Theses - Philosophy
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- ItemEmbargoA Study of Frege's Views on TruthHawkins, NathanIn this thesis I study Frege’s views on truth, primarily as expressed in a late series of essays, Logical Investigations, and related unpublished works. The typical approach to Fregean exegesis is to interpret claims he makes and examine both their independent credibility and their consistency with his broader thought. Although this is part of my aim, primarily I seek to trace a pedagogical journey of thought that, I show, he presents in these works. By doing this, his claims regarding truth are presented, first and foremost, within a dialectical context. And I endeavour to show that, by maintaining that context in mind, many of the puzzles that surround his claims can be resolved in a coherent and satisfying manner. In tracing this movement, I begin where Frege begins in Thoughts, the first essay in the series. Here he states that logic is a science, but a special one. Like all sciences, logic seeks to discover truths, but unlike other sciences, logic also studies truth as its subject matter. This, I argue, means logic is concerned with truth at both the epistemic and ontological level. Once this broad conception is accepted as the first principle he presents it to be, many of the other claims he makes regarding truth follow quite naturally. These claims include: that truth is indefinable, that the predicate ‘is true’ sometimes has a sense that makes no contribution to the thought expressed by the sentence it occurs in, that truth is indicated by assertoric force, and that truth is an object rather than a property. Other less explicit claims, I argue, can also be teased from his writings: that thoughts are epistemic units, that the structure of a thought is multiply analysable, and that truth is ultimately ineffable.
- ItemOpen AccessLiving with ourselves, togetherHorne, AlexanderThis PhD dissertation comprises five chapters on a variety of intersecting topics within moral psychology, metaethics, and epistemology. Broadly speaking, the first half of the dissertation focuses on individual agency, normativity and the self; while the second half explores aspects of our normative lives as social agents. More specifically, the first half contains papers on underdetermination by value, self-improvement, and the problem of self-creation; while the second half contains papers on epistemic angst as a social problem and the normativity of social norms. A theme of the first half is that the internal dynamics of individual agency share more in common with inter-agential social dynamics than is usually thought. A theme of the second half is that the reasons emerging from inter-agential social dynamics are more pervasive and powerful than many working in metanormative theory have allowed. Together, the two halves of the dissertation lay some of the groundwork for a novel account of human agency, together with an improvement on our understanding of the nature of robust normativity. In Chapter 1, I articulate and attempt to solve the problem of rational underdetermination as it confronts idealizing subjectivists. In Chapter 2, I introduce a novel thought experiment designed to sound some skeptical notes about self-improvement and interrogate their significance for our understanding of the relationship between agency, identity and self-improvement. In Chapter 3, I criticise a recent, prominent solution to the old problem of self-creation and propose an alternative I label ‘indirect evaluative voluntarism’. In Chapter 4, I pivot to problems generated by our interactions with other agents. I attempt to establish a claim of a posteriori necessity regarding social norms’ reason-giving power that follows from the best account of what they and we are like. My argumentative strategy for establishing that conclusion is to show that the relevant instrumental normativity is simply contingent on a human agent’s having any desires whatsoever, on the model of a universal hypothetical imperative. In Chapter 5, I articulate a distinctively social, epistemic form of angst and use it to explain some communities’ distrust of experts and one another; identify three structural problems manifesting epistemic angst; sketch a partial solution to it; and explain what remains to be done to solve it. Chapter 1 now appears in Synthese as ‘Too many cooks’.
- ItemRestricted(Un)just Kidding: Philosophical Issues in Humour, Comedy and JokingWalker, ZoeIn this thesis, my project is to develop an understanding of the sense of humour as a sensibility, with emotional, evaluative, motivational and attentional aspects, that is shaped by engagement with comedic representations. This picture reveals new ways that humour can harm and new responsibilities that people have for how they engage with comedy, and demonstrates that when one jokes, one is rarely, if ever, just kidding. In Chapter One, I ask: what does it say about you if you enjoy sexist humour? I start by discussing two existing views on this question, and argue that neither can explain the feeling of unwilling complicity we sometimes get when we enjoy immoral humour. To remedy this, I go on to propose a new understanding of the sense of humour as a matter of taste habituated via engagement with comedic representations, which I develop through a perhaps surprising analogy with erotic taste. In Chapter Two, I build on this account of the sense of humour by contending that as well as its emotional, evaluative and motivational aspects, the sensibility of humour also has an attentional aspect, whereby one attends in a particular way to the subjects of that humour, noticing certain features of them and ignoring others. I then show that some dispositions to think according to a particular perspective can harm the subjects of that perspective, by activating stereotypes about those subjects for the thinker, objectifying the subjects, or obscuring the thinker’s understanding of them. In Chapter Three, I turn to the question of responsibility for the sense of humour, given that it can be harmful. I argue that we are not justified in blaming people for having harmful senses of humour, at least in the typical case. Rather, I argue that the best way to think about responsibility for the sense of humour is as a forward-looking responsibility that falls collectively on a society, rather than on particular individuals. Then, in the last two chapters, I think about jokes as a form of comedic representation that shapes the sense of humour, and why we tend to think that if you are joking, your words cannot have serious effects; or at any rate if they do, you are not accountable for them. In Chapter Four, I show how jokers can exploit an ambiguity in ‘serious’ to sincerely communicate, whilst being able to plausibly deny that they have seriously communicated – and how this results in a gradual shift in the standards for an utterance to count as sincere. In Chapter Five, I discuss another sort of joke, where a joke-teller’s explicit assertion is insincere, but they sincerely do other things with their words. In particular, I show first that an insincere joking assertion can nonetheless sincerely presuppose, which can change how hearers think and feel, for better or for worse. I then show that an insincere joking assertion can also sincerely derogate, which can in some cases demean the subjects of the joke, and embolden speakers to act on the ideology evoked by the joke.
