Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Speech Act Theoretic Semantics

    Author:
    Daniel Harris
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Stephen Neale
    Abstract:

    I defend the view that linguistic meaning is a relation borne by an expression to a type of speech act, and that this relation holds in virtue of our overlapping communicative dispositions, and not in virtue of linguistic conventions. I argue that this theory gives the right account of the semantics-pragmatics interface and the best-available semantics for non-declarative clauses, and show that it allows for the construction of a rigorous compositional semantic theory with greater explanatory power than both truth-conditional and dynamic semantics.

  • Philia and Method: A Translation and Commentary on Plato's "Lysis"

    Author:
    Eric Hetherington
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Steven Cahn
    Abstract:

    This work presents a translation of Plato's dialogue on friendship and a commentary that explores the cultural, literary and philosophical aspects of the dialogue. The translation aims to provide readers with an English version of the dialogue that eschews word-for-word literalness but retains some formality and avoids modern idioms. The analysis of friendship offered in the dialogue is composed of two parts. In the philosophical arguments of the dialogue Plato explores self-directed reasons for friendship. In the literary setting, characters and situations Plato shows us the other-directed aspects of friendship. Only if we consider these two aspects of friendship can we reach a complete understanding of it. The dialogue presents friendship as a voluntary relationship based on caring for the other for the benefit of both friends and their ability to come to know the good. Friends are fungible on Plato's account because what is important is the character of the friend not the person. The dialogue can also be studied for the methods of argumentation that Plato employs. In some of the dialogue's arguments Plato criticizes argumentative strategies that were prevalent in Greek thought before him. One of the dialogues central arguments, that concerning the `proton philon', has a form similar to the `third man' argument from the "Parmenides" and other arguments in Plato that struggle with the nature of Platonic forms. Thus, my commentary explores not only Platonic ideas about friendship but Platonic argumentative methodology as well. The dissertation contains two appendices. In one I examine Vlastos's interpretation of the "Lysis". His interpretation has been influential, but my argument aims to show that his interpretation is not conclusive when we consider the evidence for it in the dialogue alone. It requires Vlastos's chronological understanding of the Platonic corpus. In the second I examine a recent argument about the literary aspects of the dialogue that suggests that Socrates should be considered an unreliable narrator. I argue that there is little evidence for that reading within the text and there are good philosophical reasons for not thinking of Socrates in this way.

  • Philia and Method: A Translation and Commentary on Plato's "Lysis"

    Author:
    Eric Hetherington
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Steven Cahn
    Abstract:

    This work presents a translation of Plato's dialogue on friendship and a commentary that explores the cultural, literary and philosophical aspects of the dialogue. The translation aims to provide readers with an English version of the dialogue that eschews word-for-word literalness but retains some formality and avoids modern idioms. The analysis of friendship offered in the dialogue is composed of two parts. In the philosophical arguments of the dialogue Plato explores self-directed reasons for friendship. In the literary setting, characters and situations Plato shows us the other-directed aspects of friendship. Only if we consider these two aspects of friendship can we reach a complete understanding of it. The dialogue presents friendship as a voluntary relationship based on caring for the other for the benefit of both friends and their ability to come to know the good. Friends are fungible on Plato's account because what is important is the character of the friend not the person. The dialogue can also be studied for the methods of argumentation that Plato employs. In some of the dialogue's arguments Plato criticizes argumentative strategies that were prevalent in Greek thought before him. One of the dialogues central arguments, that concerning the `proton philon', has a form similar to the `third man' argument from the "Parmenides" and other arguments in Plato that struggle with the nature of Platonic forms. Thus, my commentary explores not only Platonic ideas about friendship but Platonic argumentative methodology as well. The dissertation contains two appendices. In one I examine Vlastos's interpretation of the "Lysis". His interpretation has been influential, but my argument aims to show that his interpretation is not conclusive when we consider the evidence for it in the dialogue alone. It requires Vlastos's chronological understanding of the Platonic corpus. In the second I examine a recent argument about the literary aspects of the dialogue that suggests that Socrates should be considered an unreliable narrator. I argue that there is little evidence for that reading within the text and there are good philosophical reasons for not thinking of Socrates in this way.

