By Shannon Boklaschuk
An award-winning University of Saskatchewan (USask) philosophy student has received a prestigious Canada Graduate Scholarship – Master’s Award (CGS-M) to help fund his graduate studies this fall.
The scholarship, administered by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), recognizes outstanding students who are pursuing a master’s degree in the social sciences or humanities. Logan Ginther will hold the SSHRC CGS-M as he pursues a Master of Arts degree at the University of Toronto.
“The scholarship is meant as research funding, so the application involved a research proposal over and above a writing sample,” said Ginther, who will receive his Bachelor of Arts (honours) degree in philosophy, with a minor in English, during USask’s 2021 Spring Convocation.
Ginther’s writing sample began as a term paper he wrote for a favourite USask philosophy seminar on Kantian ethics, so for him the scholarship application process “felt like wrapping up my current projects and looking at what they might become in the future,” he said.
“At the risk of getting too philosophically specific, I am interested in exploring the role of what Kant calls moral feeling and moral endowments in ethical obligation, especially obligation to positive duties: because different agents are differently morally endowed, their moral lives will differ,” he said. “This is a somewhat novel—or, at least, surprising—interpretation given Kant’s famously universalistic rationalism in ethical and metaethical matters. I think a case can be made for it, though, and I suspect it would serve to make Kant’s ethics seem somewhat less unfeeling, and thus more intuitively appealing.”
Ginther, a high-achieving student, previously received other honours and awards at USask, including the John Bateman Memorial Scholarship from the Department of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Science during the last two years of his degree, as well as the R.A. Wilson Memorial Scholarship as a student of both philosophy and English during the last academic year.
Ginther, who was born and raised in towns around Saskatoon, began his studies at USask in 2016. He found his perfect fit in philosophy.
“Philosophy could get me access to the ideas I felt I wanted to explore and, importantly, could allow me to explore them as deeply as I wanted to. You really can try to get to the bottom of things in philosophy—even if in the process you realize that probably there is no bottom,” he said.
“I deeply enjoyed the community of my professors and my classmates,” he added. “The department is small enough that everyone can get to know everyone else’s interests, and this makes for a really cool space for fun and fruitful philosophical discussion. Throughout my degree, I got acquainted with a lot of important philosophers and philosophies but, because of the size and feel of our department, I got to know a lot of really great people manifesting given philosophies, too.”
During his studies at USask, Ginther published a paper on Kantian ethics in an undergraduate philosophy journal based at the University of British Colmbia, while a paper he wrote on Wordsworth and Spinoza was recently accepted by the University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Journal (USURJ). As well, he worked as a teaching assistant for a philosophy professor and volunteered as a student recruitment ambassador for the College of Arts and Science.
“The Philosophy Students’ Society was always a fun community, and I enjoyed being around my colleagues who headed that up. The philosophy department itself puts on colloquia and public lectures, too, and I always attended as many of those as I could,” said Ginther, noting “the size and feel of the department made my education a much more personal process than it might otherwise have been, and I am very grateful for that.”
“Really, the size and feel of the University of Saskatchewan, on the whole, makes for a dynamic, disciplinary boundary-stretching learning environment. To my knowledge, we are one of (the only) universities in Canada who combine the disciplines of the arts and the sciences in a single college, and we are small enough to allow for significant shoulder-bumping between students of diverse interests. For example, I’ve had philosophy classes with physics students—this really brings us metaphysicians back down to Earth, sometimes,” he added.
“I would encourage incoming students not to be afraid of taking classes outside of their areas of direct interest. Some of the most rewarding learning experiences I’ve had have been very unexpected—even my declaring a major in philosophy was unplanned. Inspiration likes to surprise.”
Ginther and his wife have already moved to Ontario in anticipation of his graduate studies at the University of Toronto in the fall. After completing his master’s degree, Ginther plans to complete a PhD in philosophy and would also like to explore graduate studies in English.
“I still love literature and would like to continue exploring the philosophical reaches of some of my favourite literary writers,” he said.
“I would like to express again my deep appreciation of my inspired, inspiring professors,” Ginther added. “I am so happy to be able to carry forward their influences on me as I continue to develop both philosophically and personally.”