics, entitled “More Familiar to Us vs. More Familiar Simpliciter,” at the North Texas Philosophical Association, 41st Meeting in Denton, TX, in April and at the 3rd International Conference on Philosophy in Athens, Greece, in June.


Rusty Jones has recently published two essays:  “Escapism and Luck” in Religious Studies 43.2 (June 2007), 205-216 and “Piety as a Virtue in the Euthyphro: A response to Rabbås” in Ancient Philosophy 26.2 (Fall 2006), 385-390.  Rusty also presented an essay titled, “Modal Systems and the Validity of Gödel’s Ontological Argument” at the  Donald G. Wester Philosophy Conference at Oklahoma Baptist University in March 2007.  Rusty and Bobby Johnson made two presentations together.  At the Midwest Regional Graduate Conference at Northern Illinois University in November of 2007, they presented “The Problem of Deontic Concepts for Virtue Epistemologists” and at the Pacific APA in April of 2007, they presented “Counterfactual Exemplar-Based Virtue Accounts of Right Action.”


Tim Miller has co-edited a volume with Linda Zagzebski.  Titled Readings in Philosophy of Religion: Ancient to Contemporary, the book is soon to appear with Blackwell. 


Josh Seachris has co-authored an essay with Linda Zagzebski: “Weighing Evils: The C. S. Lewis Approach,” in the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 62:2 (December 2007): 81-88.  Josh also presented this essay at the Midwest Regional Meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers, University of Dubuque, in March 2007 and commented on “Ancient-Future Hermeneutics: Postmodernism, Inerrancy, and the Rule of Faith,” by Mark J. Boone at the Donald G. Wester Conference, Oklahoma Baptist University, in March 2007.  Very special congratulations are due Josh and his wife, Sarah, who welcomed the birth of their first child, William Josiah Seachris, on September 27, 2007. 


Andrea Taylor attended the Philosophy and Popular Culture Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in February 2008 to present her paper, “Can a Person Who Has Heard This Music Really Be a Bad Person?”:  A Confucian Reading of Music and Moral Development in ‘The Lives of Others.’”


Angela Thurmond, whose dissertation concerns just war theory, presented her paper, “Just Punishment for War Crimes,” at the International Studies Association South Conference in October of 2007.






In Memoriam

The department was saddened to learn that Arthur H. Prince died in September 2006.  Arthur received his Ph.D. from OU in 1996 and had been working as an associate professor at Baptist College of Health Sciences in Memphis, Tennessee.  The department extends its condolences to Arthur’s family.


Roksana Alavi (BA ’96) successfully defended her dissertation, “Race and Oppression: Philosophical Perspective in Voluntary Oppression,” at the University of Kansas.  Congratulations, Roksana!


Susan Alvarado (MA ‘01) is finishing her second year as Associate Professor at Austin Community College.  She reports, “In 2007-2008 I chaired the Ethics Resource Center Advisory Board, a project hosted by the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Humanities at ACC.  Our theme focused on issues related to globalization.  In Fall 2007 I also conducted a pilot study of (then current) students' subjective experiences in learning to think philosophically.  I'm hoping to conduct focus groups in April to get current and former philosophy students to further elaborate on their experiences in the discipline.  I love working in the community college despite the heavy teaching load (5 sections each 16-week semester and 2 sections in the summer).  My pedagogical task is quite challenging as many of my "at-risk" students don't have basic writing skills and have never been asked to think things through.   I'm developing what I hope is an innovative, interactive, bottom-up pedagogy to get the students up to speed in their intellectual resources and abilities.  Like Chris Swoyer, I am very concerned about students' critical thinking abilities.  The students I teach are some of the worse off due to various (at least in part) socio-economic reasons.”


Brian Barnett (BA ’07) was admitted to the University of Rochester where he is now pursuing a PhD in Philosophy.

Greg Bassham (MA ‘85) is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King's College (Pa.), and currently serves as Faculty Council Chair. He recently published his fifth book, Basketball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Paint (University Press of Kentucky, 2007).  In November, Greg ran the New York marathon (his ninth marathon) in three hours, twenty-five minutes. Despite having lived on the East coast for 16 years, he still refuses to call tennis shoes "sneakers" or pop "soda".

