Department of Philosophy Community Blog

Something very different

Departmental Graduate Awards

On behalf of the entire faculty, we are pleased to announce this year’s winners of our departmental graduate awards:

The Department of Philosophy award for teaching excellence goes to Morgan Elbot.

The Department of Philosophy award for outstanding service goes to Reese Faust.

We are lucky to have many skilled teachers and many great citizens among our graduate ranks (some of whom have been recognized already in other ways). But these two students have made a special mark during the past year. Please join us in congratulating them for their success and leadership!

Faculty Publications

Professor Shaun Gallagher has co-authored a set of papers with Zuzanna Rucinska (U. Antwerp) that develop an enactive account of imagination, and (joined by Thomas Fondelli, a clinical psychologist) applies it to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Gallagher has also been learning quite a lot from his graduate students, and with them has recently published several papers that explore the concept of affordance in the context of dance, and changes in temporal experience in depression.

  • Kronsted, C. and Gallagher, S. 2021. Dances and affordances: The relation between dance training and conceptual problem solving. Journal of Aesthetic Education 55 (1):35-55
  • Lenzo, E. and Gallagher, S. 2021. Intrinsic temporality in depression. In C. Tewes and G. Stanghellini (ed.), Time, Body and the Other: Phenomenological and Psychopathologial Approaches (289-310). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lenzo, E. and Gallagher, S. 2021. Commentary on Froese and Krueger. In C. Tewes and G. Stanghellini (ed.), Time, Body and the Other: Phenomenological and Psychopathologial Approaches (341-345). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Neemeh, Z. and Gallagher, S. 2021. The phenomenology and predictive processing of time in depression. In D. Mendonça, M. Curado and S. Gouveia (eds.). The Philosophy and Science of Predictive Processing (187-208). London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Summer Conference on Embodied Cognition

Christian Kronsted, together with Shuan Gallaher, has been working hard to put together an online summer lecture series on Embodied Cognition and Dance. I hope you will consider attending. Here is the info, so you can mark it into your calendars.

Lecture Series on Embodied Cognition and Dance (Online)

July19th-22nd 2021


Register online here:

Inaugural 2021 Seshat Prize Winners

It’s our privilege to announce the winners of this year’s inaugural Seshat Essay Competition Winners. The Seshat Prize is made possible by generosity of an anonymous donor. Seshat was the ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom and writing, and the prize recognizes the convergence of wisdom and writing in an essay. A prize of $1,250 will be awarded to the best graduate student essay. Two prizes, one of $700 and one of $400, will be awarded to the first and second best undergraduate student essays.

Here are the results for the undergraduate prizes:

1st place:  Balqiss Alattiyat for her paper, “The Case of Cultural Gaslighting and Genocide in Palestine”

2nd place: Kayla Cochran for her paper, “America’s Moral Revolution: Overcoming Oppression”

The winner of the gradate prize is:

Matt Fee, for his paper “Curating the Self: An Aesthetic Theory of Personal Identity”

Thanks to the award selection committees, and very warm congratulations to these emerging scholars!

Graduate Awards

It is our distinct pleasure and honor to announce that this year the Philosophy Department is bringing home both of the university top honors for graduate students.

Dr. Mike Ardoline has won the coveted Morton Dissertation Award, out of a pool of approximately 100 doctorate degrees! Wow. Bravo!


Corey Reed has won the prestigious Meritorious Teaching Award. He was selected from more than 250 graduate students who teach at the university. Wow again! Bravo!

As we draw towards the end of the ultimate year of grit and grind, this is a wonderful and refreshing bit of sunshine. Hearty congratulations to Corey and Dr. Ardoline. This reflects both the hard work and the talent that you bring to your research and your classrooms. You bring honor to us all.

Love and Friendship Across Cultures

Kevin Taylor’s article “Friendship in Aristotle and Buddhism: Confluences and Divergences” has been published by Springer in Love and Friendship Across Cultures: Perspectives from East and West.

Scholarly Impact Metrics: Gallagher

The Department of Philosophy is proud to congratulate Professor Shaun Gallagher for his scholastic impact on research. The University of Memphis recently posted data for a handful of our faculty; below is an excerpt.

Scholarly Impact Metrics: Google Scholar

The University of Memphis is home to a tremendous community of research scholars. They produce an increasing stream of publications in the top research outlets. Citations of these research publications is a key measurement of the global impact of UofM research. See a summary of those faculty who are cited most often according to Google Scholar.

