May 2021

Dr. Richard Neels receiving his Owl Pin from Dr. Will Sweet

Dr. Richard Neels with the Philosophy Faculty. From l-r, Drs. Steve Baldner, Will Sweet, Richard Neels, Louis Groarke and Michael Szlachta.


May 2019

Post convocation celebration at Lane Hall's Blue Room on Sunday, 5 May 2019. Pictured are the faculty members of the Department of Philosophy and a few of our students. From l-r (back row), Drs. Doug Al-Maini, William Sweet and Steven Baldner, and Tony Prillo. (l-r, front row), Hanna Bergman, Natashia Gushue, Dr. Louis Groarke, Jamie Samson, Christian Northup-Wile and Dr. Christopher Byrne.

April 2019

Ms. Natashia Gushue was inducted into The President's Circle of Young Alumni, one of two Philosophy honour students, in a ceremony held in April 2019. The President’s Circle of Young Alumni began in 2008 with an inaugural induction of 65 members from the Class of 2008.  The President’s Circle is an honour awarded to outstanding graduating students in recognition of their contribution to student life and achievement, as well as their future role as young alumni leaders. 

Students become members of the President’s Circle at the invitation of the President of StFX.

Students appointed to the President’s Circle will include senior students who are:

  • Winners of Students’ Union Gold and Silver X awards
  • Exceptional Leaders on Campus
  • Life Officers of the graduating class
  • Other outstanding members of the senior class nominated for membership and appointed by the President of the University

Members of the President’s Circle of Young Alumni are tasked with keeping the spirit of their class alive and vibrant after graduation. They are asked to support their life officers in planning class reunions at Homecoming. And they will be welcomed as honoured members of the President’s Circle by StFX alumni chapters around the world.

March 2019

Dr William Sweet was recently appointed the Jules Léger Research Chair in the Humanities and Social Sciences, for the period 2019-2021. During his term as Léger Chair, Dr Sweet plans to complete research on an ongoing project on “British Idealism in India (1858-1947),” that will lead to the publication of several articles and a book. 

One of Dr Sweet’s major areas of research is 19th and early 20th century British Idealism and its reception in Britain’s sphere of influence, particularly in South Africa, East Asia, and India. Prominent in Britain, the philosophical-political movement of British Idealism also had an important impact throughout the British Empire. Over the past decade and a half, Dr Sweet has carried out background research that surveys the how this idealism made major contributions to Indian philosophy at five key centers of philosophical thought in the period 1858 to 1947: in Amalner, Bombay (today, Mumbai), Allahabad, Calcutta (today, Kolkata), and Madras (today, Chennai). During his period as Research Chair, Dr Sweet will analyze and discuss some of the work of Indian philosophers in these various centers, investigate how Indian idealisms reflected the British traditions but also how they developed them, and explain why these philosophers focused on the issues that they did.

Dr Sweet says “I began this research as a subsidiary project that was part of one of my SSHRC-funded Research Grants. In the intervening years, I have made a number of trips to India – for example, to serve as Visiting Professor (Overseas) of the Indian Council for Philosophical Research. During this time, I have also been able to establish a good research network with Indian colleagues. Based on the research that I have done and based on the discussions that I have had with Indian scholars, over the next two years I hope to complete several studies that will help scholars to better understand the reception and development of themes of British idealist thought.”

Some of Dr Sweet’s research in this area has already appeared in article form, particularly in a number of bio-bibliographical articles in the Continuum Biographical Encyclopedia of British Idealism (2010) that he edited (and for which he wrote about 25% of the entries) and in his book Migrating Texts and Traditions (U of Ottawa Press, 2012). Dr Sweet also plans to discuss with colleagues at the University of Pune and at the Dr BK Ambedkhar University of Delhi the possibility of organizing an international conference in this area.

February 2019

Jamie Samson, a StFX honours philosophy student from Louisdale, NS, has been working on the topic of organ donation as part of her honours thesis in philosophy for only six months, but the quality of her research has been so high that her paper was accepted and she presented on the topic at the recent Atlantic Region Philosophers Association meeting. The only undergraduate student to present at the conference, Ms. Samson’s paper was on the topic of ‘The Ethics of Organ Donation.’

In her paper, Ms. Samson argues that the need for donor organs for transplants is very great and, since so few are available, Canadian society ought to take greater steps to see that organs are available. Instead of the current ‘opt in’ system, where individuals have to indicate their willingness to be a donor, Ms. Samson argues that it would be ethical – and perhaps ethically obligatory, to revise the system, and have an ‘opt out’ system. This, she believes would not only make more organs available for transplant purposes, but would also address the problem of families faced with decisions about the organs of loved ones who may be dying and incapable of expressing consent.