Laura Calvery (BA ’07) is currently attending the School of Law at OU.


Edward Cox (PhD ’00), Assistant Professor in the Philosophy and Religion Department at Murray State, published a paper in Dialectica in 2007:  “Crimson Brain, Red Mind”.


Bill Ferraiolo (PhD ’97) continues to work at Delta College and invites visitors to his webpage at http://www.deltacollege.edu/div/socsci/faculty/bferraiolo.html. He says, “Note that it includes a link to my book Cynical Maxims and Marginalia which is now available at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and iUniverse.com - not that I'm using this as a shameless opportunity to plug it or anything like that.  After all, to do so would be...well...cynical (and that's just not like me).”


Peter Hutcheson (PhD ’79) writes that his daughter has suggested that Peter’s entry for the Newsletter should read:  "I'm a professor, and I do professory things."  Specifically, Peter is a professor of philosophy at Texas State University (San Marcos), where he has taught since 1979. Among his “professory things” are two articles that should appear this year: “Swinburne’s Earlier Theodicy,” forthcoming in Southwest Philosophical Studies and “Husserl’s Phenomenological Standpoint,” forthcoming in Journal of Philosophical Research. He presented three papers in 2007:  “Are All Theodicies Irrefutable?” and (comments) “Williamson and DePoe on the Evidence for Skepticism,” at the New Mexico-West Texas Philosophical Society, and “The Best of All Possible Worlds Revisited,” at the Society of Christian Philosophers. Hutcheson still serves as the secretary-treasurer of the New Mexico-West Texas Philosophical Society, although he believes he should have his head examined for accepting the post.

David Kyle Johnson (PhD ’06) continues at his post at King’s College ???  He reports:  I am continuing to publish on pop culture and philosophy. Recent articles include ones on Batman, Johnny Cash, Quentin Tarantino and BattleStar Galactica, and I am in the process of editing a book on the NBC show Heroes. I am working on a couple of papers in philosophy of religion: one on the multiverse and another on open theism. I am presenting at Oxford this summer on C.S. Lewis (I will argue that his argument against naturalism is a gross misunderstanding of evolutionary theory).”  Kyle and his wife has also recently purchased a house in Forty Fort, PA.


Jeff McLaughlin (’85-‘87) continues his post at Thompson Rivers University, where he has been for the past 15 years.  He is, however, presently enjoying a long overdue sabbatical in Austria where he has “been a visiting professor at two universities, teaching courses to cover the costs of beer and chocolate.”  Jeff is working in Austria on “a project on the Holocaust involving the analysis of decision making by survivors and others.”  He is also learning German.   Jeff has a new book out this year and has just submitted a second book, an introductory philosophy text, to the publisher.  He adds:  “I still follow OU football and miss all the profs there.”


Brint Montgomery (PhD '03), Professor of Philosophy at Southern Nazarene University, was an invited participant in a three-week Open Theology and Science seminar in Boston. This new field in science and religion discussion explores the issues of science (cosmology, biology and human sciences) as they relate to open theology. Open theology scholars conversed with nationally prominent scientists in pursuit of integrated research on science and open theology. From this conference will come scholarly articles to appear in journals, books and high visibility publications. Montgomery will also be presenting papers at the Wesleyan Philosophical Society in March of this year at Duke University, and at an up-coming Open Theism conference in April at Asuza Pacific University.


Albert (Bert) Randall (PhD ’72) just completed his 37th year at Austin Peay State University and reports:  “In January, my fourth book was released by The Edwin Mellen Press:  Holy Scriptures as Justifications for War:  Fundamentalist Interpretations of the Torah, the New Testament, and the Qur’an.  Last week I presented a paper, titled “State Building and the Double Edged Sword of Religion” to “Stability Operations and State Building: Continuities and Contingencies,”  An Academic Colloquium sponsored by The Strategic Studies Institute, the U.S. Army War College and Austin Peay State University. An extended version of the oral presentation will be published in the Proceedings of the Colloquium. I continue to offer training sessions on Islam and the Middle East to brigades at Fort Campbell before their tours in Iraq an Afghanistan. Finally, Jeanie and I along with our daughter and the two most beautiful grandchildren in the world—Shelby and Jace—are moving into a new log home in the country. This summer, we will move the remainder of our family to our new home—Bay Bee, Griff and Charlie. Bay Bee and Griff are quarter horses and Charlie is just Charlie. We don’t know exactly what breed he is.”


