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Science in ethics, and ethics in science: What can science tell us about ethical issues in sports?

What do a bat, a philosopher, a chemist, and a psychologist all have in common? They were all panelists at the first of the Fall 2017 Science and Technology in Society Panel Discussion Series: Ethics in Science, and Science in Ethics. Our panelists shared their expertise about how science can help us understand ethical issues in sports.

Chemist Janusz Pawliszyn talked about detecting doping. Dr. Pawliszyn has developed a sampling method that revolutionized drug testing. His method is even used in the Olympics.

Ethicist Mathieu Doucet, of the Waterloo Philosophy department, demonstrated that science can reveal ethical problems in sports, can complicate ethical issues we thought we had solved, & that science in sports itself can be an ethical issue. Science can give athletes a competitive advantage and science is expensive. Surely the best cyclists, not the cyclists whose team can afford the best bikes, should be the ones who win the races.

Psychologist Steven Mock from the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies rounded out our panel presenting his research on how sports can increase the well-being of LGBT athletes. He discussed some of the stresses LGBT-identified folks often face when they participate in organized team sports, and how LGBT-focused sports groups can help mitigate some of these stresses.

Just in time for Halloween, the bat crashed the party. Although it didn’t have much to say, it demonstrated athletic prowess when it swooped out from behind the lectern, flew right down the centre of the room, then disappeared out into the hallway in the middle of Doucet’s remarks. Doucet, with a steely nerve, simply continued with his presentation.

We enjoyed a great discussion, good food, and a full house. There were even prizes. Many thanks to the panelists and the audience for a fun afternoon.

Please join us for the next Ethics in Science, and Science in Ethics discussion about how we can use scientific research to diversity our engineering workforce. This event will feature remarks by Dr. Carla Fehr (Philosophy), Dr. Hilary Bergsieker (Psychology), & Dr. Mihaela Vlasea (Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering) and will take place on November 3rd, from 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm in Arts Lecture (AL) room 211.



Congratulations Sandie!

Congratulations to Sandie DeVries for successfully defending her excellent dissertation prospectus, “Multiracial Identity in the Philosophy of Race!”

Sandie, Carla, Shannon, and Patricia standing side by side with big happy smiles

(from left to right, Shannon Dea, Carla Fehr, Sandie DeVries, and Patricia Marino)

Thank you SWOFPW–That would be the Southwestern Ontario Feminist Philosophy Workshop

I know, the name of the group is super catchy and the acronym just rolls off the tongue! Leaving all sarcasm behind though, I love SWOFPW. There are very few places in the world that can boast such a large, lively, and generous group of philosophers. Our last meeting was at Waterloo and we discussed Angella Yamamoto’s paper, “Knights of the Round Table: Meaningful Inclusion in Policy Discussions on CRISPR” and Heidi Grasswick’s “Epistemic Autonomy and Trust in a Social Virtue Epistemology.” I learned enough about CRISPR to be incredibly concerned and I am so glad that Angella is advocating for diverse stakeholder participation in regulation consultations. Heidi helped me understand a notion of autonomy that I can get on board with (and that is saying something).

I was talking with Heidi after SWOFPW and she marveled at the the impact of this event. She noted that everyone there, faculty and students alike, probably gave an hour of their time before the meeting reading and thinking about each paper, and then an hour of their time discussing each of them at the meeting. When, ever, do we have an opportunity to get so much expert feedback on our work? The answer is practically never. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of such intellectual riches I start to take them for granted. So, thank you SWOFPW! <3

Also, these good things do not drop from heaven into our laps. They take work to organize and commitment to make them flourish. I want to give a big shout out and thanks to my colleague, Shannon Dea, for making this SWOFPW meeting happen.

Happy feminist philosophizing folks!


FemLab/FemPhys Philosophy Hangout

FemLab and FemPhys 2017_3_3_

On Friday, the Feminism and Science Research Group (FemLab) and FemPhys, the University of Waterloo club for women in Physics, had a great time discussing Sharon Crasnow’s article, “Feminist Philosophy of Science: Values and Objectivity,” and talking about the role of values and gender in physics. The conversation ranged from how values influence the relationship between theoretical and experimental physics, to equitable access for research funding and equipment, to the culture of research labs, to gendered communication styles. All of this good talk was nourished by pizza and washed down with beer. Angella Yamamoto did a great job working the FemPhys to organize this event. Keep an eye out for future Philosophy Hangouts!