Philosophy honour student, Jamie Samson (right) is pictured with visiting lecturer Dr. Eleonore Stump of St. Louis University.

According to Dr. William Sweet, Chair of the StFX Philosophy Department, it is rare to have undergraduate presentations at the conference, although StFX philosophy students have frequently attended the conference. He says although Ms. Samson’s participation in the conference this year was unique, last year another philosophy student, Leah Gray, who graduated in 2018, also presented at the conference on “The Ethical and Moral Implications of a Hook-up Culture.”

“Participating in the conference gave me a unique opportunity to do a presentation that required my work to be both concise and yet detailed enough for others to understand what I’d spent so much time on,” Ms. Samson says. “I was impressed that students like me were welcome, and that my presentation was as well attended as those of professional philosophers. I felt that my work was placed on equal footing with more experienced philosophers, which was beneficial for my work and for my confidence.”

Ms. Samson’s research was initially funded through an Irving Research Mentorship Award, offered through StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership with an endowment established by Irving Oil, allowed her to work on the topic under the supervision of Dr. Sweet.

January 2019

The Hypothetical-Deductive Method & Modern Science

In a recent article, “Patterns vs. Causes and Surveys vs. Experiments: Teaching Scientific Thinking,” The American Biology Teacher 80 (2018), 203-23, Prof. Russel Wyeth (Biology, at right in picture) and Prof. M. Wonham (Biology, Quest Univ.,Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre) argue that the hypothetical-deductive method is a tractable view of the modern scientific method as it provides the basic structure for students to conceptualize experimental inquiry. By contrast, Prof. Christopher Byrne (Philosophy, at left in picture) argues that the basic structure of experimental inquiry is inductive, rather than deductive, does not always require an hypothesis to be tested, and is not hypothetical in any interesting sense of this term. In this discussion, Professors Wyeth and Byrne will present their views on the place of the hypothetical-deductive method in modern experimental science. They will also consider the recent history of the hypothetical-deductive method, particularly its connection to Karl Popper, as well as its application to teaching the scientific method to university students.

Watch the afternoon's event on Youtube

October 2018

StFX and the Antigonish community will have a rare opportunity, on October 19 and 20, to meet faculty, independent scholars, and graduate and undergraduate students, from central and eastern Canada and the northeast United States coming to participate in this year’s meeting of the Atlantic Region Philosophers Association. 

Established in 1970, the association’s aim is to foster research and scholarship within the philosophical community in Atlantic Canada. StFX has hosted the conference in 1998 and 2008, but this year’s conference has attracted more participants than ever before. Among the topics that will be discussed at this year’s meeting are respect for rights and the ethics of organ donation, indigenization and the curriculum, and questions in the history of philosophy and Canadian philosophy.

In addition to specialist lectures and presentations, there will be a public lecture at StFX on Friday, October 19, at 7.30 p.m., in 205 Schwartz. Dr. Eleonore Stump (shown above), the Robert J. Henle, S.J., Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University will speak on “Guilt and Forgiveness,” addressing the question of whether there are some things for which a person can never, and should never, be forgiven. The lecture is open to all. 

Dr. Stump is the author or editor of some 20 books and over 100 articles. She is a former Gifford Lecturer at Glasgow, a former Wilde lecturer at Oxford, and a former president of both the American Catholic Philosophical Association and the Society of Christian Philosophers. In addition to her teaching and research at Saint Louis, she is an Honorary Professor at Wuhan University (China), the Logos Institute (St. Andrews, Scotland), and the Australian Catholic University.

While Dr. Stump is in Antigonish, she will meet with StFX students from the Humanities Colloquium and senior students in the Faculty of Arts, as well as with interested members of the Antigonish community.

StFX will also be well represented at the conference. Among the presenters will be Jamie Samson, a fourth year philosophy student and a recipient of a StFX Irving Internship this past summer, and six StFX philosophy alumni: Mary-Jo Curry (BA 2008), Paul Curry (BA 2005), Dylan Mackenzie (BA 2008) from Saint Mary's, Robbie Moser (BA 2001) from Mount Alison, Edward Taylor (BA 2012) from Concordia and Peter Haskett (BA 2014) from Carleton University.

