Job Market Candidates
Research Areas: Philosophy of Mind; Philosophy of Language (Singular Thought; Metaphor); Epistemology (Self-Knowledge, Moral Epistemology)
Dissertation: "Emotional Perspectives: How Emotional Experience Structures Cognition"
Most philosophical accounts of emotion characterize emotional experiences as analogous to occurrent attitudes, such as desires, or to perceptual experiences insofar as they are thought to have both qualitative character and representational content. My dissertation argues that emotional experiences are nonrepresentational. Instead, I develop the view that having an emotion is like taking up a perspective on a situation. On the account I offer, the qualitative features of emotional experiences are relations among our non-emotional conscious experiences. More specifically, emotional experiences are mental modifications that structure our perceptual, imaginative, cognitive, and conative representational experiences along lines of practical salience and significance. I argue that this account elucidates important claims in psychology about the relation between emotional phenomenology and appraisal mechanisms. Finally, I give a detailed characterization of the import this view has for debates about the representational nature of consciousness, and about self-knowledge of our own emotions.
CARRY OsborneResearch Areas: Epistemology, Social Epistemology, Ethics (Normativity and Responsibility)
Dissertation: "A Social Approach to Doxastic Responsibility"
We often hold one another responsible for our beliefs, even though they do not seem to be within our voluntary control. Rather than being a matter of control, I argue that this responsibility stems from the fact that agents are answerable to a demand for reasons for their beliefs. Responsibility for belief is therefore rooted in the social relations by which we depend on one another in our capacity as believers and the expectations we have of one another given those relations. This approach does better than other contemporary accounts in that it reveals the crucially social and interpersonal dimensions of responsibility for belief, and so allows us to do justice to how this responsibility is connected to our lives as social animals.
Research Areas: Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy
Dissertation: “Freedom as the Robust Absence of (Socially Remediable) Constraint”
My dissertation is animated by two distinct but related questions. First, how should we conceive of social freedom? Second, what should we do about it? In response to the first question, I defend an account of social freedom as the robust absence of socially remediable constraints. I believe the account is intuitively plausible in its own right, but I regard its chief value to be its usefulness for political philosophy. When we understand freedom this way, it is easier to see the normative concerns at play, whether we are considering our roles as individuals or as members and participants in collective institutions such as the state and economy. In light of this conception, I answer the second question by defending a set of social ideals including robust exit opportunities, democracy in collective institutions, and interpersonal egalitarian norms.
Research Areas: Ancient Greek & Roman Philosophy; Ethics (esp. Virtue Ethics); Philosophy of Education
Dissertation: "Aristotle on Teaching: Scientific Knowledge, Moral Education, and Intellectual Virtue"
David Benjamin Johnson
Research Areas: Aesthetics, Continental Philosophy, Philosophy of Film
Dissertation: “Color, Movement, Intensity: Aesthetics and Metaphysics in the Thought of Gilles Deleuze”
My dissertation develops an original account of the relation between metaphysics and aesthetics in the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, focusing particularly on the concepts of intensity and sublimity. I argue that Deleuze’s aesthetics rests on a largely unstated principle, according to which the fundamental task of art is to provide sensuous access to the deep structure of sensibility. I show that Deleuze, drawing particularly on Leibniz and Kant, understands this structure in terms of the early modern concept of intensive magnitude, or qualitative degree. I reconstruct Deleuze’s interpretation of this concept, showing that he discovers in intensity a form of complex, generative order, which he argues must be understood as the determining ground of sensory quality and spatiotemporal form. Through readings of Deleuze’s texts on painting and cinema and my own analyses of drawings, paintings, and films, I argue that works of art compose sensuous elements—lines, colors, movements, sounds—in such a way as to make the intensive order underlying those elements itself sensible. I show that this radically sensualist aesthetics entails noetic effects as well, which Deleuze articulates in terms of a modified version of Kant’s concept of the sublime: the artistic encounter with sensuous intensities overwhelms or outstrips our conventional categories of thought and forces us to invent new concepts to account for what we sense.
Dissertation Advisor: Penelope Deutscher
Research Area: Ancient Philosophy
Dissertation: “Birth in Beauty: Truth, Goodness, and Happiness in the Platonic Dialogues”
We are all intensely attracted to beauty — but why is beauty valuable? Plato answers that human beings are able to give birth (or bring forth) only in beauty but not in ugliness. He claims that giving birth to children and generating poems, constitutions, and philosophical theories are all instances of birth. In my dissertation I offer a new understanding of Plato’s doctrine of birth in beauty, which shows the unity of these apparently disparate activities. I argue that (according to Plato) beauty is the property that makes things exist in harmony with intelligible forms. He claims that the best human life is guided by knowledge. And beauty is valuable because of its epistemological function in all instances of human creativity: the harmoniousness of the beautiful thing increases the harmony of psychic motion, which in turn increases the soul’s power of understanding. With this increased power, the soul understands forms in the intelligible realm, which it cannot do without beauty. These intelligible forms are in turn models of organization for the offspring. The soul (human or divine) then brings into being an artifact (an account or human bodily nature) by imposing organization onto the appropriate material.
Dissertation Advisor: Richard Kraut