Department of Philosophy News

The Department of Philosophy will be hosting a philosophy graduate conference entitled Politics, Bodies, and the Earth from March 8th to 10th , 2018. Abstracts are due January 7th, 2018. To see the Call for Papers, please click here

Additionally, Memorial Unviersity, in collaboration with Dominican University College, is sponsering an upcoming conference Idealist Philosophies of History in Ottawa on April 19-20, 2018. The Call for Papers for this conference can be viewed here

The department additionally thanks all who participated in and attended the conference on "Ethics for the 21st Century: Body, Mind and Spirit" which took place at the end of November. This interdisciplinary event was very stimulating and enjoyed by all.

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (Philosophy Department), Queen’s College (Faculty of Theology), the Faculty of Medicine (Community Health and Humanities) as well as Eastern Health and the Provincial Health Ethics Network are collaborating to organize a conference on Ethics for the 21st Century: Body, Mind and Spirit. All are invited.


WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER Queen’s College, Great Hall


4:00-5:30 pm Queen’s College, Great Hall Keynote Address: The Ethics of Human Gene Editing Dr. Francoise Baylis, Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Professor of Philosophy Dalhousie University

5:30-6:45 pm Reception


THURSDAY 30 NOVEMBER Queen’s College, 3005 Human Issues in Ethics (Moderator: Dr. Rick Singleton, Provost, Faculty of Theology)


9:30-10:45 am Keynote address: Churchgoing and Christian Ethics Dr. Leslie Francis, Professor of Religions and Education University of Warwick 10:45 am Coffee Break

11:00-11:30 am What Contemporary Models of Disability Miss: The Case for a Phenomenological Hermeneutic Analysis Chandra Kavanagh, PhD Candidate, Philosophy McMaster University

11:30 am-12:00 pm The Human Being in Contemporary Bioethics Dr. Jennifer Flynn, Assistant Professor, Bioethics, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University

12:00-12:30 The Human Difference Dr. Sean J. McGrath, Professor, Philosophy Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Memorial University

12:30-2:00 pm Lunch (tables reserved at Bitters

Enviornmental Issues in Ethics (Moderator: Dr. Sean McGrath, Philosophy, MUN)

2:00-2:30 pm Making Pacts with Ghosts: Negotiating Ethics in the 21st Century Dr. Peter Trnka, Associate Professor, Philosophy Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Memorial University

2:30-3:00 pm The Descent of Man: Toward an Anthropology of Human Failings Dr. Reade Davis, Associate Professor, Anthropology Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Memorial University

3:00-3:30 pm Humans, Earth, and the Future: Can Only a God Save Us Now? Dr. Michelle Rebidoux, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Theology, Memorial Univesity 

3:30-4:00 pm Brain Health and Our Contaminated Planet: The Case for Environmental Neuroethics Dr. Judy Illes, Canada Research Chair, Neuroethics University of British Columbia

4:00-4:15 pm Coffee Break

4:15-5:30 pm Keynote address: Ethical Orientation in a Democratic State: Jürgen Habermas on Reason and Religion Dr. Michael Schulz, Professor in Philosophy and Theory of Religion University of Bonn

5:30-6:30 pm Cash bar at Bitters (tables reserved)


FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER Health Sciences Centre Medical School Auditorium


9:00-9:50am: Keynote address: Do Doctors Believe in Autonomy Dr. Andrew Latus, MD Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University

10:00-11:30 am Panel Contemporary Challenges in Health Care Ethics Moderator: Dr. Jacintha Penney, PsyD, Eastern Health Dr. Daryl Pullman, Faculty of Medicine Dr. Chris Kaposy, Faculty of Medicine Dr. Kathleen Hodgkinson, Faculty of Medicine Dr. Susan Cummings, Eastern Health

12:00-1:00 p.m. Keynote address: Spirit of Minding the Brain and Mental Health Dr. Judy Illes Professor of Neurology and Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics, UBC

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (Philosophy Department), Queen’s College (Faculty of Theology), the Faculty of Medicine (Community Health and Humanities) as well as Eastern Health and the Provincial Health Ethics Network are collaborating to organize a conference on Ethics for the 21st Century: Body, Mind and Spirit.

All are invited.


