We’d like to begin this bi-monthly post with some exciting job news from Rotman alumnus Jamie Shaw. Jamie received a SSHRC postdoc at the University of Toronto. His research will focus on philosophy of science and science policy. Congratulations, Jamie!

The past couple months included opportunities for us to get together with our colleagues from WIRB at both BrainsCAN and the Brain and Mind Institute. The 2nd annual holiday potluck and floor crawl took place in early December–a fantastic social event with lots of delicious food! January brought back the joint Rotman-BMI coffee hour. The coffee hour, put together by Mike Anderson, featured a short presentation from Adrian Owen on the science of consciousness. Stay tuned for more joint coffee hours planned for this semester!

In January, the institute hosted a number of events. Dan Hausman, from University of Wisconsin-Madison, was our first Rotman Lecturer of the year. He took part in a public panel discussion at Wolf Performance Hall along with Janet Martin, Maxwell Smith, and Anthony Skelton (panel moderator). The event was titled Health, Equity, and Well-Being and it explored inequalities in Canadian health and health care. In addition, Hausman delivered an on-campus talk on theories of fairness in philosophical literature. The Institute also helped organize an event as part of  Chris Smeenk’s research project, New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology. The conference, titled Foundations of Cosmology and Quantum Gravity, took place in mid-January at New York University Abu Dhabi, and brought together philosophers and physicists to explore the relationship between modern cosmology and theorizing about quantum gravity. Rotman members Adam Koberinski, Dimitrios Athanasiou, and Ozer Turker also attended the conference.

All other news from our members is listed below in alphabetical order.

Yann Benetreau recently published a review of Ćirković’s “The Great Silence: The Science and Philosophy of Fermi’s Paradox” in Metascience.

On December 6, Andrew Chater presented a paper at a workshop in Montreal called “Mapping Arctic Paradiplomacy.” Andrew’s presentation was called “The Arctic Paradiplomacy of Indigenous Organizations”. Andrew also had a new book chapter, titled “Assessing Security Governance in the Arctic”, come out in January.

From November 5 – December 21 Rob Corless was an invited participant to the Complex Analysis: Tools, Techniques, and Applications program at the Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge. He gave a seminar during his visit, titled An Older Special Function meets a (Slightly) Newer One. He also presented two master classes: The Computer Algebra System Maple, in 2019 and Programming in Maple: an extended example using Bohemians.

Rob Corless gave a talk titled “Compact Finite Differences and Cubic Splines” at the University of Manchester in November, and another talk titled “Computational Discovery on Jupyter” at the University of Bath on December 18.

Michael Cuffaro gave two talks: “Interpreting quantum mechanics”, for the Workshop on Quantum Mechanics at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin on January 9, and “Quantum Mechanics and Kantian Philosophical Method: An Exploration of the Views of Grete Hermann”, for the Workshop on How Quantum Mechanics Changed Philosophy, held at Bergische Universität Wuppertal on January 17.

Cory Goldstein and The Ethics of Pragmatic Trials research team have a couple of new publications: “The ethical challenges raised in the design and conduct of pragmatic trials: an interview study with key stakeholders“, and “Cultivating innovative pragmatic cluster-randomized registry trials embedded in hemodialysis care: workshop proceedings from 2018″.

Rotman alumna Marie Gueguen talked about her current research in philosophy of cosmology in a Center for Philosophy of Science 5-Minute Fellows video.

Yousuf Hasan, Alastair Crosby, Erlantz Etxeberria, Heather Stewart, Heidi Steeves, Sid Rankaduwa, and Todd Nagel gave philosophy lessons at two primary schools: Aldobrough P.S.  and Nicholas Wilson. This was done as part of a coordinated effort between the Rotman’s K-12 Program and Julie Walter (teacher for gifted programs). They planned and presented lessons for grade 6-8 gifted students for two days. The lessons were given by graduate students from both the Rotman Institute of philosophy and the philosophy department. The lessons included: “Problem of Induction” (Alastair), “Explanation: The Flagpole Problem” (Erlantz), “Our Moral Duties to Non-Human Animals” (Heather), “Critical Thinking: Charitable Interpretation” (Heidi), “Consciousness” (Sid), “Trust in Science” (Todd), and “Are we Dreaming?” & “Pascal’s Bet” (Yousuf).

Stathis Psillos was interviewed by Phil Treagus for his website “The Reading Lists”. Stathis talked about  his favourite books and the books he recommends most. Read the full interview here.

The pre-print of an article by Rotman alumnus Jamie Shaw, titled Feyerabend and manufactured disagreement: reflections on expertise, consensus, and science policy, was published in January.

With December being the season of giving, Anthony Skelton was invited as a guest panelist on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin to discuss the ethics and science of generosity and what makes some people more generous than others.

Anthony Skelton and former postdoctoral fellow Lisa Forsberg published an article titled “Achievement and Enhancement” in the the Canadian Journal of Philosophy.

For World Philosophy Day, Anthony Skelton gave a lecture entitled “The Important, The Trivial, and Their Moral Relevance” as part of an event organized by the department of philosophy to an audience of high school students visiting Western University.

Chris Smeenk & Doreen Fraser, along with Bianca Dittrich of the Perimeter Institute, were featured in a recent episode of CBC ideas. Listen to The Relativity Revolution: Albert Einstein and the making of the modern world to hear their discussion of how Einstein’s work impacted our understanding of the universe & our everyday lives.

Chris Smeenk provided comments on the space-time continuum in a recent Maclean’s magazine article titled “A Disturbance in the Throne Speech“.

Max Smith was the recipient of a research contract with the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI), where he will be developing an ethics framework to support their analytic practices. He also recently was awarded three grants:

  • Teachman G, Smith MJ, Shelley J, Sibbald R. “Listening to Children in Health Matters: Examining the Intersection of Family-Centred Care, Best Interests, and Children’s Agency.” Western University Medical and Health Science Review Board Seed Research Grant Fall 2019. This is a planning grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) which will bring together philosophers and epidemiologists to explore the possibility of empirically modelling different philosophical conceptions of health equity in order to understand their respective impacts on
    population health outcomes.
  • Smith MJ, Smith B, King N, Harper S, Rosella L, Siddiqi A, Viens AM, Quiñonez CR, Ndumbe-Eyoh S. “Establishing a Relationship between Philosophy and Epidemiological Research and Practice: Modelling Ethical Standards of Health Equity (MESHE)”. Canadian Institutes of Health Research Social Sciences and Humanities for Population Health Planning and Dissemination Grant Fall 2019.
  • Smith MJ, Buse CG, Silva DS. “An Inquiry into Planetary Health Justice”. Lupina Foundation. This project will explore how “justice” ought to be conceptualized and pursued in the emerging paradigm of “planetary health”.

In addition to these grants, Max Smith has a number of recent publications:

John Thorp gave a talk called “Two Concepts of Secularism” at the Hawaii Humanities Conference, Waikiki, in early January. The talk outlined the history of the two concepts in question—one atheistic and the other agnostic—going back to the middle of the 19th century; it described the different attitudes to science in the two traditions.

Pictured above: Anthony Skelton on The agenda with Steve Paikin; Panelists at the Health, equity, and well-being panel; Adrian Owen giving a presentation during a joint Rotman-BMI coffee hour; Rotman members at the Foundations of Cosmology conference in Abu Dhabi; John Thorpe giving a talk at the Hawaii Humanities Conference; Members of Rotman’s K-12 outreach program giving lessons at a primary school.