Rutgers News

I have very exciting news to report on behalf of Rutgers. We have just made 3 new senior hires. They are Branden Fitelson, Jonathan Schaffer and Susanna Schellenberg. Branden will be starting in Fall 10, Jonathan and Susanna in Spring 11.

Branden is of course one of the leading formal epistemologists in the world, as well as the driving force behind big events like the Formal Epistemology Workshop. He’s also been doing some incredibly interesting work in cognitive science explaining some of the probabilistic fallcies that have been documented over the last 30 years using concepts from confirmation theory. Given Rutgers’ existing strengths in formal epistemology (Barry Loewer, Thony Gillies, etc), I think there’s a very good case that we’re the world leader in formal epistemology, and it will be great to have more connections built up with the excellent cognitive science program at Rutgers.

Jonathan is already a central figure in contemporary debates in epistemology and in philosophy of language. (Both of them also strengths of Rutgers.) But, in my opinion at least, his most significant work is in metaphysics. His paper on monism was in many ways the best paper I reviewed during my term as editor of the Philosophical Review. There’s not many philosophers (let alone metaphysicians) around right now who make contributions that are simultaneously significant to the big perennial philosophical questions, and to contemporary debates about the details of popular theories. The philosophers I value most highly are always excellent on both scores, advancing a big picture while being careful over the details. Jonathan’s work on monism, like so much of his work, is really a paradigm of this way of doing philosophy, and he’ll be a super colleague to have.

Susanna has to date largely been working on perception, and has a number of insightful papers (in very top journals) on the various debates about perception. Much of her work to date has involved synthesising apparently conflicting views, and showing that there are attractive yet under-explored grounds between some of the warring factions in today’s debates. Rutgers has a long history of being at the forefront of research in philosophy of mind, and hiring Susanna is one of the steps we’re taking to keep that tradition going.

We’d be thrilled by these hires at any time. To have pulled them all off in the middle of the Great Recession is something of a coup for the department and university. So congratulations to Barry Loewer for steering these hires through, and thanks (and congratulations) to the university for this show of faith in philosophy.

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