Four graduate students present at the joint WCPA/CSEP conference in Winnipeg

Congratulations to Tom, Josh, Avontay and Theoren!

12 October 2022

Our Department was well represented at the joint meeting of the Western Canadian Philosophical Association and the Canadian Society for Environmental Philosophy that took place in Winnipeg from September 30 to October 2, 2022. PhD students Tom Oberle and Josh Barden and MA student Avontay Williams presented papers at the WCPA and MA student Theoren Tolsma presented at CSEP. You can read the abstracts of their presentations below.

Tom Oberle, “Causation and Fundamentality”

Abstract: "In this paper, I present two lines of argument to motivate positing a link between causation and fundamentality; facts or events that are uncaused, if there are any, can be considered absolutely fundamental."

Josh Barden, “Uncertainty, Control, and Affective Affordances: Towards an Integrated Enactivist Account of OCD”

Abstract: "In the philosophy of psychiatry, several philosophers have recently developed frameworks to interpret the etiology of psychiatric disorders that depart significantly from those used in the medical field. One such framework, the “enactive approach,” has been outlined by Sanneke de Haan in several recent publications. In addition to her general account of enactive psychiatry, de Haan has published several papers in which she uses the enactivist toolkit to investigate the symptomology of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). While I find de Haan’s work to be compelling and illuminating, I contend that her favoured ecological and phenomenological concepts do not account for the critical role of affect and emotion in the symptomology of OCD. I argue that this shortcoming can be remedied by further fleshing out her account with the notion of the ‘scaffolded mind,’ which was developed by Kim Sterelny as a contribution to the field of 4E cognition. Two enactivists, Giovanna Colombetti and Joel Krueger, have further developed Sterelny’s account to show how we produce ‘affective scaffolding’ in our niches that provide us with ‘affective affordances,’ or opportunities for actions that promote emotional regulation. I will argue that integrating these concepts with de Haan’s account shows that the symptoms of OCD arise just as much from a breakdown of the trustworthiness of one’s affective scaffolding as they do from neurological causes 'in the head'."

Avontay Williams, “On Collective Action Problems: Voting and Individual Responsibility”

Abstract: “It is largely uncontroversial that there is some connection between voting and individual moral responsibility, but what is the connection? Against my skeptical critics, in this paper I will argue that there is a moral duty to vote, and to vote well on the basis of the expected consequences approach despite the causal inefficacy problem. I consider three forceful objections to the putative duty to vote: (i) The Futility Objection: there is no point to vote (well) because individual votes are inefficacious; (ii) The Costs Objection: requiring individuals to vote well is too personally morally costly; and (iii) The Particularity Problem: the reasons usually given on behalf of a duty to vote fail to show there is a duty to vote specifically, but instead that voting is merely one of many eligible ways to discharge some underlying duty of easy aid. I resist these three objections and conclude that it is morally urgent for individuals to vote well; and if they do, we can expect better political outcomes.”

Theoren Tolsma, “What is Eco-phenomenology? Phenomenology’s Place in the Philosophy of the Environment”

Abstract: "What can phenomenology add to environmental discussions that ecology or environmental philosophy has not already said? Phenomenology receives at least two criticisms concerning environmental thinking. On the one hand, phenomenology lags behind present day climate science literature and is just now beginning to react to climate change as a globally pressing issue. On the other hand, it adds nothing to the urgent need for a shift in human behavior with regard to our planet. In this presentation I show that, although such claims are necessary insofar as they ignite some indignation among the phenomenological community, they are ultimately either untrue or misguided. To arrive at these conclusions, I first situate phenomenology within the general sphere of the philosophy of the environment. What this entails is a differentiation between phenomenology and naturalism. Second, I show how certain concepts that have arisen in the phenomenological tradition can aid in promoting changes in behavior with regard to our effort to reduce the effects of anthropogenic climate change."