Citation Impact Summary – UofM Faculty with highest citation counts:

  •   Shaun Gallagher, Professor of Philosophy (28,890 citations)

For the full list, the newsletter can be viewed at the following url:

“Why mixed messaging can erode trust in institutions”

Professor Deborah Tollefsen’s article “Why mixed messaging can erode trust in institutions” was published this Monday morning, October 26, 2020, on the website The Conversation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised its guidance to acknowledge that COVID-19 can be spread through tiny airborne particles, known as aerosols. It had earlier removed a similar guidance from its website, saying it was “posted in error.”

Similarly, there have been conflicting messages from the Trump administration regarding the use of masks. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has repeatedly said that masks are a recommendation, not a requirement. But others in the administration, such as White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Vice President Mike Pence, have urged people to wear masks.

Such messaging can lead people to wonder what to believe and whom to trust. As a philosopher studying the nature of trust and its function in institutions, I explore the analogy between trust in people and trust in institutions.

Just as conflicting messages can lead us to distrust people, they can also erode the public’s trust in institutions.

Continue reading


Professor Remy Debes recently article, Facing Up to Oppression: Adam Smith and the Question of Reparations, can be found on Adam Smith Works, at

Below is a small sample:

If the development of free societies, grounded in principles of liberty, equality, and the rule of law, is the crowning glory of the western world, then the modern history of western oppression is its bitter and enduring shame. Two basic facts of this history stand out. First, modern liberal theory – as it developed roughly from Locke to Mill – as well as the institutions and cultures it produced, emerged alongside the manifest and systematic exploitation and persecution of many kinds of peoples. The enslavements of African and Caribbean people are the most horrific examples. But the scope of this oppression has been vast: women, Native Americans, Indians, Latin Americans, Asian, the Roma, Jews, the disabled, the poor, gay and bisexual people, the gender non-conforming – all these people have endured centuries of explicit, often violent harassment and discrimination in the west.
Second, this historical oppression gave rise to entrenched patterns of inequality that persist today, and which involve a variety of interlocking forces: social, political, punitive, educational, and economic. Consider only the last as it connects to race inequalities in America. The overall wealth gap in the United States between the top quintile and everyone else has been growing since the Great Depression. And the gap between whites and people of color has been widening even faster. According to a major 2017 report from the Institute for Policy Studies, median black and Latino households witnessed 75% and 50% declines in wealth (respectively) between 1983-2013, to sit at a measly $2000. Meanwhile, the median wealth of white households at the end of the same period was $116,800.1 Nor does recent evidence suggest a change in these trends. On the contrary, by the end of 2020, white households are projected to own 86 times more wealth than black households, and 68 times more than Latino households. And by 2053, black households are projected to hit $0, with Latino households following suit two decades later.2
A commonplace defense against these two basic facts of western history, especially among right-libertarians, is to claim that this history and its present-day ramifications are essentially the product of gross and compounding errors in the practice of liberal theory, not in its principle. Unsurprisingly, those who believe this often also reject any suggestion of reparation for the past harms of western oppression.
To be sure, these people are usually quick to say that present day inequities are unfortunate. These inequities may even threaten overall social stability. Correspondingly, considerations of both benevolence and utility require those of us with means to find ways to help those on the losing side of this history.
Nevertheless, according to those who think this way, reparation is tantamount to unjust redistribution. It would require that those who aren’t personally responsible for these past harms or the present-day patterns that these harms contributed to, have their property and liberty infringed upon in ways that the foundational principles of liberalism cannot justify, and indeed condemn.
In this essay, I argue against this way of understanding liberal theory. At least, for those of us who consider Adam Smith a foundational source and guide to liberal theory, as I do, this kind of response to the facts of western oppression must be judged facile. Although Smith’s theory of liberty prima facie tells against reparations for western oppression, serious engagement with Smith’s theories of law and justice suggests that there is space for the claim. To be clear, I don’t pretend to make a conclusive case for thinking that Smith’s theory supports a call for reparations. I’m content to convince you that it might.

Read the full article at Adam Smith Works


Undergraduate Success: Julian Rome

The following comes from former undergraduate Julian Rome who continues to be an exemplary student.

I am very happy to say that I was awarded a Rackham Merit Fellowship from the University of Michigan, as well as the Alfred M. Wolfe Fellowship from Phi Kappa Phi honors society.

At Michigan, I am in the Program for Ancient Philosophy, meaning that I am working towards an MA in Greek and PhD in Philosophy. I think that this is an excellent program for my research interests, as I am increasingly interested in the various ways in which literature and literary elements function in Plato’s dialogues. I completed the Greek Intensive Course at Berkeley over the summer, which allowed me to begin this fall with Greek language and literature courses (in addition to philosophy seminars, of course).

I cannot say enough just how grateful I am to the Philosophy Department at Memphis for preparing me for this new program of study.

Congratulations Julian!

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