Department of Philosophy
Mathematics and Science Center, Room 752
146 Library Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(248) 370-3390
fax: (248) 370-3144

Departmental News and Events

Departmental News and Events

Colloquium Series  Announced for 2016-17
The Department of Philosophy is pleased to be hosting a number of colloquium talks on a variety of philosophical issues.  All of these talks are open to students, faculty, staff, and the general public.  For details about the Fall Semester 2016 talks, please see our official flyer.

Philosophy Major Karl  Adam Receives Arts and Sciences Meritorious Achievement Award
Congratulations to Karl Adam for receiving the prestigious College of Arts and Sciences Meritorious Achievement Award.  The award is presented to outstanding students who exemplify the variety and scope of work in the Arts and Sciences in their academic activities.

The Meritorious Achievement Award includes a citation and a $250 honorarium. Karl was recognized during the CAS commencement ceremony held on Friday, April 29, in the O’Rena, where he delivered a speech to the graduates and their families and guests just prior to the conferring of degrees.

Philosophy Major Nicole Diroff Receives Inaugural Ethics Bowl Scholarship
Congratulations to Philosophy major and Honors College student Nicole Diroff for being the first recipient of the department's Ethics Bowl Scholarship. The scholarship covers half of the tuition for the course Philosophy 300: Ethics Bowl Preparation and Competition.

Colloquium: Peter Railton (University of Michigan), "Intuition and Intuition in Ethics," Friday, April 15, 4:00 PM, MSC 168
The Philosophy Club and Department of Philosophy hosted a lecture by Peter Railton, Gregory S. Kavka Distinguished University Professor and John Stephenson Perrin Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. (You can find Professor Railton's faculty page here.) The lecture, "Intuition and Intuitions in Ethics," took place on Friday, April 15 at 4:00 PM in Mathematics and Science Center 168.  Here is the abstract:

Converging lines of research in philosophy, psychology, and cognitive science suggest a new understanding of the architecture of the mind and brain of intelligent animals, including humans. According to this new understanding, the brain and mind were built for prospection-- the mapping of the physical and social environments and their potential benefits and risks, permitting the simulation and evaluation of possible actions, which, in turn, guides choice. This prospective architecture permits a reconceptualization of perception, memory, cognition, and behavior that helps resolve some long-standing puzzles about the operation of these capacities. It also suggests a new way of understanding the nature and potential authority of what we have come to call intuition and intuitions. I'll argue that this picture of intuition and intuitions can contribute to an improved understanding some well-known “problem cases” in ethics--including the notorious “trolley problem”.

Inaugural Undergraduate Colloquium for the Advancement of Philosophy (UCAP)
The inaugural Undergraduate Colloquium for the Advancement of Philosophy was held on Friday, February 12 in OU's Oakland Center, Room 126.  The event was organized by Jonathan Abdal, Philosophy major and chair of OU's Philosophy Club.

Philosophy Major Monica Ybarra Presents Paper at International Undergraduate Research Conference in India
Philosophy major Monica Ybarra presented a paper "No Good Deed: An Account of the Virtue of Self-interest," at an international undergraduate research conference in Maynaguri, India.  Full financial support for her presentation was provided by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Philosophy.

Inaugural Teaching Apprentice Scholarship Awarded to Robert Smith
Congratulations to Robert "Dean" Smith for being awarded the Department of Philosophy's inaugural Teaching Apprentice scholarship.  Mr. Smith will be assisting Professor Joyce Havstad in teaaching her Winter 2016 course, Philosophy 104: Introduction Ethics in Science and Engineering.

Paper from Professor Derek Green to be Published in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
Professor Derek Green's paper "Semantic Knowledge, Semantic Guidance, and Kripke's Wittgenstein" is officially forthcoming in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, a journal edited by the Philosophy faculty at the University of Southern California.  

Click here to view the paper's abstract.

Professor Joyce Havstad Featured in Field Museum Video Series
Professor Joyce Havstad was recently featured in an episode of "The Brain Scoop," an online video series produced by the Field Museum of Natural History.  The series details some of the interesting items in the Museum's collection.  The episode's official description is as follows:

"Joyce Havstad, PhD holds the title Philosopher-in-Residence at The Field Museum. We had the joy of interviewing her about some of the fascinating concepts she researches and explores -- in this case, what is a holotype? And how can paleontologists determine new species of prehistoric life based off of incomplete fossil skeletons?"

