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Jonathan Cottrell, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wayne State University, gave a talk entitled "Composition, Connection, and the Mystery of Hume's Appendix" on March 19, 2014 at 4PM in South Foundation Hall 163.

Here is the abstract of the talk:

The Appendix to Hume's Treatise presents a famous mystery. In it, Hume admits to having found a 'very considerable mistake' in his earlier theory that a human mind is a composite of perceptions. But he says little about what this mistake is, and what he does say is unhelpful. What problem had he come to see in his former theory? I propose a solution, drawing on Hume's neglected account of part-whole composition: the problem, I argue, is that he needs to be able to apply this account to the perceptions that compose a mind, but he cannot do so satisfactorily. I argue that Hume could solve this problem if he could accept that each token perception is identical to a 'mode' (or token state) of its owner's brain, but that his empiricist theory of ideas prevents him from doing so.

This is Professor Cottrell's website:

Professor Michael Walzer gave the Richard J. Burke Lecture in Philosophy, Religion, and Society on April 10, 2014 at 7PM. The event took place at Temple Israel on 5725 Walnut Lake Road in West Bloomfield. For more information, see the Burke Lecture page.

Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz (School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles) gave a lecture entitled "Mindfulness: What is it and Why is it Relevant to Treating OCD" on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 at 4:00--6:00 PM in the Oakland Center, Gold Rooms B & C.

This is Dr. Schwartz's website:

Congratulations to Karl Martin Adam, the recipient of the 2014 Eugene Howe McDonald III Memorial Philosophy Award. The philosophy department gives the Eugene Howe McDonald III Memorial Philosophy Award annually to the senior-level philosophy major who has demonstrated excellence and hard work in her or his studies, judged based on overall GPA in coursework at Oakland University. The award is intended to support students while they are applying for graduate school and/or professional school and/or professional employment after graduation.

Kevin Vallier, Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University, gave a talk entitled “A Genuinely Liberal Approach to Religion in Democratic Politics” on Friday, March 7, 2014. 


Karl Martin Adam, a junior Philosophy major, has won the Philosophy Department's Essay Contest for his essay, entitled, "Necessity and Knowledge: A Response to Saul Kripke." Congratulations to Karl!

Karl Martin Adam, a junior Philosophy major, has won a Holzbock Scholarship for the 2013-2014 school year. Karl will be able to apply the $3,500 award towards his future studies at Oakland. Congratulations to Karl!

Two current philosophy students will be presenting at the upcoming Michigan Academy Annual Conference. On Friday, March 22, Jessica Dalton and James Tierney will be presenting their papers at Hope College. Jessica's paper is entitled "Beauty as enhancement: the ethics of cosmetic surgery," and James's paper is entitled "Mirror neurons and self-awareness: does V.S Ramachandran’s 'Tell-Tale Brain' really get at the heart of consciousness?" Congratulations to Jessica and James and good luck!  

The Philosophy Department is pleased to announce the 5th annual Philosophy Essay Contest. The author of the winning essay will receive $1000. Submissions are due by March 30th, 2013. For contest details, see here.

Congratulations to Ray Miller, the recipient of the 2013 Eugene Howe McDonald III Memorial Philosophy Award. The philosophy department gives the Eugene Howe McDonald III Memorial Philosophy Award annually to the senior-level philosophy major who has demonstrated excellence and hard work in her or his studies, judged based on overall GPA in coursework at Oakland University. The award is intended to support students while they are applying for graduate school and/or professional school and/or professional employment after graduation.

The Philosophy Department announces two talks for the winter 2013 semester:

  • Danielle Wenner, a bioethics fellow at the Cleveland Clinic, will be speaking on January 11 from 4-5:30 p.m. (location TBA). 
  • Mark Huston, a professor of philosophy at Schoolcraft College, will give a talk entitled "Bridging the Intuition Gap: Between Experimental Philosophy and Moderate Rationalism." Huston's talk will take place on January 18 from 5–6:30 p.m. in Gold Room C, Oakland Center.


Professor Eric LaRock mentored a local high school student on a research project which has won her a $10,000 scholarship. 

Daniel Springer '12 is this year's winner of the Philosophy Department's Essay Contest for his essay "Organ Donation, Autonomy, Presumed Consent, and Mandated Choice." Congratulations to Daniel!