Randy Ridenour (PhD ’00) is on leave from his position at Oklahoma Baptist University and is in Baghdad, Iraq.  He will return to his post at OBU in Fall of 2008.  The department wishes him a safe sojourn and return.


Michael Silberstein (PhD ’94), Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Elizabethtown College, published a book with Blackwell in 2007, entitled Emergence in Context: On Reality as Relations.  He also has a forthcoming paper in Philosophy of Science, entitled “After the Philosophy of Mind: Replacing Scholasticism with Science”.  Michael has also published in 2007 several papers in physics journals on quantum mechanics.


TJ Singleton (PhD ’02) teaches religion and Latin at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, NJ.  He is also an adjunct in the Department of Philosophy at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ.


Elliot Welch (PhD ’06) and his wife, Sheryl, welcomed their son, Giovanni Kaimierz Elshout-Welch, on November 28, 2007, in Farmington, Maine.  Named for his maternal great-grandfather and his paternal great-great-great grandfather, Giovanni Kaimierz is, says Elliot, a “mysterious and wonderful new person.”


Şahabettin Yalçin (PhD ’01) currently holds a tenure track Associate Professor position in the Philosophy Department of the University of Muğla, Turkey, where he has been working since 2002.  He married in 2004 and hopes that to be promoted to a full professor in 2010.  He reports that “Muğla is a very nice and touristic city of Turkey. I enjoy working here.” 





Neera Badhwar published “Carnal Wisdom and Sexual Virtue,” in Raja Halwani ed., Sex and Ethics: Essays On Sexuality, Virtue, and the Good Life (Palgrave MacMillan, 2007), and has two more papers forthcoming: “Is Realism Really Bad for You? A Realistic Response,” in The Journal of Philosophy, Spring 2008, and “Friendship and Commercial Societies,” in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, 2008 or 2009 (this is a revised and expanded version of an article of the same title that appeared in French in 2005).  Neera’s webpage has links to her forthcoming papers. She also presented “Is Realism Really Bad for You? A Realistic Response,” at the University of Missouri, St. Louis and at St. Louis University in 2007, and “International Aid: When Giving Becomes a Vice,” at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala City in 2006. (The paper on Realism was also accepted at the 2007 Joint Session of the Mind Association and the Aristotelian Society, Bristol University, but Neera had to cancel her trip.) In April 2007, Neera was Conference Director and Discussion Leader for a “terrific” interdisciplinary Liberty Fund conference on International Ethics. She spent the first part of her sabbatical in Fall 2007 with Larry in St. Louis, and they are both spending the second part of her sabbatical (“that’s right, his Chair and Dean gave him leave to accompany me on my sabbatical – Chairs and Deans, please take note!”) at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center in Bowling Green State University (Ohio), where she is a Visiting Scholar. She reports, “After years of despair over my happiness project, I finally saw a glimmer of hope, got an advance contract from Oxford University Press, and am now happily immersed in my book, as is Larry in his own book on the history of economic thought. The SPPC is work heaven.”  Last but not least, Larry got a (working) kidney from his “fabulous” cousin, Roger, in January, and both of them are doing great.


Hugh Benson’s Blackwell’s Companion to Plato appeared in print in 2006.  Unfortunately, its cost is prohibitive, so you’ll just have to trust him.  His paper “Plato’s Method of Dialectic” appeared in the Companion (undergoing the most rigorous review by the editor).  His paper “Knowledge, Virtue, and Method in Republic 471c-502c” is scheduled to appear in a festschrift for Jerry Santas (Philosophical Inquiry) in 2008.  He was also fortunate enough to present his work at a variety of conferences and universities.  “Knowledge, Virtue, and Method in Republic 6” (a precursor  of the paper to appear in the Santas festschrift) was presented at a conference in honor of Jerry Santas in Pyrgos, Greece, the Arizona Colloquium on Plato, and Texas Tech University.  “Socratic Learning” was presented at the University of Utah and Texas Tech, as well as to the Classics and Philosophical Societies here at OU.  He also presented “Collection and Division in the Philebus” at International Plato Society in Dublin, Ireland.  He continues to pretend that he is working on a book devoted to Plato’s middle method, which now bears an enigmatic title – “Cleitophon’s Challenge”.   He is currently serving his second inspiring year as Faculty Senate Parliamentarian, and hopes to spend an even more inspiring week on Crete this summer at 20th Conference of the International Association of Greek Philosophy.  Hugh’s sons, Thomas (now 21) and Michael (now 16), are doing well, although Michael is convinced that a world in which he does not have his own car is cosmically unjust.  Oh yeah, the Bensons now have a dog named Sophie.  She is mix of yellow lab and other things (some speculate pit) and is just over a year old. 