- ItemOpen AccessIn the Wake of Abelard: Nominalisms in the Twelfth CenturyNoël, RoxaneSince nominalism is among the main positions within one of the most famous debates of the Middle Ages, namely the debate on universals, and given the usual portrayal of Abelard (1079–1142) as the intellectual forefather of nominalism, the scarcity of the literature on twelfth-century nominalism and Abelard’s influence may come as a surprise. This thesis contributes to filling this gap by examining twelfth-century nominalism in the wake of Abelard. It aims (1) to evaluate Abelard’s influence and (2) to explore the consequences of holding a nominalist position on other viewpoints expressed in the texts. This thesis also acknowledges the recent trend of scholars questioning the centrality of the problem of universals in our discussions of medieval philosophy and thus is not focused on examining arguments defending nominalism on metaphysical grounds. Rather, it explores avenues of discussion beyond the rather narrow bounds of the problem of universals itself. Three texts are examined in this thesis. John of Salisbury’s Metalogicon proposes to adopt a form of nominalism informed by practical concerns, guided by phronesis. The anonymous Summa dialetice artis constitutes a valuable illustration of how a form of Abelardian logic was taught, with language at its very core. As for the anonymous “d’Orvillensis” commentary on the Categories, it reveals how the boundaries between certain schools of the twelfth century might not have been as clearly defined as was initially thought. What emerges from the study of these diverse texts is that, beyond their metaphysical positions, nominalists propose a different way of practicing and teaching logic, which is in part covered by what Marenbon calls the “language-focused approach” to logic. It also provides insight into the consequences of taking a nominalist position as an assumption on which other views are built, beyond the mere confines of the problem of universals itself.
- ItemOpen AccessGenerics in UseBosse, AnneThis thesis is about generics, sentences like ‘Bricks are red’, ‘Boars have bristly hair’, or ‘British people love peas’. In Chapter 1, I consider what makes such sentences generics. I propose that generics should be defined as generalisations that lack overt quantifier expressions. In Chapter 2, I question an assumption made in much of the generics literature, namely that generics express specific generalisations. I consider explanations according to which non-specificity in generics is a by-product of context-sensitivity or semantic incompleteness, but instead propose that generics semantically express non-specific generalisations by default. In Chapter 3, I present a novel account of the semantics of generics that can explain their non-specificity. According to the generality account, generics of the form Fs are G are true iff at least one of several non-generic generalisations about the kind F and the property G is true. In Chapter 4, I turn to the mental states generics give voice to. I evaluate Sarah-Jane Leslie's account, according to which generics express cognitively basic generalisations and propose an alternative. Just as we can express non-specific generalisations in speech using generic sentences, we can also take various propositional attitudes, including of belief, towards them. In Chapter 5, I consider what functional role genericity plays in thought and speech. I argue that because generic beliefs are non-specific, they are also evidentially undemanding: they take whatever evidence they can get. This allows us to form inferentially powerful beliefs and even gain knowledge about kinds based on limited evidence. In Chapter 6, I focus on the connection between generics and stereotyping. I propose an account of stereotypes according to which they involve generic beliefs. I end by considering how this analysis can inform our responses to stereotyping.
