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The Phi Sigma Tau Bulletin


A Publication of the Department of Philosophy, Texas State University San Marcos  

Fall 2007 Newsletter

"30 Years of Philosophy"

Words from the chair

Recently department chairs on campus were asked to send profiles of their Departments to each other. I first mentioned that it's been thirty years since Philosophy morphed from a Division of the Department of English to the Department of Philosophy.

“We think a lot here,” I told them, “so we're quite certain we exist and hope you are similarly situated. . . . [We have] 100 undergraduate majors, and our majors are all pursuing a BA, since there's no BS in Philosophy.”

Adding insult to injury, I reminded them of the unspeakable and unsuccessful push last year to alter the longstanding tradition of philosophy's being a required course in the core curriculum. “The widespread dislike of us on campus stems primarily from our arming some 1400 students a semester with skills of argumentation and critical thinking. Colleagues frequently invite us over for a cup of hemlock, which hurts us to the core. Still, we are willing for everyone to die for our beliefs.”

Kidding aside, we're close now to launching a new Master of Arts in Applied Philosophy and Ethics and already have eight graduate Instructional Assistant positions in place to award to students in this program, some of whom we very much hope will be alumni of our undergraduate program.

The number of philosophy faculty and majors continues to grow, and the vitality of our community is invigorating. Still, each loss is deeply felt and saddening. This semester we will have a memorial tribute for Dan Reiter who died in a tragic auto accident shortly after his graduation in May. We will unveil a portrait of GinaWeatherhead, a philosophy major who passed away two years ago, and we remember the lives of Professors James Treanor, Mark Williamson, and Robert Dyal.

The newest addition to the Department is the David Hume Endowed Scholarship in Philosophy which will be awarded yearly in April to the philosophy major or minor who writes the best paper in the analytical tradition of Hume with emphasis on clear argumentation, concern for language, and scientific evidence if appropriate.

Alumni, do consider coming to the banquet this year, since we'll be celebrating your birthday. You are, after all, part of an entity that is now thirty years old!

Best wishes,

Vincent Luizzi


Text Box: Reception and Special Dialogue  Tuesday, October 16      Reception: Tuesday, October 16 at 12:00 noon Philosophy Dialogue Room, PSY 132  unveiling of the Gina Weatherhead portrait, commissioned by the department and her husband James Pinder.   (artist: Franziska Gonzalez)    Special Dialogue led by Phi Sigma Tau, the philosophy honor society, begins at 12:30  Topic: What is Philosophy and Why Study It?    Everyone welcome  (See the Dialogue Calendar for more events planned for the “Thirty Years” anniversary week.)



Ethics Bowl Update


Texas State philosophy was represented at the National Ethics Bowl Competition in Cincinnati in February of 2007 by the following students: Matt Abedi, Eliott Alford, Nichole McNiel, Zack Perry, Rebecca Quillin, and Christine Vaughn.

Texas State will field two teams for the Regional Ethics Bowl Competition to be held Nov. 10 at St. Mary's University in San Antonio . Teams have begun to prepare cases involving FDA research funded by drug companies, churches as polling places, payday loans, Japanese revisionist history, undergraduate tuition, women's (unpaid) labor, and the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools. Coaches are Professors Lynne Fulmer and Jo Ann Carson

Two Special Events on October 11 with
Picture of Dr. ZupkoDr. Jack Zupko of Emory University

Dialogue with Dr. Jack Zupko
“Water and the Elements in 12 th Century Science”
12:30 p.m. Thursday, October 11
Philosophy Dialogue Room, PSY 132
Lunch served starting at 12:00

Philosophy students and professors are invited. Dr. Zupko's dialogue topic is based on a recent translation by Italo Ronca and Matthew Curr of A Dialogue on Natural Philosophy ( Dragmaticon Philosophiae ) by William of Conches.

Common Experience Lecture/College of Science Seminar Series
“The Piedmont Project & Teaching an Interdisciplinary Course on Water”
3:30 p.m. Thursday, October 11
R.F. Mitte Technology & Physics, Room 3241

A specialist in medieval philosophy, Dr. Zupko also has teaching interests in environmental studies and religion. He was a founding member of the Piedmont Project, an interdisciplinary group of Emory faculty working to integrate ecological concerns and promote the concept of sustainability in their courses and the community. In 2005, he and a geologist colleague taught the first version of “The Water Course,” an interdisciplinary course for juniors and seniors on the theme of water in science, philosophy, and literature. He will discuss his experiences in teaching this course in the Common Experience lecture “Teaching an Interdisciplinary Course on Water” at 3:30.