  • Factlessness & Faultlessness: Individual Differences & Dimensions of Philosophical Dispute

    Author:
    Geoffrey Holtzman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Jesse Prinz
    Abstract:

    This project addresses the question of why philosophical disputes persist, and tackles the problem of how we might better approach them. I demonstrate empirically several ways in which personality, gender, and other factors are associated with specific philosophical beliefs. Typically, one might assume that these individual difference factors are irrelevant to philosophy, and can only serve to bias philosophical disputants. Against this view, I present four case studies, which collectively highlight the different ways in which individual differences in lived experience may be inseparable from philosophical concepts themselves.

  • Marx's Democratic Idea: Communism's Relation to Liberal Theory

    Author:
    Morgan Horowitz
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Sibyl Schwarzenbach
    Abstract:

    My dissertation, "Marx's Democratic Idea: Communism's Relation to Liberal Theory," focuses on working out the undeveloped connections between Marx's economic theory and his political critique. I develop a conception of Marx's work which demonstrates that his critique of the republican political state and capitalist private property relations led to a demand to develop communal, discursively empowered agency over economic relations. I argue that the communist project thus should be viewed as inseparable from a concern about both just social relations (non-coercive, non-exploitative relations) and the maintaining and empowering of democratic, political procedures. I then critically appropriate the work of John Rawls and J├╝rgen Habermas to fill out a normative standpoint which makes clear structural demands that must be fulfilled to realize a commitment to equality, but also notes that a part of justice is fulfilling the preconditions of discursive relations which should serve to consciously reproduce social relations (and allow citizen self-monitoring of the provision and maintenance of just relations). I then connect the conception of "citizen," which entails state granted protections, rights, and privileges, to Marx's early, descriptive standpoint of democracy, which simply refers to or emphasizes the location or place of each member of society in social reproduction. A connection is found then between a "non-ideal" social theory, which asks one to note the practices and relations which are found in and maintain a society, and an ideal theory of democracy which asks social relations to be consciously or discursively guided. Justice demands are then seen as inseparable from a communist perspective which critiques the alienated and exploitative relations of wage labor to capital; not as transcended in communist relations, but instead, as inherent to their construal and maintenance.

  • The Stratification of Nature

    Author:
    Kristian Kemtrup
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Michael Levin
    Abstract:

    Herein, I suggest that contemporary nonreductive materialsm, the view originated by Fodor (1974) and Putnam (1975), and traditional British emergentism, the view advocated by Alexander, Morgan, and Broad, share a commitment to the existence of higher level properties. I identify all of the arguments and evidence cited in favor of belief in higher-level properties, including evidence culled from composition, multiple realization, projectable predicates, and higher-level ceteris paribus laws. Finally, I argue that all of the evidence cited in favor of the existence of higher-level properties can be explained without positing higher-level properties as long as we accept some plausible assumptions about predicates and properties, most importantly that singular predicates can pick out clusters of properties and that singular predicates can pick out different properties in different objects.

  • Time, Unity, and Conscious Experience

    Author:
    Michal Klincewicz
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    David Rosenthal
    Abstract:

    In my dissertation I critically survey existing theories of time consciousness, and draw on recent work in neuroscience and philosophy to develop an original theory. My view depends on a novel account of temporal perception based on the notion of temporal qualities, which are mental properties that are instantiated whenever we detect change in the environment. When we become aware of these temporal qualities in an appropriate way, our conscious experience will feature the distinct temporal phenomenology that is associated with the passing of time. The temporal qualities model of perception makes two predictions about the mechanisms of time perception; one that time perception is modality specific and the other that it can occur without awareness. My argument for this view partially depends on a number of psychophysical experiments that I designed and implemented myself and which investigate subjective time distortions caused by looming visual stimuli. These results show that the mechanisms of conscious experience of time are distinct from the mechanisms of time perception, as my theory of temporal qualities predicts.