- ItemRestrictedThe Therapist as Scientist: A Philosophical Appraisal of Cognitive Behavioural TherapyRatnayake, Theuni SahanikaCognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), one of the most popular schools of contemporary psychotherapy, presents itself as "scientific" and "evidence-based", particularly in contrast with its predecessor, psychoanalysis. This scientific image has shaped CBT on a number of levels. For example, the 'origin story' told by CBT proponents of their own history and the early development of CBT, is one in which the psychoanalytic account of depression, which had gone unquestioned and untested, was proved wrong via scientific experiments, setting the stage for CBT's novel theoretical account of depression. This theoretical account characterises the aetiology of depression — and mental illness more generally — in terms of thinking errors or specific failures of epistemic rationality. Mental illness is described in terms that suggest individuals fail to have an accurate picture of the world, the sort of picture that one might have if one were a scientist. Consequently, CBT's therapeutic approach, described as "collaborative empiricism", involves the therapist and the client acting as scientists, trying to uncover and replace the erroneous or "distorted" thoughts associated with mental illness using quasi-scientific techniques such as "hypothesis testing" and "reality checking". By scrutinising CBT training manuals and psychological research, as well as drawing on relevant literature from history and philosophy of science, medicine and psychiatry, I dismantle this image of CBT on a number of fronts. Firstly, I show that CBT is not unique in presenting itself as 'scientific' or 'evidence-based'. Psychoanalysts were not unconcerned with evidence and Freud in fact saw himself as bringing psychoanalysis firmly under the rubric of natural science. This is not to say that psychoanalysis succeeded in these goals, but rather that CBT's attempt to distinguish itself from psychoanalysis in this manner is misleading. I suggest instead that the transition away from psychoanalysis to CBT is better explained by the fact that what constituted legitimate evidence shifted during this time — from clinical expertise and observations gathered from therapy sessions, to evidence from randomised control trials — a shift that CBT navigated successfully while psychoanalysis floundered. Secondly, contrary to the description of CBT as evidence-based, this evidence is partial, relating largely to CBT's efficacy rather than its description of mental illness and the mechanisms that underlie its therapeutic approach. To put this another way, we have evidence that CBT works, but we are not entirely sure why it works. In challenging CBT's theoretical adequacy, I question the characterisation of mental illness in terms of thinking errors and epistemic issues. Finally, I show that even if mental illness involves epistemic issues, CBT does not have the resources to rectify epistemic issues as it presupposes a simplistic understanding of epistemic and scientific investigation. In concluding, I propose an alternate grounding of CBT's account of mental illness and its therapeutic techniques in terms of failures of practical rather than epistemic rationality.
- ItemEmbargoTrusting(2021-07-21) Domenicucci, JacopoThis work starts from what may seem like a narrow and technical question in the mental metaphysics of trust. I ask about the portion of reality that our mental state of trust takes as its object, as its world-side referent — just like others have asked this about belief, desire, or knowledge. The trust literature has an implicit answer that I spell out: trust takes the future actions of our partners as its object. I contest the cavalier way in which this assumption about the mental metaphysics of trust is regarded as obvious. There are actually other ways to answer the object question — I introduce them and arrange them in a taxonomy. Among these alternatives, there is one that I find more promising than the traditional assumption. It is the Person-first approach, according to which trust primarily takes persons as its object. This approach to the conceptual modelling of trust is guided by a specific conjecture, the Settling Conjecture, according to which trust is the state that settles our interactions with persons. I illustrate the merits of this conjecture in its own terms. I also arbitrate between the standard and the Person-first approach by comparing them on a specific point — the role of expectations in trust. While the standard approach gives expectations the centre stage, the Person-first approach only treats them as a derivative manifestation of trust. I argue that this is more accurate in the light of what we otherwise know about trust. I also suggest that the Person-first approach opens up a promising research agenda for the study of trust in philosophy. I conclude wrapping up the results and spelling out some take-away messages about humans’ social interdependencies and humans’ social nature.
