Immediately following the META Symposium on Sunday, August 2 from 1:30pm-5:30pm (Hilton Eugene Vista II room), there will be a half-day interdisciplinary workshop focused on the implications of recent advances in microbial biology for our understanding of human nature. This workshop will feature speakers from the humanities, social sciences and biophysical sciences, who will speak directly to how our understanding of human-microbe interactions alters how we view ourselves as human beings. Are the functions of our organism the unique outcome of our own genetics? Are our physiological capacities the product of our singular evolution? Are our psychological states and emotions, in a word our personality, nothing else than the expression of our organic properties? Ultimately, are we truly individuals? Today, microbial biology calls into question the most traditional conceptions of human nature and thus, helps us rethink some of the basic ethical concepts that inform our lives.
Contact: Nicolae Morar email@example.com
Dr. Erin McKenna has been hired as a visiting professor at full professor rank, to replace Scott Pratt for the 2015-2016 school year (with the option of renewing for 2 additional years). Erin McKenna is a Professor of Philosophy, former Chair of Philosophy, former Chair of Women’s Studies, and former Chair of the Faculty at Pacific Lutheran University.
She specializes in feminist theory and American Pragmatism, focusing on issues of social and political philosophy. She has recently co-authored, along with Scott Pratt, American Philosophy: From Wounded Knee to the Present (Bloomsbury, April 2015). Her book Pets, People, and Pragmatism (Fordham UP, 2013) explores the history and ethical implications of humans’ relationships with other animal beings. She also co-edited a volume on this topic titled Animal Pragmatism: Rethinking Human Nonhuman Relationships (Indiana UP, 2004). Her book The Task of Utopia: A Pragmatist and Feminist Perspective (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001) focuses on the work of John Dewey. Some of her articles include “Pragmatism and Primates,” “Women, Power, and Meat,” “Feminism and Vegetarianism,” “ The Occupied West Bank,” and “Some Reflections Concerning Feminist Pedagogy.” She has chapters in The Philosophy of the X Files (University Press of Kentucky, 2009) and Bruce Springsteen and Philosophy (Open Court, 2008). Erin McKenna also co-edited Jimmy Buffett and Philosophy for Open Court in 2009. McKenna has been teaching at PLU since 1992.
Together with Christina Karns (Psychology), Mark Alfano has received a $17,000 award from the Williams Fund to build an interdisciplinary course on the philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience of morality. In addition, Karns and Alfano have received a $190,000 award from the Templeton Foundation for an interdisciplinary projected titled, “Giving From the Heart: The Role of the Heart and the Brain in Virtuous Motivation and Integrity.”
From the granting agency’s website:
“Most people could point to someone they consider a model of integrity. But what does it mean to have integrity, and how do we tell whether someone has it? In this project, we understand an integrated self as one whose parts — especially its motivational parts — fit together harmoniously. Someone with an integrated self is better able to act in the face of conflicting incentives because her internal states consistently guide her in the same direction. If this is right, then a person of integrity should behave fluently when acting in accordance with her integrated self, feeling rewarded and relaxed. But when she is required to act against her integrated self, she should exhibit signs of stress and hesitation. By contrast, someone with a more-or-less disintegrated self should behave less fluently and effectively when acting in accordance with his values because some of his other mental states point him in another direction. And such a disintegrated person may also find it less stressful than the integrated person to act against the values he outwardly endorses, since at least some aspects of his self already incline in that direction. These predictions can be tested.
“To test this hypothesis, we will conduct a series of studies aimed at measuring integrity in the context of generosity. We will measure physiological signals of stress, neural rewards, and generous giving. As a first pass, we will count someone as manifesting integrated generosity if their explicit values align with the implicit associations or automatic responses revealed by a battery of high-speed tasks. Explicit values will be measured by questionnaires, such as a new Fluent Generosity Questionnaire, which we are developing based on philosophical explorations of generosity. Implicit associations will be measured using three high-speed tasks: a Generous Attributes implicit association test (IAT), a Reward IAT, and what we call the ‘Piggybank Task.’ The basic idea is that we can learn something about a person’s generous responses by seeing how quickly and accurately she responds to quick sorting or target-detection tasks. For instance, we can see whether she implicitly associates her self more with generosity than stinginess, whether she implicitly associates rewards more with herself than she does with charities, and whether she focuses her attention on — and whether her brain is more rewarded by — gains to charity rather than gains to herself.
