Annual Philosophy Graduate and Postgraduate Conference


In the spring of each year, the graduate students in the Department of Philosophy department host and organize a graduate and postgraduate conference under the direction of the PGSG (Philosophy Graduate Student Group). The page below contains information and abstracts from previous years as well as updates regarding the coming year’s conference as they become available. The PGSG encourages submissions from all areas of philosophy and from related disciplines, and especially encourages submissions from members of underrepresented groups in the profession. Any inquiries regarding the conference can be directed to




Death, Dying, and End Times

University of Alberta Philosophy Graduate and Postgraduate Conference
26–27 April, 2019
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

While every generation has come to the belief, at one time or another, that our world or species is coming to an end, our generation is constantly reminded of the fragility of our planet, the instability of our ecosystems, and the precariousness of our species. We have a fixation on the prospect of societal collapse, a propensity to obsess over the thought of catastrophe that has always been present in art, literature, and philosophy. The belief we live in the end appears to have been with us from the beginning. How are we affected, individually and collectively, by the awareness of our mortality? Why do we tend towards eschatological thinking? Would we live differently if we did not know that our lives will come to an end? Although there can be no certainty about what death is, there appears to be no theoretically neutral way to conceive of it. If death is merely an end, the cessation, not only of suffering, but of the ability to suffer, can it be considered a harm? Should one have the right to die as one sees fit, as one has the right to live as one may choose? Even when we consider medical or biological conceptions of death, we find that there are competing definitions, that the word ‘death’ may not have a single meaning. Is there a single, biological concept of death that applies across living things, all the way from humans to vegetation and microorganisms? Is it possible that death is an unavoidably vague concept? If so, how is our thinking affected by the attempt, or even the necessity, of delimiting its vagueness? From globalization to the re-emergence of authoritarian political discourses and practices, the way we relate to our time and to others are in need of change. How should we respond to violence? Is there anything that would outlast the end of the world?

The purpose of this conference is to bring into the open how the way we think about death affects all areas of philosophical and ethical discourse, with the aim of surmounting the opacity that normally characterizes the topic. As we live in a time that is increasingly seen as the end, as the point past which our planet and species can no longer return, we invite not only submissions that consider the realities of sustainability and climate policy, but those that address, from a historical or contemporary lens, the role of rationality in times of crisis, the political circumstances that emerge in times of impending catastrophe, and the possibilities of ethical life in the face of moral and political decay.

Keynote Presentations

"The Ultimate Meaning of Counter-Actualization: On the Ethics of the Univocity of Being in Deleuze’s Logic of Sense"

Leonard Lawlor

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy
Pennsylvania State University


"Why Death is a Serious Harm to Intellectually Less Able Individuals"

Howard Nye

Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Alberta

Graduate Student Presentations

"Autonomy, Capacity, and Mental Illness: An Evaluation of the Moral Permissibility of the Eligibility Criteria Regarding Individuals with Mental Disabilities in Bill C-14”
Clarisse Paron (University of Alberta)

“Learning to Die, Finally: Revisiting Thought in the Age of Extinction”
Emma Kauffman (University of Alberta)

“Merleau-Ponty's remark on (animal) suicide”
Eduardo Bittencourt Pinto Coelho (Federal University of Minas Gerais)

“'I didn't ask to be born': you don't get to give me death, just to bring about my happy life”
Leonie Smith (University of Manchester)

“Is death bad for you after you die?”

Matthew Jernberg (Florida State University)


Boundaries and Limits

University of Alberta Philosophy Graduate and Postgraduate Conference
27–29 April, 2018
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Boundaries and limits are a part of both our everyday experience of the world and the theorizing that we use to make sense of it. Philosophy takes place on the basis of distinctions, classifications, and taxonomies, yet the divisions that we draw are themselves in need of justification. Among other examples, we divide the world into natural and social kinds; we categorize people or groups based on similarity and difference; we draw distinctions between public and private, sense and non-sense, and science and non-science. In metaphysics and philosophy of biology, we divide the world into categories, kinds, and levels, often according to principles (implicit or explicit) that are themselves in need of justification. In ethics, we explore the concept of autonomy, the relationship between self and other, and the moral relevance of sentience versus non-sentience. Within philosophy itself, we navigate the divide of continental and analytic traditions and the role of the discipline in the community at large. According to what principles do we draw the boundaries that we do, and what justifies these divisions? The aim of our conference is to establish a fruitful discussion on the subject of borders, boundaries, and other limits broadly construed.