Kevin O'Bryan, a junior Philosophy major, has won a Holzbock Scholarship for the 2012-2013 school year. Kevin will be able to apply the $3,000 award towards his future studies at Oakland. Congratulations to Kevin!

Congratulations to Professor Eric LaRock for winning a highly competitive research fellowship. Next winter he will be working on a project called Neuroscience and the Soul with Jeffrey Schwartz (UCLA, Medical School), Richard Swinburne (Oxford), Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers), Tim O'Connor (Indiana), William Hasker (Huntington), J.P. Moreland (Talbot), and many more participants. All of these scholars are proponents of emergentism (in one form or another), so Professor LaRock is likely to learn a lot from them in the process of working out the details of his own evolutionary emergentist account of consciousness and persons.

Oakland University's Philosophy Department joins Twitter!

Daniel Springer '12 wins the Philosophy Department's Essay Contest for his essay "Organ Donation, Autonomy, Presumed Consent, and Mandated Choice." At our 10/26/2011 department meeting we approved new requirements for a BA in Philosophy at Oakland University, starting in 2012-2013.

Ann Zimmerman is welcomed to the department as the new Administrative Secretary

The Philosophy Department is saddened to announce the death of Emeritus Professor of Philosophy Richard J. Burke. Professor Burke died February 14, 2012, at age 79. He was the first faculty member hired by Oakland University and he taught in the department for 46 years (1959-2005). Professor Burke shared his love of philosophy with thousands of students and he left an indelible mark upon the Philosophy Department and the entire University. Among his many gifts to Oakland University was an endowment for the Richard J. Burke Lecture Series in Philosophy, Religion, and Society. This annual event has since brought major social philosophers to the Oakland campus, including Daniel Dennett, Peter Singer, and Richard Falk. Because of Professor Burke's generosity, this lecture series will continue for many decades into the future.  Read more.  

Matt Evans from the University of Michigan department of philosophy gave a talk on “The Blind Desires of Republic IV Friday, March 9, 2012, noon-1:30 p.m. in 364 SFH.

The 2012 Burke Lecturer is Professor Ronald Aronson, a distinguished professor of the History of Ideas at Wayne State University. Read more.  


Professor Mika LaVaque-Manty of the University of Michigan (Political Science & Philosophy) gave a talk on Friday April 1 entitled, “’For There Must Be Force. . .’: Kant, Autonomy, and Hierarchies in Education”

As part of the interdisciplinary Global Security Forum series, as well as the Philosophy Department Colloquium series, Dr. Lars Peter Rensmann of the Political Science Departments at the University of Potsdam and the University of Michigan (visiting), gave a talk about “Grounding Cosmopolitics: Rethinking Crimes against Humanity and Global Political Theory with Arendt and Adorno” on March 11.

Congratulations to our alumni: Justin Black graduated in the spring of 2011 with his Juris Doctorate from The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law; and Kamil Koleczko will start work towards his law degree in August 2011, also at UDM.

Richard Dawkins meets OU students for lunch and a discussion on Oct. 13. This article and video from the New York Times provides helpful context.

Oakland University hosts the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl competition December 3.

Eric LaRock is promoted Associate Professor with tenure, effective August 2011.

Brian Bruya (Eastern Michigan) gives a talk at on November 7.

Brendan Learnihan-Sylvester wins the 3rd Annual Burke Philosophy Essay Contest with his submission, "Making Consciousness Useful." Brendan has won the prize two years in a row!

The Oakland University Philosophy Club meets regularly during fall and winter semesters for food and conversation in the Fireside Lounge of the OC on Tuesdays at 5 p.m.. Meetings are open to all Oakland students, faculty and alumni.

The 2011 Burke Lecturer was Dr. Susan Haack, Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, Cooper Senior Scholar in the Arts and Sciences, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Law at Miami University. Read more.  

Phyllis Rooney's article “Gendered Reason: Sex Metaphor and Conceptions of Reason” (1991), was selected for inclusion in a special 25th anniversary volume of the journal Hypatia. Quite an honor! Read the Oakland News story here.


Sandy Sala, our beloved administrative assistant, receives well-deserved recognition as Oakland's Employee of the Month for April 2010!

Shadia Drury was the visiting Burke Lecturer, April 15-16, 2010. Dr. Drury is Canada Research Chair in Social Justice and Professor in the Departments of Political Science and Philosophy at Regina University. Read more.  

