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Past Student Fellows

 

Laura Benacquista

Laura is a second year Master’s in Philosophy student at the University of Windsor. She spent the fall term of 2011 as a visiting researcher at the department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric at the University of Amsterdam. During this time she intensively studied the pragma-dialectical approach to argumentation theory.

As a CRRAR fellow, Laura intend to explore the practical values of sophistic argumentation in comparison to those of pragma-dialectics. Her research for CRRAR will inform her major paper on this topic, which will be completed and defended this summer. In the fall Laura intend to explore her broader philosophical interest in phenomenological hermeneutics at the Doctoral level.

 


 

Justin Morris

I have just begun my Master's in Philosophy and recently completed my undergraduate degree—majoring in the same discipline—here at the University of Windsor. In the future, I intend to continue my studies at the Doctoral level.

Currently, I am enrolled in Dr. Hundleby's Feminism and Argumentation graduate seminar where we are exploring the implications of gender and sexuality on argumentation. Eventually, I plan on writing a major paper concerning the moral status of nonhuman animals; specifically, I will focus on and expand ecofeminist critiques of the epistemic foundations, anthropocentric tendencies, and underlying ontologies that have suppressed and obfuscated our moral and social obligations to nonhuman animals.

With respect to my tenure at CRRAR, I aim to establish what I believe to be a fruitful connection between a theory of audience-identity in argumentation and the work of reader-response theorists Wolfgang Iser and Hans Robert Jauss. Their respective historical, aesthetic, and hermeneutic accounts of the processes involved in reading a literary text—including the intersubjectively verifiable characteristics between reader, text, and author—has the potential to be an invaluable resource for better understanding the dynamic, dialectical character of argumentative discourse and how the dialogical interplay between audience, arguer, and argument functions within it.


Andy Ball

I am currently in my final term as a Philosophy M.A. student at the University of Windsor. Prior to this, I completed an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Detroit Mercy (’06) and then took off on the road with the ‘Lonesome River Band’ for three years before beginning graduate studies. As part of my current coursework, I am writing a major paper on the subject of Ernest Sosa’s virtue epistemology approach, specifically, his distinction between animal and reflective knowledge by responding to some of the major criticisms that have been leveled by Hilary Kornblith. My particular interest that is more related to the mission of CRRAR concerns how virtue approaches can be applied to aspects of argumentation theory, such as by possibly helping us get a better understanding of fallacies as something not merely wrong with an ‘argument’ per se, but possibly as something defective with the ‘arguer.’


Michael (Bommer) Baumtrog

 Michael Baumtrog 

I am currently in my last semester of the Masters program in philosophy which, when completed, will end a seven year career at the University of Windsor.  My philosophical research interests pertain to the status of youth and notions of personhood.  Within CRRAR I hope to conduct research reviewing the role of people in argumentation while paying specific attention to questions regarding the ability youth have to reason and conduct arguments. Upon graduation I plan to study for a Ph.D. in an effort to work for children's causes on an international scale.

 


Matt Stevens

This is my first year in the Philosophy MA program here at the University of Windsor. I finished my undergrad at McMaster University in Hamilton and double majored in Mathematics and Philosophy. I hope to prepare either a major paper or thesis in the field of informal logic.

A main challenge for informal logic is to have a theory for what makes an argument cogent for an individual. Many theories seem to favour a relativistic or internal standard for cogency, which may ultimately be necessary. Despite this there are objective standards one ought to use to analyze an argument and to aid an individuals evaluation. My hope is to help identify and develop some of these standards. This will likely involve clarifying the variable relationships between premises and possibly explore the uses of fuzzy logic in the evaluation of argument. My fondness of formal logic and epistemology as well as my study of math should provide me with a strong background in this pursuit.

I am excited to take advantage of CRRAR's unique specialization and skills. Informal logic is an extremely important field of philosophy and one which is not given enough attention. I look forward to joining the leading school in this field of research.

 


Jack MacLennan

Photo Credit: Shawn Taylor

 

A native of Saint John, New Brunswick, Jack MacLennan holds an Honours BA in Political Science from St. Thomas University in Fredericton. Currently he is an Master of Arts candidate in the Political Science department at the University of Windsor and an Master of Public Policy student at the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, University of Michigan-Dearborn. As a CRRAR Graduate Fellow, Jack's research topic will be concerned with rhetorical frames used during the diplomatic build up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, namely, how and how well humanitarian rhetoric was used to frame the invasion and garner international support. This is a key part of Jack's major research for his MA and has been formed the basis of a paper given at the 2010 Centre for International Peace and Security Studies Graduate Student Conference at McGill University. More broadly Jack's research interests include International Relations Theory, namely Constructivism; Political Theory and Methodology; Human Rights; and the role of force in world affairs. In all of these endeavors, the role of words, rhetorical frames, and discursive constructions of meaning play a central role. 

 

 


Ewa Wasilewska - Kaminska
CRRAR Student Fellow

Ewa Wasilewska - Kaminska is a Ph.D. student in the Faculty of Pedagogy at Warsaw University, Poland. Previously she was awarded an M.A. in English (Education & Linguistics) from the University of Gdansk.