For more information on the conference and on Dr. Stump’s visit, contact StFX philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet. Information on the conference, along with details for registration, can be found at

May 2018

University Research Award

Dr. William Sweet, Department of Philosophy

Philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet joined the StFX faculty in 1990. He is one of the foremost Canadian academics on the history of 19th- and early 20th-century British philosophy, and one of the world’s leading scholars of British idealism. His careful, historically-grounded and innovative scholarship on this movement has led to a re-evaluation of the work of some of its key figures and of its bearing on contemporary political philosophy as a whole. He has also contributed significantly to the philosophy of culture, discussions of dignity and human rights, and the philosophy of religion. His research has led to new insights into the impact of idealism in East Asia, India, and southern Africa, and the promotion of intercultural philosophy. In addition to his many publications, Dr. Sweet has contributed to scholarship by organizing international conferences and editing collections of scholarly essays. These have stimulated many, particularly junior scholars, to expand and deepen the study of these fields. Also significant are his many publications and translations of the work of the 20th-century French philosopher, Jacques Maritain. Dr. Sweet’s work has been recognized by his election to the presidency of a number of learned societies, such as the Canadian Philosophical Association, and to the executive committees of international organizations. The recipient of numerous awards and honours, he has been invited to present his work across the globe. In 2017, he was elected by his peers as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC), a national recognition as one of the best in the field of philosophy.

April 2018

Leah Gray (above) presented her thesis, "The Ethical and Moral Implications of a Hookup Culture and Behaviour" at the Philosophy Department's information session and thesis presentation afternoon on Friday, 6 April 2018. Also presenting was Colleen Murray, "Environmental Ethics and Natural Aesthetics: Biophilic Cities as a Solution to the Problems of Nature Appreciation." Both honour students were advised by Professor Doug Al-Maini. It was a very successful afternoon.

December 2017

Philosophy Professor Dr. Christopher Byrne (above) awarded SSHRC funding, publishes new book on Aristotle's physics

For Aristotle, matter matters.

That’s the precis of a new book from StFX philosophy professor Dr. Christopher Byrne, who deals with Aristotle’s contributions to physics in a forthcoming book, Aristotle’s Science of Matter and Motion, to be published by the University of Toronto Press in 2018.

Dr. Byrne received a grant of $8,000 for the book from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Aid to Scholarly Publications through the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences. It is a competitive process and a prestigious award.

“I was quite gratified to receive this award, as the topic of my book is not exactly on everyone’s lips. Still, I was moved to write this book because there is a curious view of Aristotle that is still quite widespread: on the one hand, he is considered one of the most important figures in the history of philosophy, indeed, in many fields, having made important contributions to biology, ethics, political philosophy, logic, metaphysics, rhetoric, and the theory of tragedy; on the other hand, he is held by many philosophers and historians of science to have failed so badly at physics that he held back its development until the seventeenth century when the Scientific Revolution finally overthrew Aristotelianism,” Dr. Byrne says.

“So the puzzle that drew me to this topic was how such a great thinker could have failed so badly in his understanding of the material world.

“As it turned out, I discovered that his views on the material world are not nearly so bizarre and wrong-headed as people have claimed. On the contrary, he offers a systematic account of matter, motion, and the basic causal powers found in all physical objects due to the matter from which they are made.”

Matter is important for Aristotle because he holds that all perceptible objects are ultimately made from physical stuff of one kind or another and that this matter is responsible for many of their basic features. He also investigates the nature of change in general, independent of the specific nature of the object undergoing a change; here, he begins with locomotion, the most fundamental kind of change.

Finally, Aristotle offers an account of the basic features of matter and motion that is quantitative and non-teleological. His use of final causes in biology and elsewhere is compatible with his quantitative, non-teleological account of matter and motion, because in his view all goal-directed changes take place in physical entities more complex than the material elements.

“Indeed, Aristotle’s biology presupposes his physics because goal-directed changes presuppose non-teleological changes in matter. For Aristotle, then, matter matters a great deal,” says Dr. Byrne.

November 2017

Dr. William Sweet is inducted into The Royal Society of Canada

Who are the Royal Society members? They are over 2000 Canadian scholars, artists, and scientists, peer-elected as the best in their field. The fellowship of the RSC comprises distinguished men and women from all branches of learning who have made remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life.

If you wish to read the citation for Dr. Sweet, please click here (pdf).

June 2017

Professor William Sweet named 'Honorary President' of the Canadian Jacques Maritain Association during the 2017 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences meeting in Toronto.

April 2017

Members of the campus community gathered on April 6 to celebrate with StFX faculty authors who published a book in 2016, during the Second Annual Celebration of StFX Authors, hosted by the Offices of the Academic Vice-President & Provost and the Associate Vice-President of Research and Graduate Studies.

