Professor Victor Kumar Announces Publication of New Book

The Department would like to wish warm congratulations to Professor Victor Kumar for the publication of his new book, A Better Ape: The Evolution of the Moral Mind and How it Made us Human.

The book is co-authored with Richmond Campbell, will be published by Oxford University Press, and will be available for purchase on April 1, 2022.

Click here for more information and to pre-order the book. 

The book's description:

"Humans are moral creatures. Among all life on Earth, we alone experience rich moral emotions, follow complex rules governing how we treat one another, and engage in moral dialogue. But how did human morality evolve? And can humans become morally evolved?

In A Better Ape, Victor Kumar and Richmond Campbell draw on the latest research in the biological and social sciences to explain the key role that morality has played in human evolution. They explore the moral traits that humans share with chimpanzees; how a more complex moral mind enabled Homo sapiens to arise and out-compete other human species; and the place of morality alongside historic revolutions in technology and social organization. Throughout the book, Kumar and Campbell argue that morality co-evolved with intelligence and complex sociality. Morality prevents societal collapse and enables complex knowledge.

After unearthing the ancient origins of human morality, Kumar and Campbell use evolutionary theory to deliver profound insights about how to advance moral progress and resist moral regress, such as reducing animal suffering on industrial farms; capitalizing on the recent revolution in gay rights to foster a nascent revolution in transgender rights; opposing intersectional inequality that impacts women and people of color in lower socioeconomic classes; and addressing major problems of global inequality, especially impending crises of injustice caused by anthropogenic climate change. Understanding how we evolved--and how we continue to evolve--can help us become a better ape."

Congratulations, Professor!

Professor Alisa Bokulich to Give Lecture at University of Vienna

Professor Alisa Bokulich will be giving her talk, "C.S. Pierce, Gravity Measurements, & the Philosophy of Metrology" at the 29th Vienna Circle Lecture this Friday. The lecture will take place at 10:00 AM EST on December 10th, 2021, and can be accessed online via zoom here. 

Professor Bokulich, currently a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, also shares her abstract for her lecture below:

"Although Charles Sanders Peirce is widely recognized as a founder of American Pragmatism, what is lesser known is that his primary career was with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, working as a geodesist to improve the precision and accuracy of gravity measurements (gravimetry). My aim in this talk is threefold: First, I examine Peirce's contributions to gravimetry and metrology and argue that this is a critical but surprisingly unappreciated source for his pragmatic philosophy, in particular his views on truth and inquiry. Second, I trace two possible routes of influence from this work of Peirce’s: one to the “first” Vienna Circle and another to more recent work in the philosophy of metrology related to the periodic adjustment of fundamental physical constants. Finally, I show the continuing relevance of Peirce's program of model-corrected gravity measurements to the recent redefinition of the kilogram."

Congratulations on the lecture, Professor!

Professor Samia Hesni Awarded a Junior Faculty Fellowship

The department would like to wish warm congratulations to Professor Samia Hesni on receiving a Junior Faculty Fellowship for 2022/2023.

The BU Center for the Humanities offers fellowships to junior faculty whose applications are judged based on their "intellectual quality and scholarly significance, as well as their direct relevance to the humanities."

Congratulations, Professor, on your Fellowship and your stellar research!

Professor Daniel Star Awarded a Jeffrey Henderson Senior Research Fellowship

The department would like to wish warm congratulations to Professor Daniel Star on receiving a Jeffrey Henderson Senior Research Fellowship for 2022/2023.

The BU Center for the Humanities describes the Fellowship thus:

"Since 2004, the Center for the Humanities, in collaboration with the College of Arts & Sciences, has offered research fellowships to senior tenured faculty from Boston University... In 2007, these fellowships were named in honor of former CAS Dean Jeffrey Henderson, who helped to make them possible... Applications are judged on the basis of their intellectual quality and scholarly significance, as well as on their direct relevance to the humanities."

Congratulations to Professor Star on his Fellowship and his stellar research!

Lecturer Derek Anderson Publishes New Book

The Department would like to wish warm congratulations to our esteemed lecturer Derek Anderson for the publication of his new book, Metasemantics and Intersectionality in the Misinformation Age: Truth in Political Struggle. 

Metasemantics was published earlier this month by Palgrave Macmillan, and is described thus:

"This book investigates the impact of misinformation and the role of truth in political struggle. It develops a theory of objective truth for political controversy over topics such as racism and gender, based on the insights of intersectionality, the Black feminist theory of interlocking systems of oppression. Truth is defined using the tools of model theory and formal semantics, but the theory also captures how social power dynamics strongly influence the operation of the concept of truth within the social fabric. Systemic ignorance, propagated through false speech and misinformation, sustains oppressive power structures and perpetuates systemic inequity. Truth tends to empower marginalized groups precisely because oppressive systems are maintained through systemic ignorance. If the truth sets people free, then power will work to obscure it. Hence, the rise of misinformation as a political weapon is a strategy of dominant power to undermine the political advancement of marginalized groups."

You can find Metasemantics for sale here. Congratulations!

Professor Paul Katsafanas Promoted to Full Professor

The Department of Philosophy wishes to congratulate Professor Paul Katsafanas on his promotion to Full Professor.

In addition to his outstanding work as an educator and philosopher, Professor Katsafanas serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for the department.

"On behalf of the community," wrote Sally Sedgwick on Professor Katsafanas' achievement, "I wish to congratulate Paul for all his great philosophical work and service to BU and the profession."

Congratulations, Professor!

Professor Marc Gasser-Wingate Wins Gitner Award for Distinguished Teaching

The Department would like to offer a belated congratulations to Assistant Professor of Philosophy Marc Gasser-Wingate, who was selected in May 2021 by the College of Arts & Sciences for the Gitner Award for Distinguished Teaching.

The Dean's Office had this to say about our valued professor:

"Since joining the Philosophy Department in 2015, Marc has distinguished himself, in the words of his chair, as one of the department’s 'most successful and sought-after teachers.' ... To every course, he brings a comprehensive knowledge and passion for his subject that stimulates students to approach challenging ideas with confidence and zeal."

Congratulations, Professor!

Professor Juliet Floyd Publishes New Book

The department wishes a warm congratulations to Professor Juliet Floyd on the publication of her book, Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Mathematics, part of the Cambridge Elements Series in the Philosophy of Mathematics. 

The book, published by Cambridge University Press, is described thus:

"For Wittgenstein mathematics is a human activity characterizing ways of seeing conceptual possibilities and empirical situations, proof and logical methods central to its progress. Sentences exhibit differing 'aspects', or dimensions of meaning, projecting mathematical 'realities'. Mathematics is an activity of constructing standpoints on equalities and differences of these. Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy of Mathematics (1934–1951) grew from his Early (1912–1921) and Middle (1929–33) philosophies, a dialectical path reconstructed here partly as a response to the limitative results of Gödel and Turing."

Professor Floyd's book is currently free to read through Cambridge University Press now through August 9th, 2021.

Congratulations, Professor!

Professor Marc Gasser-Wingate Publishes New Book

The cover of Professor Gasser-Wingate's new book.

The department wishes a warm congratulations to Professor Marc Gasser-Wingate on the publication of his first book, Aristotle's Empiricism.

The book, published by Oxford University Press and now available, is described thus:

"Aristotle is famous for thinking that all our knowledge comes from perception. But it's not immediately clear what this view is meant to entail. It's not clear, for instance, what perception is supposed to contribute to the more advanced forms of knowledge that derive from it. Nor is it clear how we should understand the nature of its contribution—what it might mean to say that these more advanced forms of knowledge are "derived from" or "based on" what we perceive.

Aristotle is often thought to have disappointingly little to say on these matters. Gasser-Wingate makes the case that this thought is mistaken: a coherent and philosophically attractive view of perceptual knowledge can be found in the various texts in which Aristotle discusses perception's role in animal life, the cognitive resources on which it does and does not depend, and the relation it bears to practical and theoretical modes of understanding.

Aristotle's Empiricism offers a sustained examination of these discussions and their epistemological, psychological, and ethical implications. It defends an interpretation of Aristotle as a moderate sort of empiricist, who thinks we can develop sophisticated forms of knowledge by broadly perceptual means—and that we therefore share an important part of our cognitive lives with nonrational animals—but also holds that our intellectual powers allow us to surpass these animals in certain ways and thereby develop distinctively human forms of understanding."

Congratulations, Professor!

Professor Alisa Bokulich Named 2021-2022 Fellow at Harvard Radcliffe Institute

Professor Alisa Bokulich in the promotional image for the Harvard Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

We are delighted to announce that Professor Alisa Bokulich has been named a 2021-2022 fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, joining an extraordinary group of artists, scientists, scholars, and practitioners who will learn from and inspire one another in a year of discovery and interdisciplinary exchange in Cambridge. Professor Bokulich will be researching and writing her book Philosophy of the Geosciences: Data, Models, and Uncertainty.

As she describes in her proposal, "this year the pandemic has forced the public to confront two difficult lessons: the natural world is complex, and science does not offer instantaneous definitive answers. For those who study science, this comes as no surprise. Uncertainty is an inherent part of science, science proceeds through an ever-ongoing process of iteration, and most importantly, uncertainty is not ignorance." Professor Bokulich's Radcliffe Fellowship project is to write a book articulating these points in the context of the geosciences, which have largely been neglected by philosophers of science. "The geosciences must confront some of the most pressing global issues today," writes Professor Bokulich, "including climate change, species extinction, and a variety of geohazards." Her project will show "how geoscientists build reliable knowledge about a complex world despite the uncertainties that arise in the data they collect, the models they build, and even the uncertainty estimates they give."

Congratulations, Professor!