Words from the Chair

William Taschek


After more than 30 years of outstanding teaching in and service to the Department of Philosophy, Don Hubin announced his retirement at the end of the 2013 spring semester. Though we will sorely miss Don’s leadership as chair, we expect to work closely with him over the next few years as he focuses his attention on bringing to full realization Ohio State’s Center for Ethics and Human Values. Not having time for the usual internal search for Don’s replacement, Division of Arts and Humanities Dean Mark Shanda appointed me interim chair for the 2013-14 academic year. A full search for department chair will take place spring semester. In the meantime, I look forward to working with my colleagues in arts and sciences and the university administration to continue the forward momentum that the department enjoyed under Don’s strong leadership.

As you will see, we’ve had a very active year since the last issue of Logos. To begin with, we have the great pleasure of welcoming a fabulous new faculty colleague, eight promising new graduate students, two visiting assistant professors, and a wonderful postdoc.  

Professor Julia Jorati comes to us from Yale University, where she completed her dissertation, “Finite Minds as Little Gods: Leibniz on Final Causation and Freedom.” Julia completed her master’s degree in Göttingen, Germany, before entering the doctoral program at Yale in 2008. Her research focuses on the history of 17th and 18th century philosophy; she specializes in the metaphysics of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.  In her current project, she is investigating how exactly free, rational agency differs from un-free, non-rational agency in Leibniz’s system. Julia recently won the Leibniz Society of North America’s annual essay competition with her essay, “Monadic Teleology without Goodness and without God.” In addition to early modern philosophy, Julia has significant research and teaching interests in metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and medieval philosophy. Julia is a most welcome addition to our program in the History of Philosophy, adding depth and new dimensions to this already impressive area of strength.  

Julia’s husband, Hadi Jorati, is completing his dissertation at Yale, on aspects of the social and intellectual history of Islamic Civilization in the medieval and pre-Modern period. He was invited by Ohio State’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures to be a visiting scholar for the 2013-14 academic year. We are pleased to welcome both Julia and Hadi to Ohio State.

We also are delighted to welcome eight new graduate students: Jennifer Asselin (Christopher Newport University) whose current interests range from Plato and Kant to cognitive science and the philosophy of mind; Eric De Araujo (Virginia Tech, Bethal College), who is interested primarily in metaphysics; James Fritz (American University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), who has broad interests in ethics; Daniel Giglio (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Ohio State), who currently is interested in metaphysics and pragmatism; Paul Robinson (University College London; London School of Economics; Queens University, Belfast), whose current interests include the philosophy of science, cognitive science, and decision theory; Giorgio Sbardolino (Universitá degli Studi di Milano), who has interests in logic and the philosophy of language; Stephen Sinclair (University of Miami, Florida), who wants to work on issues at the intersection of the epistemology and the philosophy of mind; and Chulmin Yoon (Sun Kyun Kwan University, Korea) who is interested primarily in the philosophy of language. We look forward to the contributions that this very promising incoming class—one of the largest we’ve had in a while—will make to the intellectual life of the department. Pictures of this new cohort and brief profiles can be found on the department’s website.

We also have the pleasure of hosting Dana Howard as a two-year postdoctoral fellow; Brian Kim as year-long visiting assistant professor; and Sydney Penner as a spring semester visiting assistant professor. Dana just finished her PhD at Brown University. Her dissertation was titled, “On Behalf of Another.” Her research focuses primarily on issues in ethical theory and social and political philosophy. In addition to pursuing her own research, Dana also is teaching two courses for us. Dana comes to Ohio State with her husband, Ben McKean, a newly hired assistant professor in the political science department. Brian specializes in epistemology and rational choice theory and has further interests in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language and pragmatism. He completed his degree at Columbia University with a dissertation entitled, The Context-Sensitivity of Rationality and Knowledge. Brian will teach a variety of classes for us, including a graduate seminar in epistemology. Sydney specializes in mediaeval philosophy, with a special interest in the work of Francisco Suárez. He received his PhD from Cornell in 2011, and was a junior research fellow at Merton College, Oxford, for the last two years. His further interests include the history of ethics and metaphysics—especially in the late mediaeval and the early modern period. Sydney will be teaching mediaeval philosophy and the philosophy of religion.  

2012-13 was our first full year on the new semester schedule. While there were some bumps along the way, overall the transition was surprisingly smooth. By now, everyone seems to have settled into the change. The year since the last Logos was an exciting one for the department. In addition to our usual active colloquium series, we co-hosted a Workshop on Reference with the Department of Linguistics. There were a variety of activities sponsored by the Center of Ethics and Human Values. We hosted the annual conference of The Society for Exact Philosophy, with funding support provided by Language or Logic Society—an Ohio State University graduate student organization whose home base is the philosophy department. Tamar Rudavsky organized a very stimulating Spinoza Mini-Conference. Ben Caplan and David Sanson co-organized our annual Dubrovnik Conference, with the focus this year on the Ontology of Art. We had another successful Daniel Farrell Undergraduate Retreat, thanks to generous support provided by Michael Perkins and Jim Jeffers. And the Undergraduate Philosophy Club sponsored another successful Undergraduate Philosophy Conference; and, with new officers in place, it is looking forward to one of its most active and successful years yet.  

As you can see, this year has already proven to be a philosophically exciting time for the department, and there is plenty more to come. We have an outstanding lineup of speakers—both in our regular departmental colloquium series—and those  sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Human Values, and by our graduate student’s LOL Society. We will again, in collaboration with the linguistics department, be co-sponsoring a new research workshop—this year on the semantics of cardinal number expressions. And another exciting Dubrovnik Conference, focusing on new work in the history of analytic philosophy, will take place in early June. With our new students and new colleagues, we look forward to an exciting year.   

In closing, let me say that we always enjoy hearing from our alumni. Please let us know what you are doing.  Also, be sure to check out the “Events” link on our website to see if there are departmental activities that might be of interest to you—something that might lure you back for a visit to the department. Or just drop by to visit old friends and teachers, to meet the new faculty and students, and/or just to have your picture taken with G.E. Moose.

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