Ms Wasilewska-Kaminska's doctoral research concerns the idea of Critical Thinking as it has developed in North American educational communities. She will use her findings as a basis for determining whether this educational initiative could be fruitfully implemented in Poland. Her dissertation is tentatively titled “The theoretical foundations and practice of Critical Thinking Instruction in U.S.A. and Canada: Implications for Polish Education.”

Ms Wasilewska-Kaminska will be visiting CRRAR (the Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric) for three weeks in March 2010. While she is here she will be consulting especially with Dr. Ralph H. Johnson, Senior Research Fellow at CRRAR, and availing herself of the Leddy Library’s resources on critical thinking.


Janine Morris*
CRRAR Student Fellow

I am in my second year in the English Language and Literature Masters program, specializing in feminist approaches to the field of Composition Studies. Following my Masters Degree, I am seriously considering continuing my studies of Composition and Rhetoric on to the PhD level.

As a graduate student, I have had the opportunity to teach several sections of first year writing (Composition 26-100). In my teaching, I have tried to employ feminist principles of inclusion and feminist processes (such as those that challenge traditional distributions of power and that promotes an environment of inclusiveness) in order to create a pedagogy that encourages the development of these qualities in my students. My work as an instructor has helped me to conceive of the writing classroom as a rhetorical space, where the interaction between instructor and student can become dialogic and interactive, moving away from a one-sided transmission of knowledge. In the collaborative classroom space, students learn rhetorical tools in order to reach their audiences and realize their power in the shaping and creation of meaning through their writing. Pedagogies highlighting dialogue between instructor and student and promoting collaborative work change the nature of argumentation in the classroom. Instead of instructors acting as experts in their areas of study, the balance of authority is shifted through collaboration, and students can learn to gain authority over their written work. The collaborative classroom environment in particular is one that I have found useful in creating an area where students are able to work together to help each other develop their abilities in written argumentation.

My research interests, stemming from my experience teaching, have involved problematizing the role of the feminist writing instructor while conceiving the classroom as a rhetorical space. I am interested in how a classroom climate created by incorporating the principles of rhetoric with feminist processes can have a positive effect on the way students interact with one another. As a student and instructor in the field of Composition, I have spent the past year thinking about how a classroom that values collaborative and feminist practices can positively impact the contribution of female students and the ways they present themselves to others. I have found that both in practice and through research that female students’ often participate less and speak with less certainty than male students in their writing and in classroom discussions. Through my studies, I have been interested in the most effective ways to create a more powerful voice for female students in academia.

I am developing this line of thinking into a paper which I am presenting at the Feminism and Rhetoric Conference (Michigan State University, October 2009). I intend to continue to further research in this area as I continue my studies. I find that my interest in the area of classroom rhetoric and my professional development as an instructor would greatly benefit from learning and working with the faculty members involved with CRRAR.


    

Aleksandra Kostic
CRRAR Student Fellow  

I completed courses in Logic in my undergraduate studies at the Belgrade University (Department of Philosophy). I am a Master’s student at the University of Windsor, and enrolled Methods of Informal Logic taught by Dr. H. Hansen has given me valuable opportunity to learn further about this subject.

Since my graduation, I've worked for several Serbian NGOs and think-tanks through which many of the most prominent Serbian authors in the field of philosophy, sociology and political science tried to make a positive impact on the public sphere. Besides some administrative work, my experience included writing essays and taking part in the debates that were important the during politically turbulent times in Serbia. Thus, the appeal that Informal Logic could provide a means to analyze and assess arguments given in natural language, and in that way give valuable – or, better to say, invaluable – contribution to resolving problems that can be addressed only through arguments. My background includes also translating academic works from German authors such Juergen Habermas, Axel Honneth and Peter Sloterdijk.


Michael Walschots
CRRAR Student Fellow

I am currently in my first year of the Master’s program in Philosophy at the University of Windsor. I completed my undergraduate in Philosophy here at the University of Windsor in 2009 and after finishing my coursework I will be writing a thesis under the supervision of Deborah Cook and Dr. Radu Neculau.

I am interested in the history of German philosophy generally but will be writing a thesis on the intersection between the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant and that of twentieth century German philosopher Theodor Adorno. I am hoping to complete the majority of my thesis in Frankfurt, Germany next year and have been actively learning German for the past two years in order to assist my research. Contra Kant, Adorno believes that morality is uncertain such that the right course of action is often indeterminate. I am interested in the problems associated with such a scenario and what the consequences are for our understandings of moral and legal responsibility.

I also have a developing interest in how standards of good reasoning are at the foundation of thought. Descartes’ attempt to doubt all knowledge seemed unable to call standards of good reasoning into question for, without having implicit knowledge of such standards he would not have been able to infer that because he thought, he existed. Also, Kant’s critique of reason was necessarily carried out by reason itself for ‘thought cannot step outside of itself’, as it has once been put. The paper Dr. Ralph Johnson presented during the Fall term, which explored how Nietzsche’s revaluation of values could be used to critique deductivism as the archetype of reasoning, encouraged me to further explore how our standards of reasoning often go uncriticised or are at least problematic to criticize because we are in a sense bound to employ these standards in the process of critique itself.