Departmental Newsletter: February 2023

Adrienne, Dylan, and Tayfun gesticulating wildly.

This month, we hosted the Inaugural Duke-UNC Graduate Conference. The meeting was organized by Dylan Brown (Duke), Devin Lane (UNC), Ripley Stroud (UNC), Michael Veldman (Duke), and Aurora Yu (UNC). Several Duke philosophers gave talks: Tayfun Gür on "How to Think of Narrative Selves," Nina Van Rooy on "Non-Human Animal Cognitive Ontologies," Adrienne Duke on "Therapist Empathy in the Treatment of GAD PTSD," Botian Liu on "The Epistemic Irrationality of Racial Profiling," Dylan Brown on "Deadnaming and Descriptivism," and a keynote address on contrastivism from Walter Sinnott-Armstrong.

Ting Fung Ho standing by a window with a cityscape in the background.

Ting Fung Ho presented his work on meditation and self-knowledge (entitled “Rediscovering Introspection through Vipassana Meditation”) at the Rice Workshop in Philosophy of Mind. He will also be presenting his work on Buddhist meditation at the upcoming annual meeting of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology.


Ásta gave a talk titled “Gender Abolitionism” at the Central APA. The talk was on gender, sex, and ontic descent. 

Caleb Hazelwood leaning against a fence in a button-down shirt.

Caleb Hazelwood's review of Charles Pence's new book, The Causal Structure of Natural Selection, will be published in Philosophy of Science. Additionally, Caleb has been selected to give a talk, "The Unbearable Lightness of Intervening: A Realist Metaphysics for Manipulability Theories of Causation" (a collaboration with Yasmin Haddad), at "Mechanisms and Ontic Causation in Life Sciences."

Gunnar standing at the front of the classroom, smiling.

Meet Gunnar Babcock, a postdoctoral associate working with Dan McShea. Gunnar is in the Biology Department, but he is really a philosopher at heart (not unlike his postdoctoral supervisor). Gunnar's paper, “Teleology and function in non-living nature,” has been accepted in Synthese. In the paper, he expands on McShea’s deflationary account of goal directedness, arguing that teleology and functions are not unique to life. A preprint of the paper can be found here. Congratulations, Gunnar!

Zoe rooting for her team.

The newest members of our department family, Zoë and her twin brother Ringo, joined us this month. Zoë immediately made the correct choice of Premier League team to support, according to Katherine, and now follows the team’s progress intently. Wayne adds: "It seems not yet possible to explain to a 14-week-old kitten that there are teams besides Arsenal wearing red kits. So, she has also been seen supporting, and trying to paw players from, Manchester United, Bayern, and Toronto FC. We’re hoping ontogeny will eventually allow her to overcome this confusion. Especially with respect to Manchester United.)"

Zoe and Ringo

The Fez Says: An Ill-Advised Advice Column

Trustworthy Tayfun

Jenn Jhun asks what philosophy grad students eat for breakfast. Let me take this opportunity to share with you my recipe for a three-course popcorn breakfaNot a whole lot. But as Tom Nagel illuminatingly puts it, “Hunger is not merely a disturbing sensation that can be quelled by eating; it is an attitude toward edible portions of the external world, a desire to relate to them in rather special ways” (Mortal Questions, p. 41). All in all, I trust that the ingenuity of grad students is equal to the challenge of navigating the edible world with meager means.

If you have a question for Tayfun for a future issue of the newsletter, please send it to