Keynote Presentations

"Living in the desert"

Achille C. Varzi

Professor of Philosophy

Columbia University


"Boundaries and Limits in Cultural Topologies"

Rob Shields

Henry Marshall Tory Chair and Professor of Sociology

University of Alberta

Graduate Student Presentations:

"Varzi’s Concern of the Berkeleyan Ghost”

Christiana Eltiste (University of Wisconsin)

“Vague Objects, Classical Logic and Standard Mereology”

Ali Abasnezhad (LMU Munich) 

“Home(lessness) in Political Thought: From Arendt’s “We refugees”

to Nietzsche’s “We homeless ones”"

Fiorella Rabuffetti (University of Ottawa)

“Intentionality, Misrepresentation, and Boundaries between Sets

of Properties in the Semantics of “Fake””

Janek Guerrini (École Normale Supérieure Paris)

“A Defense of Parity: Value Intransitivity Without a Money Pump”

Jon Marc Asper (University of Missouri)

“The Goods and Bads of Childhood: Cultivating cares and accommodating vulnerabilities”

Bowen Chan (University of Toronto)

“The Luck Objection Against Agent-Causal Libertarianism”

Eric Bohner (University of Calgary)

“Sexual Objectification and the Hijab”

Tasneem Alsayyed Ahmad (American University of Central Asia)



University of Alberta Philosophy Graduate and Postgraduate Conference
5-7 May, 2017
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Traditionally, to have interiority means that one has subjectivity and a conscious self-presence: interiority therefore refers to the bounds of the self and the phenomena of mental life. In philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and epistemology, interiority figures heavily in the problem of other minds, the private language argument, and Cartesian knowledge claims. In moral, political, and feminist philosophy, interiority is central to a number of questions including whether and how it is possible to achieve an authentic self; whether individual, free choice is a coherent notion; and whether interiority can come in degrees and how this gradation would relate to the moral status and political capabilities of agents. Each of these issues become all the more pertinent in the political and technological landscape of the age of information, where notions of autonomy, privacy, voluntarism, and responsibility have become highly fraught. The goal of this conference is to bring interiority to the foreground, so that we may unpack its nature and role in contemporary philosophical and political discourse.

We strongly encourage submissions from all areas of philosophy and from related disciplines, and we especially encourage submissions from groups underrepresented in the profession.  Possible questions for consideration include: Is interiority possible without exteriority? Are notions of self and the mind necessarily interior?  Is interiority just another relational property of a subject? Is introspection necessary for self-knowledge and for forming normative commitments? What values are required for theory choice and for producing scientific knowledge?

Keynote Presentation:

Values and Voluntarism

Kathleen Okruhlik

Associate Professor

Department of Philosophy at The University of Western Ontario

Member, Rotman Institute of Philosophy

Affiliate Member, Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research

Graduate Students’ Presentations:

“The Nature of Subjectivity and the Moral Value of Subjects”

Rebecca Kovacs (Ryerson University)

“The One that Knows and Nagarjuna’s Arguments Against the Self in MMK”

Lenhardt Stevens (University of Colorado Boulder)

Moore’s Paradox and a Puzzle About Belief and Utterance”

Frank Hong (University of Southern California)

Hume on Sentiments in the 'Treatise'

Andreh Sabino Ribeiro (UFMG – Brazil)

Autonomy and Manipulation

Eric Wilkinson (University of Ottawa)

Interiority and Exteriority in the thought of Augustine

Pablo Irizar (KU Leuven - Università Lateranense)

Reforming Identity Play: From a Trivial Act of Privilege to a Refined Resistance

Robert Budron (Loyola University- Chicago)




Dependencies and Differences

University of Alberta Philosophy Graduate and Postgraduate Conference

6-8, May 2016

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

What does it mean to say that something or someone depends on something or someone else? Why do we differentiate between dependencies in the ways that we do? For example, we speak of differential distributions of socio-economic dependency (“some groups are made to be more dependent than others”), of hierarchical relations of ontological dependency (“some entities are grounded in more fundamental entities”), and of the normative implications of our dependence on certain categories (“some social categories are more valuable than others”). How do various forms of dependency relate to one another and why it is important that we take our dependencies


Dependence and difference have been key themes in various subfields of philosophy including feminist philosophy, philosophy of disability, animal ethics, and social ontology. This conference seeks to unpack the ways in which notions of dependence can be theorized differently and the dangers that arise when we fail to account for the various factors that affect our conceptions of dependence. Possible questions for consideration include, but are not limited to: How is dependency gendered? How are our social institutions constituted? How do we individuate dependency relations between various kinds and their features? What are the performative, normative, phenomenological, and metaphysical distinctions that matter? What methodologies (interdisciplinary, feminist, archival, genealogical, analytic, etc.) might help us to approach questions about what we value, how we categorize reality, and how we organize experience?

We strongly encourage submissions from all areas of philosophy and from related disciplines, and we especially encourage submissions from women and other groups historically underrepresented in the profession.