November 29
9:30 to 3:00 p.m: Preconference on Theological and Pastoral Issues at Queen’s College Faculty of Theology Suite 3000.
4:00 p.m. Opening of Conference Queen’s College Great Hall, Ground Floor 4:10 p.m. Keynote address by Dr. Francoise Baylis, PhD
5:30 p.m. Reception 

November 30
Queen’s College Faculty of Theology Suite 3000
9:30 a.m. Keynote address by Dr. Leslie Francis, PhD
11:00 a.m. Papers on Human Issues
1:30 p.m. Papers on Environmental Issues
3:30 p.m. Keynote address by Michael Schulz, PhD

December 01
HSC Medical School Auditorium
9:00 a.m. Keynote address by Dr. Andrew Latus, PhD, MD
10:30 Panel on Ethics for the 21st Century
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Medical Grand Rounds, Dr. Judy Illes

PhD Presenters include Baylis, Francoise (Dalhousie); Davis, Reade (MUN); Flynn, Jennifer (MUN); Francis, Leslie (Warwick, UK); Illes, Judy (UBC); Kaposy, Christopher (MUN); Kavanagh, Chandra (Ryerson); McGrath, Sean (MUN & Queen’s); Pullman, Daryl (MUN); Rebidoux, Michelle (MUN & Queen’s); Schulz, Michael (Bonn, Germany); Singleton, Richard (MUN & Queen’s); and Trnka, Peter (MUN).

To register, you can e-mail, and please indicate you intention to attend the entire conference or specific sessions.
There is no charge for attendance at this conference.

Bradley Lecture

The Bradley Lecture in Speculative Philosophy, 2017.

Professor Douglas Hedley of the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Cambridge will present:

‘The Cambridge Platonists and the Idealistic Vision of Nature’

Monday, November 13, 2017

4:00 – 5:30 pm

Junior Common Room, R. Gushue Hall

There will be a reception to follow.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend!

Professor Hedley is the author of, among other works, a trilogy on the religious imagination: Living Forms of the Imagination (2008), Sacrifice Imagined: Violence, Atonement, and the Sacred (2011), and The Iconic Imagination (2016), and a major monograph on Coleridge’s philosophy of religion entitled, Coleridge, Philosophy and Religion: Aids to Reflection and the Mirror of the Spirit. Professor Hedley is the Principal Investigator on the AHRC grand, The Cambridge Platonists at the Origins of Enlightenment: texts, databases, and reception (1650-1730). He is also Director of the Cambridge Centre for the study of Platonism, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and co-chair of the Platonism and Neoplatonism section of the American Academy of Religion. Supported by the Vice President (Academic)’s Fund for Scholarship in the Arts.


The Department of Philosophy at Memorial University of Newfoundland will be hosting a philosophy graduate conference entitled Politics, Bodies, and the Earth from March 8th to 10th , 2018.

Several thinkers throughout the philosophical tradition take up the relationship between metaphysics, the body, and politics. While thinkers like Hegel, Schelling, and

Deleuze have demonstrated an essential connection between the political and the metaphysical, others such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Foucault have shown that these concerns must necessarily be considered in terms of their embodiment. This conference seeks to explore the dynamic relationships between politics, metaphysics, and bodies.

More recently, the study of metaphysics has tended towards the topics of nature and the earth, as exemplified in the works of Jane Bennett, Déborah Danowski, Bruno Latour, Timothy Morton, Isabelle Stengers, and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. We are interested in considering the relationships between politics, bodies, and metaphysics both as they stand, and also in light of recent turns in metaphysics towards the natural and the earth. How exactly are these relationships to be understood? What are their consequences? And how are they altered by a metaphysics made entirely natural and grounded in the earth? As the pressures of ecological crises make themselves known, there is good reason to imagine that learning to think the metaphysical nature of the earth and the embodied reality of our politics will play a role in transforming our capacity to think of political solutions. We invite papers from graduate students and junior level researchers considering any facet of this topic. 


Dr. Sean McGrath will present "Why You Should Care About Climate Change"  This event is co-sponsored by For A New Earth, a St. John's based initiative in integral ecology.  Please see poster for more information.  

Jens Soentgen talk

Dr. Jens Soentgen, Director of the Center for Environmental Sciences at the University of Augsburg and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at MUN, recently visited the St. John's campus. Dr. Soentgen is both a philosopher and a chemist and a frequent collaborator with the Department of Philosophy. He gave two talks, one in the Department of Geography on Tuesday, and one in the Department of Philosophy.

His paper in the Department of Geography (February 28. 2017) was entitled: "Win-Win-Win. From the 'terra preta do índio' to the 'terra preta do gringo': Commodification and Mythification of the Amazonian dark earths." His talk in the Department of Philosophy (March 2nd, 2017) entitled:"Hot Air: The History and Philosophy of Carbon Dioxide." 




