Welcome back!

It gives me tremendous pleasure to welcome back the philosophical community for a new year. I would first like to thank outgoing Chair Paolo Mancosu, who has left the department in terrific shape. We have a larger faculty than I can remember since arriving at Berkeley in 2000, with a tremendous range of research and teaching interests, and vibrant graduate and undergraduate programs. Paolo will be on sabbatical leave this year, in Berkeley and in Munich. I wish him a productive year and hope that I can fill his shoes.

I am delighted to report that Kwong-loi Shun, who taught at Berkeley from 1986-2003 before taking up administrative positions at the University of Toronto and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, will be returning to the department to teach two courses per year, starting in Spring 2014. Professor Shun is an expert on Chinese philosophy, and we look forward to offering courses in this area once again.

It is our pleasure to welcome six new graduate students to the program: Michael Arsenault (from the University of Toronto), Omar Fakhri (from the University of Massachussets, Amherst), Nick French (from NYU), Dan Khokhar (from Indiana and NYU), Dustin Neuman (from Sarah Lawrence College and Brandeis), and Adam Paris (from NYU). In addition, we welcome four new students in the Group in Logic and the Methodology of Science: Daniel Fremont (MIT), James Moody (NYU), Nick Ramsey (University of Chicago), and Chase Skipper (CUNY-Hunter). We wish them every success in their graduate studies!

Fond as we are of our graduate students, we are happy to see them leave to take up academic jobs. Congratulations to Justin Bledin (who will be an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University), Eric Matthes (who will be an assistant professor at Wellesley College), Brian Berkey (who will be a postdoc at Stanford University), and Joseph Barnes (who will be a Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter at the Humboldt University in Berlin).

As usual, the department is host to a number of Visiting Scholars and Visiting Student Researchers this year. Please join me in making them welcome.

I am pleased to report that the Chinese painting of “Nine Wise Old Men” that used to grace the Dennes Room is back, after three years at the restorer’s, and it looks terrific. Thanks are due to former Chair Mancosu for all of his work making this happen. Here he is with the painting:

Home at last!

In the Spring, the department will be one of ten departments in the University to participate in the new Berkeley Connect program. Berkeley Connect is an undergraduate mentoring program that seeks to connect undergraduates with their academic departments through small group meetings, one-on-one advising, special events with professors and alumni, and field trips. Professors Lara Buchak and Wes Holliday, who are coordinating the program in the department, have an exciting schedule of events planned already. We encourage undergraduate majors and prospective majors to sign up.

Thanks to a generous donation from Igor Khandros and Sue Bloch, the department will continue to offer the New Crop Prize for innovative undergraduate work in philosophy. This year’s New Crop visitor will be Ned Block from NYU.

Crispin Wright from NYU and the University of Aberdeen will be the department’s Townsend Visitor September 16-20. Professor Wright will give three lectures on the general topic “Ruminations on the A Priori.” There will also be opportunities for department members to engage him in informal discussion in office hours, dinners, and a Q&A session on Friday. We look forward to a stimulating visit!

Sarah Broadie from the University of St. Andrews will give the Howison Lecture in March, and Tim Crane from Cambridge will give the George Myro Memorial Lecture in April.

On October 11-12 the department will co-host CUSP 6, the California Universities Semantics and Pragmatics Conference, together with the Department of Linguistics. And on May 10-11, the department will host the West Coast Plato Workshop.

In addition, we have the usual full schedule of courses, seminars, colloquiua, working group talks, and other events. I look foward to working with you all, in both my new role as Chair and my old role as Professor.

John MacFarlane

August 28, 2013