L-r, Carole Roy, Maureen Coady, Lavinia Stan, Molly den Heyer, William Sweet, Katarin MacLeod, Murray Gibson, Dan Robinson, absent from the picture is Kailin Wright and James Mensch

The Presidents Circle of Young Alumni

,,,began in the spring of 2008 with an inaugural induction of 65 students. The President’s Circle is an honour awarded to outstanding graduating students in recognition of their contribution to student life and achievement, as well as their future role as young alumni leaders.


Caitlin Thomas

(left) Caitlin Thomas receives her certificate adding her to the President's Circle from Dr. Kent MacDonald (University President) and Mr. Glenn Horne (President, StFX Alumni Association).
Dr. Steven Baldner, Chair, Department of Philosophy, was on hand to see Caitlin and the other Philosophy Department graduates receive their award.


Calvin DeWolfe


and Dominic Hughes

March 2017

Professor William Sweet of StFX’s Department of Philosophy recently returned 
from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he gave an invited lecture at the
Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero.

Philosophy professor Dr. Will Sweet (left) and Argentinian philosopher Cesar Lorenzano

Graduation, May 2016

Here are a few pictures from convocation festivities.

Pictured are two of our most recent graduates: Maddie Burton (left) and Sarah Beattie.  Ms. Beattie is co-recipient, along with Sam MacDonald (not pictured) of the department's highest award, the Father Charles R. MacDonald medal in Philosophy. Ms Beattie also won the Angus F. MacGillivray Award for Art History and the Jules Leger Undergraduate Scholarship for Achievement in the Humanities.

The whole department is assembled, along with our graduates, to hand out the pins (below).

Our department's reception went very well, with Philosophy's pins being handed out to all who graduated with a Major, Advanced Major or Honour degree in Philosophy.

Sarah Beattie and Brandan Tran, immediately following convocation. Mr. Tran was the 2016 winner of the Father Edo Gatto Memorial Award.

Maddie's family came for the ceremony and stayed for the party! Pictured (l to r) Mike Burton, Lisa McClellan Burton, Maddie Burton, Dustin Burton and Renee Abate.

...and this was just four short years ago at Welcome Week, September 2012. Ben McGrath wasn't yet a B.A. graduate with a joint major in Political Science & Philosophy.

March 2016

June 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at 4:43 pm

StFX philosophy professor publishes new books, invited to present lectures at international conferences...
Dr. William Sweet of StFX's Department of Philosophy and the Program in Catholic Studies, recently gave the keynote lecture on “Anti-politics and Culture” at the annual meeting of the American Maritain Association in San Francisco, California...

May 2015

A few of the 2015 graduating class of Philosophy students, receive their 'pins' from the entire Philosophy Department (at the post-convocation department social).

Mr. Ryan Langevin (left) and Mr. Fjodor Jemcov, Philosophy graduates (2015). Mr. Langevin is winner to the Father Charles R. MacDonald Memorial Medal in Philosophy.

...and more pictures...

February 2015

Dr. William Sweet, Professor of Philosophy and Coordinator of Catholic Studies, has recently returned from a trip to China, where he was the guest of the Shanghai Academy of the Social Sciences and of East China Normal University. While in China, Dr Sweet gave an invited paper on “Personhood and Property: Eastern and Western Perspectives,” as well as the Inaugural Paper at the International Workshop on “Metaphysics: Past, Present, and Future.”

The Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences is China's oldest institute for the social sciences and humanities, and is the second largest such institution, after the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. While in Shanghai, Dr Sweet met and discussed his current research with a number of Chinese scholars from other universities in the vicinity of Shanghai, particularly Fudan University.

Prior to his stay in Shanghai, Dr Sweet also visited Taiwan, where he was an Invited Guest at the Graduate Institute of Philosophy, National Central University, Zhongli City, as well as an Invited Speaker of Department of Philosophy at National Taiwan University, in Taipei.


Dr William Sweet has just returned from trips to India and Italy. In India, he gave the L.D. Swamikannu Pillai Memorial lectures at the University of Madras (pictured below), as well as special lectures at the Department of Women’s Studies and the Anna Centre for Public Affairs. He also gave keynote papers at the Swami Vivekananda conference in Chennai and the Dharma/Dhamma conference in Bhopal, In March, Prof Sweet was in Rome, where he delivered an address with H.E. Pietro Cardinal Parolin, and where he was honoured with the title “Presidente d’honore” of the Istituto Internazionale Jacques Maritain.


U4 Symposium

StFX philosophy professor Dr. Louis Groarke (pictured below) was one of the presenters at the U4 Symposium held at Bishop's University in February.