From Wednesday 23 November to Friday 25 November the Philosophy Department and Queen's College will co-host a conference on the Idea of God. This international event will feature keynote addresses from Jean Grondin (U de M) and Garth Green (McGill). For more information, to see the event poster and schedule.

Green Economy

Dr. Sean McGrath, head of the Department of Philosophy and director of For A New Earth, will moderate a town hall meeting on climate change and the green economy in Newfoundland and Labrador on Tuesday, November 29, from 7:30-9:30pm in the Aula Maxima of St. Bonaventure's College. 


Dr. Barbara Neis (Sociology), Dr. James Feehan (Economics) and Dr. Bill Montevecchi (Ocean Sciences) will present, followed by an open discussion.


For more information check out the poster or go to


The COGITO student journal was relaunched via a party on Thursday, November 10th, at The Loft in the UC. We celebrated 26 years of undergraduate publishing at MUN.

The undergraduate journal of philosophy at Memorial was first launched in 1990 as the Codgito. The cod may be gone, but the journal remains. Feel free to pick up your own printed copy of the Journal in the Kiefte room today!

See the poster from the event here.  


If academic disciplines were Olympic events, philosophy would be weightlifting.

From the Greek meaning “love of wisdom,” philosophy addresses fundamental questions concerning life, death, form, existence, being and God. Historically, philosophy encompassed any body of knowledge and, until the 19th century, included the study of medicine, astronomy and physics.  Please see complete article below.


MUN Philosophy doctoral candidate Michelle Mahoney was recently featured as Graduate Student of the Month on the MUN Faculty of Arts website. To read the full interview with Michelle and to learn more about her work, please visit the following link.

Congratulations, Michelle!


In fall 2015, Dr. Joël Madore and Dr. Scott Johnston guest edited
an issue of Con-textos Kantianos (2015:2), which features publications from four of our faculty members: Dr. Suma Rajiva (“Solus Secedo and Sapere Aude: Cartesian Meditation as Kantian Enlightenment”), Dr. Jay Foster (“Kant’s Machiavellian Moment”), Dr. Madore (“When Reason Began to Stir… —Kantian Courage and the Enlightenment”) and Dr. Johnston (“Afterword. On Enlightenment and the Most Difficult Problem of the Human Species”).


Faculty member Dr. Seamus O'Neill recently presented his work at Villanova University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), at the Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association (Washington D.C.) and at the Annual Meeting of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

Schelling Boat Tour

MUN re-confirmed its reputation as the place for the study of German Idealism by hosting the fourth annual meeting of The North American Schelling Society from the 17th to the 19th of September.  


MUN hosts the Second Annual Kant Conference: Why Faith? 21-22 May

This past spring, the second annual Kant meeting was held at Memorial with a keynote lectures by Paul Abela, Acadia University, George Di Giovanni, McGill University and Pablo Muchnick, Emerson College.


Kant Congress

Dr. Suma Rajiva and PhD student Vahid JD both presented at the 12th International Kant Congress in Vienna, 2015. The Congress is held every 5 years. It ran from Monday, September 21 to Friday, September 25. Masters student Sarah Messer also attended and participated in the conference.

Aboriginal Citizenship in the 21st Century

In March. 2015, Memorial University hosted the annual Gwich'in Tribal Council Academic Conference. This year's conference was entitled "Aboriginal Citizenship in the 21st Century, A Time of Challenge and Possibility." Following the conference, a special issue of Northern Public Affairs entitled "Aboriginal Citizenship in the Twenty-First Century" was published, featuring two pieces by our own Dr. Peter Trnka, authored and co-authored, respectively.

Michelle Mahoney

PhD student Michelle Mahoney has won the 2016 Aristotle Prize from the Metaphysics Society of America for best paper. Her paper is entited:  “Agape, Evolution & Chance” 



The department would like to welcome its three new PhD students: 
Adam Haaga (Oregon) 
Zachary Fouchard (Ottawa)
David Tracey (Leuven) 

along with its new Masters' students:
Stephanie Butera
Marlana Duggar
Maliheh Deyhim
Chris Herbert
Ali Karbaleei Mahdi
Ashkan Parchizadeh
Benedikt Rottenecker

for a new earth

From September 10th to the 13th, several members of the philosophy department, led by the principle investigator, Dr. Sean McGrath, convened the Future of Nature, a four day festival of ideas on the West Coast of Newfoundland. With over seventy participants from aboriginal communities, the natural and social sciences, the humanities, and the visual and performing art, and moving between four venues in Corner Brook, Norris Point and Woody Point, The Future of Nature was the first in a series of ecological interventions planned by For a New Earth, an international research initiative in environmental thought and action.