April 2019 Member News & Updates

2019-05-03T13:58:05+00:00May 3rd, 2019|Events, Members, Rotman News|

We’re very pleased to make the official announcement that Anthony Skelton will be serving as Acting Director of the Institute (effective July 1, 2019) during the next academic year. Anthony previously served as Associate Director of the Institute from 2014-18, and as a member of the steering committee during that time. Please join us in congratulating Anthony on this appointment, and in welcoming him into this new role! Our current Director, Chris Smeenk, will be taking a sabbatical year and will be a visiting fellow at McGill University. During this time he’ll be able to work closely with Robert Brandenberger (McGill) who is a collaborator on his research project, New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology. Chris will resume his role as Director for the 2020-21 academic year.

Please also join us in congratulating Anthony Skelton for his appointment as a 2019 Graham and Gale Wright Distinguished Scholar–a Faculty of Arts & Humanities at Western University faculty-based award recognizing prominent contributions of internationally-recognized researchers in their field.

Gillian Barker will be retiring from Western University this summer, so this month we held a celebration in her honour at London Music Hall. The event was an open mic and we were treated to singing and music from Gillian and a number of other members of the Institute & department of philosophy–including Harmony Ezeuko, Ben Formanek, Matt Howery, Andre LeChance, Derek Oswick, and Meghan Winsby. Thank you to everyone who participated, and most importantly, to everyone who came out to recognize Gillian for her time and contributions to our community. She will be deeply missed!

The final speaker of our 2018-19 Speaker Series, Emily Thomas, visited the Institute from April 3-5. She took part in a Rotman Dialogue on April 4 based on her recent book,  Absolute Time: Rifts in Early Modern British Metaphysics, with commentary by Alastair Crosby. She also delivered a talk on April 5, titled “Travel Writing as Thought Experiments: Science, Francis Bacon, and Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World“.

The Institute also welcomed two visiting fellows this month: Nico Orlandi (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Rob Rupert (University of Colorado Boulder). Dr. Orlandi took part in a Rotman Dialoge on April 8, based on selected readings from her book,  The Innocent Eye: Why Vision Is Not a Cognitive Process, with commentary by Ron Chunn and Andrew Tweedle. Dr. Rupert delivered a talk on April 24, titled “There Is No Personal Level: On the Virtues of a Psychology Flattened from Above“.

And finally, we were very pleased to announce the winner of our 3rd Annual Philosophical Photography Contest this month. This year’s winning photograph, titled “Time Travel”, was submitted by Chelsea McKenzie and depicts the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a cliff-face on the Niagara escarpment of exposed striated rock, equivalent to 450 million years of geological time.

All other news from our members is listed below alphabetically.

A recent episode of the Sound of Science podcast, featured interviews with Michael Anderson and Bill Harper. Sound of Science is a student radio show on science research at Western University. Here’s their description of the episode: Episode 7 takes our team to the Rotman Institute of Philosophy – Western University to explore new frontiers of science and philosophy! Here we feature one philosopher that aims to understand how using and re-using different parts of the brain for different functions is related to a bigger philosophical issue known as “embodied cognition”. We also learned about the unique approach that Isaac Newton took to formulate his hypotheses, and how this affected the way he arrived at his powerful gravitational and cosmological theories. Join us as we visit the Rotman Institute to learn more about research in philosophy and science!

Mark Baker was the recipient of two major teaching awards this past month. At an awards ceremony on April 10, he was named Western’s 2019 recipient of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) Award for Teaching Excellence.  He was also honoured with the University Student’s Council (USC) Award of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, which recognizes innovative teaching methods and techniques demonstrated by some of the university’s finest faculty members. Congratulations to Mark on both of these awards!

Rotman alumnus Andrew Chater wrote two recent articles for the Polar Research & Policy Initiative: “The Presidency of Donald Trump in the Arctic Council.(March 9, 2019), and “What Canada’s Budget 2019 Means For the Arctic.(March 29, 2019).

On April 17, Klodian Coko participated in the workshop Philosophical Perspectives on Evidence and Theory Construction, at the Université de Montréalwhere he presented the paper “Varieties of Robustness and Multiple Determination.” The workshop was organized by Molly Kao, an alumnus of the Rotman Institute.

An article by Becky Ellis about the emerging debate about urban bees outcompeting with wild bees, titled “Urban bee keepers can help save wild bees“, was published in The Conversation.

On April 6th, Rotman alumnus Melissa Jacquart gave a talk on, “Idealization and Representation in Astrophysical Computer Simulations“ at the 11th Annual Auburn Philosophy Conference: Representation, Idealization, & Explanation in Science.

A new paper by Melissa Jacquart, titled “Diversity Is Not Enough: The Importance of Inclusive Pedagogy“, was published in Teaching Philosophy.

Harshita Jaiprakash attended the 13th Annual Meeting of the Hannah Arendt Circle at the University of Alberta, from April 11-13, to work on a SSHRC-funded grant for Rita Gardiner, Faculty of Education, UWO, and Katy Fulfer, Waterloo.

Stathis Psillos was interviewed by Five Books and gave his top five picks for books on philosophy of science.

Stathis Psillos took part in the book Symposium on Anjan Chakravartty, Scientific Ontology: Integrating Naturalized Metaphysics and Voluntarist Epistemology, which took place at the 93th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association, in Vancouver BC, 17-12 April.

A new paper by Stathis Psillos, “Principles of Motion and the Absence of Laws of Nature in Hobbes’s Natural Philosophy” (with E. Goudarouli), appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of HOPOS.

Anthony Skelton delivered a paper entitled “Temporal Neutrality, Childhood, and the Value of a Life” at the workshop entitled The Times of Our Lives: The Nature and Value of Temporal Well-being, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK 1-2 April 2019.

Anthony Skelton published the paper “Late Utilitarian Moral Theory and Its Development; Sidgwick, Moore” in A Companion to Nineteenth Century Philosophy, ed. J. A. Shand.

The School of the Advanced Study of the Arts and Humanities (SASAH) has selected Anthony Skelton’s course, “Well-being: Its Nature and Practical Significance”, to be part of its curriculum in the autumn of 2021. SASAH provides funds to hire a graduate student to develop the course. Rotman graduate student member Jane Parnell will be working with Anthony this summer to develop the course.

Max Smith spoke at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics Seminar Series on April 3. His talk, titled “Why ‘Health Equity in all Policies’ is Ethically Problematic”, can be viewed here.


Pictured above: Anthony Skelton will serve as Acting Director for the 2019-20 academic year; Rotman Dialogue with Emily Thomas; Mike Anderson introduces Rob Rupert before his talk at the Institute; Gillian Barker and Dave Pearson performing together at London Music Hall;  Mark Baker (right) is pictured along with other recipients of the 2019 USC Award of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching; the winning photograph from the 3rd Annual Philosophical Photography contest, “Time Travel”.

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