The theme of the weekend was mindfulness in undergraduate education and exploring the complex issues around mental health. Dr. Groarke’s talk was on the Ancient Stoics and how their “tough love” strategy actually makes it easier to deal with the adversity, the hardships, the stress, in any ordinary human life. “So a peek at a liberal arts education and showing how studying the agents is relevant today,” he says.

Dr. Groarke says Bishop’s was very hospitable and it was good to mix with interdisciplinary colleagues from all the institutions.


Honorary X-Ring for Dr. Baldner

Nominated and decided by the existing senior class and the x-alumni, an honorary x-ring is given to only the rare few. Last Tuesday, 3 December (StFX Day), Dr. Steven Baldner was presented with the 2013 Honorary X-ring. Introduced by Philosophy honour student Eric Scarffe (below at right), Dr. Baldner was speechless, "Thank you very much, I’m completely dumbfounded, and humbled with the honour you’ve given me."


New Chair

Dr. Steven Baldner has been appointed the Chair of the Department of Philosophy, 1 July 2013.

Graduation, May 2012

The department's honour students for 2011-12, Paul Niesiobedzki (left), Cassidy Fortin, Hillary Reid and Hannah MacDonald.

Cassidy Fortin (pictured above) was honoured with the Father Edo Gatto Memorial Award.


Paul Niesiobedzki received the 2012 Father Charles R. MacDonald Memorial Award. Shown below with Dr. Christopher Byrne at the post-convocation celebration.

Amanda Daignault was awarded the Dr. Paul V. Groarke Book Prize in Philosophy. Christopher Byrne (left), Amanda, Louis Groarke and William Sweet.

Hail! Hail! The gang's all here (mostly)


Professor William Sweet was invited to give the opening address at the International Jacques Maritain Conference held in "the most serene republic of San Marino," in April 2012.


Dr. William Sweet has had two books published recently: *Intercultural Dialogue and Human Rights* (CRVP, 2011), and *Responses to the Enlightenment* (Rodopi, 2012).

Drs. Groarke and Sweet with Christina Behme and Jude Dougherty, at the recent meeting of the Canadian Jacques Maritain Association meeting, held in Waterloo, Ontario (May 2012)

Dr. William Sweet was invited as the 2012 Jacek Woroniecki Memorial Lecturer, at the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. Here he is with a number of the students who attended the lectures, with a painting of Albert the Great in the background.

Graduation 2011

Dr. Christopher Byrne (right) presents Oliver Cresswell with the 2011 Father Charles R. MacDonald Memorial Medal.

David Faour (left) is congratulated by Dr. John Cook for winning the Dr. Paul Groarke Book Prize in Philosophy. The book prize is presented to the student exhibiting academic excellence in the areas of ethics, political philosophy and the philosophy of law.

Drs. Sweet (left) and Byrne take a moment after the afternoon graduation ceremony, May 2011

Fall 2010

In November, the Department was pleased to host two external reviewers. Dr. Joseph Novak (Waterloo) and Dr. Steven Burns (Dalhousie). They spent a couple days evaluating our department and programme of study. With the assistance of Dr. Yvon Grenier (Political Science) as internal coordinator, the review was a success.

Back left: E. Carty, L. Groarke, D. Al-Maini, W. Sweet, S. Baldner
Front left: C. Byrne, S. Burns, J. Novak, J. Cook


New Course

PHIL 451: Ethics, Politics & the Law I - Humans and the natural world
Instructor: Dr. Judith C. Stark

This course will examine the current theoretical and practical issues in the field of environmental philosophy with a particular emphasis on ethics. This course analyzes the various paradigms of the natural world that have been developed over the course of the western intellectual tradition. These paradigms have had enormous influences on the ways that we in the west have thought about, organized, and acted upon and in the natural world. These paradigms include significant descriptions and norms about the relationship of humans to the natural world and have been conceptualized in philosophy and the religious traditions, especially in Christianity. Some topics covered include: human relationships to nature, global climate change, obligations to future generations, pollution, diminishing species, ecology and justice worldwide and growing public awareness of environmental problems. A number of local field trips will be organized during the course of the semester that will highlight some specific environmental issues in northeastern Nova Scotia. Three credits. Taught in the T block.

May 2010

Spring Convocation, St. Francis Xavier University

Dr. Christopher Byrne (left) presents Jared Richards with the 2010 Father Charles R. MacDonald Memorial Medal.

Ryan Blood (left) is presented the Dr. Paul Groarke Book Prize in Philosophy by Dr. Byrne, at the convocation social, May 2010.

(no picture available)
The Gatto Prize in Medieval Philosophy was presented to Mr. David McKernan.

