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Basic-Acceptance Teleosemantics, Esteban Withrington May 2019

Basic-Acceptance Teleosemantics, Esteban Withrington

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

I propose an approach to naturalize semantics that combines the use-theory of meaning with teleosemantics. More specifically, I combine Horwich’s claim that the meanings of words are engendered by the acceptance of basic sentences that govern their deployment with the teleosemantic model, developed by Millikan, Papineau and Neander, according to which the meanings of symbols are related to functions determined by the history of their use and of the underlying biological mechanisms responsible for it.

Horwich’s account is general enough to offer plausible explanations of the meanings of all kinds of words and provides a plausible explanation of ...


Queerness, Witchcraft, And Embodied Presence: Aesthetic Knowings Of What A Body Can Do, Megan Bigelow May 2019

Queerness, Witchcraft, And Embodied Presence: Aesthetic Knowings Of What A Body Can Do, Megan Bigelow

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Taking as a point of entry the critique of representation and affirming the limitations of the cuts that language makes, this capstone project explores the imbrications and assemblages between Foucault’s concept of subjugated knowledges, witchcraft and other body-based ways of knowing and being, and the consciousness of non-human forms such as plants and through the framework of non-representational theory, process philosophies, aesthetics, queerness, and the concept of difference itself.

Since such theories themselves are living, breathing entities, this capstone project explores the ideological split that has occurred between sacred and secular beliefs, moving through different figures such as nuns ...


Living As A Dying Child: A Gadamerian Analysis Of The Poetry Of Mattie J. T. Stepanek, Corinne Ann Settecase-Wu May 2019

Living As A Dying Child: A Gadamerian Analysis Of The Poetry Of Mattie J. T. Stepanek, Corinne Ann Settecase-Wu

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Yearly, approximately 500,000 children live with life-limiting conditions in the United States; 50,000 die. Yet, details regarding children’s days of living as dying are unknown. The aim of this qualitative hermeneutic study is to gain understanding of the phenomenon of living as a dying child. A Gadamerian-inspired approach was implemented to underpin the study, and to analyze poetic text to address the research question: What is it to be living as a dying child? The text sample included 499 poems written by Mattie J. T. Stepanek, a dying child. The Settecase-Wu Conceptual Guide was developed and implemented ...


Sexual Violation, Feminism, And Foucault: Against A Confessional Politics Of Truth, Amber M. Chiacchieri May 2019

Sexual Violation, Feminism, And Foucault: Against A Confessional Politics Of Truth, Amber M. Chiacchieri

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

After many decades of feminist struggle, victims of sexual violation finally have the (relative) freedom to speak about their experiences in different venues to diverse audiences; however, they continue to be silenced, spoken over, and spoken for. While scholars and activists maintain close attention to the content of what survivors say and the means by which their speech is suppressed, there is less interrogation into the power relationships that structure the conditions through which this speech is made possible. This approach, sometimes referred to as “Foucauldian discourse analysis,” is associated with the French post-structuralist philosopher Michel Foucault. Foucault argued that ...


Who Needs Blame?: Answerability Without Expressed Blame, Sarah Gokhale May 2019

Who Needs Blame?: Answerability Without Expressed Blame, Sarah Gokhale

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This dissertation argues that we can hold other agents morally responsible without expressing blame and, more strongly, that doing so is preferable. I first argue that blame is fundamentally retributive, and that blame’s retributive foundation is incipiently present even in civilized guises. As such, even though some forms of expressed blame are quite civilized, expressed blame always involves a risk of emotional damage, entrenchment, and escalation. To make things worse, I argue that anger is an exacerbating feature of blame’s retributive foundation. I then argue that, generally speaking, cases of public blame involve higher stakes than cases of ...


The Subject Of Jouissance: The Late Lacan And Gender And Queer Theories, Frederic C. Baitinger May 2019

The Subject Of Jouissance: The Late Lacan And Gender And Queer Theories, Frederic C. Baitinger

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

The Subject of Jouissance argues that Lacan’s approach to psychoanalysis, far from being heteronormative, offers a notion of identity that deconstructs gender as a social norm, and opens onto a non-normative theory of the subject (of jouissance) that still remains to be fully explored by feminist, gender, and queer scholars. Drawing mostly on the later Lacan, The Subject of Jouissance shows that by locating the identity of the subject in the singularity of its bodily mode of enjoyment (that Lacan calls “jouissance”), and not in the Imaginary illusions of the ego, nor in the Symbolic social structures, Lacan fosters ...