Monte Cook enjoyed a sabbatical in Fall 2007 and, with funding from OU’s Research Council, traveled to Epinal, France, for research on the manuscripts of Robert Desgabets at the Bibliothèque intercommunale d’Epinal-Golbey.  Monte also presented his essay, “Cartesian Actualism,” at both the Atlantic Canada Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy in Halifax in July 2007 and the Oxford Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy in Oxford in October 2007.  His essay, “Malebranche’s Criticism of Descartes’s Proof that there are Bodies,” recently appeared in The British Journal for the History of Philosophy.


Steve Ellis recently published “Law and Economics After Behavioral Economics” in the University of Kansas Law Review, 55:3 [April 2007]: 629-675) with Grant Hayden, a college buddy who is now a Law Professor at Hofstra University.  He also collaborated with Chris Swoyer on the “Theory” entry for the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd Edition, 2008.  Steve has a pair of solo articles forthcoming in the Southern Journal of Philosophy – “The Main Argument for Value Incommensurability (and Why it Fails)” and “The Varieties of Instrumental Rationality.”  Steve also had the opportunity to participate in the National Science Foundation Workshop on Predictive Modeling in Engineering at Texas A&M University in May.  He reports, “I originally thought of this as a service opportunity – ‘I’ll go help those engineers out’ – but I definitely got something out of it.  There is an interesting philosophical project about the intersection of science, engineering, and policy-making – who should supply what to whom and in what form.”  When Steve isn’t thinking about decision making or hobnobbing with engineers, he leads the philosophy contingent in the weekly PHIL/ECON/COMS touch football game and helps coach one of the best under-12 girls recreational soccer teams on the planet.


Ray Elugardo’s essay, “Minimal Propositions, Cognitive Safety Mechanisms, and Psychological Reality” recently appeared in Context-Sensitivity and Semantic Minimalism: Essays on Semantics and Pragmatics, edited by G. Preyer and G. Peter, (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 278-302.

Ray also enjoyed a rare opportunity to re-visit the pleasures of the past.  He reports:  “Last September I attended a reunion of my old softball teammates in Brooklyn, NY.  We hadn’t seen each other for over 43 years.  Our team was known as “the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Softball Team”, and we competed in a church league that covered the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.   (I was the team’s leftfielder and lead-off hitter – I batted .325 over a span of 4 years!)  The reunion was great: we ate dinner at a famous restaurant in Brooklyn (Jahn’s), attended a formal banquet at the Plattsdeutsch Tavern in Long Island, and ended our weekend with a moving Sunday church service at our old church, St. Mark’s, in Brooklyn – the church building was erected in 1892.  I lived around the corner from the church when I was growing up in Brooklyn.  So, I got to see a lot of the old neighborhood, including the apartment building where my family and I lived.  It was wonderful seeing my old friends – we have stayed in touch over the years. I also made new friends with some of the current members at St. Mark’s.  It’s nice to know that every new life-cycle has a trace of its past.”


Jim Hawthorne reports that he’s lately been working “on three sorts of research projects, all related to logics of one kind or another, including inductive logic and the logic of confirmation of scientific theories, the logic of belief, and logics that relate probability to qualitative rules for uncertain inference.”  One of his essays, “The Quantitative/Qualitative Watershed for Rules of Uncertain Inference”, with David Makinson, recently appeared Studia Logica, v. 86, no. 2, 2007, pp. 247-297, and others are on their way into print.  Copies of all of Jim’s recent papers are available on his website:  http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/H/James.A.Hawthorne-1/.  Jim also reports that he’s lately enjoyed teaching all of his favorite courses, courses ranging from Philosophy of Biology to the Seminars in Logic and Philosophy of Science, and says that “Life is Good!!!”