Dr. Zupko received his B.A. in Latin and Philosophy from the University of Waterloo and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Cornell University . Among many publications in the area of medieval philosophy, his most recent work is John Buridan: Portrait of a Fourteenth-Century Arts Master , University of Notre Dame Press , 2003.



In Memoriam: Dan Reiter (1985-2007)


Dan Reiter died soon after he graduated from Texas State. He was a kind person who made many friends while he was here, as evidenced by approximately 300 people at his funeral. He was an intelligent individual who did very well in his classes and had a scholarship throughout his years at Texas State . He was a giving person, as shown by his volunteer work with (among other things) Habitat for Humanity.  He was a leader, the outgoing President of the Honors Student Association. Family, friends, and professors who knew and admired Dan will gather to celebrate and honor his life on Monday, October 15 at 1:30 p.m. in the Philosophy Dialogue Room, Psy 132.

Text Box: PHILOSOPHY LIVE  www.philosophylive.comPut Your Logic Where Your Mouth Is  CALL IN PHONE:   512-989-2293   (While Show is Live)   Hosted by Jim Sala    (Texas State Philosophy Alum)  Current Schedule:     9/23  Nick and Craig Wing it Old School   9/26  Christianity as Myth   9/30  Free Speech   10/3  I Rant, Therefore I Am: The Jim Show   10/10 US Health Care

Philosophy Annual Alumni Banquet
Friday October 19, 2007 6:30 p.m.

Cool Mint Café – Mint & Yellow rooms
415 Burleson
San Marcos , Texas 78666
| 512/396-2665,

Faculty Price $30.00 Student Price $25.00


Alumni News


Jay Arnold is a graduate student (of divinity and philosophy) at Yale University .

Rick Chafey wrote a screenplay about 2010, when ancient Mayan beliefs have it that the world will end titled, XIBABLA, Countdown to the New Sun.

Booker Franklin is studying law at the American University of International Law in Belgium .

Ben Howard is a law student at Suffolk University ( Boston , MA ).

James Hulgan finished his M.A. at the University of Houston in spring, 2005.  Since then, he has been working for a software company as a technical writer/product manager, as well as doing some work in natural language processing and generation

Melissa Lomax Jeffrey is Head Librarian for Haslet Public Library in Bedford , Texas .

Jake Kidd is teaching English at Blinn College in College Station .

Jennifer Rowland is teaching philosophy in San Antonio at Northwest Vista College .

Jim Sala , Texas State alumnus and former philosophy program faculty instructor, has developed a philosophy website.

Jackson Schwartz is living in New Braunfels and teaching at Northeast Lakeview College in San Antonio .

Paul Stearns entered the philosophy master's program at Oklahoma State University this fall and is working as a T.A.

Jennifer (Joon) Tackett , May 2006 graduate in Philosophy and Religious Studies, recently published her first novel 360° (PublishAmerica) under the pen name Bewlah T. Zew. Influenced by the Bhagavad-Gita , 360° is a retelling of the ancient story about friendship, duty, yoga, and wisdom steeped in a whirlwind plot involving corrupt cops and a Buddhist-run mafia . For more go to or

Chistine Vaughn is a law student at Suffolk University ( Boston , MA ).

Tyler Young is teaching government and philosophy at Temple Jr. College. He also got married in May.



Call for Papers


Texas State University – San Marcos
11 th Annual Philosophy Symposium
Friday April 18, 2008

Papers will be presented throughout the day in the
Philosophy Dialogue Room, PSY 132

Paper submissions should be suitable for a 20-minute presentation (8-12 pages)

Papers by both graduate and undergraduate students on any philosophical topic are welcome.

Send your paper by mail, fax, or email to
Dr. Jo Ann Carson
Department of Philosophy
Texas State University
601 University Dr .
San Marcos , TX 78666
Phone: (512) 245-3143
Fax: (512) 245-8335

by February 29, 2008 (Notification by March 21, 2008)