“Together, explicit values and implicit associations allow us to measure integrated generosity: someone exhibits this virtue if both their explicit values and their implicit associations incline them towards generosity. Integrated and disintegrated generosity and selfishness, in turn, should lead to distinctive patterns of stress and neural reward processing when giving to or taking from charity, which we will measure in the lab using electrocardiogram (ECG) and electroencephalogram (EEG). Finally, these embodied signals should mediate the influence of the more-or-less integrated generous self on actual giving behavior, which we will also assess in the lab.”
“‘I never thought I would live in Texas,’ Lucy Schultz, 2014 UO PhD Graduate in Philosophy said of her new tenure track professorship at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. But among north Texan deer and prairie grass, Schultz has immersed herself in educating students about climate change in her role as a professor in a growing philosophy program.”
Read more about how Lucy is improving her student’s lives and their perceptions of climate change at:
Colin Koopman, Associate Professor of Philosophy, was one of fourteen outstanding members of the University of Oregon faculty selected to receive the 2015-2016 Fund for Faculty Excellence Award. The Fund for Faculty Excellence is designed to further the University’s strategic commitment to improving its academic quality and reputation by recognizing, supporting, and retaining world-class tenure-related faculty. The recipients of this honor were chosen on the basis of scholarly impact within their respective fields, their contributions to program and institutional quality at the UO, and their academic leadership. Fund for Faculty Excellence recipients receive a one-time salary stipend of $20,000.
More about the Fund for Faculty Excellence and a list of the other thirteen recipients can be found on the Office of Academic Affairs website:
The AroundtheO story:
From the publisher: “Virtue is among the most venerable concepts in philosophy, and has recently seen a major revival. However, new challenges to conceptions of virtue have also arisen. In Current Controversies in Virtue Theory, five pairs of cutting-edge philosophers square off over central topics in virtue theory: the nature of virtue, the connection between virtue and flourishing, the connection between moral and epistemic virtues, the way in which virtues are acquired, and the possibility of attaining virtue. Mark Alfano guides his readers through these essays (all published here for the first time), with a synthetic introduction, succinct abstracts of each debate, suggested further readings and study questions for each controversy, and a list of further controversies to be explored.”
For more information, visit Routledge:
The University of Oregon has a position opening for a Visiting Faculty in Philosophy, Open Rank 1. Review of Applications Begins on 1 June 2015, and the position will remain open until filled.
Applications will be accepted via Academic Jobs Online.
From the publisher:
“Examining racial profiling in American policing, Naomi Zack argues against white privilege discourse while introducing a new theory of applicative justice. Zack draws clear lines between rights and privileges and between justice and existing laws to make sense of the current crisis. This urgent and immediate analysis of the killings of unarmed black men by police officers shows how racial profiling matches statistics of the prison population with disregard for the constitutional rights of the many innocent people of all races. Moving the discussion from white privilege discourse to the rights of blacks, from ideas of white supremacy to legally protected police impunity, and from ideal and non-ideal justice theory to existing injustice, White Privilege and Black Rights examines the legal structure that has permitted the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and others. Deepening understanding without abandoning hope, Zack shows why it is more important to consider black rights than white privilege as we move forward through today’s culture of inequality.”
Jon LaRochelle, UO Philosophy Doctoral Student, has received a 2015 Student Sustainability Fund Grant of $2,900 in support of a Forum on Sustainability and Housing Justice. The grant was secured in collaboration with three other UO graduate students: April Anson (PhD, English Department), Zeina Salame (PhD, Theater Arts), and Ryan Hovey (MA, Curriculum & Teaching).
The Student Sustainability Center (SSC) is a program of the Erb Memorial Union. The Center serves as a resource for student-led initiatives that foster and support the simultaneous pursuit of human happiness, environmental quality, and economic well-being for the present and future through collaboration, education, and activism.
More information about the UO Student Sustainability Fund can be read at http://coalition.uoregon.edu/programs/ssf-application/
Mark Johnson, Professor of Philosophy and Philip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was selected to receive an Oregon Humanities Center Faculty Research Fellowship, the Provost’s Senior Humanist Fellowship, to be used during Winter 2016 for his work on Embodying Philosophy: Embodied Mind, Meaning, and Value.
Johnson’s project “is to explore some of the more significant implications of embodied cognition for how we think about mind, self, meaning, reason, morality, and art.
The relevant evidence supports a number of important claims, such as that
- (1) there is no substantial unchanging self,
- (2) concepts are embodied, rather than being fixed, purely intellectual ideas,
- (3) there is no radical separation of thought and feeling,
- (4) mind emerges from a complex ongoing process of organism-environment interactions,
- (5) moral values arise within that very embodied process, and
- (6) this whole range of meaning-making activity is basically an aesthetic process.
In other words, I want to examine why our embodiment does, and should, matter to us as we try to figure out our lives.”