What a year—full of many ups and some very harsh downs!  On the up side, we are pleased to announce that Adam Morton (Ph.D. Princeton) has joined our program this year.  Adam will be on campus teaching courses every spring, and will be residing in New Haven, Conn. the remainder of the year.  He will participate in a variety of department activities year round.  Many of you may have met Adam when he visited us as the Sutton Chair in Philosophy, 1990-1991.  He is a first-class philosopher and person.  We could not be happier that he has come on board.

Other notable events during the 2001-2002 academic year included the continuation of our active colloquium series; our sixth annual undergraduate colloquium with Professor Fred Miller as our keynote speaker; and a symposium in honor of Linda Zagzebski’s appointment as our Kingfisher Chair, which included Professors William Alston, Jorge Garcia and John Greco.  This year also saw the graduation of a number of Ph.D.s, M.A.s and B.A.s, the publication of a variety of journal articles, book chapters and edited books; presentations at numerous regional, national and international venues; and the beginning of a pilot program directed at improving undergraduate writing.

Next year promises to be just as exciting.  This spring, we will be hosting our seventh annual undergraduate colloquium, with C.D.C. Reeve as the keynote speaker.  I have been told that the number of undergraduate submissions for the colloquium has more than doubled this year.  We are extremely grateful for the hard work of the many undergraduate and graduate students—past and present—which has contributed to this flourishing colloquium.  In the fall, we will be hosting our seventh David Ross Boyd Lecturer—Bas C. van Fraassen, welcoming the arrival of new and exciting graduate and undergraduate students, and much, much more.  As you can see, this is an exciting time in the life of the program, and we do not intend to sit still.

Of course, the downturn in the economy and, especially, the events of Sept. 11 have cast a cloud over all of this activity.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that the best long-term response to these events is to continue to foster critical thinking skills, a deep appreciation of values and tolerance, all of which philosophy is especially well suited to do.  Consequently, we remain committed to maintaining the momentum we have begun to build.

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   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




The department would like to welcome a potential philosopher.  Emily Ryan McBride arrived on Nov. 16, ’01, the daughter of Jeff and Jennifer McBride (“Kind of a fat baby.  She looks exactly like big sister Maddie looked when she was born.”)



Randy R. Hoyt was awarded the J. Clayton Feaver Award.  The Feaver award was established in 1988 by Mrs. Audrey Maehl to honor J. Clayton Feaver, who held the Kingfisher chair from 1951 till 1981.  It is awarded to the department’s outstanding senior.  Randy graduated last spring with a 4.00 as a philosophy major and classics minor.  He is considering graduate work in ancient Greek philosophy or biblical studies.  Among his many accomplishments as an undergraduate at OU were writing a paper on Plato’s Republic that will appear in Stoa and building a Web site containing texts and commentaries on Heraclitus.  (The site,, is impressive and attractive.)

Nicholas Dubriwny was awarded the Elizabeth Wade Scholarship.  This is the first year that the department has offered this award, which was established by Larry R. and Mary Jane Wade of Elk City in honor of their daughter, Mary Elizabeth Wade, who graduated last spring as a philosophy major, and won the Feaver award.  The Wade Scholarship is offered to the department’s outstanding junior to help support his or her studies during the senior year.  Nic has maintained a 4.00 average and is considering going on to work on a Ph.D. in Philosophy.  He also is a jazz lover and expert on jazz history, and is an accomplished practitioner of Tai Chi.

Akinkunle Owoso won an undergraduate research opportunities grant, the M. Blanche Adams and M. Frances Adams Undergraduate Scholarship, and the Carl Albert Center Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

Thirty-four of the department’s majors were on the Dean’s Honor Roll and 19 on the President’s Honor Roll.  Joseph Bonifield, James Broda II, Stephanie Collins, Philip Dow, Nicholas Dubriwny, Sean Lohmar, and Jennifer Brooke Mullins were on both honor rolls for both fall and spring semesters!



