Friday, March 31, 2017

Ashland Science News: Lecture commemorates 50th anniversary of Science a...

Below is a link to the AU Science blog, which discusses the recent lecture by Dr. Allan Brandt, sponsored in part by the Philosophy Department, Philosophy Club, and Phi Sigma Tau!

Ashland Science News: Lecture commemorates 50th anniversary of Science a...: Prof. William Vaughan introducing Dr. Allan Brandt of Harvard University A lecture presented by Dr. Allan M. Brandt,  Kass Profess...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Material Success!

On Tuesday, February 27, Dr. Kevin Sharpe, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Religious Studies at St. Cloud State University, MN, delivered his talk titled:

“Can a materialist believe in the incarnation?”

The talk was well attended, and Dr. Sharpe skillfully explained the major issues involved in making sense of a materialist view of humanity in conjunction with a Christian picture of the incarnation.

Students and faculty were challenged to evaluate some difficult metaphysical scenarios.  One of the highlights of the afternoon was Dr. Sharpe's challenge to himself, which was to address two of the more complex objections against his view [click link below]:

After the talk, there was a lively and in-depth Q&A session.  All in all, the talk was a success, and gave our students a different way to think about matters concerning the Incarnation.

Thank you again to Dr. Sharpe for his time and commitment!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Upcoming Speaker!

The Philosophy Department, in conjunction with the Philosophy Club and Phi Sigma Tau, are proud to invite Dr. Kevin Sharpe, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Religious Studies at St. Cloud State University, MN, who will be delivering a talk on the following topic:

“Can a materialist believe in the incarnation?”

When: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 4 pm
Where: Schar Ronk Lecture Hall

In his own words: "As a Christian I believe that the divine Son of God became incarnate and in so doing became human, but I also believe that human persons are wholly material substances – specifically, I believe that human persons are animals.  But it seems like it’s impossible for both of these claims to be true.  The problem is straightforward: if human persons are wholly material substances, then in becoming human the Son of God became a material substance and this seems impossible.  After all, isn’t it impossible for a wholly immaterial being to become a wholly material substance?  In this talk, I’ll critically review some of the main reasons for thinking that the divine Son could not become a material substance and I’ll argue that my preferred account of human persons provides an independently plausible way of addressing these objections.  In addressing these objections, I hope to take an important step toward showing that materialists with commitments like mine can also believe in the incarnation."

All are welcome!  Join us for a lively discussion!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Philosophy IS cool...

Descartes and Hegel: Two of the Cool

Philosophy has always been useful, and practical, and theoretical too.  It also has always been cool...People just forget about that part.  The staff at the Houston Chronicle were able to sit down with Professor Gwen Bradford, her department chair Donald Morrison, and Peter Zuk, a graduate student at Rice University, to discuss the joys of philosophy.

"On the NBC sitcom "The Good Place," a young woman dies and gets an undeserved ticket to heaven. Once there, she enlists the help of a philosophy professor to teach her to become — belatedly — a good person. It's not just a shtick: Aristotle, David Hume and others, including the modern philosopher T.M. Scanlon, get not just name-checks but actual discussion."

To read the full article: CLICK HERE

By the way, if you want a philosopher's take on what it means to be cool, you can check out this article from Philosophy Now by Thorsten Botz-Bornstein: 

What Does It Mean to Be Cool?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Episteme Journal: Call for Papers

Students, here's another opportunity to do some Philosophy and show off what you have been working on in your classes.  If you are working on a thesis, or project, it's also a great venue for getting some external feedback.  Get it done!

For more information, or to download a volume of the journal, you can click on the following link: Episteme Journal

Thursday, November 3, 2016

OPA Undergraduate Call for Papers!

Students, this year the Ohio Philosophical Association will offer special student sessions at the annual meeting!  This is a great opportunity to do some work and get involved at the academic level.  If you're interested, take note of the deadline and conditions below.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Do Atoms Exist?

Most of us in this day and age consider our belief in atoms as old news in the ontology of the universe.  Why would we ever question their existence?  Yet if you think carefully about the history of science, the principles of induction, and the practical evidence we have available to us, we ought to wonder for just a moment: Why do we believe that atoms exist?  More specifically, what evidence do you have--your average educated person--for belief in the existence of atoms?