On March 17, in the department lounge, Mark Rigstad presented work in progress on domination as the central concern of republican political philosophy. 

On Nov. 19, Professor Susan Vineberg of Wayne State University gave a talk about “Indispensability and Explanation.” 

On Oct. 6, Radu Neculau (U Windsor) gave a talk about "Identity Recognition and the Normative Challenge of Crowd Psychology." 

On March 19, Matt Fernkany, an OU alum ('99) and Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at MSU, gave a talk entitled "Is being good good for you?" in Gold Room A. 

Robert Pennock of Michigan State University gave a public talk on intelligent design and visited the Capstone course (on philosophy of evolution) on February 4th, 2010. 


On Nov. 11, Fritz McDonald presented some of his recent work in metaethics. 

On Oct. 28, Phyllis Rooney presented her paper, "Feminism and Argumentation: A Response to Govier." 

Grant Yocom presented his paper, "The Ethical Character of Mitsein: A response to the problem of instrumental rationality," on Sept. 30. 

John Halpin presented his paper-in-progress on "Fine-Tuning Arguments and the Concept of Law," on Wednesday Jan. 28.

On Dec. 3, Margaret Crouch of Eastern Michigan University presented a selection from her current book manuscript on "Global Perspectives on Sexual Harassment." In addition to her talk, Professor Crouch was available at an informal lunch with faculty and students in the Kresge Library. Dr. Crouch's visit was made possible by interdisciplinary support from Philosophy, Political Science, Women & Gender Studies, and MALS. 

On Nov. 18, Simon Cushing, Associate Professor of Philosophy at UM Flint, presented his paper, "Don't Fear the Reaper", on the Epicurean philosophy of death. 

The first Colloquium of the 2009-2010 academic year featured Leo Stan, currently on a fellowship at the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Stan presented some of his recent work on Kierkegaard. 

On Feb. 12, Matthew Katz of Central Michigan University gave a talk on "Mental Magnitudes and the Language of Thought".

Daniel C. Dennett of Tufts University was our fourth annual Burke Lecturer. His public lecture, “Religion as a Natural Phenomenon,” took place Monday, April 6, in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms, before a packed house of over 600 audience members from on campus and from the surrounding community. Read more.  

Monday, April 12, Professor Fritz McDonald discussed the question "What is Truth?" in Room 130 of the Oakland Center; Professor Koppelman-White gave a talk on next year's Capstone topic, the philosophy of evil, on Wednesday, March 17 at 5:00pm in the Heritage room of the OC. Monday, March 8 at 5:00pm, in Lake Superior A, Professor Paul Graves led a discussion on the possibility of a theistic science. Monday, February 15, at 5:00pm in Gold Room B of the OC, in honor of Valentine's Day, the discussion was on "The Philosophy of Sex," and free food and beverages were provided. 

On Nov. 30, Phyllis Rooney discussed “Women, Feminism, and Philosophy” 

At the Nov. 23 meeting, Pat Trentacoste gave a talk on "Perceptual Wisdom at the Crossroads: Where Practical Aesthetics Meets Practical Ethics." 

James Wroblewski presented a paper for the club called "Moral Responsibility through Moral Processes" on Oct. 26. 

Mark Rigstad introduced leading approaches to the political ethics of immigration at the Oct. 19 meeting. 

Trevor Martin presented his paper, "Possible Absolutes in Ontology," at the Oct. 5 meeting.

In November, Oakland University's interdisciplinary Ethics Bowl Team had three wins and no losses in the preliminary rounds of regional competition, and were leading going in to the final match by a 56 point differential. They were narrowly edged out (by three points) in the final match by the University of Wisconsin's team. Congratulations for an outstanding performance to Coach Lisa Campbell and to team members, Jimmy Wroblewski (philosophy), Chris Darin (integrative studies), Elizabeth DeRoo (political science and communications), and Brian Williams (undecided)!

Brendan Learnihan-Sylvester won one of five Holzbock Scholarships in the College of Arts and Sciences. Congratulations also went out to Trevor Martin for winning the first annual Burke essay contest. Trevor also presented his essay "An Acceptable Definition of Art" at the Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference.