Click here to watch the video.

OU Philosophy Major Presents Paper at Professional Conference
OU Philosophy major, Karl Martin Adam, presented at this year's North American Society for Social Philosophy conference.  His paper was entitled, "The Slippery Slope to Justice: An Argument for the Recognition of Polygamy." Karl was the only undergraduate presenter at this professional conference.  Congratulations, Karl!

Professor Mark Navin to Deliver President's Colloquium
Congratulations to Professor Mark Navin on being selected to deliver this year's President's Colloquium.  His colloquium lecture will be entitled, "Values and Vaccine Refusal," and will be held in the Banquet Rooms on Monday, November 9th, from 12:00 to 1:00 PM.

Welcoming Professor Joyce C. Havstad
The department is pleased to welcome its new assistant professor, Dr. Joyce C. Havstad (PhD Philosophy, University of California – San Diego, 2014).  Dr. Havstad specializes in philosophy of science (with special emphasis in philosophy of biology and philosophy of chemistry) and science and technology studies. She comes to the department after completing a prestigious postdoctoral term as the Philosopher-in-Residence at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.  Her course offerings in the upcoming year include: Philosophy 104: Introduction to Ethics in Science and Engineering; Philosophy 300: Animal Minds and Morals; and Philosophy 331: Philosophy of Biology.

Professor Phyllis Rooney Wins Googasian Award
Congratulations to Professor Phyllis Rooney for winning the 2015 Phyllis Law Googasian Award. This award is named after Trustee Emerita Phyllis Law Googasian and recognizes an individual who has made contributions to the improvement of the status of women on campus. Professor Rooney was honored at a luncheon on March 24, which included a congratulatory speech from OU President George W. Hynd.

Professor Milam's Philosophy 104 Students Correspond with NASA Scientists on Simulated Mars Mission
"Students in Dr. Per-Erik Milam’s introduction to ethics in science and engineering class recently had the unique opportunity to dialogue with members of NASA’s HI-SEAS Mission 3 crew, which is currently simulating a mission to Mars. Dr. Milam’s sister, Sophie, is one of six scientists stationed inside a geodesic dome along the slopes of Hawaii volcano Mauna Loa for the eight-month mission, which began last October."

For more details, see the "News at OU" story.

Strong Regional Showing Sends OU Ethics Bowl Team to Nationals
"One of Oakland University’s Ethics Bowl teams recently won the honor of competing at the national level after turning in a strong performance at the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl in Chicago.

By finishing third out of 27 teams, Oakland advanced to the national round of competition, which takes place in February at the 24th annual Conference of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics in Costa Mesa, Calif."

For more details, see the "News at OU" story.

Colloquium Series: Winter 2015
The OU Department of Philosophy hosted a wide-range of colloquium talks in the Winter Semester of 2015.  

March 25: Angela Mendelovici (University of Western Ontario), "Immediate and Reflective Contents"

March 19: Deborah Johnson (University of Virginia), "Rethinking the Social Responsibilities of Engineers as a Form of Accountability"

March 6: Alkistis Elliott-Graves (University of Western Ontario), "Does Greater Unification Lead to Better Predictions? The Case of Invasion Biology"

February 9: Joyce Havstad (Field Museum; OU), "Bridging the Gap between Science and Policy in the Case of Climate Change"

February 6: John Corvino (Wayne State University) "The Meaning of (Gay) Marriage"

2015 Philosophy essay contest now open
The Philosophy Department invites submissions for its 7th Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Essay Contest. Please email your submissions to Ann Zimmerman at on or by April 6, 2015. For full details about the contest, please click here.

Awards earned
Congratulations to Karl Martin Adam, the recipient of the 2015 Eugene Howe McDonald III Memorial Philosophy Award. The philosophy department gives the Eugene Howe McDonald III Memorial Philosophy Award annually to the senior-level philosophy major who has demonstrated excellence and hard work in her or his studies, judged based on overall GPA in coursework at Oakland University. The award is intended to support students while they are applying for graduate school and/or professional school and/or professional employment after graduation.

Karl Adam has been awarded a second Holzbock Scholarship in the amount of $3000 for the 2014-2015 academic year.

View the Philosophy Department's news archive