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Spring 2019 Newsletter from Philosophy

May 22, 2019

Dear Friends of the Department of Philosophy,

It has been a very busy semester, especially with our search for new faculty. I am delighted to report that we were tremendously successful. In the fall, we will be joined by two wonderful new colleagues!

Tamara Fakhoury works in ethics and feminist philosophy. She completed her PhD at the University of North Carolina and her BA at the American University of Beirut.

In her current project, she investigates the distinctive value of personal resistance to oppression, which she calls “quiet resistance.” It is the defiant pursuit of what one cares about in spite of oppressive forces forbidding it. Fakhoury argues that quiet resistance has value independently of its social or political impact, for instance, in that it can enable a person to respect themselves and cultivate a meaningful life.

Fakhoury is especially interested in moral and political issues relevant to Arab and Muslim women and aspires to do philosophical work that is helpful for answering the practical questions we face in living our lives.

Growing up in Beirut, she was surrounded by amazing archaeological sites, which she explored in the style of Indiana Jones. In college, she organized a philosophy department field trip to read Plato’s Symposium amidst the ruins of the ancient city of Byblos (ruled by numerous civilizations, including the Greeks under Alexander the Great in 332 BCE). Today, among other subjects, she loves to teach ancient philosophy. When she’s not philosophizing, Tamara spends her time painting and watching films.

Cat Saint-Croix received her undergraduate degree in philosophy right here at the University of Minnesota. She then went on to receive a PhD in philosophy from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

Her main areas of research are epistemology, logic, and feminist philosophy. She is particularly interested in the intersections of these fields, with an eye toward understanding how the tools and approaches they provide might illuminate one another.

Cat’s current research focuses on the role of idealizations in formal epistemology. She is especially interested in the way that idealizations about the social contexts in which we carry out our epistemic practices ought to affect the nature and status of norms developed on the basis of those idealizations. Outside of philosophy, Cat spends her time rock climbing and playing her (currently) 11th-level druid in Dungeons & Dragons.

As the search was going on, we were—of course—continuing to do research, teach, and work to improve the department. As department chair, I find it very gratifying to see the ways in which my colleagues’ work comes together in spirit and collaboration. For you to see this too, we have organized some of our articles around these common themes:

  • Philosophy of Science
  • Diversifying the Canon
  • Immanuel Kant

Choose the one that interests you, or read them all! You may also be interested in the profile of one of our undergraduate students, Jordan Kleist. Jordan wrote a fascinating honors thesis with me on the subject of cognitive biases and moral judgment. Now he is off to Chicago for law school! 

On a personal note, my book, Well-Being as Value Fulfillment: How We Can Help Each Other to Live Well, came out at the end of the fall semester. I’m grateful to my colleagues and especially the philosophy department staff—without such awesome people around me I wouldn’t have been able to finish it while being chair. You can read a very short blog post that gives a sense of the book here.

And speaking of gratitude, I am so grateful to all of you for your support and interest in the well-being of the department. I hope you have a wonderful summer!

Yours,
Valerie