Letter from the Chair


The big news is that, for the first time since the recession began four years ago, we have added a new tenure-track colleague to the Department. Colin Marshall received his PhD from NYU and has been teaching at the University of Melbourne in Australia for the last two years. He works in the history of philosophy and specializes in Kant and Spinoza. He already has many publications in prominent journals and he is an accomplished teacher. We are looking forward to great things from Colin!

This year, we are going to be searching for another new, junior-level faculty member; one who specializes in the area of social epistemology. This is an exciting subfield of the theory of knowledge that crosses into areas of moral and political philosophy, as well as philosophy of science. If you were lucky enough to attend the Stice Lecture last year given by Sally Haslanger of MIT, which focused on the question of implicit bias, you will have had a taste of this area. (Read the article by Jerry Large of the Seattle Times on Haslanger and the Equal Pay Act!) We hope that this new hire will help us maintain strengths in our "core" areas of philosophy while at the same time taking advantage of new trends in our field.

Some of you may have heard about the scandal that occurred when the prominent philosopher Colin McGinn of the University of Miami was accused of sexual harassment. Perhaps you read the subsequent series of articles about the state of women in philosophy in the New York Times. The bad news is that there are still persistent barriers that women and minorities face in our profession. The average number of women in tenured or tenure track positions in philosophy departments across the country is 21.9%. (See this link for more information.) The good news is that our department is aware of these issues and making efforts to improve things here at the UW. The most striking statistic is that women now comprise 50% of our full-time faculty, which puts us among the most gender balanced departments in the country. But we still have a long way to go. For instance, although the numbers of women in our faculty have improved the number of women graduate and undergraduate students in our department still remains relatively very low. We have a committee in the department whose job it is to provide information and suggest how we can improve our climate for women and minorities. They have prepared several pages of information for our website, which you can access here via this link.

When you click this link you will see another great improvement in the Department: our new website! Thanks to the work of many in our department, most especially that of Barbara Mack, the website is up and running. It is a big improvement over our old site, both in terms of look and functionality. We use the website as a platform to inform both undergraduate and graduate students about our programs. It also provides more complete and up-to-date information about our faculty and allows us to showcase our events and achievements more prominently.

Our faculty members are involved in some remarkable research. In this newsletter you can read about the interesting work that Sara Goering is doing on neuroethics. In the next newsletter I would like to talk about some of the other, amazing work that our faculty is doing, but right now I'd like to focus on the many interesting events we are organizing on campus. This quarter Bill Talbott organized the visit of Professor Seyla Benhabib, a prominent political philosopher from Yale. She gave the distinguished Walker-Ames lecture on the topic of "Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem: Fifty Years Later," and also a philosophy colloquium on the topic of human rights. The Walker Ames lecture filled the lecture hall to its capacity of 440! Also this quarter, Steve Gardiner organized the Ben Rabinowitz Symposium on Environmental Ethics, which culminated in a fascinating lecture by David Schlosberg of Sydney University. In November, we had two visiting lecturers, Jenefer Robinson of the University of Cincinnati, and Susan James of Birkbeck College at the University of London, whose visits coordinated with ongoing graduate seminars this quarter, one on the Philosophy of Art, taught by Ron Moore, the other on Spinoza taught by myself. It is a fantastic opportunity for students to engage in person with the scholars who have devoted their careers to these fascinating subjects.

Finally, I would like to thank all the generous donors, whose help is indispensable to our work. In addition to the myriad ways in which your gifts already support the Department, we are planning to offer some new grants to students and faculty out of the Friends of Philosophy funds, and look forward to awarding our first Clatterbaugh Scholarship later this year. So, please stay tuned!

- Michael Rosenthal, Department of Philosophy Chair

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