I hope you enjoy this edition of Logos, our annual newsletter. It includes some philosophy, stories about some of our many interesting and accomplished alumni, information about recent events and an introduction of our new colleagues.
One great pleasure of my job is the opportunity to get to know people whose lives have been touched by this department, and reacquaint myself with others. I enjoyed learning about the non-academic career path of Dave Glebe, who got his PhD here in 1983, and the mountain paths taken by recent undergraduate alumnus Phillip Moyer. And, it was exciting to learn about what our alumni Amanda Kaczmarek, Timothy Meldmann and Kate Blank are up to.
If you’d like to read a little philosophy, you can remind yourself about a classic text from David Hume in this year’s philosophical essay. Undergraduate student Bradley Griggs won the department’s Bingham prize for his paper, "Hume on Practical Reason: How Skeptical Is He?," about how to interpret Hume’s famous claim that reason is and ought only to be a slave to the passions.
Having spent my first year as chair learning the ropes and taking stock of our strengths and weaknesses, my primary focus now is on new initiatives for our undergraduate program. We conducted a survey of recent graduates this past summer, from which I learned that our graduates are very happy with the quality of education they received here, but a number of them mentioned a desire for some help moving into the workplace. I am convinced that we could be doing more to integrate our majors into the life of the department, and to help them in their transition to life after college.
To that end, we began holding social events that give students the chance to mingle with faculty in non-instructional contexts. Also, I put out a call to our alumni earlier this fall, and it was gratifying how many of you were ready to serve as mentors or contacts for young philosophy majors. (If you missed the call, but want to participate, please get in touch!)
Additionally, we are creating new classes to reach students who would enjoy and benefit from adding philosophical study to their majors in other areas, such as neuroscience, pre-medical, and public policy majors.
Our faculty and our students do a marvelous job in the classroom. Our undergraduate students are getting the sort of training in careful analytical thinking and writing that only philosophy provides. Teaching evaluations for this department are very strong compared to the university at large. And this year, our colleague Lisa Shabel was recognized at the university level for her outstanding undergraduate teaching. The department continues to sponsor diverse public events on campus. Our world-class faculty continues to advance philosophical thinking and understanding in its own work, and in training the next generation of scholars, who will take philosophy in new directions.
As always, we value the support of our friends and alumni. If you would like to contribute to our efforts, please get in touch. You may also donate directly here.
Thanks for your support and best wishes for the upcoming year.
Introducing Tristram and Amy
This year, we welcome Associate Professor Tristram McPherson and Visiting Assistant Professor Amy Shuster.
Tristram and Amy come to Ohio State from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where Tristram worked as an assistant professor of philosophy and Amy as a visiting assistant professor of political science. Both previously earned their doctorates from Princeton: Tristram in philosophy (2008) and Amy in politics (2009).
Tristram works in ethics, metaethics and moral epistemology. His current research interests include the metaphysics and semantics of normative realism, the methodology of constructing and justifying moral theories, metaphilosophical debates about the relationship between ethics and metaphysics, the “quasi-realist turn” in expressivism, and animal ethics.
Amy’s research interests lie in political philosophy, where she applies ancient philosophy to contemporary issues, such as distinguishing the intellectualist and social-practical conceptions of political judgement.
Tristram and Amy have a (soon to be) four-year-old son, Finn, whom Amy describes as a “constant source of wonder and delightful distraction, with the (ideally) occasional sleep-deprived night.”
When not philosophizing or spending time with Finn, Tristram enjoys trying out local Ethiopian restaurants and continuing his on-going quest for a tastier vegan cheese. Amy practices yoga and Pilates, enjoys swimming and biking, and has recently taken up the ukulele