- ItemOpen AccessEssays on Consent(2021-09-30) Chadha, Karamvir; Chadha, Karamvir [0000-0002-3871-3749]This thesis is comprised of four substantive essays on consent. More specifically, they concern individual permissive consent—that is to say, consent by which one person intentionally and directly gives another person moral or legal permission to perform an action. What follows is a brief outline of each of those essays. Essay One is titled ‘An Introduction to the Importance of Consentin Our Sex Lives’. In this essay, I explore three themes. The first is whether consent is necessary or sufficient for morally permissible sex. The second theme is how someone’s consent relates to whether that person is wronged or harmed by another person having sex with them. The third theme concerns how all this relates to the principles that govern the legitimate scope of the criminal law. Essay Two is titled ‘Conditional Consent’. In this essay, I distinguish two ways for someone to place conditions on their morally valid consent. The first is to place conditions on the moral scope of their consent—whereby they waive some moral claim rights but not others. The second is to conditionally token consent—whereby the condition affects whether they waive any moral claim rights at all. I suggest that understanding this distinction helps makes progress with debates about so-called ‘conditional consent’ to sexual intercourse in English law, and with understanding how individuals place conditions on their morally valid consent in other contexts. Essay Three is titled ‘Sexual Consent and Having Sex Together’. In this essay, I defend what I call the Commonsense View of sexual consent. The Commonsense View states that if you have sex with someone without that person’s consent, you thereby infringe that person’s moral rights. Perhaps surprisingly, John Gardner, Catharine MacKinnon, and Tanya Palmer all deny the Commonsense View. According to their view, if sex is in some sense ideal, then each partner’s consent is unnecessary—that is to say, even absent each partner’s consent, neither partner infringes the other’s moral rights. On the contrary, I defend the Commonsense View. In so doing, I develop what I call the Hybrid Account of Consent. The Hybrid Account retains the benefits of two existing accounts of consent while avoiding their shortcomings. I close by suggesting some benefits of my alternative picture and some implications for law reform. Essay Four is titled ‘Children, the Unconscious, and the Dead: Consent and the Will Theory of Rights’. In this essay, I defend the Will Theory of Moral and Legal Rights from what I call the Impossibility Objection. The Impossibility Objection alleges that if the Will Theory is correct, then it is impossible for children, the unconscious, and the dead to have moral and legal rights. I formulate a version of the Will Theory, and use insights about the timing of consent to argue that this version can avoid the Impossibility Objection. This leaves the Will Theory with better extensional adequacy than is widely supposed to be possible. The four substantive essays are followed by a brief chapter titled ‘Summary and Directions for Future Research’.
- ItemOpen AccessCarnap and the Ontology of MathematicsMarschall, BenjaminIn this thesis I investigate Rudolf Carnap's philosophy of mathematics. Most philosophers assume that the nature of mathematics raises deep philosophical questions, which call for theories about how we manage to know about and interact with abstract objects. Carnap's position, in contrast, is deflationary: he aims to show that we can take mathematics at face value without having to answer questions about the metaphysical status of mathematical objects. If Carnap is right, there is thus no need for a philosophy of mathematics as it is usually understood at all. The main argument of my thesis is that Carnap's position is unstable, since his own commitments force him to make at least some ontological assumptions about syntax, i.e. entities such as letters, strings, and proofs. My claim that Carnap needs to accept some ontological questions as being in good shape goes against the received view in the secondary literature. Since the late 1980s interest in Carnap's philosophy of mathematics has been growing, mostly in the wake of important papers by Michael Friedman, Warren Goldfarb, and Thomas Ricketts. These and other scholars have forcefully defended Carnap against objections by, among others, Kurt Gödel, W. V. Quine, and Hilary Putnam. The most powerful challenge to Carnap's view, however, can actually be found in a less well-known paper by the logician E. W. Beth. The core of my thesis is thus a new interpretation of what I call Beth's argument from non-standard models, which relies on Gödel's incompleteness theorems and targets Carnap's claim that mathematics is analytic. I show that my reconstruction of Beth's argument is more charitable to the text than competing interpretations in the secondary literature, and argue that it is also more powerful since extant defences of Carnap cannot be applied.
- ItemOpen AccessThe Politics of Choice and Economic DistributionsKaplan, JessicaThis thesis asks how egalitarians can theorise economic-distributive issues in ways sensitive to structural injustices of race, gender, and class. Drawing on real-world political problems and debates, I illustrate the contemporary urgency of an intersectional approach to economic-distributive justice. And I argue that any such approach must adopt repoliticised, critical conceptions of choice and the economy. Political philosophy on distributive justice is dominated by theories centrally animated by the concept of choice. These theories, I argue, risk mistakenly sweeping structural injustices under the carpet of victims’ own ‘bad choices’. To diagnose this problematic tendency, I reveal the hidden ethico-political dimensions of attributing certain outcomes to certain choices. Choice, I show, cannot provide a pre-political foundation for theories of distributive justice. Accordingly, I then turn to prominent egalitarian paradigms not centrally animated by choice. I suggest relational egalitarianism fares better for its less individualist, more social-structuralist approach. But relational egalitarians are not always clear about how economic-distributive issues relate to equal political relationships and socio-political status hierarchies. I argue that this sometimes leads them to understate the importance of distributive justice. Nancy Fraser’s ‘perspectival dualism’ looks a promising corrective to this under-emphasis, as it is designed to integrate left economic-redistributive projects with feminist and anti-racist cultural-recognitive projects. However, I argue that Fraser’s underlying economy-culture dualism means she struggles to capture important features of the intersections of race, class, and gender. Tracing this problematic economy-culture dualism through contemporary ‘class versus identity politics’ debates, I propose an alternative approach. I suggest we be non-dualists, viewing economic distributions and cultural representations as importantly co-constitutive. To end, I outline a non-dualist analysis of the economy. Our dominant understanding of the economy, I argue, is an ideological objectification of certain practices – an objectification which harmfully helps naturalise relations of raced, classed, and gendered domination. I suggest a counter-hegemonic understanding informed by anti-racist, feminist, and socialist rethinkings of which practices constitute labour and who constitutes the ‘public’ within economic imaginaries of public value.