May 2009

Spring Convocation at St. Francis Xavier University

Dr. Christopher Byrne (left) congratulates Peter Lamey, winner of the 2009 Father Charles R. MacDonald Memorial Medal. The MacDonald medal is the Department’s highest award and is presented at the spring convocation ceremony.

Ms. Emily Gray (left) was the winner of the 2009 Paul Groarke Book Prize, awarded at the post-convocation celebration with the Department of Philosophy and her fellow philosophy graduates.

Additional pictures from the post-graduation celebration...

May 2008

Spring Convocation at St. Francis Xavier University

Drs. Christopher Byrne (right) and Matthew Kostelecky, display the Father Edo Gatto Memorial Award certificate, presented to Ms. Mary Joanne Curry (centre) after the 2008 Convocation. The Gatto award is for excellence in Mediaeval philosophy. Ms. Curry, a first class honours graduate in Philosophy, was also the winner of the Father Charles R. MacDonald Memorial Medal. The MacDonald medal is the Department’s highest award honouring Fr. C.R. MacDonald, who taught at StFX from 1946 to 1974.

(For more on Fr. MacDonald and Fr Gatto click here.)

Ms. Nadia House who graduated with a first class honours degree in Philosophy at Spring Convocation, was the third recipient of the Paul Groarke book award.

July 2007

Dr. Christopher Byrne has been appointed Chair of the Department of Philosophy, 1 July 2007.

May 2007

Spring Convocation

Dr. Louis F. Groarke (left) received the Outstanding Teaching Award. Pictured with Dr. Groarke are Bishop Raymond Lahey (middle) and StFX President Dr. Sean Riley.

The 2007 Father Charles R. MacDonald Memorial Medal was awarded to Dary L. Jessome, who graduated at the May 2007 convocation with an Honours degree in Philosophy. The MacDonald medal is the Department’s highest award to a graduating student, and is normally awarded at spring convocation. It honours Fr. C.R. MacDonald, who taught at StFX from 1946 to 1974.

(For more on Fr MacDonald, click here.)

Dary completed his honours thesis on "Body Rights, Distributive Justice, and Human Gene Patenting," and is currently planning to pursue an MA in public affairs ethics and philosophy at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.

James Snow, who graduated with a first class honours degree in Philosophy at Spring Convocation 2007, was the second recipient of the Paul Groarke book award.


Professor William Sweet's latest book, Religion and the Challenges of Science, was published by Ashgate Publishers (UK) in the late summer.

June 2007

In June, Dr. William Sweet travelled to Taiwan, where he was a Visiting Professor at Soochow University in Taipei. In addition to teaching a graduate course on "The Dialogue of Cultural Traditions," Dr Sweet also lectured at a number of universities, including Fu Jen Catholic University, the National Taiwan University, and the National Tsing Hua University.

Dr. William Sweet recently spoke on Parliament Hill as part of the Breakfast on the Hill Seminar Series. A large audience, including a number of MPs and Senators, attended Dr. Sweet's talk, entitled, 'Whose Dignity is it Anyway?'

Senator Dr. Noel A. Kinsella (Speaker of the Canadian Senate, Dr. Noreen Golfmann (Executive Director, Canadian Federation for the Humanities), and Dr. William Sweet.

In March, Dr. William Sweet travelled to Malta and Rome to lecture on problems in contemporary applied ethics and the call for parental licensing.

The Department is pleased to announce that Dr. Doug Al-Maini (PhD, Guelph) will be returning to the Department for the next 2 years. Matt Kostelecky (ABD, Leuven [Belgium]) will also be joining the Department and will be teaching courses in mediaeval philosophy.

The principal guest speaker of the Department of Philosophy in the 2006-07 academic year was Dr. Timothy Christie, Director of Ethics Services at the Atlantic Health Sciences Corporation (Saint John, N.B. Health District). On March 7, Dr. Christie presented a paper on "Ethics, Reducing Harm, and Injection Drug Use." After providing some recent statistics on Supervised Injection Sites, heroin prescription, and Needle Exchange Programs - programs which have apparently led to a reduction in some of the negative consequences of addiction - Dr. Christie then argued that this approach can also be supported by a number of contemporary ethical theories.

Together with the Women's Studies Program, the Department welcomed Dr. Christine Overall, Professor of Philosophy at Queen's University in Kingston, and holder of Nancy's Chair in Women's studies at Mount St Vincent University, spoke on “Sex/Gender Transitions, Identity, and Personal Aspirations." The lecture, held on Wednesday, February 21, attracted 100 students, faculty, and visitors.

