Departmental Newsletter: April 2023

David Danks gives a colloquium at Duke.

Our department was lucky enough to host David Danks for the last colloquium of the academic year. David is a professor of philosophy and data science at UC - San Diego, and spoke with us about the moral permissibility of deploying algorithms in decision-making that are intended to compensate for human cognitive, ethical, and social biases. David also was able to meet with the students' in Walter and Ben's seminar on the ethics of artificial intelligence. Fun was had by all!

Panorama of attendees at David Danks' colloquium.

Qiu Lin (PhD 2022) has accepted a tenure-track position at Simon Fraser University. Congratulations to her! And she was recently featured in Science Visions, the Philosophy of Science Association newsletter of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Caucus.

Qiu Lin headshot

This month, Felipe De Brigard received the Beyond Leadership Award from the MIT-Harvard Colombia Chapter in the category of "Peace and Reconciliation." Felipe received this award for his work on the Memory and Forgiveness project. In the following photo, Felipe is receiving the award from the former High Commissioner for Peace (2006-2010), Frank Pearl. 

Felipe and Frank Pearl

Laura Soter's paper, "Acceptance and the Ethics of Belief," was accepted for publication in Philosophical Studies. She also presented a paper, "Reframing Epistemic Partiality," at the Pacific APA in San Francisco.

Laura Soter

Wayne Norman delivered a multi-media presentation, "Whiteface: from business-as-usual to suddenly-unacceptable," for the Annual Business Ethics Lecture at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The talk used record covers from the era of his parents, grandparents, and most senior colleagues to explain the evolving dynamics of racism and misogyny in their world (and ours). Here is one of the 58 slides, showing a small sample of LPs in Wayne's collection by Black artists that feature white women on their covers.

A slide from a presentation on "whitewashing" by Wayne Norman.

It's been a big month for Tara Weese! In addition to publishing their paper, "The Logic of Victimhood: Strategic Human Rights Litigation and the Use of Sympathetic Victims to Further Human Rights," in the Syracuse Law Review, Tara has recently accepted a tenure-track position at Central Connecticut State University! Beginning this Fall, they will be Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Political Science.

A headshot of Tara Weese.

Ask Tayfun, Or Don’t: The Unsolicited Advice Column™

Trustworthy Tayfun

At first, I didn’t think it possible. Could it be that I’d finally solved all of their problems? And what next? Without any agony, I was just a regular aunt.** And so like a doctor in a post-disease world I drifted awhile in the wind, aimless, trying hard to cherish a new chapter of humanity which has outgrown its need for my craft. But then I got thinking again… I started noticing the things that could be fixed. There was yet room for improvement in this world, and hence my mission had to start anew.

This month I have some sage unsolicited advice for Botian concerning the metaphysics of parenting. Parenting is like gardening where the gardener is also a plant, and requires a vegetative patience. As Ted Sider explains: “If you watch long enough, you will notice that the later temporal parts are slightly bigger than the earlier ones. This is because the baby is growing.” (Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics, p. 243). I suppose we might substitute “dissertation” for “baby” to capture another important truth, though watching seems to have less of an effect in this case.

If you have a question for Tayfun for the next newsletter, please send it to though you may get some advice even if you don't.


**An "agony aunt" is "a person ... who gives advice to people with personal problems, especially in a regular magazine or newspaper article" (Cambridge English Dictionary). As with most of Aunt Tayfun's jokes, I needed a dictionary.