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David Strenke receives Duncan Award for best paper in philosophy

March 14, 2014
UW-Eau Claire student David Strenke, left, receives the Duncan Award for Best Paper in Philosophy from Dr. Brian Woodcock, assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies.

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student David Strenke, a senior philosophy major from Almena, recently was named the first recipient of the Duncan Award for Best Paper in Philosophy.

The Duncan Award was created last year in memory of Dr. Diane Moira Duncan, a former UW-Eau Claire philosophy and religious studies department faculty member who died in 2009. The award, which recognizes the recipient's outstanding research and writing abilities, is presented to the author of the best paper written in the philosophy course "Seminar in Problems of Philosophy." The course is a requirement for philosophy majors and is the typical avenue by which they satisfy their capstone requirements.

Strenke received the Duncan Award from Dr. Brian Woodcock, assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies, for his paper "The Role of Analogy in Inference to the Best Explanation."

Woodcock said Strenke developed his research topic largely on his own.

"When I learned of it, I knew that it had some real promise," Woodcock said. "He put a noticeable amount of effort into researching various aspects of his topic and brought it all together to support an interesting thesis about the role of analogical reasoning in making scientific inferences."

Strenke further simplified the focus of his research.

"In a nutshell, it's about the difference between analogy as a form of argumentation and analogy as a means to an explanation," he said.

Strenke, a member of the Philosophy Club and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said that while many consider a degree in philosophy to be impractical, he strongly disagrees, arguing that philosophy is a study intertwined with many other disciplines.

"Ultimately, I think that philosophy is the driving force behind everything," Strenke said. "It drives history; it drives politics; it drives science; it drives business; it drives religion. So, in spite of the views that many people hold, I think that philosophy is the most practical field of study that I could have chosen."

Strenke changed his major from history to philosophy after taking a course in ancient philosophy at UW-River falls, a decision he says was one of the best he's ever made.

"In philosophy, I get to study the greatest ideas ever conceived by man," Strenke said.

When questioned about why he chose to study philosophy, Strenke quoted a Bible verse, Ecclesiastes 7:12: "Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life."

Dr. Edward Beach, UW-Eau Claire professor emeritus of philosophy and religious studies, created and sponsored the Duncan Award in memory of Dr. Duncan to recognize her scholarship, spirited teaching and capacity to instill philosophical enthusiasm in her students. Duncan was a UW-Eau Claire faculty member in the philosophy department from 1999 to 2003.




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