Department News


Welcome to a new year of philosophy at Berkeley! I want to begin by expressing thanks to John MacFarlane, who has just completed a very successful three-year term as chair of the department. The department has flourished on his watch, with several new hires, an ambitious remodeling of 301 Moses which is just now approaching completion, and a number of new initiatives, some of which are mentioned below. John is now on a well-earned leave at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Paris, and we wish him, Colleen, and Claire a terrific year.

This year we are delighted to welcome two new faculty members, Kristin Primus and Shamik Dasgupta. Kristin, who got her Ph.D. from Princeton, works primarily in early modern philosophy. She joins us from Georgetown, where she taught as an assistant professor for two years after having held a Bersoff fellowship from NYU. Shamik, who got his PhD from NYU, works primarily in metaphysics and the philosophy of science. He joins us as an associate professor, after having taught for several years at Princeton.

Barry Stroud and Janet Broughton have both officially retired from the University as of this academic year, both after long and distinguished careers at Berkeley. Barry started his career at Berkeley in 1961 just after getting his Ph.D. from Harvard. He has been an enormously valued presence in the department, not only for his extraordinary research and teaching contributions, extending across a wide range of philosophical topics, but also for the energy and dedication with which he has contributed to all aspects of department life. The identity of the Berkeley department as a distinctive intellectual community owes much to his role in inspiring students and faculty with a sense of the importance and depth of philosophical enquiry.

Janet came to Berkeley in 1979 after receiving her Ph.D. from Princeton and serving for several years as an assistant professor at Harvard. In addition to being one of the foremost scholars in the history of modern philosophy and an inspiring teacher and mentor, she has been an extraordinarily successful administrator at the university level, serving both as Dean of Arts and Humanities and as Vice Provost for the Faculty. Recently she received the Arts and Humanities Divisional Service Award (having been nominated in a letter signed by no less than thirty-three present and former department chairs!) and the 2016 Berkeley Faculty Service Award for outstanding and dedicated service to the University.

Fortunately for us, Janet and Barry will both continue to be involved in philosophy at Berkeley. Barry is continuing his teaching and research as a Professor of the Graduate School, and will be teaching two courses this coming Spring. Janet’s retirement as Vice Provost is the University’s loss, but philosophy’s, and our, gain: she plans to return to working on Hume, and will continue to have an office in the department for the next two years.

In other faculty news, we’re happy that John Perry, who was a Visiting Professor last year, is here again this fall teaching Theory of Meaning for us again this fall. We’re also happy to welcome back from sabbatical leave Tim Clarke, who divided the past year between London and Berlin, and Alva Noë, who was based in Berkeley but took the opportunity to travel widely. As noted above, John MacFarlane is on leave this year in Paris, and Katharina Kaiser and Jay Wallace are both spending the year doing research at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Klaus Corcilius is also on leave for the academic year, having accepted a professorship at the University of Tübingen, but he is maintaining his ties to Berkeley, and, if he remains at Tübingen after this academic year, we look forward to fruitful cross-department collaborations

We’re all very sorry to have to say goodbye to Dave Lynaugh, who has retired after 30 years of service to the department, first as Undergraduate Assistant, and then Graduate Student Affairs Officer, with a wide range of responsibilities. Dave’s dedication, skill and sensitivity as an advisor, competence in administrative matters, ingenuity in finding solutions to bureaucratic problems, good humour, grace under pressure, and extensive knowledge of the workings of the University will be very much missed. We were lucky to have him for all those years, and we wish him all the best in his retirement. There can obviously be no such thing as replacing Dave, but the hiring of a new GSAO is imminent.

It’s always a pleasure to welcome a new entering class of graduate students. This year, we welcome six new students in the philosophy Ph.D. program: Mathias Boehm (HU Berlin) Urte Laukaityte (Cambridge and Edinburgh), Matthew McCauley (Johns Hopkins), Sven Neth (FU Berlin), Patrick Ryan (Harvard) and Pia Schneider (LMU Munich). We also welcome Pen Long (University of Toronto) and Mariana Vicaria Angel (Universidad de los Andes) to the Ph.D. program in the Logic and Methodology of Science. Samuel Elgin (Yale) will be joining us for the year as an exchange student. We wish these students all the best for their graduate studies.