  • Tableaux and hypersequents for modal and justification logics

    Author:
    Hidenori Kurokawa
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Sergei Artemov
    Abstract:

    In this thesis, we discuss both philosophical and technical issues on proof theory of modal logic and justification logic. In Chapter 2, we present a view of the foundations of logic, aiming for giving a view of various non-classical logics (called a ``structural-reflective view of logic") and answering the question ``are modal operators logical constants?" We present a method of introducing logical constants in Gentzen-style sequent calculi, based on abstract consequence relations. We propose a synthesis of Avron's, Dosen's, and Sambin et al's methods of introducing logical constants as positive criteria for a logical constant. In particular, we extend their methods to a certain class of modal logics by adopting the framework of hypersequent calculi and argue that modal operators in these logics are indeed logical constants according to our criterion. In addition, we discuss philosophical repercussions of the method, such as the significance of cut-elimination, the connection of the view with proof-theoretic semantics, Belnap's criteria of logical constant-hood, and the problem of what a good proof system is. In Chapter 3, we present hypersequent calculi for some of the strict implication logics and modal logics that are introduced in Chapter 1 and related logics. We show the cut-elimination theorem for these logics and proof-theoretically show correctness and faithfulness of modal embeddings of their superintuitionistic counterparts into these logics. In Chapter 4, we discuss another application of hypersequent calculi to modal logic. In this chapter, we consider logics that combine Artemov's justification logic and traditional modal logics. We formulate combinations of the logic of proofs LP and traditional model logics S4, GL, and Grz, which are studied from the viewpoint of (either formal or informal) ``provability." To handle proof systems for these logics uniformly, we need a proof-theoretic framework that is more general than traditional Gentzen-style calculi. We first introduce prefixed tableau systems and then introduce hypersequent sequent calculi for these logics. We show cut-admissibility for all of these systems via a semantic method.

  • Endurance and Multilocation

    Author:
    Jean-David Lafrance
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Arnold Koslow
    Abstract:

    Material objects exist at different times. Endurance theory is the view that they are wholly present at each of the times at which they exist--or, that they are located at multiple regions of spacetime. In this dissertation, I argue that endurance theory is coherent by explaining how cases of multilocation (whether in space or in spacetime) are possible. My goals are twofold. The first is to show that there is nothing incoherent, both metaphysically and formally, in cases of multilocation and, thereby, in endurance theory. After having introduced temporal and regional variants of classical extensional mereology together with some principles about the location of objects in space, I show how our reluctance to admit cases of multilocation can be resisted by responding to an argument to the effect that they are incoherent. I then defend the view that endurance is multilocation in spacetime against rival characterizations. And, in the Appendix to the Dissertation, I develop formal theories of location in which objects can be located at several regions of space (or space-time). The second goal is to explain how the possibility of multilocation arises. I claim that it is possible for material objects to be located at several disjoint regions of space (or spacetime) because their haecceities, or the properties they have of being themselves, can be instantiated at these several regions. I offer an analysis of haecceities that allows us to give necessary and/or sufficient conditions for their instantiation. It is these conditions that constitute an explanation of the possibility of multilocation. I end the dissertation by showing that my analysis of haecceities, and of how they could come to be instantiated at distinct places, solves other issues in the metaphysics of persistence and, specifically, issues regarding the coincidence of material objects.

  • Endurance and Multilocation

    Author:
    Jean-David Lafrance
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Arnold Koslow
    Abstract:

    Material objects exist at different times. Endurance theory is the view that they are wholly present at each of the times at which they exist--or, that they are located at multiple regions of spacetime. In this dissertation, I argue that endurance theory is coherent by explaining how cases of multilocation (whether in space or in spacetime) are possible. My goals are twofold. The first is to show that there is nothing incoherent, both metaphysically and formally, in cases of multilocation and, thereby, in endurance theory. After having introduced temporal and regional variants of classical extensional mereology together with some principles about the location of objects in space, I show how our reluctance to admit cases of multilocation can be resisted by responding to an argument to the effect that they are incoherent. I then defend the view that endurance is multilocation in spacetime against rival characterizations. And, in the Appendix to the Dissertation, I develop formal theories of location in which objects can be located at several regions of space (or space-time). The second goal is to explain how the possibility of multilocation arises. I claim that it is possible for material objects to be located at several disjoint regions of space (or spacetime) because their haecceities, or the properties they have of being themselves, can be instantiated at these several regions. I offer an analysis of haecceities that allows us to give necessary and/or sufficient conditions for their instantiation. It is these conditions that constitute an explanation of the possibility of multilocation. I end the dissertation by showing that my analysis of haecceities, and of how they could come to be instantiated at distinct places, solves other issues in the metaphysics of persistence and, specifically, issues regarding the coincidence of material objects.