On Friday, February 16, Dr. James Mensch of the St FX Department of Philosophy, presented a paper entitled "Politics and Freedom." Influenced by the work of the Czech philosopher Jan Patocka, Dr. Mensch argued that freedom is inherently political because its origin is social.

Professor William Sweet has accepted an appointment as Vice-President (Academic) at St Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. (For more information, click here.) Dr Sweet will be on leave from StFX for the next two years.

Professor William Sweet's most recent book, Bernard Bosanquet and the Legacy of British Idealism, appeared from the University of Toronto Press in early February 2007.

At the X-ring ceremony on December 3, 2006, retired Professor Ed Carty was awarded an honorary X-Ring for his many services to the StFX community. Congratulations Ed!

On Thursday, November 23, Dr. Michael Hymers of the Department of Philosophy, at Dalhousie University, spoke on "Wittgenstein on Meaning, Morality, and Method." Dr. Hymers's paper dealt with the relation between the early and later work of Ludwig Wittgenstein and his views on the transcendent and the transcendental in relation to ethics.

On November 16, the Department again celebrated World Philosophy Day by hosting a debate on the theme "Should Philosophers be Kings?". Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the University's Student Philosophy Society ('The Socratic Circle'), members of the Philosophy Department, the Political Science Department, the Psychology and the English Department engaged in an exciting, thought-provoking - and, at times, humorous - exchange. On the 'Philosophy' team was Dr. Doug Al-Maini.
      Well over 100 students and faculty attended the event, and an informal social followed the debate. The debate was also covered in campus media, and there was some significant interest from members of the public in having similar philosophical events in the coming year.

A number of Department members participated in the Atlantic Region Philosophical Association meetings held in October at St Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick, in Fredericton, NB. Dr. William Sweet is the Secretary of ARPA; Drs. Louis Groarke and Jay Cook presented papers, along with Prof. Gyongi Hegedus of the Department of Religious Studies.

Professor William Sweet was elected Vice-President/President-elect of the Canadian Philosophical Association, during its annual congress in Toronto in May 2006. Professor Sweet has also been reelected Vice-President of the Istituto Internazionale Jacques Maritain, in Rome, in March 2006.
Dr. Sweet serves as one of five elected international scholars on the Program Committee for the next World Congress of Philosophy (to be held in Seoul, Korea, in 2008). For more information on the Congress, click here.

Professor Sweet has recently published Volume 8 (Philosophy of Religion) of the Proceedings of the XXI World Congress of Philosophy, and is co-editor (with E.E. Harris) of the 3 volume Collected Works of the British/South African idealist, Arthur Ritchie Lord (1880-1941).

Professor Steven Baldner has accepted an appointment as Dean of Arts at St Francis Xavier (2006-09). For more information, please click here.

In late May/early June, Professor William Sweet was in Hanoi, Vietnam and Seoul and Daegu, Korea, for meetings of the Steering Committee and Program Committee of the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie, and to present invited lectures in intercultural ethics.

The 2006 Father Charles R. MacDonald Memorial Medal was awarded to Therese T. Tisseverasinghe, who graduated at the May 2006 convocation with an Honours degree in Philosophy. The MacDonald medal is the Department’s highest award to a graduating student, and is normally awarded at spring convocation. It honours Fr. C.R. MacDonald, who taught at StFX from 1946 to 1974.

(For more on Fr MacDonald, click here.)

Therese completed her honours thesis on "Universal Health Care: A Moral Perspective," and is currently planning to pursue an MA in philosophy at the St Mary's University.

Therese Tisseverasinghe receiving the MacDonald medal from Dr. William Sweet, Chair of the Department.

On February 17, Dr. Paul Groarke of the Canadian Human Rights tribunal gave a talk in the StFX Philosophy Department’s annual lecture series. His paper, "Philosophy, Law, and Freedom of Religion," attracted a full house of faculty and students.

l to r: Dr. Christopher Byrne, Dr. William Sweet, Dr. Paul Groarke, Dr. Louis Groarke, Dr. Jay Cook

For recent news of Dr.. Steven Baldner, currently on sabbatical,
please click here or here.

On February 10, Dr. Lawrence Burns, Post-doctoral fellow in the Ethics of Health Research and Policy, in the Department of Bioethics at Dalhousie University, gave the third talk in the StFX Philosophy Department’s annual lecture series, entitled "Bodyworlds or Body Works of Art?: Assessing the Educational Merits of the “Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies.” Dr. Burns spoke on some of the ethical, artistic and educational issues that arise in Bodyworlds2, an exhibition of plastinated human bodies, currently showing at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto.

