The Dennes Room

Welcome Back

The start of a new academic year is always an exciting time in the Philosophy Department at Berkeley. For us as for everyone on campus, there will be many challenges to cope with in the wake of events in Sacramento over the summer. But there is also much to celebrate and to look forward to.

We are delighted to welcome to the Department this Fall two impressive new colleagues who add important strengths to our faculty in core areas of contemporary philosophical research:

  • Geoffrey Lee did his graduate work at NYU, where he completed a dissertation on “Consciousness and the Passing of Time”. His main areas of research interest are philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and the foundations of cognitive science and neuroscience. He is teaching Philosophy 3 this semester, and will offer an upper-division course on Metaphysics and a graduate seminar in the spring.

  • Seth Yalcin received his Ph.D. from MIT in 2008; he joins us from NYU, where he spent one year as Assistant Professor of Philosophy. He works mostly in the philosophy of language, but his research interests also extend to issues in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, formal epistemology, and linguistics. He is teaching Philosophy 100 and Philosophy 125 this Fall, and will co-teach a graduate seminar with John MacFarlane in the spring.

In addition, we are very pleased to welcome back to the Department Mike Martin and Véronique Munoz-Dardé from University College, London. This is their third visit to Berkeley, and they have agreed to return as Adjunct Professors each Fall for the next three years. Prof. Martin will be teaching Philosophy 136 and a graduate seminar on content and consciousness; Prof. Munoz-Dardé is offering Philosophy 115 and a graduate seminar on contractualism in political philosophy. We are excited to have them back in residence, and look forward to working closely with them in the years to come.

Warm congratulations are in order for Niko Kolodny, who was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure as of July 1, 2009. Prof. Kolodny did his graduate work in our Department, and he began his academic career as an Assistant Professor at Harvard University; we succeeded in luring him back to Berkeley in 2005. He works primarily in moral and political philosophy, and has published on a wide range of topics in these areas, including love, partiality, promising, rationality, and reasons. In the short time since completing his graduate work he has established an impressive reputation as a first-rate scholar and a dedicated and extremely effective teacher of philosophy. We are very fortunate to have him as a permanent member of our faculty.

Many congratulations as well to Hans Sluga on his appointment to the William and Trudy Ausfahl Professorship in Philosophy, effective July 1, 2009. This new professorship—one of the endowed chairs established in response to the campus’s Hewlett Challenge—was made possible through the extraordinary generosity of Bill Ausfahl (B.A. ‘61). Income from the endowed chair will advance research in Prof. Sluga’s areas of interest, as well as providing other forms of valuable support for students and faculty in philosophy at Berkeley.

It is always a pleasure at this time of year to welcome to our community a new group of students. This year six students will be starting their graduate work in our Department: Austin Andrews (UC Santa Barbara); Matthew Hoberg (Princeton); Jim Hutchinson (Toronto); Richard Lawrence (Pennsylvania); Kathryn Mantoan (Princeton/Harvard); and Kirsten Pickering (Arizona State). In addition, three new students will be starting in the Logic and Methodology Program: Dylan Byron (Princeton); Julia Erhard (Oxford); and Lawrence Valby (Reed). We wish them every success in their graduate studies and beyond.

We also want to welcome the many undergraduate students who will be participating in our courses and activities during the coming academic year. Interest in our subject on campus remains very robust–the number of students who have chosen to major in Philosophy is higher than ever–and those of us who teach here are thrilled to have such a challenging and engaged group of students in our courses.

The Berkeley Philosophy Department regularly attracts a large group of visiting scholars from around the world, who join us for shorter or longer periods, and contribute substantially to making ours a more cosmopolitan and stimulating community. Please check the Visiting Scholars section of our website for a list of new and continuing visitors to our Department.

In other news, Paolo Mancosu returns this Fall from a year of leave, supported in part by a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. His activities during the year involved extensive stays in (among other places) Brazil, Copenhagen, Princeton, Pisa, and Paris. Niko Kolodny also returns from a year of leave. Sherri Roush is on leave in the Fall semester of the current academic year, and Hans Sluga will be on leave for both semesters.

We have, as always, a very lively program of philosophical events scheduled for the coming year, including a Townsend Visit by Bas van Fraassen, a George Myro Memorial Lecture by Mark Wilson, and many talks and colloquia by distinguished philosophers from the US and abroad. Detailed information and updates are available on the events section of our website.

R. Jay Wallace, Department Chair

August 26, 2009