The Philosophy Department welcomes Lawrence Lombard of Wayne State University for a presentation titled "What is Metaphysics and How is it Possible?" on November 5 from 4-6 p.m. in the Oakland Room of the Oakland Center.

The Philosophy Department welcomes Peter Brian Barry, Ph.D., of Saginaw Valley State University for a presentation titled "Mirrors, Saints, and Evil People" on October 9 from 4-6 p.m. in 235 Elliott Hall.

In August, Mark Rigstad was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor  with tenure and Mark Navin of University of Pennsylvania joined the Philosophy Department as a tenure-track Assistant Professor.

The Philosophy Department welcomes guest speaker Lawrence Lombard from Wayne State University on March 12 for a presentation "Time for a Change: A Polemic against the Presentism/Eternalism Debate", 4-5:30 p.m., 156 North Foundation Hall.

The Philosophy Department welcomes guest speaker, Jeff Noonan of the University of Windsor on February 20 from 4-6 p.m. in the Oakland Center, Heritage Room. Noonan's talk on "Religion and Human Solidarity" presents a critique of, and an alternative to, the approach to global governance advocated by Richard Falk, our 2006 Burke Lecturer.

The Philosophy Department hosts guest speaker Bruce Russell, Ph.D. from Wayne State University, on February 1 for a presentation "Unfriendly Atheism" from 4-6 p.m., Oakland Center, Gold Room C. 


The Philosophy Department hosts guest speaker Lisa Schwartzman, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University, on November 7 for a presentation on "Liberal Equality Theory and Women's Oppression: The Limits of 'Choice'" from 4-5:30 p.m., Lake Michigan Room, Oakland Center. 

The Philosophy Department hosts a Fall Kickoff Party on Friday, November 2 at 7 p.m. at the home of Prof. Mark Rigstad & Rachel Holland. 

The Richard J. Burke lecture series brings guest speaker Peter Singer to OU's campus on October 4 at 7 p.m. for a presentation titled "Changing Attitudes Toward the Sacredness of Human Life". 

Over summer, Elysa Koppelman-White is promoted to associate professor  with tenure and Mark Rigstad is appointed interim philosophy department chair.

In May, Alex Cherup is selected as the recipient for the 2007-08 Philosophy Department Scholarship. 

Fritz McDonald, Ph.D. 2006 CUNY, joins Oakland in the fall.

In May, the Philosophy Club announces officers for the 07-08 academic year: Caroline Culbert-President & Chair, Jared Bogdanov-Hanna-Vice President, Alex Cherup-Secretary, and Cheyne LeVesseur-Treasurer

The Philosophy Department hosts guest speaker George Mashour, MD, PhD, of the University of Michigan Medical School to present a lecture titled "The Transcendental Anesthetic: Kantian Philosophy and the Mechanism of General Anesthesia", on Friday, April 6.

The Philosophy Department hosts guest speaker Matt Ferkany, PhD, of Michigan State University to present "Subjectivism versus Objectivism in the Theory of Well-Being" on Friday, February 9.


The second annual Richard J. Burke Lecture in Society, Religion and Philosophy was given by Richard Falk. Falk's lecture on "The Moral Architecture of the Planet" examined the moral dimensions of globalization with emphasis on such themes as human rights, the accountability of leaders, and the future of citizenship. This free lecture was open to the public and attended by a standing-only crowd of 500+. Falk also served as discussant for a Global Security Forum organized by Mark Rigstad.

The Philosophy Department hosted guest speaker Dr. Kevin Corcoran of Calvin College on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 to present "Personal Identity and the Constitution View of Persons".

The Philosophy Department hosted guest speaker Victor Caston from the University of Michigan on Friday, March 31, 2006 to discuss "Aristotle on Perception: How to Receive Form without the Matter".

The Philosophy Department announces the first Burke Visiting Scholar. Holmes Rolston III, "Father of Environmental Ethics" and winner of the 2003 Templeton Prize who was on campus for several days in March of 2006.

The Philosophy Department hosted guest speaker Eli Trautwein from the University of Iowa on Monday, January 30, 2006 to discuss "Can Science Justify Our Trust in Memory?".

The Mike Morden Memorial Colloquium took place on December 2. Paul Hughes from the Philosophy Department at University of Michigan-Dearborn discussed his research on the ethics of organ donation.