An Exposition And Analysis Of Kant’S Account Of Sublimity, Paulina Simone Calistru Feb 2019

An Exposition And Analysis Of Kant’S Account Of Sublimity, Paulina Simone Calistru

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

I begin by providing an exposition of Kant’s cognitive and phenomenological trajectory during experiences of mathematical and dynamical sublimity. I use this moment of elucidation to highlight certain implications of Kant’s account which reveal a necessary crutch on sublimity’s self-preservationist motivations, concluding realization of the judging subjects as superior to the power intuited and emphasis on the feeling and apprehension of infinity. This skeletal view of Kant’s argument allows for the argument of my three main criticisms: (i) the incoherence of his sublime feeling with other recounted phenomenologies of the experience, (ii) the fallibility of his ...


A Defense Of Pure Connectionism, Alex B. Kiefer Feb 2019

A Defense Of Pure Connectionism, Alex B. Kiefer

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Connectionism is an approach to neural-networks-based cognitive modeling that encompasses the recent deep learning movement in artificial intelligence. It came of age in the 1980s, with its roots in cybernetics and earlier attempts to model the brain as a system of simple parallel processors. Connectionist models center on statistical inference within neural networks with empirically learnable parameters, which can be represented as graphical models. More recent approaches focus on learning and inference within hierarchical generative models. Contra influential and ongoing critiques, I argue in this dissertation that the connectionist approach to cognitive science possesses in principle (and, as is becoming ...


The Past Is Never Dead: Amorphous Time In Jean-Luc Godard's Notre Musique, Anthony E. Dominguez Feb 2019

The Past Is Never Dead: Amorphous Time In Jean-Luc Godard's Notre Musique, Anthony E. Dominguez

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Jean-Luc Godard is undoubtedly one of the most central figures to cinema. A pioneer of the French New Wave, Godard’s style would go on to influence all realms of the artform. Despite continuing to make films beyond the French New Wave, however, Godard would eventually succumb to his own myth. Godard studies have largely remained focused on these early portions of his career that are so well remembered, ranging from 1960 to 1968. While in more recent times, Godard’s post-68 filmography has received more scholarly notice, there still exists a discrepancy of attention between Godard’s latest films ...


Frontiers Of Conditional Logic, Yale Weiss Feb 2019

Frontiers Of Conditional Logic, Yale Weiss

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Conditional logics were originally developed for the purpose of modeling intuitively correct modes of reasoning involving conditional—especially counterfactual—expressions in natural language. While the debate over the logic of conditionals is as old as propositional logic, it was the development of worlds semantics for modal logic in the past century that catalyzed the rapid maturation of the field. Moreover, like modal logic, conditional logic has subsequently found a wide array of uses, from the traditional (e.g. counterfactuals) to the exotic (e.g. conditional obligation). Despite the close connections between conditional and modal logic, both the technical development and ...


Just Borders: The Foundations Of Immigration Policy, Cody Fenwick Feb 2019

Just Borders: The Foundations Of Immigration Policy, Cody Fenwick

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Do countries have a presumptive right to limit immigration at their discretion? It is often assumed that they do, though both the immigration restrictions championed in practice and the purported justifications for the principled right to deny entry to foreigners are often supported by implicit (or explicit) racist prejudices. Many political philosophers have offered putatively more sophisticated and reasoned defenses of the state’s discretionary right to restrict immigration. I discuss the philosophical arguments for the restrictionist view on grounds of national territorial rights, and separately, on the grounds of nationalist partiality toward one’s fellow citizens. I will argue ...


Quantum Uncertainty Reduction (Qur) Theory Of Attended Access And Phenomenal Consciousness, Anatoly V. Nichvoloda Feb 2019

Quantum Uncertainty Reduction (Qur) Theory Of Attended Access And Phenomenal Consciousness, Anatoly V. Nichvoloda

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

In this dissertation I defend a theory of perceptual consciousness titled “Quantum Uncertainty Reduction” (QUR[1]) Theory of Attended Access and Phenomenal Consciousness.” Consciousness is widely perceived as a phenomenon that poses a special explanatory problem for science. The problem arises in the apparent rift between an immediate first-person acquaintance with consciousness and our lack of ability to provide an objective/scientific third-person characterization of consciousness.

I begin by reviewing philosophical ideas of Ned Block, David Chalmers and Jesse Prinz whose characterizations of consciousness provide a conceptual framework that the proposed theory aims to satisfy. Block and Chalmers argue that ...


The Psychology Of Plato's Republic: Taking Book 10 Into Account, Daniel Mailick Sep 2018

The Psychology Of Plato's Republic: Taking Book 10 Into Account, Daniel Mailick

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Three puzzles motivate this dissertation. First, how much does Republic Book 10 contribute to the dialogue’s main argument? For centuries, commentators have found Book 10 to be a puzzling and disappointing conclusion to the dialogue. The second puzzle is the important and still much debated question of whether Plato considered the parts of the soul to be independent and agent-like (as ‘realists’ interpret the dialogue) or not (as ‘deflationists’ argue). The third puzzle regards an issue that is much less discussed in the literature, namely the Republic’s notion of character. On the one hand, Socrates never launches an ...


