Dear Friends and Alumni of the Department of Philosophy,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2016 issue of LOGOS, our annual newsletter. It offers news of some of our recent graduates and reports on events and activities from the past year. This issue also includes two short works of philosophy by members of our community, which I hope you will find as stimulating as I did.
This year, we feature two recent graduates whom we remember fondly. Meaghan Hughes, who graduated with a philosophy BA in 2015, was kind enough to connect with us from eastern Ecuador and tells us a little about her life there. Andy Choi finished a PhD on Kant’s ethics in 2010 and moved to New York. He reveals the story of his double life as both lawyer and musician, and shares a recent track from his work under the name, St. Lenox. It sounds great!
There have been some new additions and one departure in the department this year. We are excited to welcome a new colleague, Professor Eden Lin, whose philosophical work focuses on the nature of wellbeing. Eden offers a short article for your intellectual delectation. It argues that philosophically influential “sophisticated” accounts of what makes a person’s life go well must all be mistaken because of their implications about wellbeing across the normal development of human beings.
The department remains intellectually vigorous, with a great series of public talks and conferences in which excellent philosophers from other places bring their ideas to Ohio State and engage in vigorous discussion with our students and faculty. An exciting addition to these offerings is the official creation of a Center for Ethics and Human Values, which brings other interesting philosophers and philosophical discussion to campus. One of them, Corey Katz, is a post-doc who will be here for two years, helping to continue the conversations started by the 2015-16 COMPAS program on sustainability.
This year, our long-time friend and staff member Debbie Blickensderfer retired. As we wish her well in retirement, we welcome Miranda Johnson, who has taken over primary responsibility for records, reporting and compliance in relation to our graduate program.
Our world-class faculty advances philosophical thinking and understanding by publishing and presenting its own work extensively. Through our graduate program we train the next generation of scholars, a talented and professionally active group who will take philosophy in new directions. This year, six students completed PhDs on a wide range of topics from ethics and the philosophy of language to action theory and the philosophy of logic. One of these students, Teresa Kouri, shares a short piece of work from her dissertation here. Teresa defends a version of logical pluralism, the idea that there are many distinct logical systems that can appropriately guide good reasoning in different contexts, depending on one’s aims and goals. And she argues in this piece that the relationship between natural language and logic imposes constraints on how to develop a plausible pluralism.
Philosophy as a discipline skews white and male, and unfortunately our department and our student population at all levels are less diverse in these and other respects than we would like them to be. We aim to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment and education for all of our colleagues and students. This year, students and faculty at Ohio State created a local chapter of MAP (Minorities And Philosophy), an international organization that examines and addresses issues of minority participation in academic philosophy.
As always, we appreciate the support of our friends and alumni. Ohio State has made a strong commitment in recent years to holding down the sky-rocketing costs of college education. But it is expensive to provide the sort of intensive, small class experience that philosophical discussion requires. If you are in a position to help our efforts, we would be grateful for any assistance. You can donate directly here, or get in touch with me to discuss opportunities to invest in our programs. If you would like to contribute to our efforts in other ways, please let us know. Contact us if you would like to be part of the network of friends whom our current students can contact as they think about what to do at the next stage in their lives, or if you would consider coming to campus to talk with our students about ideas for the next step in their careers.
Thank you, and best wishes for the upcoming year.
Debra Blickensderfer was the longest-serving member of the philosophy department staff until her retirement in May of this year. She is greatly missed. Debbie began working for the University in 1986 and joined our department in 1987. This means that Debbie has seen more of the history of this department than all but a few of our senior faculty. She was the librarian for the Gluck Library within the department when that was a closed reserve book collection. When the library was opened up to create more study space, Debbie supervised graduate record-keeping during our transition from paper to digital files.
Robert Kraut is among the few faculty members who have been part of the department throughout Debbie's long career. He reflects that Debbie was always a source of positive energy: "Deb was remarkably supportive and helpful. During my four years as Director of Graduate Admissions, I routinely made inexcusable clerical errors; Deb was the one to locate the problems, correct them, and even help me feel less inept. She was warm and friendly, always a pleasure to work with, and infinitely patient when I sent exams at the 11th hour to be duplicated and run off. When I couldn't find any candy to get me through the afternoon she offered me hers; that sort of generosity is rare. I miss her and I was sorry to see her go."
Miranda Johnson joined our staff this summer. She has BA in History from Clemson University and is working toward a Masters degree in Educational Studies, focusing on Workforce Development and Education. Miranda now has primary responsibility for our graduate records.