Greetings again!  I am happy to be writing to you again from the beautiful office in Helen C. White, overlooking a lovely Lake Mendota.  We all offer a ‘thank you’ full of sincere gratitude and admiration for the work Mike Titelbaum did as chair, seeing us through the challenges of covid-19, as well as all the other work that heaped itself upon his plate over the past three years.


One exciting aspect of this past year has been two job searches, which have yielded a myriad of new hires for us.  Through a long and extensive process, involving the whole department over several months, we have four new faculty members: Jimmy Goodrich (ethics and political philosophy, including data ethics), Annette Zimmermann (ethics, especially data ethics); Alex Roberts (metaphysics)
and Annina Loets (metaphysics).  Professors Roberts and Loets will be joining us in 2023-24, so they can complete the post-doctoral work they are currently undertaking in Europe.  It is very exciting to have these young philosophers in our midst, and we are very lucky to have come out of this process with such philosophical wealth.

Sadly, though, we have also had a loss: Christy Horstmeyer, who has been our department administrator since 2006, decided (quite reasonably!) to retire after over 40 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  We wish her a very happy retirement, and welcome our new administrator, Wendy Crabb.  Another addition to the department is Charlene Sime, our new financial specialist.  More on Wendy and Charlene later in the newsletter.  So – lots of new faces here on the 5th floor of Helen C. White.

As you may have heard, the undergraduate population here in Madison is expanding, and with it, our classes and majors.  We now have over 200 philosophy majors, many of them double majors from computer science, economics and other sciences.  Looks like more people are hearing the good word, and developing our thriving undergraduate community.

Students and faculty alike went through a period of readjustment as classes fully returned to face-to-face, and as the mask mandate was lifted.  Creative teaching that was developed during the pandemic led to interesting new classroom activities, and it seems that the students were very happy to be physically with their friends for full philosophical immersion.  It is certainly delightful to have the full complement of people – professors, staff, undergraduates and graduate students – in and about Helen C. White.

Over 2021-22, Larry Shapiro helped organize a series of public lectures titled ‘The Big Questions,’ bringing together philosophers and scientist to discuss “What is Consciousness?” “What is Morality?” and more.  Presenters included our own Russ Shafer-Landau (on morality) and Martha Gibson (“Do we have Free Will?”), to both a local and remote audience, with local luminaries as emcees.

Farid Masrour delivered our annual Philosophers at Work public talk in November, titled "Dancing with the World: How Perceptual Experience Connects us with the Environment."  He made delightfully accessible his research about perception both as a way of representing the external world, and as a feature of our internal conscious life, and there was a lively Q&A after his presentation.  the talk was partly sponsored by the very generous Charles Manthey Winter Special Philosophical Events fund.  We are very grateful to Charlie, and all of you who generously support our department with your kind donations.

So, things move on philosophically and pedagogically.  We wish you all the best through the holiday season and for all of the year to follow.  Continue to love the examined life!

All the best, and with thanks to you all,

Department Chair
Alan Sidelle
Philosophy Department Chair