In March, The Rotman Institute hosted a successful series of events on responsible robotics and robot ethics. The series included a panel discussion held at Wolf Hall on March 15 (featuring Aimee van Wynsberghe, Ryan Gariepy, Jesse Kirkpatrick, Kristen Thomasen, and Christopher Schlachta), and two related lectures on March 16 & 17. Videos of all three events have been published to the Rotman Institute YouTube channel. Additional activites from our members for the past month are listed below in alphabetical order.

A post titled Family Ties by Rotman alumnus Reuven Brandt was recently published in The Forum.  The post is based on his article,  The Transfer and Delegation of Responsibilities for Genetic Offspring in Gamete Provision, that was published in the Journal of Applied Philosophy.

Samantha Brennan addressed the newly formed Women’s Caucus at Brock University on March 20 on the subject of Implicit Bias, Micro-Inequities, and Stereotype Threat.

Samantha Brennan spoke on the topic of micro-inequities at the Feminist Utopias: Transforming the Present of Philosophy: Historical And Contemporary Perspectives conference in Iceland, March 30-April 2. (photos below)


Michael Cuffaro gave a talk titled Quantum Computation and the Foundations of Computational Complexity Theory at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics on March 28.

A paper titled Reconsidering No-Go Theorems from a Practical Perspective by Michael Cuffaro was recently published in the British Journal of the Philosophy of Science. A second paper in BJPS, On the Significance of the Gottesman-Knill Theorem, is in the March 17 issue of the journal.

From April 25 – May 25 Michael Cuffaro will be a visiting scholar at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy.

Justin Donhauser and Jamie Shaw presented a talk titled “What Theoretical Ecology Reveals about Knowledge Transfer” at the Scientific Knowledge Under Pluralism conference at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh on March 31 – April 1.

Five posters from the Rotman Institute were presented at the Arts & Humanities Research Day event, held on February 28. The posters are shown below (left to right): Rotman Postodctoral Fellows (created by Lucas Dunlap); Minimizing the Harms of Accidental Awareness During General Anesthesia: Lessons from Vegetative Patients with Covert Awareness by Mackenzie Graham; Ethical Issues in Pragmatic Trials by Cory Goldstein; Engaging Pain Philosophically by Kyoko Wada; and Einstein @ Rotman presented by the Rotman Institute.


The Lab Associates group read Muhammad Ali Khalidi’s book Natural Categories and Human Kinds this term and he visited from York University on March 24 to discuss it with them.

Rotman alumna Alida Liberman recently published a paper titled Effective altruism and Christianity: possibilities for productive collaboration in the journal Essays in Philosophy.

Alida Liberman took part in a panel discussion on immigration and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) at the University of Indianapolis on February 16.

Jamie Shaw has a new publication titled Feyerabend and the Cranks: On Demarcation, Epistemic Virtues, and Astrology in Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.

Jamie Shaw presented a talk titled “An Open Pluralism and its Enemies: Reconsidering Feyerabend’s Anarchism About Science” at the 24th Annual Philosophy Graduate Student Conference at the University of Waterloo on March 10.

Anthony Skelton will be lecturing to high school science students on ethics and stem cells at the StemCellTalks London event on April 21.

Jackie Sullivan gave a talk titled “Coordinated Pluralism as a Means to Facilitate Integrative Taxonomies of Cognition.” to faculty and students in the newly minted Cognitive Science Program at Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, on March 9, 2017 and also to faculty and students in the Department of Philosophy at McMaster University, Hamilton, ON on March 17, 2017. The paper on which the talk is based is forthcoming in the journal Philosophical Explorations.

John Thorp gave a paper titled “Aristotle’s Definition of Time: a modest proposal” at the meeting of the APA/Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, in Kansas City, on March 3. Here is a summary of the paper:

Aristotle’s definition of time is a real head-scratcher: ‘number of motion with respect to before and after’. The phrase is opaque, to say the least. Moreover, it flirts with danger: it seems to suggest that somehow time is made up of countable instants. And yet nothing could be clearer than that Aristotle would not have made that elementary mistake: he was very clear-headed about the nature of continua, of mathematical density. So what on earth does the definition mean?

The phrase, of course, has puzzled commentators from the get-go. Many have gone poking around in the arcana of ancient mathematics to try to find a meaning of ‘number’ that would make sense here. Some of these proposals have been very ingenious, even acrobatic. Other commentators have said that Aristotle must be using the word ‘number’ metaphorically—but it seems implausible that, in an otherwise sober discussion, he would make such prominent use of a metaphor, without at least flagging it as such. It’s a puzzling business.

This paper is deflationary. Based on some modest philological and grammatical research, as well as a culinary parallel, it shows that the meaning of the phrase is extremely easy and straightforward: for a millennium and a half we have been mishearing it. It’s all so simple – once you see it.

Pictured above (clockwise): Kyoko Wada, Lucas Dunlap and Lisa Forsberg at Research Day; Jamie Shaw at the Scientific Knowledge Under Pluralism conference; Jackie Sullivan at the University of Marquette; Samantha Brennan in Iceland; and Cory Goldstein at Research Day.