Imagine that you’re back in 1860, at the first international Karlsruhe Congress.  The topic then was whether in fact atoms existed or not.  The players: Mendeleev, Meyer, and a series of other big name scientists in the history of chemistry.  During this time, you have to remember, chemistry, along with many of the other sciences, was in a state of complete transition.  Most chemists believed in atoms and molecules, of course, but nobody could agree about their formulation or could give rational justification for their existence.  Consider for example, that in 1860 chemists didn’t even agree about the molecular formula of water, with many leading chemists believing at the time that water’s molecular formula was OH, and not H2O.

So seriously, why do we believe that atoms exist?  Let’s think about this.  Why do you believe that atoms exist?  


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Philosophy Opportunity

Philosophy students, if you would like an opportunity to get some experience doing academic philosophy, consider being a reviewer for the undergraduate journal STANCE.  See the information below.


An International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal


Stance seeks undergraduate philosophy students to serve as external reviewers. This is an exciting pre-professional learning opportunity. Reviewers hone their writing, researching, and reviewing skills by collaborating with a groundbreaking journal. Reviewers must have advanced undergraduate experience in philosophy, strengths in writing and editing, and the self-motivation necessary to complete work by given deadlines. As such, in addition to this application form, one letter of recommendation is required.

Chosen reviewers will be given one of two opportunities. Most will be External Reviewers and will be responsible for reviewing one or two papers in early January. A few will be selected to serve as Assistant Editorial Board members on our review teams. Assistant Editorial Board members will read and review approximately 20 papers in December. All reviewers receive training material that explains what is expected in the review of each submission. Reviewers will also be credited in both the print and electronic versions of the journal.

If you are interested, please provide us with the following information:


Name of School:

Year in School:


Philosophy Courses Taken:

What is your specialty or concentration?

What experience do you have that would qualify you for this project?

What goals do you have that working on Stance will support?

What, in your opinion, are the makings of a good philosophy paper?

Students should:

(1) return this application to (include "External Reviewer Application" as the subject heading) and

(2) arrange for a philosophy professor to send a letter of recommendation to (include "LOR" as the subject heading for recommendation letter). These can be found at

For more information, see

Deadline: October 21, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Killing for one's "Best Interests"

The distinction between killing (act) and letting die (omission) is nuanced and controversial in ethics.  It divides theorists into many different camps given its potential application and implications in medical scenarios.  On the other hand, Trolley Problem cases appear purely theoretical.  More often than not, testing our moral intuitions by thinking about whether we'll pull a lever or push someone onto some railroad tracks appears useless...interesting sometimes, but not really helpful.

What if we combined the issues, however?  In a recent paper, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics (31 August 2016), Dr Zoe B. Fritz of Warwick University proposes a way to determine whether we should actively kill an "incapacitous patient", i.e., a patient that is in a permanent vegetative state, in order to harvest their organs.  Is it possible to evaluate what the "best interests" of that patient might be in order to make this decision?  Dr. Fritz suggests the use of trolley problem scenarios to help answer this question.


"In this paper, I explore under what circumstances it might be morally acceptable to transplant organs from a patient lacking capacity. I argue, with a developed hypothetical based around a mother and son, that (1) ‘Best interests’ should be interpreted broadly to include the interests that people have previously expressed in the well-being of others. It could, therefore, be in the ‘best interests’ of an unconscious patient to donate a non-vital organ to a family member. (2) Further expanding upon this case, and developing a variation on the ‘trolley problems’ I argue that where it is inevitable that an incapacitous patient is going to die—and specifically when it has been agreed through the courts that a patient in a permanent vegetative state is going to have clinically assisted nutrition and hydration withdrawn (with the inevitable consequence of death, and causing desiccation of the organs such that they are no longer able to be donated)—it could be in a patient's best interests to actively end their life with a drug that would stop the heart both to minimise potential suffering and in order to be able to have vital organs donated. I argue that in this case the strict adherence to the distinction between acts and omissions is not in the patient's best interests and should be reconsidered."

To read the full article, click HERE