- ItemOpen AccessIn Pursuit of Reason: An Essay on Rationality and EmotionHughes, SamuelSince the publication of Anthony Kenny’s Action, Emotion and Will, there has been a consensus that emotions involve representing their objects as mattering to the subject in a certain way. All major contemporary theories aim to accommodate this characteristic, and those that clearly cannot have generally been abandoned. This essay is an investigation of a related but distinct characteristic of emotion, one that has often been mentioned but that is only beginning to be systematically investigated. This is that emotions are candidates for rationality: it is unreasonable to be angry with someone who is blameless, to envy someone who is wretched, or to be outraged about something that is unproblematic. In this essay, I offer an account of exactly what this rationality consists in, I argue that existing theories of emotion cannot wholly accommodate it, and I develop a theory that can. Chapter One is a critique of the currently ascendant perception theories, and Chapter Two is a critique of the formerly ascendant belief theories. Chapter Three outlines a positive account of emotions, which I characterise as a form of ‘non-doxastic cognitivism’. Chapters Four and Five look at some more specific features of emotion, namely their hedonic character and their potential for sentimentality.
- ItemOpen AccessSpeech, Sex, and Social Norms(2020-10-24) McDonald, LucyThis thesis contains five essays about speech, sex, and social norms. In each of the first four essays, I analyse a different communicative phenomenon: discriminatory pejoratives (Chapter 1), cat-calling (Chapter 2), shaming (Chapter 3), and flirting (Chapter 4). In Chapter 5 I reflect on how our models of speech bear on issues of autonomy and power, manifested in differing roles assigned to ‘uptake’. Each essay is self-contained, but taken together they present a picture of how speech constructs identities and enforces norms, especially those governing gender and sexuality. The essays face in two directions. They face outwards from philosophy in so far as they use tools from philosophy of language to make sense of under-analysed communicative phenomena, drawing also on moral psychology, linguistics, and sociology. Discriminatory slurs (especially misogynistic ones), cat-calling, shaming, and flirting have all been neglected by philosophers, despite their social significance. Many of them play a key role in sustaining unjust social practices and structures. By illuminating the nature and function of these phenomena, the essays enhance our understanding and provide resources for political activism. The essays face inwards to philosophy in so far as they apply philosophical tools to social phenomena in order to reveal the shortcomings of those tools. None of the phenomena I consider are compatible with the standard, idealised model of communication. The essays demonstrate that communication is not as co-operative, transparent, or socially homogeneous as theorists have had us believe, and they make clear that linguistic theorising cannot be divorced from political considerations. Thus the essays show that just as philosophy of language can help further feminist ends, attention to issues of feminist concern can help refine philosophy of language.
- ItemEmbargoMetaphysics and the Mind-Body Problem: Why the Twenty-First Century Still Needs Mental SubstancesWeir, RalphIn the preface to the second edition of his German Metaphysics (1751) Christian Wolff distinguishes three responses to the mind-body problem. Materialism says that everything is ultimately material. Idealism says that everything is ultimately mental. Substance dualism says that there are both material and mental things and that these are different substances. Through Baumgarten and Kant, Wolff’s trichotomy shaped the way later theorists approach the mind-body problem and the Wolffian positions retain a kind of classical status. When Wolff was writing, Descartes’ substance dualism and Leibniz’s idealism were the leading positions. Materialism was relatively unpopular. This situation has changed remarkably. The present-day incarnation of materialism, physicalism, overtook substance dualism and idealism in the middle of the twentieth century to become the leading response to the mind-body problem. At the same time, substance dualism and idealism have become decidedly unpopular. Even present-day opponents of physicalism tend to reject the classical anti-physicalist positions in favour of standard or Russellian monist forms of property dualism. For this reason, an important question for present-day philosophy is whether it is really feasible to respond to the mind-body problem by positing nonphysical properties without nonphysical substances. This thesis argues that when the surrounding issues are clarified, both standard and Russellian monist forms of property dualism turn out to be much less plausible than we usually suppose. I conclude that if you posit nonphysical properties in response to the mind-body problem then you should be prepared to posit nonphysical substances as well. If it is true that the viable anti-physicalist positions require nonphysical substances, the effect on the philosophy of mind ought to be considerable. This would mean a return to the view that something resembling Wolff’s trichotomy exhausts the main responses to the mind-body problem and hence to the status quo of the eighteenth century. Furthermore, if anti-physicalist positions continue to grow in popularity, it means that we must once again take mental substances seriously, however archaic this may seem.