The following students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy during the calendar year 2001: Rebecca Ann Bartley (with distinction; minor in classical culture); Charlotte Lovell Carter (minor in communication); Stephanie Duke; Kari Beth English (minor in sociology); Mary Elizabeth Wade (summa cum laude; also earned a B.S. with distinction in math); John Phillip Archer (also earned a B.S. in zoology); Michael Leslie Dykstra (minor in history); Justin Jeremiah Hilliard; Randy R. Hoyt (with distinction; minor in classical culture); Bill B. Garrett III; Bryan Richard Keller; and Gregory Scott Wickham (with distinction; also earned a B.A. in history).

Three students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in ethics and religion during the calendar year 2001:  Courtney LeAnn Charish (with distinction; also earned a B.A. in sociology—criminology); Deanna Renee Marshall; and Seth David Thomas.



Kendrick Davis is planning a May intersession course on “Mind in the Twilight Zone: Philosophy of Mind Issues in Twilight Zone Episodes.”

Dustin Denson is living in San Antonio and teaching at Northwest Vista College as an adjunct professor.

Dara Fogel directed an open-air production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the duck pond.  That sounds wet.  The Dream connects with many deep philosophical problems, deeper than a duck pond, including personal identity (human-to-ass transformation), and the nature of creativity, love and mystery.




Stephen Wagner was selected to receive the 2000-2001 Kenneth R. Merrill Graduate Student Teaching Award.  This award is underwritten by Mark Conkling, a philosophy department alumnus who received the doctoral degree in 1974.



Congratulations are in order for students who graduated with a doctoral degree during calendar year 2001: Eric Scott Jones (Merrill) and Sahabeddin Yalcin (Merrill).

Congratulations are also in order for students who received the masters degree: Susan Alvarado-Boyd (Sankowski) and Joseph Duncan McKellar.



Neera Badhwar was invited to be a Liberty Fund Visiting Scholar in Indianapolis for the calendar year 2002.  In the fall semester, she taught a course on “Philosophy and Film: a Philosophical Look at Evil.”  The themes of the course were illustrated by showing Crimes and Misdemeanors, We the Living, Medea, River’s Edge, Cruel Intentions, Obedience, and Weapons of the Spirit.

Andrew Cohen is spending the year on leave in Athens, Ga., busy at work on several papers on environmental philosophy and Hobbesian political theory.  He also is putting together an anthology he'll co-edit with Kit Wellman for Blackwell, Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics. Andrew was pleased to discover that he didn't need much of a change of wardrobe when attending UGA basketball games.

Monte Cook highly recommends C. F. Fowler’s fascinating new book, Descartes on the Human Soul.  Not only does Fowler display a sophisticated understanding of Descartes’ historical situation, but he also tells a good story.  (Don’t buy the book, check it out of the library--it sells for $185!)

Ray Elugardo continues to produce a stream of drafts and publications in the philosophy of language, many of them co-authored.  He and Robert Stainton from Carleton University in Canada continue their long campaign to convince linguists and philosophers to pay attention to speech acts that use less than whole sentences.

Adam Morton spent part of fall 2001 in Paris trying with very limited success to write some fiction.  Now that he has at last completed The Importance of Being Understood: Folk Psychology as Ethics, he intends to stay away from the philosophy of mind.

Wayne Riggs is trying to determine the role and importance of our notions of “accident” and “luck” in an adequate analysis of knowledge, in order to relate knowledge to understanding, to virtue and to wisdom.

Chris Swoyer is almost ready to send out his legendary critical reasoning textbook so that students who are not at OU can appreciate it.  He is a co-editor of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for philosophy of science.  (The encyclopedia is at, well worth a visit.)

Jim Hawthorne’s recent research is devoted to issues on inductive logic and probability.  During his 2002-03 sabbatical, he will spend three months at the Institute for Philosophy, Probability and Modeling at the University of Konstanz in Germany.  Jim has recently designed a new course on Philosophical Issues in Physics and Cosmology and will be teaching this course on a regular basis when he returns from sabbatical.