FemLab advisor, Katie Plaisance, wins SSHRC Insight Development Grant: Increasing the Impact of Philosophy of Science in Scientific Domains

Philosophy of science can have great impact on scientific domains, but has often received little uptake by those who could use it most. Recently, “there has been a call from philosophers of science for empirical research on the extra-disciplinary impact they’ve had and how they might increase it.” Dr. Katie Plaisance, faculty advisor to the Feminism and Science Research Group and Associate Professor at the Department of Knowledge Integration, has set out to empirically investigate factors surrounding the uptake of such work across disciplines in a truly cross-disciplinary way in collaboration with Dr. John McLevey, a sociologist and Plaisance’s colleague in the Department of Knowledge Integration.
Their collaborative work on “Increasing the Impact of Philosophy of Science in Scientific Domains” has resulted in their winning a SSHRC Insight Development Grant. Their project both draws from and is impactful across domains and disciplines, for philosophers of science looking to improve the uptake of their work, sociologists interested in the flow of knowledge beyond disciplines, and scientists and policy makers.
For McLevey, “one of the most exciting things about this project is that we are using multiple types of data and methods to advance our understanding of knowledge diffusion processes at the level of entire disciplines.” While “most current research focuses on a smaller scale, often using one type of data”, their innovative multi-method research design is well-grounded in philosophy of science and meets the standards of social science research, emerging “from many conversations between me, Katie, Jay, and Sasha, as we negotiated our disciplinary differences.”
In addition, this interdisciplinary project has provided Jay Michaud, a PhD candidate in Philosophy, valuable opportunities for growth, “chief among them training in survey and semi-structured interview methods”. Michaud says: “I’m very excited to be a part of this valuable interdisciplinary project! I take a personal interest in incorporating empirical methodology in philosophy; my involvement in the project not only allows me to cultivate some important skills but advances my own research as well.”
Says McLevey: “Working on such an intellectually diverse team really deepens my appreciation for collaborative and interdisciplinary research.” This valuable and truly interdisciplinary project is exciting for everyone involved, and we look forward to seeing the results of their research! Congratulations!

Sara Weaver at Egenis the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences

sara-weaver-exeter-soccer-the-promiscuous-pluralistsI recently earned a generous travel award (CGS SSHRC Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement) to work on my thesis in England at the University of Exeter under the supervision of Professor John Dupré. My thesis looks explores assesses the methodological, social, and political aspects of Feminist Evolutionary Psychology. I examine how this research progressively responds to past criticisms of substandard scientific practice and androcentrism. However, I also assess, more critically, the ways in which this work continues to perpetuate certain scientific errors and sexist stereotypes. Working with Dr. Dupré was incredibly motivating, and his insight extremely helpful. It was also a privilege to be able to get to know the folks at Egenis the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences and learn about the fascinating, cutting edge research they are all doing.

Above, Sara Weaver on the Centre’s “Promiscuous Pluralists” soccer team.

SWEC Events: Gender and Equality Series

The Status of Women & Equity Committee holds the Gender and Equity Series. The series promotes gender and equity research currently conducted at the University of Waterloo. It also assists with the creation of network opportunities for equity minded faculty of campus.

SWEC Events: Waterloo Women’s Wednesdays

The Status of Women & Equity Committee, part of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo, along with the Graduate Student’s Association, the Staff Association, the Post-Doc office, and Watport jointly offer a monthly meeting for female faculty members.

W3 (Waterloo Women’s Wednesdays) are meetings held each month on the last Wednesday from 4PM – 6PM. SWEC offers a variety of events, lecture series, and award receptions. They are sponsored by the Faculty Association for Women.

Humphrey Professorship Winter 2013: Anita Superson

The Humphrey Professorship in Feminist Philosophy is an endowed position that allows a visiting scholar in feminist philosophy to spend a semester in residence at the Philosophy Department every few years.  Each Humphrey Professor offers a series of lectures, teaches a seminar, and mentors graduate and senior undergraduate students. You can find more information about the professorship, visit the UW Philosphy page.

During her professorship, Dr. Anita Superson, visiting from the University of Kentucky, taught PHIL 402/673 (WS 422): Studies in Feminist Philosophy/Philosophy of Sex: Bodily Autonomy. She also offered three public lectures:

Humphrey Professorship Fall 2011: Ann Garry

The Humphrey Professorship in Feminist Philosophy is an endowed position that allows a visiting scholar in feminist philosophy to spend a semester in residence at the Philosophy Department every few years.  Each Humphrey Professor offers a series of lectures, teaches a seminar, and mentors graduate and senior undergraduate students. You can find more information about the professorship, visit the UW Philosphy page.

During her professorship, Dr. Ann Garry taught PHIL 402/673 (WS 422): Modern Feminism, Social Epistemology:  Injustice and Epistemologies of Ignorance. She also offered three public lectures: