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Welcome to the San Francisco State Department of Philosophy, Julia Bursten! Our new assistant professor’s research begins with the basic idea that there is more to the goals of science than just describing nature. Dr. Bursten demonstrates how these goals influence scientific theories, concepts and explanations.

She specializes in the philosophy of nanoscience, a branch of chemistry and physics that has grown up around the development of practical technologies aimed at solving extra-scientific problems, including medical imaging and the energy crisis. She is co-chair of the Philosophy of Science Association Women's Caucus.

Bursten recently completed her doctorate in the history and philosophy of science at University of Pittsburgh. This year Professor Bursten will be teaching courses in the philosophy of science, science and ethics, natural kinds and advanced philosophical writing.



Congratulations to SFSU MA candidate Kathleen Nicole O'Neal on being named a 2015-2016 Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar! Thanks also to her faculty mentor, Dr. Isabelle Peschard, for her sponsorship.


On August 7th, 2015, SFSU MA candidate Ashlie Meredith presented her paper entitled "The Pitfalls of Contempt in Liberatory Struggles" on the main program for the 8th Annual Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress at CU Boulder.



Congratulations to recent M.A. graduates Eric Clanton, Danny Gluch, Matthew Howery and Neil Pettijohn, who have been offered lecturer positions at CSU Sacramento for Fall '15.



SFSU Philosophy Department is remarkable asset to university, invaluable contributor to the discipline of Philosophy, a gem! say Hanson and Normore.

Follow this link to see highlights from the report.



SFSU Philosophy Professor Carlos Montemayor's latest book is summarized and discussed in an ongoing Theory of Consciousness blog in Psychology Today. See here and here.



Recent graduate Rachel Buddeberg is making news for her advocacy in San Francisco, which continues the work begun in her MA thesis in the Department of Philosophy.


Congratulations to TWO philosophy graduate students who received travel funding awards this Spring. Each was granted $600.00 in travel funding from the College of Liberal and Creative Arts.

A continuing student presented at the Montreal Neuroethics Conference for Young Researchers on April 17th, 2015.

David Wong presented his paper, "How the Representation Consumer Determines Representational Content" on April 18, 2015 at the Long Island Philosophical Society Conference.

SFSU M.A. Program Rises in PGR Ranking

The SFSU M.A. program has risen to a three-way tie for sixth place in the '15/'16 Philosophical Gourmet Ranking (PGR) of stand-alone philosophy M.A. programs.

The PGR rankings are based on peer assessments of the program faculty's strengths. SFSU has been in the PGR's top ten list since 2009.

Philosophy Students Help High Schoolers Tackle Ethics

November 14, 2014
A group of San Francisco high school students will wrestle with tricky ethical questions during a competition this January, with help from SF State philosophers.

Seven graduate philosophy students are serving as coaches for high schoolers at San Francisco's School of the Arts and the Academy of Arts and Sciences who will be competing in the High School Ethics Bowl next January. This is the second year SF State students have been involved in the competition.

SF State graduate philosophy students Ashlie Meredith, Matt Howery and Eric Clanton

Ashlie Meredith (from left), Matt Howery and Eric Clanton are among several SF State graduate philosophy students serving as coaches for San Francisco public high school teams competing in the High School Ethics Bowl."I have never seen people so interested in these questions before," said Matt Howery, one of the coaches and the SF State outreach coordinator for the National High School Ethics Bowl. "Especially in San Francisco, teenagers are passionate social justice ninjas. These are things they care about." Last year, Howery's team made it all the way to the regional semifinals, an impressive achievement for a public school with fewer resources than many of its competitors.

For the SF State students, Howery added, giving back to the community in this manner is a natural and important part of what they do as philosophers.

"A philosopher is a teacher," he said. "Philosophy is teaching. It's not a field that exists if no one is sharing information. Anytime we are engaging people, especially people who are not philosophers, we are engaging in an art that is thousands of years old."

The seven coaches are supervising six teams of five students each, working with them for a few hours each month to teach them how to develop arguments and engage others in collaborative debate -- the criteria by which they will be scored during the competition. The regional competition in January will be held at University of California, Santa Cruz, with the winner advancing to the National High School Ethics Bowl in North Carolina. Topics will include whether it is okay for a country such as Brazil to spend billions hosting the World Cup while many of its citizens are starving and whether photoshopping magazine models is ever appropriate.

"I've been pleasantly surprised at how quickly the students take to philosophical arguments, the kinds of objections that they raise and their philosophical development," said Ashlie Meredith, a graduate student and coach. "Watching that has really cultivated a passion in me for bringing philosophy to young people. It's important to foster their critical thinking skills so they can learn how to develop their own opinions and become informed citizens."

The SF State students' involvement is essential because it provides the high school students with a historical and academic context for the skills they are learning, said Jerry Pannone, a retired teacher and the ethics bowl coordinator at the two high schools.

"That is really enlightening to the kids, to see that these are very well-founded ethical theories that can also be in conflict with each other," Pannone said. "The SF State students can elucidate that for them and show them the classical development of an argument where you have two or three premises and a conclusion. That is excellent for students to learn."

-- Jonathan Morales

-- From SF State News