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Ryan Pollock Wins Teaching Award

Ryan Pollock recently won Penn State's Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award. This is a university level award which recognizes graduate assistants for outstanding teaching performance.

Ryan Pollock recently won Penn State's Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award. This is a university level award which recognizes graduate assistants for outstanding teaching performance. 

Ryan reports, "I am very pleased and humbled to receive this award. Teaching has been a process of trial-and-error for me, but through this experience nothing has been more important to my success than ensuring a student-centered classroom. I constantly strive to put myself in the shoes of my students and ask how I can best motivate them to engage with a subject that can at first be very abstract and intimidating."

Ryan's students greatly value his skills as an instructor. As one student writes, "Before taking Ryan Pollock's philosophy course, I had no experience with the subject and worried that I would not be able to think critically on the level that was expected of me. Once I got to class, I immediately felt comfortable participating and asking questions when I needed to. Ryan's humor and overall demeanor made him extremely approachable. He took the time to explain a difficult concept until we fully understood. Our in class lectures were easy to keep up with and complimented our assigned readings well. His course showed me that philosophy is not as intimidating as I once thought. This lead me to schedule more philosophy courses, as well as work towards it as one of two concurrent majors. Without my experience in Ryan Pollock's class early on in my college career, I would have missed out on a subject that I now love and excel in.”

Congratulations Ryan for an award well deserved!

Deniz Durmus Wins Prize for Best Paper

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.

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.

Congratulations Deniz!

David Agler and Ryan Pollock article accepted in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly

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.

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.

Transactions to Publish Durmus and Agler Article

The "Transactions of the C.S. Peirce Society" will publish an article by Deniz Durmus and David Agler entitled: "Christine Ladd-Franklin: Pragmatist Feminist."

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 to Publish Pollock Article on Pedagogical Game

Teaching Philosophy will publish “Evaluating the State of Nature through Gameplay” by Ryan Pollock, a fifth year graduate student in the department of philosophy.

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.