- ItemOpen AccessWhat's the Matter? Toward a Neo-Aristotelian Ontology of Nature(2020-06-01) Simpson, William Michael Richard; Simpson, William Michael Richard [0000-0002-6734-5711]This thesis contributes to the development of a ‘neo-Aristotelian’ ontology of powers that accommodates quantum phenomena. It offers a number of philosophical objections to ‘Super-Humean’ metaphysics, and constructs a sequence of models that aim to improve upon it, using the metaphysical toolbox constructed in Part I. In Part II, I explore how quantum entanglement challenges the ‘classical’ conception of the world as consisting of particles (or fields) with intrinsic physical properties (Chapter 3). I consider the metaphysical model offered by Super-Humeanism, which accommodates entanglement by combining a ‘primitive ontology approach’ to quantum mechanics with ontic structural realism (Chapter 4). According to Super-Humeans, the world is made of matter points constituted by distance relations. I raise three objections to its structuralist conception of matter. I then propose an alternative semi-Humean model, ‘Bohmian power structuralism’, which overcomes these objections through an ontology of ‘power-atoms’ with multi-track causal powers (Chapter 5). But its Humean conception of laws can be challenged. A second model, ‘power monism’, enriches the primitive ontology to include a ‘cosmic power’ that transforms the power-atoms into a cosmic whole, and supports an Aristotelian-essentialist conception of laws (Chapter 6). This model overcomes the difficulties with power structuralism, but is susceptible to Hawthorne’s ‘extrinsicality’ argument, excluding consciousness from the physical world. In Part III, I consider the emergence of thermochemical properties within macroscopic (or mesoscopic) quantum systems. Metaphysical models that incorporate only finite degrees of freedom, like Super-Humeanism, cannot accommodate properties like temperature and chemical entropy, which are represented in physics in the ‘thermodynamic limit’ (Chapter 7). I offer an additional argument against adopting a reductionist approach based on Putnam’s ‘permutation argument’ (Chapter 8). Finally, I outline a third model, ‘power pluralism’, in which the world consists of: a substrate of ‘power-gunk’, and ‘substantial powers’ that elicit substances from the power-gunk (Chapter 9). In this model, quantum-entangled microscopic particles are potential parts of macroscopic (or mesoscopic) substances, which have intrinsic thermochemical properties.
- ItemOpen AccessNormativity and Representation in Kant's Theory of Cognition(2020-03-01) Hutton, James Stanley; Hutton, James Stanley [0000-0002-7779-6874]This dissertation examines various aspects of normativity and representation as they figure in Kant’s theory of cognition. In particular, I argue that Kant holds that certain forms of representational content constitutively depend on normative constraint. This applies to all of the kinds of content that can be captured by concepts (viz. ‘kind’-properties, and the objective temporal structures that correspond to the “categories”). Since we perceptually represent objects as exhibiting these features, even the activities that produce perceptions must be normatively constrained. Nevertheless, representation per se does not depend on normative constraint: Kant holds that non-human animals can represent objects, suggesting that he endorses forms of ‘non-conceptual content’ that don’t depend on normative constraint. Chapter 1 explores the preconditions for representing objective temporal sequence, as outlined in the Second Analogy. I argue that Kant’s notion of the “necessitation of the subjective order of perceptions” must be understood as a form of normative necessity, so representations of objective temporal sequence constitutively depend on normativity. Chapter 2 continues the discussion of the Second Analogy by exploring the connection between causation and lawfulness. I argue that Kant holds that the concept of contains the notion of lawful connection. He therefore has sound reasons for asserting the Strong Causal Principle (that every event is produced according to a universal causal law) on the basis of the Second Analogy’s argument. Chapter 3 examines the role of schemata in Kant’s theory of cognition. Assuming that schemata are rules for synthesis of the imagination, I argue that they should be understood as akin to maxims: mentally represented rules that bring our activities into contact with intersubjective normative standards. I argue that, by bringing synthesis under normative constraint, schemata enable intuitions to represent their objects as bearing ‘kind’-properties. Chapter 4 discharges the assumption that schemata are rules for synthesis of imagination, through close reading and criticism of alternative interpretations. Chapter 5 examines Kant’s views about animal minds and what they tell us about his theory of human cognition. I argue that he genuinely credits animals with intuitions of objects. Nevertheless, there are still good motivations for thinking that all human intuitions are produced by the understanding, and that it makes human and animal intuitions different in kind. The Conclusion brings together material from the preceding five chapters to discuss the extent to which Kant endorses a ‘normative theory of representation’.