Sherri Irvin has six new pieces in print:  “Forgery and the Corruption of Aesthetic Understanding.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (2007), 283-304; “L’œuvre d’art et l’intention de l’artiste.” Dictionnaire d’esthétique et de philosophie de l’art, ed. Jacques Morizot and Roger Pouivet (Paris : Colin, 2007), 251-254 ; “Authors, Intentions and Literary Meaning.” Philosophy Compass 1 (2006), 114-128; Review of Andrew Light and Jonathan M. Smith, eds., The Aesthetics of Everyday Life. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (2006), 489-491; “Rien de personnel.” Garry Neill Kennedy: Superstar Shadow 1984-2005 (London, ON: Museum London, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and Owens Art Gallery, 2006), p. 73; “Museums and the Shaping of Contemporary Artworks.” Museum Management and Curatorship 21 (2006), 143-156.  For this last paper, Sherri received the Best Paper Award for 2006 in the Curatorship category from the journal.  Sherri has also given a number of presentations, including:  “Interpretation and Ignorance,” at the American Society for Aesthetics in Los Angeles; “The Aesthetics of Scratching an Itch,” at the American Society for Aesthetics meeting in Milwaukee; and “The Pervasiveness of the Aesthetic in Ordinary Experience,” at the American Society for Aesthetics Pacific Division, Pacific Grove, California.  In addition to these considerable activities, Sherri and Martin are also expecting a baby, a boy who is due to arrive in June.  They are currently discussing what to name him and the leading contender so far is “Zed.” 


Neal Judisch recently published “Reasons-Responsive Compatibilism and the Consequences of

Belief” in The Journal of Ethics 11(2007):357-375.  Neal also has two additional essays soon to

appear in Philosophical Studies and Religious Studies.  He presented a paper called

“Conservation, Determinism and the Problem of Evil” at the Society of Christian Philosophers

Western Regional Meeting.  For more about Neal, see “New Faculty” above.


Kenneth Merrill (Emeritus) reports that his book, Historical Dictionary of Hume’s Philosophy is

due to appear in May or June of this year.  Ken says that he is still enjoying his retirement,

“especially since I come to the sixth floor of DHT almost every day, by choice, not of necessity.”


Martin Montminy has four new essays in print:  “Moral Contextualism and the Norms for Moral Conduct,” American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (2007), 1-13; “Epistemic Contextualism and the Semantics-Pragmatics Distinction,” Synthèse 155 (2007), 99-125; “Semantic Content, Truth-Conditions and Context,” Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (2006), 1-26; and “La critique de l’analyticité,” in Jean-Maurice Monnoyer, ed., Lire Quine. Logique et Ontologie, Paris, Éditions de l’éclat, 2006, 65-87.  His “Review of Donald Davidson’s Truth and Predication” recently appeared in Dialogue 45 (2006), 774-777.  Martin also gave a number of presentations:  “Two Contextualist Fallacies,” Society for Exact Philosophy Conference, University of California in San Diego, San Diego, summer 2006; “Two Kinds of Contextualist Approach,” Department of Philosophy, Kansas State University, Manhattan (KS), spring 2006; and “How to Solve a Philosophical Problem for the Duration of the Conversation,” Department of Philosophy, Wichita State University, Wichita (KS), spring 2006.  For more about Martin, see “New Faculty” above.


Amy Olberding published two essays:  “Sorrow and the Sage:  Grief in the Zhuangzi,” Dao:  A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6:4(2007):339-359 and “The Educative Function of Personal Style in the Analects,” Philosophy East and West 57:3(2007):357-374.  She also gave several presentations, including a seminar session in a National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar on “Asian Philosophical Ideas and Artistic Pursuits” at College of DuPage in Chicago; “The Banality of Virtue in the Analects” at the Mike Ryan Lecture Series at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta; and “Making Sorrow a Virtue:  Confucius’ Account of the Problem of Death” at the Brueggeman Center at Xavier University.  Amy continues to work on the APA’s Committee on the Status of Asian and Asian American Philosophies and Philosophers and will guest edit their newsletter this year.  Finally, Amy’s daughter, Adelein (age 5), has posed a question for which Amy seeks an answer.  Adelein has posted a sign on her bedroom door that demands, “why why why why why why why why why why.”  Anyone with the answer is urged to e-mail.


