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Faculty Update

Mark Alznauer has been teaching a lot of Hegel lately.  He has designed several new classes in German philosophy (covering politics, art, and metaphysics) and received the Weinberg Distinguished Teaching Award this last Spring. He is the editor of Hegel on Tragedy and Comedy, recently under contract with SUNY Press.  He is currently working on several projects of his own.  The first concerns Hegel’s theory of truth, a theory that is unique in characterizing individual concepts as true or untrue; the second concerns the uses of aesthetic transcendence in German philosophy; and the third considers different accounts of moral progress in 19th-century social theory.

Penelope Deutscher gave  talks at Emory University, the New School University, the University of Paris 1, A.P.A.(American Philosophical Association),  and an address at the Canadian Association for Continental Philosophy in association with the earlier selection of her book Foucault’s Futures : A Critique of Reproductive Reason for the  Association’s 13th annual Symposium Book Award. She published the essay “Counter-Intelligence and Blunders in the Philosophical Novel (George Eliot and Moira Gatens)”  in Philosophy Today. She continued work on a large Mellon grant on which she serves as Principle Investigator, in her capacity as  co-director of Northwestern’s Critical Theory Program. The grant  has supported the development of new courses, new translations, new syllabus workshops,  and inter-university cooperation in the area of critical theory in the global south. A crash training in distance learning so as to teach a large class synchronously  by “Zoom” in spring 2020 both a challenging and a rewarding experience.

Kyla Ebels-Duggan kicked off the year at a conference on Kantian and Confucian Ethics in Seoul. She gave a paper arguing that interpersonal attitudes of love are an important foundation of the moral attitude of Kantian respect that owe to individuals and learned about some important points of contact with the Confucian tradition. She also enjoyed a lot of great Korean food. In October, she gave one of the keynote addresses at the inaugural Politics and Religion conference at the University of Notre Dame. Her talk concerned how we should reason together with fellow members of our political community. It was part of a larger project, in which she’s exploring implications of the fact that we cannot reason to attitudes of valuing, caring about, or loving something. At the North American Association for the Philosophy of Education Meetings she participated in a round-table on the liberal arts and a workshop on political controversy in the classroom. And in the winter she spoke at Brown University, the Eastern APA in Philadelphia, and Pomona and Westmont Colleges in Southern California. In the spring, she participated in the nation-wide forced experiment with online teaching. She’s inordinately pleased with herself for discovering how to create links within her course web site, and has concluded that eight is the maximal number of students with whom one can conduct a reasonable discussion via video-chat.

Sean Ebels-Duggan taught logic to undergraduates, more logic to graduate students, and Kierkegaard and Murdoch to unsuspecting first-quarter college students.  He would have traveled to California and Connecticut on Official Logical Business but...  Otherwise he kept his desk very messy. 

Sandy Goldberg taught a variety of courses this year, including undergraduate courses entitled "The Promise and Pitfalls of Social Media" (freshman seminar), "The Authority of Science," and "Philosophy of Mind," and a graduate seminar entitled "The Epistemology of Inquiry".  He also taught an Introduction to Philosophy course at Stateville Correctional Facility, as part of Northwestern's Prison Education Program run by our colleague Jennifer Lackey.  In addition to his teaching, Goldberg spent some weeks at the University of St Andrews as a Professorial Fellow, and he published CONVERSATIONAL PRESSURE, a book aimed to explain his life-long obsession with conversation.  None of this, however, prepared him for the challenges of sheltering-in-place. 

Chad Horne joined the philosophy department at Northwestern this year. He taught courses in business ethics, medical ethics, and ethical issues in public policy, and he served as faculty advisor to NU’s Ethics Bowl team.  He published papers in the Canadian Journal of Bioethics and in Public Health Ethics. In his research, he is preparing papers on the role of solidarity in health care and public health provision, and another resituating Ronald Dworkin in the recent history of egalitarian thought.

Megan Hyska taught courses on the philosophy of language, the nature of propaganda, and the analytic philosophical tradition. She completed articles on the particular standards we hold inter-human signaling to, and on the nature of propaganda. She presented work on the nature and value of communication at Boston University, The University of Toronto, and elsewhere, and presented on propaganda, discourse-disrupting protest and related topics at Bowling Green State University and Lake Forest College. Her current work finds her preoccupied by questions about what kind of political cognition counts as rational, the metaphysics of political organizing and mobilization, and the balance of power between speakers and their audiences.

Richard Kraut taught a graduate seminar (Fall 2019) on Plato’s Republic, focusing both on interpretive questions (what role does Plato’s metaphysics play in his ethics?) and contemporary applications (Plato as Critical Theorist, by Jonny Thakkar). In February 2020, he delivered the annual Dewey Lecture to the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association, with a paper entitled “How I am an Aristotelian.”  He continues to serve as the Director of the Brady Scholars Program in Ethics and Civic Life.