- ItemOpen AccessKant on Embodiment: Lessons from the Critique of Pure Reason and the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science(2020-01-25) Robertson, Rachel Siow; Robertson, Rachel Siow [0000-0002-1075-9083]My thesis offers an original reading of Kant’s theory of cognition and the body’s role in it. In the Critique of Pure Reason and the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, Kant’s subject is shown to cognize, and be cognized, through embodied activity in the material world. I begin by demonstrating Kant’s rejection of all-mental accounts of cognition. Neglecting the body leads to the dissolution of subjects, objects, and any cognitive relation between them. I show that Kant provides an alternative account in terms of embodied activity, focusing on three cases. First, the unifying structures required for sense perception could not be applied without embodied activity. Second, empirical self-consciousness depends on embodied activity in relation to objects in space. Third, scientific knowledge is made possible only through bodily activity, which reveals the causal forces constituting matter. In all three cases, the body is shown to have an active role in determining experience. I then investigate the implications of my reading, providing a new interpretation of Kant’s transcendental idealism – the causally active body is a transcendental condition of experience. I show how this contrasts with not only traditional readings of Kantian cognition as conditioned entirely by the structures and activity of the mind, but also less traditional readings which ascribe a cognitive role to the body only by stripping away its material properties. Even many contemporary non-Kantian accounts distinguish between the mind which acts in cognition, and the body which only passively receives causal affects. Developed in tandem with a robust metaphysics of matter as endowed with causal activity, Kant’s account of the active body overcomes this mind-body distinction. Cognition is more thoroughly embodied than is commonly thought. I finish by sketching an approach to Kant’s account of life and freedom. I suggest that the transcendental status of the body in the theoretical realm paves the way towards a freely acting subject in the practical realm. Through casting the body as the actor in cognition, Kant provides the resources for a full characterization of the human subject.
- ItemEmbargoImaginative Simulation in the Moral Life(2020-01-25) Johnson, Matthew Kuan; Johnson, Matthew Kuan [0000-0002-4768-9875]“Imaginative simulation” refers to our capacity to create, in our mind’s eye and in our bodies, perceptual and experiential states that feel as-if we were encountering those states in reality (such as when we vividly remember certain events from our lives, project ourselves into the first-personal experience of the character in a novel, and so on). My thesis suggests that analytic moral philosophy would benefit from a sustained consideration of the role that imaginative simulation plays in our moral thinking. Indeed, it is because imaginative simulation involves the same critical sensorimotor, perceptual, affective, and conative states as those used in veridical experiences (i.e. there is a “functional equivalence” between the neural states involved in imaginatively simulating being in a situation as in actually experiencing it), that imaginative simulation makes possible certain important forms of moral perception and moral learning. Additionally, because the same crucial processes are involved in imaginative simulation as in actual experience, imaginative simulation can also be used to train and engrain certain (virtuous or vicious) patterns of perception and behaviour. In other words, imaginative simulation allows moral knowledge and thinking to be transformative, and not merely representational. I begin by showing how imaginative simulation, by providing a more “immersed” perspective on moral cases, makes certain crucial forms of moral perception possible, can be used to solve the problem of moral motivation, and can be used in moral development. I then provide an empirically-motivated account of the processes underlying imaginative simulation. Next, I develop a psychological model of imaginative simulation’s role in moral reasoning, and show how it can explain certain puzzling findings in experimental moral psychology and experimental philosophy. This psychological model is then used to show how our moral reasoning can go astray, particularly when using thought experiments, and I provide some guidelines for the use of thought experiments in the development of moral theory. In the final part of the thesis, I show how imaginative simulation provides a new framework for virtue theory and weakness of will.
- ItemOpen AccessNeglected Virtues: Love, Hope and HumilityMason, Cathy; Mason, Cathy [0000-0001-7272-1948]Love, hope and humility are neglected elements of our moral lives in comparison to widely recognized traits like justice and courage. In my dissertation I explore these phenomena in order to have a better conception of them and vindicate their place in our moral lives. In the first section I examine the connection between love and knowledge in Murdoch’s The Sovereignty of Good. Murdoch makes the strange suggestion that love is a form of knowledge. How do we reconcile this claim with love’s heterogeneous and messy everyday manifestations? I develop an interpretation of Murdochian love, arguing that Murdoch conceives of love as a virtue, and as belonging at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of the virtues. This vindicates the epistemic role Murdochian love fulfils, since she conceives of the virtues as involving knowledge. I then apply this conception of love to debates about epistemic partiality, and suggest that it gives reason to think that such discussions have gone awry in taking for granted a questionable conception of friendship. Next, I turn to hope. Hope can powerfully influence our lives, deeply shaping our actions and character, as well as being essential for social and political movements. I propose a new account of hope in which hopes characteristically shape and figure in intentions. This account does justice to hope’s distinctive manifestations in action, explains the rational constraints on hoping, and sheds light on the distinctions between hoping and related states such as wishing. Is hope a virtue? On the one hand, hope can be a powerful force for good. But on the other this thought is in tension with the observation that we can hope for evil things. I argue that hope is necessary for engaging in a broad kind of project which is essential in order to live a meaningful human life, and that this gives reason to think it is a virtue. In the final section I explore an additional trait which can at first appear to be a strange addition to the canon of virtues: humility. Humility has sometimes been understood as a kind of servility or self-ignorance, but such traits do not obviously seem virtuous, and do not involve knowledge. In this chapter, I correct these misconceptions of humility and offer an account of it as a disposition not to valorise relative superiority. This account does justice to the moral value of humility while avoiding the concerning implication that ignorance can constitute a kind of virtue. I argue that humility thus understood plays an important role in our ethical development. Finally, I argue that some recent arguments offered by Morgan-Knapp suggesting that pride in relative superiority is theoretically mistaken are unsuccessful.
