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To confront the questions and challenges in life that have no easy answers requires, in Kant’s words, the courage to use one’s own understanding. Our mission in the philosophy department at Miami University is to empower our students to live courageous and thoughtful lives by passing on to them the rich inheritance of the philosophical tradition: its great texts, its central problems and questions, and its distinctive methods of critical thought, reflection, questioning and self-questioning, lucid argumentation, and cogent writing.
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Welcome from the Chair
Emily Zakin
Welcome to the Miami University Philosophy Department annual newsletter. I’m writing this having just finished my last class of the fall semester, a seminar on the French philosopher Michel Foucault. The course concluded with an invigorating discussion of the relations between philosophy, pedagogy, and parrhesia, a Greek term that literally means “to say everything.”
This can have a pejorative meaning (as when one says just anything and everything that comes to mind), but Foucault also attends to its positive meaning—to speak truthfully, frankly, sincerely, and courageously. Parrhesia, as Foucault elaborates the term, is what he calls a “philosophical ethos,” and it is directly related to both the Socratic practice of caring for the self and the Kantian legacy of the Enlightenment which underlies the fundamental mission of the Philosophy Department: to promote the courage to use one’s own understanding.
Foucault writes of this work of thought that it is a practice of freedom and that it involves taking a “step back” to “think what we are doing.” As we end the semester and anticipate a new year, it is a good time for us, as philosophers, to take a step back and experiment with what we can think and do.
We’ve had another successful and promising year, and a year full of change. Bill McKenna retired (though he will still be teaching in the department on occasion). We also completed a search for a new colleague in Ethics and are happy to have Facundo Alonso joining us on the faculty.
We had an exciting array of colloquium speakers visit us, including Daniel Selcer, Francisco Gonzalez, Lynne Huffer who gave the annual Harris Lecture, and Alia Al-Saji who gave the annual Singer Lecture. The department is committed to our strong undergraduate program, and we are offering students more sustained advising, career planning, increased focus on undergraduate research, and a revitalized philosophy club.
We’d love to know what our former students are up to. We look forward to hearing from you and hearing about you. We invite you to check out our website and Facebook page, and we also welcome your feedback, questions, and suggestions.
Emily Zakin
Philosophy and the Altman Program
In the 2016–17 academic year, the Humanities Center Altman Program theme is “Medicine and the Humanities,” and Philosophy Department faculty member Emily Zakin is participating as a faculty scholar. Faculty and student participants work together in an interdisciplinary community that includes lectures, seminars, and classes.
This year’s focus on the intersection of medicine and the humanities opens a number of avenues for discussion.
Facundo Alonso
Welcome Dr. Facundo Alonso
This semester the philosophy department welcomes a new Assistant Professor, Dr. Facundo Alonso, to the Miami University faculty. With an impressive resume and a drive to help young adults learn, Dr. Alonso is already a great asset to the department.
Dr. Alonso’s undergraduate career began at the University of Buenos Aires where he received Bachelor degrees in Political Science and in Economics. In the course of studying political and economic theory, Dr. Alonso found that he wanted to devote his life to answering foundational questions. This is what pushed him to realize his true passion: philosophy. 
Elaine Miller with Julia Kristeva
Elaine Miller with Julia Kristeva
Faculty Notes

Read complete details on the PHL website.

