Deniz Durmus, PhD candidate in Philosophy and Women's Studies at Penn State, recently was awarded a prize for Best Beauvoir Paper by a Graduate Student at the upcoming Diverse Lineages of Existentialism conference. Her paper, entitled "The Congruence between Beauvoir and Butler's Ethics," was selected through anonymous review, and the award will be presented at the Diverse Lineages of Existentialism conference, to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, June 19-21, 2014.
Deniz's paper reclaims existentialist ethics and specifically the version developed by Simone de Beauvoir as relevant and informing contemporary accounts of ethics in the continental philosophical canon. Focusing on some basic ethical questions concerning vulnerability, violence, and oppression in Butler's late writings which Beauvoir already accentuates, Deniz show that in addition to the much emphasized poststructuralist elements, there are also existentialist elements in Butler's late work. Overall, she argues that the possibilities of existentialist ethics have not been exhausted yet, and they should be elaborated further.
David Agler and Ryan Pollock article accepted in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly Lecturer David Agler and 5th year graduate student Ryan Pollock had their paper, “Hume and Peirce on the Ultimate Stability of Belief” accepted for publication in The Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. The paper investigates David Hume’s position on the question of the attainment of stable beliefs and brings this into dialogue with C.S. Peirce’s work on the issue.
In particular, they argue that David Hume was optimistic about the possibility that philosophical investigation can lead to stable beliefs, but that C.S. Peirce was pessimistic on this point. Louis Loeb has argued that Hume is pessimistic while Peirce is optimistic about the attainment of fully stable beliefs. In contrast, Agler and Pollock argue that Hume was optimistic about such attainment but only if the scope of philosophical investigation is limited to first-order explanatory questions. Further, they argue that Peirce, after reformulating the pragmatic maxim to accommodate the reality of counterfactuals, was pessimistic about such attainment. Finally, they articulate and respond to Peirce’s objection that Hume’s skeptical arguments in T 1.4.1 and his commitment to common sense indicate that Hume was confused about whether we could have stable beliefs at all.
Early treatments of classical American philosophy have, to some extent, neglected the contributions made by women philosophers to science and philosophy. However, since the early 1990s, contemporary feminists have paid more attention to how American women have contributed to the development of philosophy in the United States.
"We hope that our paper inspires more interdisciplinary collaborative work which focuses on how women have been marginalized in science and the academy," wrote Durmus and Agler.
In a paper entitled, "Christine Ladd-Franklin: Pragmatist Feminist" to be published in Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal in American Philosophy, Deniz Durmus and David Agler add to this developing body of literature by detailing certain pragmatic aspects of Christine Ladd-Franklin’s feminism.
Ladd-Franklin, known primarily for her work in color-theory, was a staunch supporter of women playing a greater role in the academy. Durmus and Agler detail this support through her efforts to increase academic research positions for women, her criticisms of male-only scientific societies, her charge that gender-based discrimination in science was “unscientific”, her feminist project to reclaim scientific priority for scientific discoveries made by women, and finally her tacit use of the pragmatic maxim to clarify inequalities present in higher education during the 19th century.
Teaching Philosophy will publish “Evaluating the State of Nature through Gameplay” by Ryan Pollock, a fifth year graduate student in the department of philosophy.
According to Pollock, "The activity provides an excellent impetus for discussing both whether civil society could actually arise from the state of nature, and whether the structure of that civil society is fair."
The article details a classroom game that Pollock has developed and used in numerous classes that is meant to provide an interactive illustration of the “state of nature.”
Gameplay involves each student adopting a different character and attempting to gain as many resources as possible, whether through force or negotiation.
The game brings out important comparisons between ancient and modern political thinkers. The game has met with overwhelming positive response from students and furthers Pollock’s attempt to create a student-centered classroom.
Brady Bowman, assistant professor of philosophy at Penn State, has been selected as a recipient of the Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, among the most prestigious and generous academic awards in Germany, to pursue research on the metaphysics of value and the concept of the good in German Idealism.
"I'm elated," said Prof. Brady, "The Humboldt Fellowship is an honor in itself, but it's also a great opportunity to renew my working relationship with colleagues in Germany and to get my new book project underway."
By invitation of Prof. Birgit Sandkaulen, he will spend the academic year of 2014/15 at the newly founded Forschungszentrum für Klassische Deutsche Philosophie (Center for the Study of Classical German Philosophy) at the University of Bochum.
Professor Bowman’s research will address the thought of major historical figures including (among others) Spinoza, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, and will center on the concept of life and its ramifications for a realist theory of value, the prospects for non-theistic forms of religious thought, and the nature and existential value of philosophy as a form of knowledge.
The project’s guiding thesis is that the metaphysical framework of reductive naturalism is basically inhospitable to the human commitment to the reality of value and that post-Kantian German philosophy continues to represent a viable alternative to contemporary forms of naturalism.
Professor Bowman has published widely on German philosophy after Kant; his monograph Hegel and the Metaphysics of Absolute Negativity was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013.