- ItemOpen AccessSkill and Virtue after 'Know-How'(2019-11-20) Dougherty, Matthew RyanThis dissertation is an investigation of the prospects for thinking of ethical virtue as a kind of skill in light of the discussions of ‘knowledge-how’ that begin with Gilbert Ryle. Chapter 1 offers an account of Ryle’s interest in the notion of knowledge-how as partially underpinned by the hope that ethical virtue might be well-understood as a kind of skill. The chapter concludes, however, by noting that he eventually gives up on this idea, coming to believe that virtue requires a certain kind of care which skill does not. The remaining chapters can then be seen as an attempt to take up Ryle’s project of understanding virtue as a kind of skill by engaging with recent work on know-how, on the skill analogy in virtue ethics, and on care and commitment. Chapter 2 concerns what knowledge-how is knowledge of. It argues that knowledge-how is well-understood as knowledge of the standards, norms, or rules of an activity. This view is defended against arguments from recent ‘anti-intellectualists’ and ‘intellectualists’. Chapter 3 then argues that understanding knowledge-how as rule-knowledge is helpful for seeing that there are different senses of “knowledge-how”, some of which amount to skill and some of which do not. It also attempts to turn the debate about know-how back toward what Ryle understood as ‘Intellectualism’ – viz., the view that human intelligence essentially amounts to thinking, rather than the view that ‘know-how’ can be ascribed with a “that”-clause. Chapter 4 then turns to the skill analogy and the history of objections to the idea that virtue is a skill. This chapter argues for a reinterpretation of the skill analogy. It argues that the analogy is properly understood not as comparing virtuous individuals to individuals with mere practical skill (as is standardly thought) but, rather, as comparing virtuous individuals to good occupants of skill-involving roles – individuals distinguished, amongst other things, by their commitment to a craft that is in part definitive of their identity. In general outline, such an interpretation agrees with Ryle’s contention that virtue requires not only practical know-how but also care. Chapter 5, however, returns to the point at which Ryle had given up on virtue being a skill and asks whether the kind of care or commitment needed for the skill analogy might itself be a distinctive kind of skill. The aim in this chapter is to make plausible that such commitment is a skill and, hence, to make plausible that virtue might be thought of as consisting of a suite of skills.
- ItemEmbargoThe Phenomenology of Visual Experience(2019-11-30) Tan, Li Li; Tan, Li Li [0000-0001-8948-0909]Our visual experiences of the world around us deliver information about the visible features of the objects we see. What these features are, however, is still up for debate. On the one hand, most philosophers agree that if our visual systems are functioning normally, “low-level” features such as colours, shapes, sizes, and movements undoubtedly figure in the phenomenal character of our visual experiences, or “what it is like” for us to visually experience the world. On the other, many have argued for the expansionist view that various “high-level” features figure in visual experience over and above low-level features. These include kind features (e.g. hibiscus-ness, armchair-ness), biological features (e.g. animacy), and facial expressions (e.g. surprise). The aim of this thesis is to defend the opposing restrictivist view that the visible features of objects that figure in our visual experiences are limited to low-level ones. The first part of the thesis argues that this debate between expansionists and restrictivists should be resolved by identifying an independently-motivated criterion to determine the features that figure in visual experience. A criterion based on visual discrimination is suggested and developed, which has the result that high-level features do not figure in visual experience over and above low-level features. The second part considers the expansionist strategy of showing that high-level features must be introduced to explain how visual categorisation and recognition work. It is argued that this strategy does not succeed, and that a restrictivist account of visual recognition turns out to be better than the expansionist one. The third part focuses on the expansionist claim that objects visually appear to us to be mind-independent. It is argued that this claim is false, because the best account of mind-independence as a perceptible feature requires us to appeal to our proprioceptive sense in addition to visual perception.
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