Keynote Presentations:

What —if any—is the value of gender?

Christine Overall

Professor and University Research Chair

Department of Philosophy and Department of Gender Studies

Queen’s University

Navigating Dependencies in Collaborative Reproduction

Alice MacLachlan

Associate Professor

Department of Philosophy

York University




Thinking and Bias

University of Alberta Philosophy Graduate and Postgraduate Conference

12-14 June, 2015

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

As philosophers, scholars, and researchers we have begun to consider, sometimes reluctantly, whether and how our capacity for bias features into our capacity for thought. Thinking critically about our biases and how those biases inform the ways in which we do philosophy and engage with one another sets notions of truth, objectivity, and rationality in dialogue with considerations of the role of subjectivity, prejudice, and context in philosophical thought and practice. Thinking and Bias aims to bring together diverse positions on the issue of bias and the issue of bias in philosophy. In order to unpack the challenges that bias poses to inquiry and to “traditional” philosophical fields such as epistemology, ethics, the history of philosophy, aesthetics, and the philosophy of science, it is crucial to recognize the extent to which bias is a psychological, social, and political phenomenon.

We strongly encourage submissions from all areas of philosophy and from related disciplines, and we especially encourage submissions from women and other groups historically underrepresented in the profession. Possible questions for consideration include, but are not limited to: What are positive and negative forms of bias? How do implicit biases inform philosophical analysis? As critical thinkers how might we challenge ourselves and combat implicit bias? What role do biases play in scholarly and archival research? What is the relationship between critical thinking and value laden observation? Can biases be useful heuristics? How do cognitive biases and social context influence indirect behavioural measures such as the Implicit Association Test? Funding to help cover travel expenses for conference presenters who lack other means of financial support may be available.

Keynote Presentations:

Hidden Bias, Explicit Values: Gender in Epistemic Communities

Carla Fehr

Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy

Department of Philosophy

University of Waterloo

Associate Director

American Philosophical Association Committee on the Status of Women

Norms and Formal Methods in Ameliorative Epistemology

John Symons

Professor and Chair

Department of Philosophy

University of Kansas

External Faculty

Centro de Filosofia das Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa and Lisbon

University Institute, Lisbon





University of Alberta Philosophy Graduate and Post-Graduate Conference

May 9-11, 2014

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

For something to be intelligible is for it to make sense or be afforded an explanation within a certain conceptual framework. Whether something is intelligible then seems both relative and intrinsic to the broader perspective from which we approach it. This makes the notion itself transparent to philosophical reflection. The aim of this conference is to bring intelligibility to the foreground, so that we can examine its nature and role within different discourses.

Papers from both the analytic and continental traditions, as well as from other disciplines and traditions of investigation are welcomed. We especially encourage submissions from women and other groups historically underrepresented in the profession. Possible questions for consideration include, but are not limited to: What are the criteria for intelligibility? Can intelligibility work as an explicit criterion in explaining our relationship to ourselves, others and the world? What makes scientific or philosophical explanations intelligible? What is the role that language plays in considerations of intelligibility? What is the relationship between intelligibility and rationality? What is the relationship between intelligibility and cognitive significance? Does or should intelligibility play a formative role in moral or aesthetic deliberation? Does the very notion of intelligibility hinge on a dubious notion of privileged access? If so, what are the dangers (ethical, political, social) of employing this notion?

Keynote Presentation:

Intelligibility and Ineffability

Graham Priest

The City University of New York

Arché: Philosophical Research Centre

University of St Andrews




University of Alberta Philosophy Graduate and Post-Graduate Conference

May 10-12, 2013

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

At first, one might take ‘disagreement’ to be merely a matter of subjective opinion. Nevertheless, disagreement is a pervasive and genuine phenomenon of and in our experience which calls for philosophical reflection. This conference focuses on the notion of disagreement broadly construed.

We invite papers that discuss the nature, value of, and attitudes towards disagreement. Papers from both the analytic and continental traditions, as well as from disciplines and traditions of investigation other than philosophy are welcomed. Possible questions for consideration include but are not limited to: What constitutes disagreement? What distinguishes private from public disagreement; internal from external disagreement; or intra- from inter-personal disagreement? Are all disagreements resolvable, and on what grounds? Are disagreements structured by power dynamics? Is reconciliation always desirable or is there value in perennial discord? Can there be faultless or harmless disagreements in the realms of ethics/politics/aesthetics/epistemology, etc.? If so does this entail some sort of relativism or pluralism, and if it does is this a bad thing?

Keynote Presentation:

Disagreement and the Justification of Democracy

Thomas Christiano

University of Arizona

Big disagreements, little disagreements, and the resolving power of evidence

Adam Morton

University of British Columbia