Ph.D. Student Receives Three Fellowships

Philip Swenson, a Ph.D. student in philosophy, has won three fellowships to support his dissertation research, including a prestigious award from the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion.

The highly competitive residential fellowship from the University of Notre Dame — a $20,000 award plus travel expenses — is the second awarded to a UCR doctoral student in philosophy in three years. It will support research on the portion of Swenson’s dissertation that attempts to reconcile human freedom with comprehensive divine foreknowledge.

He also has been awarded $2,000 from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University and $7,200 from the UCR Dissertation Year Program.

“The three awards together show what we in the Department of Philosophy have known for a while: that Philip Swenson is a very talented and promising young philosopher,” said John Fischer, distinguished professor of philosophy and Swenson’s advisor. “He is one of the very best of our outstanding group of graduate students working on free will and moral responsibility, and he has very wide philosophical interests, including applied ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. I am very happy that he will have the opportunity to focus on his research at Notre Dame.”

Swenson’s dissertation, “Ability and Responsibility: Essays on Behalf of Leeway Incompatibilism,” explores the sort of moral responsibility that licenses praise when people act in morally good ways and blame when they act in morally bad ways. In particular he will attempt to answer questions about the sort of control one needs to have in order to be morally responsible for one’s behavior.

The philosopher said his dissertation defends the concept of leeway incompatibilism, “the view that (a) no one is morally responsible for what they do unless they could have done (or had the ability to do) something other than what they did, and (b) the ability to do otherwise is incompatible with the obtaining of causal determinism.” Causal determinism, he said, is the thesis that every event that occurs is causally guaranteed to occur by prior events.

“My dissertation aims to increase the plausibility of leeway incompatibilism by investigating a variety of philosophical issues,” Swenson explained. “This will involve responding to arguments against aspects of leeway incompatibilism, developing accounts of certain phenomena, such as the nature of ability and the content of the blaming emotions or attitudes, that fit nicely with the leeway incompatibilist picture, and providing a new argument for the conclusion that moral responsibility is incompatible with the obtaining of causal determinism. I will also attempt to show that the account of ability I develop leads to the conclusion that freedom and foreknowledge are compatible.”

Swenson earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Missouri State University (now the University of Central Missouri) and a master’s from the University of Missouri.

Center for Sustainable Suburban Development Awarded $13,700 Grant

UCR’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development (CSSD) has been awarded a $13,700 grant by the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California (CCREC) to examine wage theft and health care access among warehouse workers in Southern California.

The project will train warehouse workers to recruit respondents and administer a survey in English and Spanish to at least 300 workers. Investigators, collaborators and student researchers will conduct detailed follow-up interviews and collect legal testimonies on incidences of wage theft and lack of health care access in the logistics industry.

“This project seeks to identify and examine the human cost of global trade by extending the investigators’ partnership with Warehouse Workers United and other organizations to mitigate the negative impacts of the logistics industry on individuals working in Inland Southern California,” said Juliann Emmons Allison, associate professor of political science, associate director of CSSD and principal investigator for the project. Ellen Reese, associate professor of sociology, is a co-principal investigator.

The one-year project will begin Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31, 2014.

The CCREC is a Multi-Campus Research Program of the University of California, based in Santa Cruz. Its mission is to foster a more equitable California by addressing the interconnected crises in the economy, education, employment, environment, health, housing, and nutrition.

Business Students Win Awards at Strategy Competition

Two UCR teams composed of MBA students won high honors at the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition (ICBSC), held April 19 to 21.

The teams won first and second place trophies in the best overall performance and best documents categories. This is the 49th year the ICBSC has been held, and this is only the second time UC Riverside has competed.

The UC Riverside competitors included: Chein-Po Liao, Chiu-Ju Hou, Hsiao-Yun Lee, Lina Xu, Tommy Ngo, Steven Jew, Zhaohong Dai, Charlotte Deshayes, Yilian Hu, Mashud Qayum, Ryan Rakib, and Wei Zhou.

“We are grateful to our professors as all the classes, group projects, case analysis have prepared us with the necessary tools we used through the duration of the competition,” said Rakib, the team CEO. “We strongly believe that our dedication and hard work will inspire the next year’s teams to take this success to the next great level.”

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