Zev Trachtenberg is working on the conflict between private property rights and environmental regulation.

Linda Zagzebski is working on a book called Divine Motivation Theory, a radical, motive-based virtue theory with a theological foundation.  Linda, like Chris Swoyer, is an area co-editor of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on the philosophy of religion.



Roksana Alavi (B.A. ’96) gained her M.A. in philosophy from Oklahoma State University in August ’01, and won a scholarship to study for a doctoral degree at the University of Kansas beginning in the fall.  Roksana is the 2001 winner of the OSU award for scholarship in the area of women’s issues.

Fred A Bender (M.A. ’68) is professor of philosophy at the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor.  He recently developed a minor in philosophy in the Department of Religion and raised the required number of philosophy credits to six for all religion majors and minors.

Kathleen Poorman Dougherty (Ph.D. ’00) is teaching ancient philosophy at George Washington University.

Robert W Hopper (B.A. ’77) is chief of staff at Integris Grove General Hospital (Grove ,Okla.) and is volunteer faculty in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Tulsa campus.

Gary Huffaker (M.A. ’76) is part-time philosophy instructor at Schiller International University.

Scott Jones (Ph.D. ’01) is associate pastor of student and family life at Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ark.

Ingrid Shafer (Ph.D. ’84) is professor of philosophy, religion, and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (Chickasha, Okla.).  She has recently co-edited a book, Religions in Dialogue: From Theocracy to Democracy, and was awarded the 2002 Medal for Excellence in College/University Teaching by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

Michael Silberstein (Ph.D. ’94) was a visitor to the University of Freiburg, Germany, from May to July.  The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science, which Michael co-edited, has recently been published.

Larry Varvel (M.A. ’83) is senior pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Ada, Okla.  He misses being Tom Boyd’s graduate assistant.

Liz Wade (B.A. in philosophy ’01 and B.S. in math ’01) started fall ’01 on scholarship studying law at Duke University (North Carolina).



The department hosted a symposium on April 20-21, 2001 to celebrate Linda Zagzebski’s taking up the Kingfisher College Chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics.  The theme was “Virtue Theory: Knowledge, Morality and Religion.”  Linda gave her inaugural address on “The Uniqueness of Persons and the Existence of God.”  William Alston (Syracuse University) spoke on “Zagzebski’s Divine Motivation Theory”; Jorge Garcia (Boston College) spoke on “Virtues and Norms of Action”; and John Greco (Fordham University) spoke on “What Is Knowledge? Zagzebski on Knowledge and Intellectual Virtue.”

The department hosted its Sixth Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference on April 7, 2001, attracting participants from Henderson State University, Kansas State University and Southern Nazarene University.  Professor Fred D. Miller Jr. from Bowling Green State University was the keynote speaker, addressing “Aristotle and the Origin of Rights.”  Oklahoma students Jason Seay presented a paper on “Perceptual Uncertainty: A Case for Free Will,” and Akinkunle Owoso presented a paper on “Subsistence Rights and Their Role in Society.”  Jesse Butler, Eric Batterson, and Greg Elliott provided commentaries.

Although the Southwestern Philosophical Society Meetings were held Nov. 2-4 2001, in Dallas, rather than Norman, they seemed dominated by OU philosophers.  Monte Cook spoke on “Getting Clear on the Two-Envelope Paradox”, and Steve Ellis spoke on “What Economists (and Everyone Else) Should Think About Utility Theory.”  Jim Hawthorne commented on Christopher Pynes’ “Validity, Schema and a Modus Tollens Paradox.”  Randall Ridenour, Darian DeBolt, Doren Recker, and Peter Hutcheson, all former graduate students, also commented.  Chris Swoyer was the program chair: is this the cause or just another symptom of dominance?




The department colloquium continued to attract top speakers across the spectrum of philosophy.

