Interview with UTSC lecturer Alex Koo

Published: August 5, 2015

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Alex Koo is a lecturer at UTSC Philosophy. His research interest include the role of mathematics in scientific explanations.

How did you get interested in philosophy?

I took an intro course on a whim in my first year. It was such a different way of thinking from my mathematics courses that I just got hooked.

What are you working on right now?

Adopting a position from Bas van Fraassen in the philosophy of science in order to respond to and challenge some contemporary arguments for mathematical realism.

Who is your favorite ‘historical’ philosopher?

David Hume.

Of the philosophy teachers you found especially influential, what was something distinctive you learned from one of them?

The best teacher I ever had was able to answer questions in a simple and accessible way using plain language and examples. He just had a knack for distilling complicated philosophical concepts into their core components so that anyone could grasp the central issues. His belief, and one that I share, is that philosophy should be easy to understand, but hard to master.

What do you try to bring your undergraduate students in the classroom?

Philosophy is fun, interesting, and exciting; however, it’s often hard to see how philosophy can be relevant. I try to connect what we learn in class to skills that will be useful and important to undergraduates for the rest of their lives.