Wayne Riggs has recently published “Why Epistemologists Are So Down on Their Luck,” Synthese 158 (3), November 2007, 329-344.  He also has four additional essays on epistemology forthcoming:  three will appear in volumes on epistemology and one will appear in Acta Analytica.  Wayne also presented his work at a variety of conferences and is becoming quite the globe-trotting epistemologist.  His presentations include:  “The Epistemic Risk of (Mild) Subjectivism” at the Contemporary Epistemology conference in Bled, Slovenia; “On Luck and Value” at the Epistemic Value Conference at the University of Stirling; and “The Epistemic Risk of (Mild) Subjectivism” at the Central APA in Chicago.  About his travels and the year just past, Wayne reports:  “I was caught outside in freak thunderstorms in Munich twice in a twelve month period. On one of those same trips, I was trapped in a train-station bathroom in Jesenice, Slovenia. (I escaped.)  My 11-year old son’s football team lost the 2007 semi-final match in the city playoffs to a team coached by country music star Toby Keith.  My 14-year old daughter experienced her first boyfriend, first kiss, and first breakup, all during her five-week summer camp.  My wife left me at home with our kids for a whole month to go on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Lyon area of France. Why? Because she could.”  Wayne is also slowly adjusting to the shiny new lounge, but still occasionally wonders, “Who took all the cool old furniture!?!”


Chris Swoyer is on leave this year.


Zev Trachtenberg continued his involvement with environmental issues, both academically and in other ways.  In the Spring he gave a talk at a session of the International Society for Environmental Ethics on Rousseau's attitude toward nature--and how that is a questionable basis for environmentalism.  He has plans to develop his ideas into a book on the topic, and how environmentalism should avoid some of the pitfalls that come from adopting Rousseau's outlook on nature.  Also in the Spring Zev was honored to serve as the host professor when Al Gore came to campus to present his famous slide show.  Outside of OU, Zev has served for several years on the City of Norman Greenbelt Commission, which is working on a plan to develop a system of trails and open spaces across the city.  This Fall he was appointed to the city's Planning Commission--the group that reviews land use plans and makes recommendations to the City Council.


Linda Zagzebski has earned many honors in the past two years.  In April 2006, she was named a George Lynn Cross Research Professor at OU.  That same year, she gave the McCarthy Lectures at the Gregorian University, Rome.  In 2007, she gave endowed lectures at Rogers State University and at the University of Texas San Antonio, and the True Family Lecture at OU on the question “Is it Reasonable to Believe in God?”  She published a book, Philosophy of Religion: An Historical Introduction, with Blackwell in 2007, and two additional books are in press. 

In addition to these, she has published several essays and book chapters.  Linda also reports on new directions in her research.  She has lately become involved with two interdisciplinary research groups working on the science of virtue. One group, centered at the University of Chicago, is in the early stages of writing a major grant proposal, and if funding is obtained, she will be part of their research network. The other group, centered in Pasadena, is composed of a few neuroscientists and psychologists, as well as a philosopher. Linda will serve as a consultant for their work on the psychology and neuroscience of virtuous exemplars.  Linda completed her term as President of the Society of Christian Philosophers in August and is presently chairing a committee working on developing a program for fellowships in philosophy of religion, cosmology, and philosophy of mathematics at Oxford.  She also recently co-directed a seminar on Science, Reason, and Truth, at the University of San Marino in the Republic of San Marino.  A book of essays from the seminar will be published by Notre Dame Press.  In addition to her philosophical work, Linda was last year given a photography prize for her entry in the “Doors of Norman” photography contest.  Her photograph captured the door of her own home, designed by her husband Ken – both the door and Linda’s photograph are quite beautiful!





Because we lost a year in the production of the Newsletter, we are especially eager to gather the most recent news from alumni/ae and to update contact information.  We need to hear from you!  Please send anything you would like to share to the Newletter editor, Amy Olberding, at aolberding@ou.edu.  When writing by e-mail, please additionally let me know if you are willing to have your e-mail address appear on our website.