The institute’s annual public library lecture series took place this month. All talks were given virtually via Zoom. This year’s series, titled “Responsibilities to Others“, featured engaging talks by Samir Okasha, Tracy Isaacs, Anthony Skelton, and Maneesha Deckha. The series included discussions about the evolution of altruism, moral responsibilities, how moral philosophy might assist us in thinking about whether we ought to mandate vaccination for COVID-19, and what it would mean to grant legal personhood status to non-human animals. The series was a success with each talk captivating a large audience. Thank you to all our speakers and to the London Public Library for helping this event be a success!

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

Rob Corless‘ paper “Teaching Programming for Mathematical Scientists” co-authored with Eunice Chan and others was published. The paper reflects on some of the authors’ course designs and experiences and is a mix of theory and practice. Rob also co-authored another paper titled “On Parametric Linear System Solving” that was published this month.

Rotman alumna Marie Gueguen gave a talk for the Geneva Symmetry Group titled “Cosmology in silico” on November 27.

The UCIrvine formal epistemology reading group devoted a meeting to discuss one of Bill Harper’s papers, “Decision dynamics and rational choice”. Bill has joined their weekly zoom discussions of issues raised by causal decision theory since then. The paper will be forthcoming in a volume honouring Alan Gibbard. Bill and Alan co-authored the paper “Counterfactuals and Two Kinds of Expected Utility Theory” which developed Stalanker’s idea into what is now known as causal decision theory. Bill’s discussion paper, “Howard Stein on sophisticated practice of philosophers/scientists” was published in a special issue of the journal Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, devoted to work inspired by Howard Stein. Bill’s paper, “Newton’s Scientific Method” is forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Newton. And another one of Bill’s papers, “Newtonian Causal Dependencies” is forthcoming in a volume honouring George Smith.

Patrick Persaud’s paper “Effect of dipole–dipole interactions on the one-photon and two-photon photoluminescence in an ensemble of quantum dots doped in a polymer matrix” was published in OSA publishing.

Stathis Psillos and Stavros Ioannidis gave a talk as guest speakers for the Meta Science project at the University of Bristol about the metaphysics of relations via Zoom on November 6.

Vicente Raja’s article “The dynamics of plant nutation” was with Springer Nature in Scientific Reports. The article focuses on applying nonlinear methods used in the cognitive sciences to the study of plant movements. Vicente’s paper “Embodiment and cognitive neuroscience: the forgotten tales” was published in Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

Carlo Rovelli was a guest star on the Italian talk show “Propaganda Live” on November 13. The episode focused on COVID-19 and its political controversies.

On November 13, Anthony Skelton gave a talk titled “What do I do when I ought to tell the truth?”. This was the department’s first philosophical briefing, an informal event with faculty members briefly discussing a topic related to their research and engaging with the audience on that topic.

Rotman alumnus Jamie Shaw co-organized a roundtable event discussing socially responsible funding policy with a special emphasis on the medical sciences. The 3-hour discussion was held on November 14th and included speakers from various universities.

Charles Weijer had a new article published. The article is titled “Loopholes in the Research Ethics System? Informed Consent Waivers in Cluster Randomized Trials with Individual‐Level Intervention” and it was co-authored with Monica Taljaard and Alex John London. The article examines three arguments that might justify the perception that the bar for a waiver of consent should be lower in Individual‐cluster trials than for individually randomized trials. Charles’ article “How pharma can build trust in COVID-19 vaccines: Transparency on trials and side-effects” was published in The Conversation. The article talks about how COVID-19 vaccines are at risk of being undermined by those that distrust vaccines and what pharma can do to help stop vaccine hesitancy. Charles’ was also one of the authors on the article “Covid-19 vaccines: Should we allow human challenge studies to infect healthy volunteers with SARS-CoV-2?” arguing that this would be dangerous and unjustified.

Pictured above: Samir Okasha giving his talk “Altruism, Selfishness and Evolution” during our speaker series; Tracy Isaacs & Eric Desjardins during Tracy’s speaker series talk; Carlo Rovelli on the Italian talk show “Propaganda Live”.