Department News

Welcome back!

As the new academic year gets under way, I’m happy to welcome both the new members of our philosophical community, especially our new entering class of graduate students, and to welcome back everyone who is returning. We’re happy to have with us again Paolo Mancosu, Mike Martin and Véronique Munoz-Dardé, who are all back from sabbatical leave, and to welcome two new additions to our affiliated faculty, Asad Q. Ahmed (Near Eastern Studies) and Amy Rose Deal (Linguistics).

Congratulations and welcome to this year’s entering class of Philosophy PhD students: Isabella Carlsson (BA, Northeastern University), Scott Cowan (BFA, Columbia College; MA, Fuller Theological Seminary; MA, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), William Phillips (BA, Middle Tennessee State University; MA, Brandeis), Ajay Ravichandran (BA, U. of Chicago; JD, Yale), Daniel Villalon (BA, Northwestern) and Evan Washington (BA, Princeton). And likewise to our new students in the Group in Logic and Methodology: Guillaume Massas (BA, Paris-IV; MA, Paris-I; M.Sc. Amsterdam), Diego Bejarano (BS, Chicago) and Matthew McCauley (BA, Johns Hopkins).

Congratulations also to our 2018 Ph.D. graduates. Jim Hutchinson, who wrote on “Frege’s Systematic Conception of Truth and its Consequences,” is going on to be Oscar R. Ewing Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Indiana. Erica Klempner, who wrote on “Beauty, Art and Testimony: Subjectivity and Objectivity in Aesthetics,” will be staying at Berkeley with a Berkeley Connect postdoctoral fellowship. Alex Kocurek, whose dissertation is entitled “What Can You Say? Measuring the Expressive Power of Languages,” is taking up a tenure-track position in philosophy at Cornell. And Antonia Peacocke, “Knowing Yourself is Something You Do,” is going to New York University on a Bersoff Postdoctoral Fellowship before taking up a tenure-track position in philosophy at Stanford. I’d like to mention here also Jeffrey Kaplan who plans to graduate soon with a dissertation on “Weightless Nomativity” and who will be taking up a tenure-track position at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in January. We wish our new graduates (and soon-to-be graduates) all the best in their new endeavors.

We are lucky at Berkeley to have the stimulus of so many visiting scholars and visiting student researchers from all over the world, and we’d like to extend a warm welcome to them. This year’s visiting scholars include Valentin Beck (FU Berlin), Xudong Chen (Anhui Normal University), Lizhen Duan (Nanjing University), Alan Fenster, Alvin Goldman (Rutgers), Dominic Hughes (Apple), Jair A. Krassuski (Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil), João P. Martins Neto (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil), Corijn Van Mazijk (University of Groningen, the Netherlands), Kaspar Villadsen (Copenhagen Business School), and Zemian Zheng (Wuhan University). The list of visiting scholars and visiting student researchers is updated over the year, so please check our visiting scholars web page for the latest information.

Philosophy continues to grow in popularity as a major at Berkeley. Last fall our major count was a record 262, the highest in the Department’s history (and almost 100 more than in fall 2015). Enrollment by non-majors in our courses also remains extremely high. We’ve continued and, where possible, expanded our various initiatives to support our large student population (for details, you can scroll down to last year’s message). In particular, thanks to contributions from two generous donors and from the Griffin Sean Madden fund, we’ve been able both to keep up with increasing demand for our peer tutoring program and to extend it to students taking summer courses, I’d like to take the opportunity here to say thank you to graduate student Dan Khokhar, who coordinated the program last year, and to last year’s peer tutors: Emma Barton, Dylan Cox, Clay Halbert, Paul Irvin, Carli Jipsen, and Phillip Wullschleger.

Last year a number of our students, both undergraduate and graduate, set up a MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) chapter to promote equity and inclusion in our department and in philosophy more generally. They are working on a number of exciting initiatives, including workshops about diversifying course syllabi and about inclusive teaching, a MAP website with resources for equity and inclusion which will supplement the department’s equity and inclusion page, and outreach to students in high schools to encourage broader participation in philosophy. I’d like to thank all of the students (some now graduates) who were active in setting up the MAP chapter last year, in particular Agnes Artoonian, Carli Jipsen and Stefan Madzar among the undergraduates, and Ravit Dotan and Antonia Peacocke among the graduate students. We really lucky to have such a committed and engaged student body, who are responsible not only for MAP but also for the undergraduate philosophy club Phil Forum, which meets regularly for talks and discussions.

At the faculty level, we’ve been active in helping shape the campus’s new Signature Initiatives, including two with particular relevance to philosophy, Democracy and Inclusive Intelligence. Under the guidance of Niko Kolodny, we’re working with the Division of Data Science to provide courses which will constitute a philosophy-focused “Domain Emphasis” within Data Science, and Niko is also developing a course that will meet the “Human Contexts and Ethics” requirement for the Data Science major. We are excited to be participating in these new campus-wide initiatives.

As always we have a packed program of events, including conferences, Department colloquia, working group talks, work-in-progress lunches (lunch provided!), and a week of talks and seminars with our Townsend Visitor, Tim Scanlon (Harvard), who will be here during the week of October 22. Another distinguished philosopher, Joseph Raz (Columbia) will be coming on October 11 to deliver the Howison Lecture, sponsored by the University’s Graduate Division. You can find out about our events by going to our listing of upcoming events. At the bottom of the page, you’ll find instructions for adding our events calendar to your bCal or other online calendar. If you are a faculty member, graduate student or visiting scholar you will automatically receive announcements of events in your email. For everyone else, instructions on how to get informed of events by email can be found here. Our colloquia and other department-sponsored talks are an opportunity not only to hear from a wide range of visiting philosophers and discuss their work, but also to get together over refreshments for informal exchanges. Please come to as many as you can!

I wish everyone a productive and enjoyable year, with lots of philosophical (and other) conversation. We have a great philosophical community here, and I encourage everyone to get involved in it as much as possible.

Hannah Ginsborg

September 05, 2018