It’s also a great pleasure to congratulate our recent Ph.D. recipients, all of whom are going on to academic positions in philosophy. Eugene Chislenko, who wrote on “Intention and Normative Belief” (advised by Bert Dreyfus, Hannah Ginsborg and Jay Wallace), is taking up a postdoctoral fellowship at Temple University; Melissa Fusco, who wrote on “Deontic Disjunction” (advised by John MacFarlane, Line Mikkelsen and Seth Yalcin) is taking up a tenure-track position at Columbia; Ethan Nowak, who wrote on “Two Dogmas About Demonstratives” (also advised by John MacFarlane, Line Mikkelsen and Seth Yalcin), will be a Teaching Fellow at University College London; and Katrina Winzeler, who wrote on “Theories of Mental Disorders” (advised by John Campbell, John Searle and Tania Lombrozo) is taking up a tenure-track position at Peirce College.

As usual, we have a large group of visiting scholars and visiting student researchers, coming from all over the world, and with a wide range of philosophical interests. They include: Sarah-Aylin Akguel (LMU Munich), Miloud Belkoniene (University of Fribourg), Mark-Oliver Casper (Ruhr University Bochum), Nil Franzen (Uppsala University), Anna Hennessey (UCSB), Dominic Hughes (Stanford), Jinho Kang (Seoul National University), Jinsook Kim (Seoul National University), Maria Krause (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain), Nicolas Le Jeune (University of Reims), Pia Lopez-Izquierdo (Technical School of Architecture of Madrid), Bernhard Nickel (Harvard), Saja Parvizian (University of Illinois at Chicago), Jens Pier (University of Bonn), B. Scot Rousse (Northwestern), Jim Shannon (Oxford), Dana Scott (Carnegie Mellon), Susanna Siegel (Harvard), David Suarez (University of Toronto), Zeynep Üsüdür (University of Copenhagen), Yun Wun (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), Lili Zhang (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), and Songfeng Zhu (Peking University). For updates to the list, and more information about our visiting scholars, please see our Visiting Scholars web page.

This year we are continuing a number of successful initiatives started over the last few years, and beginning some new ones. Thanks to two generous donors, we are continuing both the New Directions Fellowship for our graduate students and the New Crop Prize for our undergraduates. Details for both will be announced soon, but I can let you know now that this year’s New Crop visitor will be Sally Haslanger from MIT. The Berkeley Connect program for our philosophy majors continues to flourish, and some of our students, with the help of undergraduate advisor Niko Kolodny, have come up with new ways to enrich our undergraduate program. In fall 2015, a recent philosophy major, Clara Lingle, initiated a peer tutoring program. Staffed entirely by current or recent majors, it provides one-on-one tutoring in writing and logic, as well as occasional group workshops. In addition, The Urban Scholars student group, developed by former philosophy major, Raymond Banks, and current graduate student, Dylan Murray, have created the Malcolm Next Scholars Program. It brings nearby community college students to the Berkeley campus to enroll in a lower-division philosophy course, with special resources devoted to guidance and academic support. A core aim is to give community college students, especially from groups underrepresented in Berkeley philosophy, a path to our major. Last year, students enrolled in Tim Crockett’s “Philosophy of Religion. This fall, students will take Hans Sluga’s “Individual Morality and Social Justice.” We are very grateful to Niko, Clara, Ray and Dylan for developing these new initiatives, and to all the students who are participating as peer tutors.

As usual, we have a full program of events. Robert Pippin (University of Chicago), will be here September 19-23 as our Townsend Visitor, with three talks entitled “Hegel on the Political Significance of Collective Self-Deceit,” “Hegel on Life as a Logical Concept” and “The Philosophical Hitchcock: Vertigo and the Anxieties of Unknowingness.” This year’s George Myro Memorial Lecture will be given on March 16 by by Ian Rumfitt (Birmingham). And the Howison Lecture will be given on April 12 by Gisela Striker (Harvard). For more information about all the colloquiua, conferences, working group talks, and other events we have scheduled for the year, please see our listing of upcoming events. At the foot of the page, you’ll find instructions for adding our events calendar to your bCal or other online calendar. Our colloquia and other department lectures are an opportunity not only to hear from visiting philosophers and discuss their work, but also to get together over refreshments. We hope you can come to as many as possible.

I’m looking forward to a great year of philosophy at Berkeley and to working with you all in my new role as Chair.

Hannah Ginsborg


August 28, 2016