Philosophy department to hire new professor

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    The philosophy department used a multi-step, holistic approach involving lectures and student interaction to evaluate potential candidates for a new opening.

    The department last added a new professor in fall 2011. After assessing the opportunity for further growth, the members of the philosophy department began the hiring process again last fall.

    All candidates participated in a lecture series that took place over a two-week period, delivering a talk within their area of philosophical expertise.

    Danielle Wylie, one of the potential hires, delivered a lecture on Jan. 30 titled “What Good Are Psychopaths (As Evidence for Claims in Moral Psychology)?” to conclude the series.

    Wylie, currently a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois – Chicago, is finishing her dissertation at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and specializes in cognitive science, ethics and moral psychology.

    The lecture discussed psychopaths in society and assessed whether or not they possess a sense of moral judgment.

    “Violence is neither necessary nor sufficient to be a psychopath,” Wylie said, outlining her definition of a psychopath at the opening of her talk.

    The lecture concluded with a question and answer session primarily driven by the current members of the philosophy department.

    Although now nearing its end, the search for the right individual was rigorous.

    “The process involved bringing the candidates to campus to present their own ideas,” said Richard Hine, assistant professor of philosophy.

    He said this component was vital for assessing who would be a good fit within the department.

    Candidates were also required to teach two sections of the introductory course Philosophy One: Meaning of Life.

    Each candidate’s ability to take on the research role necessary for publication was an additional consideration.

    The potential hires also had lunch with students and dinner with current professors. Students played an important part in the selection process, Hine said.

    Hiring a new professor is not taken lightly, as evidenced by the lengthy and involved process.

    “The decision-making process involves weighing up a number of complicated factors,” Hine said. “This has been made more difficult due to such outstanding candidates.”

    The new professor will be selected soon. Blake Hestir, the associate professor of philosophy and department chair, said the additional position will add breadth to the department and encourage growth.

    “We’re obviously very excited about developing our program and being able to offer a wider variety of courses,” he said.