Jay Cook, Laura Byrne, Christopher Byrne, Lawrence Burns, William Sweet,
Ed Carty, Louis Groarke

l to r: Profs. Louis Groarke, Lawrence Burns, William Sweet, Ed Carty

On November 17, UNESCO World Philosophy Day, the Department together with 'The Socratic Circle' sponsored an evening on 'the importance of doing nothing.' Professors and students of Philosophy provided brief (and humorous) comments on this important subject.
The event took place, starting at 6.30 pm, in the 3rd floor lounge outside of Jack's Bar (Bloomfield Centre).

World Philosophy Day poster

Faculty: 2005-06: Jay Cook, James Mensch, Laura Byrne, William Sweet, Christopher Byrne, Ed Carty, Louis Groarke

Members of The Socratic Circle (the Student Philosophy Club)
Front Row: Therese Tisseverasinghe (President), Louis Groarke (Faculty Advisor), Dary Jessome (Vice-President)

The Department was greatly saddened at the passing of two retired members of the Department - Dr. George Sanderson (Nov. 4, 2005) and Fr Howard Shea (Nov. 15, 2005). (Obituary notices are linked below.)

Fr Howard J Shea

A tribute to our late colleague, George Sanderson, may be found here.

Professor Sweet recently co-edited Politics, Ethics, and the Challenges to Democracy in ‘New Independent States' , a volume of essays based on meetings held in Tbilisi, Georgia, at the Georgian Academy of Sciences.

On November 2 and 3, Dr. Leo Groarke, Dean of the Brantford campus, Wilfrid Laurier University, spoke on "Do (formal or informal) logic courses improve our students' ability to think?" and on "Aesop the Philosopher."

Dr. Leo Groarke lecturing on logic

Dr. William Sweet, Dr. Louis Groarke, Dr. Leo Groarke, Dr. Jay Cook

On October 13 and 14, Dr. Christine McKinnon of Trent University spoke on “Character and Virtue Ethics” and on “Varieties of Insincerity.”
Prof. McKinnon’s talk on “Character and Virtue Ethics” focused on the importance of character in our evaluations of good human lives. Arguing for character development as a good for human beings, she also discussed some of the constraints involved in the process. In “Varieties of Insincerity,” Dr. McKinnon spoke on the different ways in which people can be insincere in what they say or insincere in their decision to share the truth.

(l to r) Dr. Jay Cook, Dr. Christine McKinnon, Dr. William Sweet, Dr. Louis Groarke, and Dr. Christopher Byrne

On October 5, the Philosophy Society sponsored "The Philosophy of Magic - the Magic of Philosophy" with Jeremy Bennett introducing us to magic, and Dr. Jay Cook commenting on Philosophy and Puzzles.

Jeremy Bennett and the Magic of Philosophy

Dr. William Sweet thanking Jeremy Bennett, Dr. Jay Cook, and the participation of the audience.

A new paperback edition of Professor Sweet's book, Idealism and Rights, was published in September 2005.

Professor Sweet was in England in July to participate in a conference on the British philosopher and archeologist, R.G. Collingwood. Among the other scholars involved in the conference were Sir Roger Bannister (former Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, and the first man to break the 4 minute mile) and Dr. Wendy James, Professor of Social Anthropology, Oxford University.

Prof. Wendy James (Professor of Social Anthropology, Oxford), Sir Roger Bannister, Prof. Gary Browning (Oxford Brookes University), Prof David Boucher (Cardiff University), Prof William Sweet (St Francis Xavier University), Dr.. Luciano Lukšić (University of Zagreb), Prof James Connelly (Southampton Institute)

The 2005 Father Charles R. MacDonald Memorial Medal was awarded to Martin Capstick, who graduated at the May 2005 convocation with an Honours degree in Philosophy. The MacDonald medal is the Department’s highest award to a graduating student.
Martin completed his honours thesis on "David Chalmers and the Problem of Consciousness," and is currently pursuing an MA in philosophy at the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

The 2004 The Father Edo Gatto Memorial Award was awarded to Dan McCulloch in March 2005. The award is presented from time to time to a student who shows excellence in mediaeval philosophy – particularly in the Department’s courses in that area. It was established in honour of Fr. Edo P. Gatto (BA 1952), former member and Chair of the Philosophy Department, who died tragically in a motor vehicle accident in December 1991.
(For more on Fr Gatto, click here.)

Dr. William Sweet, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, presenting the 2004
Fr Edo Gatto Award in Mediaeval Philosophy to Dan McCulloch.

Dr. William Sweet presenting the 2004 Fr Edo Gatto Award in Mediaeval Philosophy to Dan McCulloch.


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