Jennifer Lackey won a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for her project, “Transforming Prison Education” and served her second year as Director of the Northwestern Prison Education Program. She was recently elected Vice President of the American Philosophical Association’s Central Division and is completing her third year as Chair of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status and Future of the Profession. She completed her book, The Epistemology of Groups, and published papers in various journals and collections on norms of credibility, false confessions, testimonial injustice, the duty to object, the quality of assertions, group lies, and education. She won the Alumnae Award for Curriculum Innovation for her new course, “The Philosophy of Punishment and Incarceration,” and an Alumnae of Northwestern University Academic Enrichment Grant for “Transforming the Criminal Justice System Workshop Series.” She recently became Editor-in-Chief of Philosophical Studies and continues to serve as Editor-in-Chief of Episteme: A Journal of Individual and Social Epistemology and Epistemology Subject Editor for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. She was a guest on WBEZ and gave a number of public lectures, including at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Cristina Lafont published her book Democracy without Shortcuts. A Participatory Conception of Deliberative Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2020) She had a chance to discuss it at an author-meets-critics panel at the 2019 APSA annual meeting and, right before the pandemic hit, she was also able to present it and discuss it at the Fourth Deliberative Democracy Summer School at the University of Canberra. She has been invited to discuss her book at conferences in Prague, Madrid, South Korea, Innsbruck, San Francisco, and elsewhere. But these events have now been postponed, so her trip to Australia was probably her last international travel for a long time... She taught a course on The Future of Democracy and wrote an article on “How Demanding is Human Dignity?” for a special issue of The Journal of Global Ethics and another on “Are Human Rights Associative Rights?” for a special issue of the journal Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. She continued her research as co-director (with Karen Alter and Bruce Carruthers) of the research project on Global Capitalism & Law at the Buffett Institute.

Patricia Marechal has been working on her book manuscript on the desire for respect and recognition, and the emotions related to this desire, in Ancient Greek philosophy. She published an article on Plato’s moral psychology in a volume of collected essays on the philosophy of mind in Antiquity. She also continued working on several research projects in Hellenistic philosophy, and published an article on Galen’s philosophy of mind in Ancient Philosophy, and another on teleology in a volume edited by Jeff McDonough for the Oxford Philosophical Concepts Series. As a follow up, she’s been working on a piece for a forthcoming volume on hylomorphism, which will be published by Oxford University Press in 2021. She also has a forthcoming publication on comparative Greek and Chinese philosophy in Philosophy East and West. She has scheduled presentations at UC Riverside, the Munich Center for Ancient philosophy, Boston University, the University of Athens, among others. In 2019 she joined the Northwestern Classics department as a non-budgetary faculty member, and has been collaborating with the Northwestern Classics Cluster and advising the PhD students in the Ancient Philosophy Graduate Program. She is currently a member of the program committee for the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association. In that role, she is co-organizing the next Central APA conference, which will take place in New Orleans in 2021.

José Medina continues his research on epistemic injustice and on issues of race, gender, and sexuality in visual and verbal communication. As a keynote speaker at several national and international conferences, in the last year José traveled to Canada, Germany, Singapore, Switzerland and several US universities to present papers on critical race theory, gender theory, and political epistemology. In the last year he published essays in several edited volumes and articles in the journals Angelaki, Critical Philosophy of Race, Nomos, and Philosophy and Social Criticism. He also coedited the volume Theories of the Flesh: Latin-American and US Latina Feminist Theories (Oxford University Press, 2020). Medina is coeditor of Symposia on Gender, Race, and Philosophy and cofounder and co-organizer of the Midwest Race Theory Workshop.

Axel Mueller continued his administrative and curricular work and coordinating function for student groups like Minorities In Philosophy (MAP), WiPhi, the Women Into Philosophy Initiative, its graduate sibling WIPHICA, the Northwestern Undergrad Philosophy Society NUPS, and, newly founded and mentored by Prof Horne, the NU Ethics Bowl team. He edited a special issue on Populism of the journal Philosophy and Social Criticism for which he wrote the introduction and a long article entitled “The Meaning of ‘Populism’”. Mueller also participated in international conferences, one of which celebrated Habermas’ 90th birthday in Frankfurt (Germany) and left a deep impression, and another upon the graceful invitation to spend some days with the late Professor Kenneth Taylor and other distinguished colleagues to discuss Taylor’s latest book project’s vision of Naturalizing Normativity, a project that was eventually cut short by the untimely death of its author. But this shock and loss also spurned the sense of urgency to continue the discussion with this vision. The inspiring exchange will be a lasting inspiration to continue working on Mueller’s own longer-term projects in the philosophy of science (on Neuroscience as laboratory science) and Kantian philosophy.

Gregory Ward is a member of the Departments of Linguistics and Philosophy as well as the Program in Gender & Sexuality Studies. He is also currently serving as Co-Director of The Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN), a multi-pronged, critical, and interdisciplinary initiative to promote research and education on sexuality, sexual orientation, and health in social context. This past year, in addition to giving talks at various conferences, he published a number of papers on the pragmatics of natural language, including work on information structure and the uses of demonstratives (co-authored with Ryan Doran, 2012 NU PhD in Philosophy). He teaches courses in Linguistic Pragmatics, Philosophy of Language, and Language, Gender & Sexuality.

Stephen White taught several courses in moral philosophy this past year, including a graduate seminar on the ethics of collective action a course on morality and partiality, and an first-year seminar on ethical limits of market exchange and commodification. He published papers on the sort of responsibility a person can have for what he or she believes, as well as on the question of that can arise for anyone who is aware they’re not perfect, namely: what should you do when you expect you won’t do what you should do? He also traveled to England and Spain—back when it was possible to travel to England and Spain—to give talks at the University of Warwick and Pompeo-Fabre University, in Barcelona. Since March, most of his time has been spent coloring and blowing bubbles and taking long, slow walks around the block with his 2 year-old daughter, Lucy.

Rachel Zuckert, like many other parents, has spent most of spring 2020 occupied with home-schooling. Earlier in the academic year, however, she enjoyed teaching the first-year proseminar for the first time, welcoming a great class of incoming grad students to the department. Trips to Oslo, St. Louis, and Phoenix, to deliver talks on (respectively) Kant’s account of grace and morality, the philosophy of history, and aesthetics in the 21st century were productive, and now arouse considerable nostalgia for freedom of travel. She has been working on a series of articles concerning Kant’s portrayal of the human aspiration to transcendence, two of which appeared this year, concerning Kant’s views on the experience of the sublime and on the failed project of speculative metaphysics.

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