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Spring Term News from SFU Philosophy

August 11, 2020
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With many apologies, here’s our news roundup from the Spring term (almost at the end of summer)… SFU Philosophy has seen successful socially distanced MA program defences, recognised Black History Month in February and International Women’s Day in March, and released a statement in support of Transgender Day of Visibility

Social distancing to-the-max for Paul Xu's defence.

MA Defences

MA defences went virtual in the spring term. Cody Brooks in December gave our last in-person defence then David Rattray ushered in the new normal with our first socially distanced presentation in April. Following this, Paul Xu and Ali Taghavinasab successfully defended in the virtual world.

What else do our MA students do? Read Cody Brook’s interview, written during an RA placement in the department, with MA program alum, Mike Perry here.

You can also find out about MA program co-op in this interview with 2019 alum, Damien Chen.

Awards

Law Concentration Major undergrad, Kendra Wong won an honourable mention in 2019 SLC Writing contest for her essay, Legal Punishment: Citizens, the State, and the Expression of Blame, (originally written for Dr. Bruno Guindon's PHIL 326 course, Topics in Law and Philosophy). Read more about Kendra in her student profile.

Kendra working on this year's BC Ethics Bowl regional competition with SFU Philosophy prof, Nic Fillion

Conference Presentations

In December, Chelsea Rosenthal was a critic in an Author-Meets-Critics workshop about Brian Weatherson's new book, Normative Externalism, at Ryerson University.

Nic Fillion coordinated a successful BC Ethics Bowl in February, with 11 teams from high schools around the Lower Mainland in BC taking part.  Students from two of the high schools also took part in the Developing Minds conference. They helped Nic demonstrate how critical thinking translates into the classroom, with an Ethics Bowl in action for BC teachers and educators.

Publications

Endre Begby’s paper "Evidential Preemption" was published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Abstract: As a general rule, whenever a hearer is justified in forming the belief that p on the basis of a speaker’s testimony, she will also be justified in assuming that the speaker has formed her belief appropriately in light of a relevantly large and representative sample of the evidence that bears on p. In simpler terms, a justification for taking someone’s testimony entails a justification for trusting her assessment of the evidence. This introduces the possibility of what I will call “evidential preemption.” Evidential preemption occurs when a speaker, in addition to offering testimony that p, also warns the hearer of the likelihood that she will subsequently be confronted with apparently contrary evidence: this is done, however, not so as to encourage the hearer to temper her confidence in p in anticipation of that evidence, but rather to suggest that the (apparently) contrary evidence is in fact misleading evidence or evidence that has already been taken into account. Either way, the speaker is signalling to the hearer that the subsequent disclosure of this evidence will not require her to significantly revise her belief that p. Such preemption can effectively inoculate an audience against future contrary evidence, and thereby creates an opening for a form of exploitative manipulation that I will call “epistemic grooming.” Nonetheless, I argue, not all uses of evidential preemption are nefarious; it can also serve as an important tool for guiding epistemically limited agents though complex evidential scenarios.

In the News

CBC Radio One listeners spent New Years Eve listening to Holly Andersen talk with On The Coast hosts exploring the nature of time – how we experience it and how it flows. In her interview, Holly illustrated these concepts with the aid of a loaf of banana bread.

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Does time really fly as we get older? CBC Radio One CBYK - December 31, 2019
Holly Andersen, an SFU professor of philosophy, is interviewed. https://t.co/oEwhnLblAx

— SFU Philosophy (@SFUphilosophy) January 10, 2020