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!