Welcome Lynne Tirrell

We are delighted to announce that Professor Lynne Tirrell will be joining our department in the fall of 2017 and will also be affiliated with the UConn Human Rights Institute. Lynne is a leading researcher in the area of socially applied yet technically adept philosophy of language. Indeed, she may be said to have founded this burgeoning sub-field. Her pathbreaking paper, “Genocidal Language Games” is taught all over the U.S. in philosophy graduate programs, undergraduate programs, and even in prisons. In an unprecedented way she has combined detailed, theoretical work on language with the human reality of monstrous events. She has related work on transitional justice and apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation, as well as work on metaphor, storytelling, pornography, and feminist theory. Tirrell has done extensive service as the chair of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Public Philosophy. She is also an Associate Editor for the newly revitalized Journal of Philosophical Research.

Welcome Heather Battaly

We are delighted to announce that Professor Heather Battaly will be joining our department in the fall of 2017. Heather specializes in epistemology, ethics, and virtue theory, is one of the leading researchers in the world on the concept of intellectual humility, and is a pioneer on the topic of epistemic vice. Her work influences research in philosophy, psychology and education on intellectual humility and the teaching of intellectual character traits. She has been co-Investigator for a Templeton grant and Principal Investigator for a Spencer grant, has received various awards from Cal State Fullerton for research and teaching, and is editor in chief of the Journal of Philosophical Research as well as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Philosophical Association.

Ruth Millikan: 2017 Rolf Shock Prize in Logic and Philosophy

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Emerita Ruth Garrett Millikan has been awarded the 2017 Rolf Shock Prize in Logic and Philosophy–the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for analytic philosophy–“for her groundbreaking theories about biological functions and the biological foundations of thought and language, where the representational properties of the latter are explained in terms of these functions.” Winners are decided by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. Past Shock Prize Laureates are W. Quine, M. Dummett, D. Scott, J. Rawls, S. Kripke, S. Feferman, J. Hintikka, T. Nagel, H. Putnam, and D. Parfit.

UConn Post-Doc Li Beilei is the 2017 winner of the Claudia Jones Award

Li Beilei was a recent UConn post-doc who worked with Professor Lewis Gordon. The Caribbean Philosophical Association has selected Li Beilei as winner of the Claudia Jones Award for best paper presented by a beginning scholar at the previous year’s international conference. Her paper, “The Big World in ‘Small Places’: James W. Johnson’s Interpretation and Participation in the Reconstruction of African American Folk Culture,” is described below.


“Li Beilei is a doctoral student at Zhejiang University, China.  Her paper created quite a stir at the Caribbean Philosophical Association conference in June 2016 at UCONN in Storrs Connecticut.  Beginning from the premise of the Jim Crow restrictions on African Americans in effect forcing them into a small nation place within a large country, she explored James Weldon Johnson’s efforts to develop a rigorous ethnography of African American folk culture.  According to the referee: “The elements of this paper utilizing Africana philosophical archaeolinguistics alongside insights in Chinese cryptography is, simply, brilliant.  In addition to what the paper offers Johnson scholarship, there is so much more, as it reveals, in phenomenological fashion, so many unseen elements through which the Africana world meets the Asian, even though the stated approach is not comparative.  The author, in other words, makes convergence seamless in an effort to shed light on the theoretical problems at hand.  I’m very much looking forward to additional work from this author, as this work already reveals the presence of a first-rate mind.””

The award ceremony will take place at the Caribbean Philosophical Association’s international conference, June 22nd to 24th, 2017, at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York City in the United States.


Recent Graduate Dr. Michael Robillard Featured on Hi-Phi Nation

An email from Shanna Andrawis of Hi-Phi Nation:

I’m writing to inform you that one of your recent PhD students in Philosophy, Michael Robillard, will be a featured contributor on the next two episodes of Hi-Phi Nation, a brand-new radio show and podcast, weaving investigative journalism, storytelling, and philosophy, in the tradition of the best public radio programs. Hi-Phi Nation is hosted by Barry Lam, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vassar College, and produced out of Duke University through the Humanities Writ Large Initiative.

Conceived as audio documentary in the vein of This American Life, The Ted Radio Hour, and Freakonomics Radio, Hi-Phi Nation focuses on the philosophical examination of ideas that arise from ordinary and remarkable stories of human life. With the series Lam hopes to advance the relationship between the public and academic philosophy and between philosophy and narrative-storytelling.

In “Soldier Philosophers”, which comprises episodes two and three of the season, Dr.Robillard talks about his military service in Iraq, and discusses his philosophical work on moral exploitation.

Hi-Phi Nation will release ten episodes this season on topics ranging from war, religion, gender, mathematics, music, science, and public policy. Listeners can hear Michael Robillard on “Soldier Philosophers” starting Tuesday, January 31st, and can subscribe to Hi-Phi Nation for free by visiting iTunes here, GooglePlay, Stitcher, or wherever they get their podcasts. Or they can listen on the web at hiphination.org.

In Memoriam: Jerome A. Shaffer

With sorrow the department announces that Emeritus Professor Jerome A. Shaffer, age 87, died on November 17, 2016. There was a memorial in the Storrs area on December 3.

Jerry majored in philosophy at Cornell, earning a B.A. in 1950. He completed a PhD at Princeton in 1952 in just two years. In 1953 he was a Fulbright scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, then went into the Army. After teaching at Swarthmore College starting in 1955, Jerry was hired at UConn in 1967. He became Department Head in 1976, serving until 1994 when he retired. After that he earned a degree in Marital and Family Therapy and started a therapy practice which he continued until just before his death.

Jerry built our reputation as a serious research department and his avuncular manner helped set our collegial atmosphere. Everyone in the profession knew his 1968 book with Prentice-Hall, The Philosophy of Mind, which was followed by his 1971 Reality, Knowledge, and Value.

Video of Jerry reading Descartes: https://youtu.be/VRYCzLRlYKU