In November, the Philosophy Department seeks serious students who are interested in ethics and competition to apply for enrollment in the newly created winter course offering PHL 300: Ethics Bowl Competition and Preparation.

In August, John Halpin becomes the Philosophy Department chair. Paul Graves retires after eight years of productive service to the department; during his time three junior factulty members were hired. 

The Philosophy Department hires Professor LaRock who began teaching in fall 2005. He came from Saint Louis University and his specialties include Ancient Philosophy and Philosophy of Mind. 


On Dec. 6, Professor Richard Burke taught his last class. After 45 years of teaching at Oakland University, Professor Burke retired at the end of Fall 2004 semester.

The annual department party was held on Friday, October 1. 

On April 12, Prof. Mark Rigstad talked about the environment and responsibility to future generations. That took place in the Gold Room of the OC.

The Philosophy department hosts afternoon teas on Wednesday afternoons at 2 p.m. in 334 ODH to discuss topics of interest or to allow faculty members to present papers for discussion. 

  • April 7: excerpts from Prof. Phyllis Rooney's new textbook Feminism and Epistemology.
  • March 24: Paul Graves' new textbook chapter on cosmology.
  • Feb. 11: Professor Rigstad discussed non-combatant immunity at the weekly tea in 334 ODH.
On March 19,  The MIKE MORDEN MEMORIAL COLLOQUIUM was held in the Oakland Center. David Skrbina of UM-Dearborn talked on "Panspcychism".


On March 1, the Philosophy department welcomed Ian Proops, Professor of Philosophy, University of Michigan. He lectured regarding "Wittgenstein on the Substance of the World" in the Oakland Center.


In November, Oakland University sponsors an Ethics Bowl team to compete at the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Conference in the fall of 2002. The Ethics Bowl is a team quiz game that combines the excitement and fun of a competitive game with an innovative approach to education in practical and professional ethics. Funded by Sears, Roebuck and Co's office of Ethics and Business Policy, this game is inspired by TV's College Bowl. In Ethics Bowl, a moderator poses questions to teams of three to five students. Questions may address ethical problems on classroom topics (e.g., cheating or plagiarism), personal relationships (e.g., dating or friendship), or professional ethics (e.g., engineering, law, or medicine). Each team receives a set of 25 questions in advance of the competition, and questions posed to the teams at the competition are taken from that list. Teams are allowed one minute to confer on their answers. A panel of judges evaluates answers; rating criteria are soundness of reasoning, clarity, focus and depth.

The OU Philosophy Film Series was held on Friday afternoons in the Winter of 2002. 

David Bricker presented "Student Autonomy As A University Objective" in October.


Mike Morden Colloquium: Why Aren't "Moral" People Always Moral?" presented by Pat Trentacoste, U. of M., Dearborn in April.


In April, Eva Spry was chosen as the recipient of the 2000-2001 Philosophy Department Scholarship.

Oakland University professor Paul Graves discussed his paper "Don't Beam Me Up Scotty: Personal Identity and Science Fiction", in Kresge Library on April 12.

On March 25, the Mike Morden Colloquium featured Elias Baumgarten reading "Curiosity as a Moral Virtue", in Kresge Library.

Harvard University professor, philosopher, social activist, and African-American scholar Cornel West spoke at Oakland University March 9.

The first philosophy club meeting of the term was held on Feb. 8 in Kresge Library. The topic was: 'Why Philosophy: what does philosophy contribute to living?'


The annual philosophy department picnic was held in October.

The Philosophy Department hosted Mark Balaguer, Associate Professor of Philosophy, California State University, Los Angeles to present, "Why the Compatibilism Debate Adds Nothing to the Free Will Debate" in Kresge Library on Oct. 1.

It is announced in May that starting with the Fall of 1999, PHL 107, the Introduction to Symbolic Logic, will be taught with FREE courseware. The textbook too will be free. 

In April, the Philosophy department announces that Tim Sherman won the 1999-2000 Philosophy Department scholarship.


The annual philosophy department picnic was held on the evening of Friday, September 25.

In April, the Philosophy Department announces that Ryan Bobel won the 1998-99 Philosophy Department scholarship.

In March, the Philosophy Department moves to O'Dowd Hall. The lounge/library, and heart of the department, is in 334 ODH. The secretary's office is in 341 ODH.