Department News


It’s the beginning of another year of philosophy at Berkeley! Welcome, all.

There have been a few changes in the faculty in the past year. Lara Buchak was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Sherri Roush decided to leave Berkeley to take up the newly endowed Peter Sowerby Chair in Philosophy and Medicine at King’s College, London. John Searle has become Professor of the Graduate School and will teach two courses per year. The Classics Department hired an ancient philosopher, Sara Magrin, adding to the already considerable strength of our joint program in Ancient Philosophy. And the distinguished philosopher John Perry will be teaching two courses at Berkeley this Spring—an introductory course and a graduate seminar. This year the department will be conducting an open rank, open area search for a new colleague.

It is our pleasure to welcome five new graduate students to the program: Sophia Dandelet (from UC Berkeley), Ravit Dotan (from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Tyler Haddow (from Stanford), Joseph Kassman-Tod (from University College London), and Joy Li (from Rutgers). In addition, we welcome three new students in the Group in Logic and the Methodology of Science: Reid Dale (from the University of Washington), James Moody (from Brown), and Kentaro Yamamoto (from the University of Tokyo). We wish them every success in their graduate studies!

Congratulations are in order for three students who finished their dissertations last year:

  • Erin Beeghly, Seeing Difference: The Epistemology and Ethics of Stereotyping (advised by Véronique Munoz-Dardé and Jay Wallace).
  • Zachary Bruce, Descartes’s Method and the Role of Eternal Truths (advised by Barry Stroud and Daniel Warren).
  • Arpy Khatchirian, Substantive Truth and Knowledge of Meaning (advised by Hannah Ginsborg, John MacFarlane, and Barry Stroud).

Beeghly begins a tenure-track job at the University of Utah this semester, and Khatchirian will be a Berkeley Connect Fellow at Berkeley.

As usual, the department is host to a number of Visiting Scholars and Visiting Student Researchers this year: Tony Cheng, Eduardo N. Giovannini, Eric Hutton, Jennifer Mattey, Ivan Milić, Aloisa Moser, Christoph Pfisterer, B. Scot Rouse, Laura Summa, Robin Zebrowski, and Wenlian Zhou. Please join me in making them welcome.

We have added a new lower-division course to the books: Philosophy 18, Confucius for Today, taught by Professor Kwong-loi Shun. The course will consider the contemporary implications of Confucius’ teachings for such topics as family, rituals, life and death, fate, contentment and anxiety, anger and resentment, courage, respectfulness, modesty and humility, trustworthiness, learning, self-cultivation, semblances of virtue. Students will read passages from the Analects, later commentaries, and contemporary philosophical articles.

Last Spring, we were one of ten departments on campus to participate in the new Berkeley Connect program, which connects undergraduates with their academic departments through small group meetings, one-on-one advising, special events with professors and alumni, and field trips. I visited the Berkeley Connect meetings list year and heard a lot of very positive feedback. We are glad to be continuing the program this year, under the guidance of Professors Lara Buchak and Wes Holliday. We encourage undergraduate majors and prospective majors to sign up.

Thanks to two generous donors, the department will continue to offer the New Crop Prize for innovative undergraduate work in philosophy. This year’s New Crop visitor will be Daniel Dennett from Tufts.

Jennifer Hornsby from Birkbeck College, University of London will be the department’s Townsend Visitor September 22-26. Professor Hornsby will give three lectures on causal relations, practical knowledge, and pornography and free speech. There will also be opportunities for department members to engage her in informal discussion in office hours, dinners, and a Q&A session on Friday. We look forward to a stimulating visit.

Kwame Anthony Appiah from NYU will give the Howison Lecture in February, and Philip Pettit from Princeton will give the Tanner Lectures on Human Values in April. Because last year’s George Myro Memorial Lecture was postponed, this year we will have two Myro Lectures: Sally Haslanger will speak in October, and Tim Crane in April.

In addition, there are several small conferences scheduled for the next month. A conference Defining Platonism, in honor of John Dillon’s birthday, will take place September 13-14. The next weekend (September 20-23) there will be a workshop on book VIII of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, sponsored jointly by Berkeley and LMU Munich. And October 2-3 there will be a conference on Global Philosophy? European, Asian, and American Perspectives, organized by Hans Sluga.

In addition, we have the usual full schedule of courses, seminars, colloquiua, working group talks, and other events. This year promises to be an unusually full one, and I look forward to working with all of you.

John MacFarlane

September 08, 2014