  • Facundo Alonso has recently published “Reasons for Reliance,” Ethics 126 (2016): 311-338 and “A Dual Aspect Theory of Shared Intention,” Journal of Social Ontology 2 (2016): 271-302.
  • Scott Clifton has recently published in the Journal of Aesthetic Education, “A Notorious Example of Failed Mind-reading: Dramatic Irony and the Moral and Epistemic Value of Art,” and in Philosophy and Literature, “Trusting the Author: Narrative Tension and the Puzzle of Audience Anxiety."
  • Gaile Polhaus has published “Propaganda, Inequality, and Epistemic Movement” in Theoria 31(3). She also has an edited volume, The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice with J. Medina & IJ Kidd. 
  • Chris King read “Explaining Political Authority” at the 2016 meeting of the Central Division APA in Chicago. A longer version is currently under review for publication. 
  • Pascal Massie has several articles in publication or in progress: “Diodorus Chronus and the Logic of Time,” Review of Metaphysics; “Ethics of Property, Ethics of Poverty (on the 13th century Mendicant debate),” The Saint Anselm Journal; “Chard de Saint Victor et la Métaphysique de la Pluralité Première (in either an edited volume or a special issue of a journal dedicated to Medieval philosophy); “Ataraxia: Tranquility at the End” in Companion to Ancient Philosophy (Northwestern University Press). 
  • In the past year Elaine Miller has traveled to several conferences, including the Kristeva Circle in Stockholm. There she had the pleasure of meeting Julia Kristeva herself. She also attended SPEP in Salt Lake City.

Alex Hale '18
Philosophy and War: A Philosophy Undergraduate's Perspective
Presently, many veterans of recent wars are returning to civilian life in the U.S., using their veterans’ benefits to pursue higher education. Some of these veterans, like Alex Hale ’18, aspire to complete degrees at Miami. Alex is a former Marine from Liberty Township, graduating from Lakota East High School in 2009. He was shipped to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island on 10 October 2010. He was a logistician in an F-18 fighter jet unit (VMFA(AW)-121) and an Infantry unit (1st Battalion, 4th Marines). He is also a Philosophy major.
Alex served as a Marine for 4 years, completing two tours of duty—one in mainland Japan and one in Kuwait. During his time in service, Alex attained the rank of Corporal. But the Marines works differently from other branches of the armed forces. A Marine does not start out with a rank. Each individual begins as mere recruit and has to earn even the rank of a Private to be considered a Marine proper. And while everyone learns a particular job, every Marine is, according to Alex, “a rifleman.” Every Marine is, in short, always preparing for combat. Continue reading on the PHL website.
Student Achievements and Research
  • Ben Hillin (MA ’17) presented the paper “Analyzing Stand Your Ground: Race, Law, Gender” at Miami’s English Graduate and Adjunct Association Conference.
  • Jason Walsh (MA ’17) gave his papers “Adorno’s Critique of the Kantian Subject,” at the 8th Annual Miami University Graduate Research Forum, and “Wittgenstein and the Figure of the Skeptic,” at the 23rd Annual Philosophy Graduate Student Conference in Remembrance of May 4th, Kent State University.
  • Hall Prize and Linder Singer Scholarship awarded: Read more on the PHL website.
Alumni Notes
  • Ryan Agee (’14) is in his second year at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. 
  • Martin Armstrong (MA ’16) is pursuing a second MA (this time in Political Science) at The University of Chicago.
  • Ted Bergsma (MA ’15) is currently a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University. 
  • Alex Lange (’14) is in his second year at the William and Mary Law School. 
  • Kevin Lower (MA ’16) is pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at Villanova University.
  • Laura Paprocki (’16) is working as a legal assistant at Lavelle Law Ltd. in Chicago, IL. 
  • Alex Shillito (BA/MA ’14) is pursuing his PhD in Philosophy at the University of South Florida. 
2017 Singer Lecture
Each year the Department of Philosophy hosts the The Linda Singer Memorial Lecture, which was established in honor of the memory of Dr. Linda Singer, a Philosophy faculty member until 1990. The annual lecture series bring distinguished scholars to address feminist theory, political theory, aesthetics, and social activism. Previous speakers include Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Marilyn Frye, Elizabeth Spelman, Susan Bordo, Nancy Fraser,Joan Scott, Jane Gallop, Ewa Plonowska Ziarek, and Robyn Wiegman.
College of Arts and Science at Miami University
212 Hall Auditorium 
Oxford, OH 45056 

© 2017 Miami University.
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