On April 6, 2001, Fred Miller of Bowling Green State University spoke on “Aristotelian Autonomy.”  On Sept. 14, Daniel C. Russell of Wichita State University spoke on “Plato and Seneca on Virtue as Likeness to God” (“Plato’s account of virtue as likeness to God is best compared to the Stoic view that true value belongs to rational activity itself, rather than to the things with regard to which we act.”)  On Sept. 21, Steve Ellis of the University of Oklahoma spoke on “The Varieties of Instrumental Rationality” (it turned out there were 48 varieties).  On Oct. 5, Mark Bedau of the University of Oklahoma and Reed College spoke on “A New Solution to the Problem of Emergence” (“There are macro-causal powers which are derivable only by iterative aggregation of micro-level interactions.”)  On Dec. 7, John Haldane of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland spoke on “Common Sense, Metaphysics and Theism” (“Theism is the conclusion one comes to in pursuing the anti-realist thought that the world is ultimately not something mind-independent.”)



The faculty continues its impressive publication record.  Notable among published contributions in 2000-01 are the following.

Neera K Badhwar: Is Virtue Only a Means to Happiness?

Mark Bedau: “Dynamics of the Environment for Adaptation in Static Resource Models,” in J. Keleman and P. Sosik (eds.), Advances in Artificial Life.

Ray Elugardo: “Logical Form and the Vernacular” (with Robert Stainton) in Mind and Language; and Brain States, Causal Explanation, and the Attitudes” in Explaining Beliefs: Lynne Rudder Baker and Her Critics.

Adam Morton: “Psychology for Cooperators,” in Practical Rationality and Preferences; “Beware Stories: Emotions and Virtues” in Understanding Emotions; “Kinds of Models, Kinds of Validations” (with Mauricio Suarez) in Model Validation: Perspectives in Hydrological Science; and “Philosophy as Engineering” in Bo Mou, ed., Two Roads to Wisdom?  Chinese and Analytic Philosophical Traditions.

Jeff Purinton: “Epicurus on ‘Free Volition’ and the Atomic Swerve” in Phronesis; and “Epicurus on the Nature of the Gods” in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy.

Edward Sankowski:  “Autonomy, Education and Politics” in The Philosophy of Education; “Film and the Politics of Culture” in The Journal of Aesthetic Education; “Liberalism, Communitarianism, and Moral Education” in The Philosophy of Education; and “Ecological Risks, Stakeholder Values and River Basins” in Water and Watersheds Program Review.



This is the first year that I have edited this newsletter, and my first year in the department.  I have found it an interesting way of picking up many details about the place and its ethos.  I am impressed by many things.  By the way that people know one another, and stay in touch years after their time in the department.  By the mysterious overlaps in the interests of people with apparently different agendas.  By the information that is there to be had, if only one looks.  (And, incidentally, the department’s revamped Web site,, is a mine of information.  Attractive and easy to navigate, too.)  And by some mysteries.  Why is everyone thinking about rationality suddenly?  Why is everyone distinguishing kinds of rights?  Why are so many people—so many philosophers—interested in issues about water?  (See the publications list above.  Shakespeare in the duck pond.  Thales??)  There’s no predicting what will make something worth thinking about.

                                                    Adam Morton


The University of Oklahoma is a doctoral degree-granting research university serving the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation.  Created by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890, the university is composed of campuses in Norman and Oklahoma City as well as sites in Tulsa.  The university’s main campus and the offices of administration of the University of Oklahoma are located in Norman.  The OU Health Sciences Center, which is located in Oklahoma City, is the headquarters for the seven professional colleges and offers programs at the University of OklahomaTulsa.  OU-Tulsa is composed of the Schusterman Center, where the majority of OU programs serving Tulsa are located; the OU/OSU Research and Graduate Education Center, a collaborative effort to provide graduate education and research programs to the Tulsa metropolitan area; and several clinics and hospitals.  OU enrolls almost 28,000 students, has approximately 1,900 full-time faculty members, and has 19 colleges offering 143 majors at the baccalaureate level, 135 majors at the master’s level, 79 majors at the doctoral level, nine majors at the first professional level, and five graduate certificates.  The university’s annual operating budget is more than $1 billion. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution.

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