Department News


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

There have been several changes in the faculty in the past year. Geoffrey Lee has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Joshua Cohen will begin a joint appointment as Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Law School and the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science. Together with a rotating cast of colleagues, he will run the Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory, an ongoing seminar that will bring in many outside speakers. John Perry and Manuel Vargas will be Visiting Professors in the Spring.

We expect to be making a formal offer soon to an outstanding philosopher we identified in last year’s faculty search, and we will be conducting another open-rank search this year, in the areas of Modern Philosophy, Post-Kantian Continental Philosophy, and Moral and Political Philosophy.

It is our pleasure to welcome five new graduate students to the program: Greyson Abid, who comes to us from the University of Pennsylvania, Alberto Tassoni, from University College London, Blake Harper, from Middlebury College, Emily Perry, from McGill University and the University of Toronto, Jennifer Marsh, from the University of Pennsylvania, and Zachary Stout, from Reed College.

In addition, we welcome three new students in the Group in Logic and the Methodology of Science: Tsvi Benson-Tilson, Yiefeng Ding, and Benjamin Siskind.

Congratulations are in order for four students who finished their dissertations last year. Janum Sethi, who wrote her dissertation on “Kant on Subjectivity and Self-consciousness” with Hannah Ginsborg and Daniel Warren, is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan. Lindsay Crawford, who wrote on “Epistemic Obligation in Perspective” with Niko Kolodny, Sherri Roush, and Lara Buchak is starting a C3 Postdoctoral Fellowship at Connecticut College. Max Gee, who wrote on “Rationality and Expected Utility” with Lara Buchak and Niko Kolodny, is working as a Quantitative Analyst at a New York City hedge fund. And Luke Misenheimer, who wrote on “The Publicity of Concepts” with John Campbell and Geoff Lee, is working as a software developer.

As usual, the department is host to a number of Visiting Scholars and Visiting Student Researchers this year:

  • Sylvia Altmann (UFRGS - Porto Alegre - Brazil)
  • Justin Clardy (University of Arkansas)
  • Matteo de Ceglie (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa)
  • Anna Hennessey (UCSB)
  • Tarjei Larsen (University of Oslo)
  • Alessandra Marra (Institute for Logic, Language and Computation, Netherlands)
  • Alexander Mishura (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia)
  • Clare Moriarty (King’s College London)
  • Sebastian Odzuck (Humboldt University Berlin)
  • Niels Skovgaard Olsen (University of Konstanz & University of Freiburg)
  • Niels Reeh (University of Copenhagen)
  • Deniz Sarikaya (University of Hamburg)
  • Plinio Smith (Universidada Federal de Sao Paulo Brazil)
  • Mira Viehstaedt (University of Hamburg)
  • Hannah Sommer (LMU Munich)
  • Jeremy Schneider (LMU Munich)
  • Bram Vaassen (Umeå university Sweden)
  • Clemens Wetcholowsky (Georg August Universität Göttingen)

We will be continuing the successful Berkeley Connect program to help connect students with their academic majors. And, thanks to the continuing support of two generous donors, we will be continuing the New Crop Prize for undergraduate work in philosophy, which brings a distinguished visitor to campus to select the winning essays and engage with their authors in a public forum, and the New Directions Fellowship, which enables graduate students to do coursework in scientific disciplines relevant to their dissertations, under the direction of a faculty mentor.

We have a full schedule of colloquiua, conferences, working group talks, and other events lined up for this year.

Rachel Barney from the University of Toronto will be this year’s Townsend Visitor, spending a week in the department October 5-9. She will give three talks on the theme How to Know Everything: Sophistic Argument and the Birth of Philosophy.

This year’s Howison Lecture will be given on March 9 by Christine Korsgaard from Harvard University. Professor Korsgaard will also give a colloquium talk on March 10 in the department.

Anil Gupta from the University of Pittsburgh will give this year’s George Myro Memorial Lecture on April 21.

Last year we began a new series of informal lunchtime work-in-progress talks by faculty and advanced graduate students. This was very successful and we plan to continue the tradition this year.

We have also been taking some steps to improve our physical space. The threadbare carpet in the Dennes Room has also been replaced. And a team of graduate students helped clean up 301 Moses, removing unused papers and furniture, in preparation for some further remodeling in the Fall.

Finally, this year the department will be undergoing a comprehensive Academic Program Review (our last review was in 2008). All of you will be involved in this, in some way.

I look forward to another great year of philosophy in Moses Hall!

John MacFarlane

August 27, 2015