Essence, Explanation, And Modal Knowledge, Antonella Mallozzi Sep 2018

Essence, Explanation, And Modal Knowledge, Antonella Mallozzi

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

The primary aim of this project is to put forward a novel account of knowledge of metaphysical modality. I call this the “Essentialist Superexplanatory” account of modal knowledge, because it relies on the following two main theses: (a) knowledge of metaphysical necessity is grounded in knowledge of essence; and (b) essences are properties, sets of properties, or mechanisms, having distinctive explanatory powers for how things are. While thesis (a) is quite popular in the current debates, mostly thanks to Kit Fine’s recent work in modal metaphysics, thesis (b) introduces an original brand of essentialism. As I show by means ...


Theories Of Perception And Recent Empirical Work, Philip Zigman Sep 2018

Theories Of Perception And Recent Empirical Work, Philip Zigman

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

In this dissertation I answer the following question: Does recent empirical work give us reason to think that naive realism is false or that indirect realism is correct? There is a small amount of literature arguing that recent empirical findings pose problems for naive realism and suggest that perception involves mental representation. I review this literature and the arguments therein, examine the relevant empirical work, and argue that recent empirical work on perception does give us reason to reject naive realism and to favour an indirect realist view that countenances mental representations.


Demystifying The Placebo Effect, Phoebe Friesen Sep 2018

Demystifying The Placebo Effect, Phoebe Friesen

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This dissertation offers a philosophical analysis of the placebo effect. After offering an overview of recent evidence concerning the phenomenon, I consider several prominent accounts of the placebo effect that have been put forward and argue that none of them are able to adequately account for the diverse instantiations of the phenomenon. I then offer a novel account, which suggests that we ought to think of the placebo effect as encompassing three distinct responses: conditioned placebo responses, cognitive placebo responses, and network placebo responses. Next, I consider implications of the placebo effect’s role in complementary and alternative medicine for ...


The Philosophical Foundations Of Plen: A Protocol-Theoretic Logic Of Epistemic Norms, Ralph E. Jenkins Sep 2018

The Philosophical Foundations Of Plen: A Protocol-Theoretic Logic Of Epistemic Norms, Ralph E. Jenkins

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

In this dissertation, I defend the protocol-theoretic account of epistemic norms. The protocol-theoretic account amounts to three theses: (i) There are norms of epistemic rationality that are procedural; epistemic rationality is at least partially defined by rules that restrict the possible ways in which epistemic actions and processes can be sequenced, combined, or chosen among under varying conditions. (ii) Epistemic rationality is ineliminably defined by procedural norms; procedural restrictions provide an irreducible unifying structure for even apparently non-procedural prescriptions and normative expressions, and they are practically indispensable in our cognitive lives. (iii) These procedural epistemic norms are best analyzed in ...


Experimental Philosophy And Feminist Epistemology: Conflicts And Complements, Amanda Huminski Sep 2018

Experimental Philosophy And Feminist Epistemology: Conflicts And Complements, Amanda Huminski

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

The recent turn toward experimental philosophy, particularly in ethics and epistemology, might appear to be supported by feminist epistemology, insofar as experimental philosophy signifies a break from the tradition of primarily white, middle-class men attempting to draw universal claims from within the limits of their own experience and research. However, the relationship between the two is not so straightforward, and an analysis of their connection bears on broader questions concerning intuitions, philosophical methodology, and epistemic standards more generally. This dissertation project aims to 1) examine the conception of intuitions that appears to underpin many projects in experimental philosophy, 2) levy ...


The Syndrome Of Romantic Love, Arina Pismenny Sep 2018

The Syndrome Of Romantic Love, Arina Pismenny

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

What kind of phenomenon is romantic love? Many philosophers, psychologists, and ordinary folk think it is an emotion. I challenge this assumption and argue instead that romantic love is best characterized as a syndrome ⎼ a pattern comprised of different kinds of mental states and behaviors that tend to co-occur. An examination of major emotion theories in philosophy and psychology demonstrates that romantic love does not fit into any of them. Likewise, the commonly endorsed but increasingly controversial categories of basic and nonbasic emotions do not account for romantic love. While both culture and evolution have shaped the phenomenon of romantic ...


Feeling As Knowing: Trans Phenomenology And Epistemic Justice, B. Lee Aultman Sep 2018

Feeling As Knowing: Trans Phenomenology And Epistemic Justice, B. Lee Aultman

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This dissertation is a critical intervention into the literatures on epistemic and phenomenological claims about trans experiences, and embodied knowledge more generally. It also addresses the conception of ordinary affects, or feelings of self-adjustment in everyday life, and their political implications for trans people. Traditional literatures on the political tend to avoid questions of embodiment and the experiences of everyday life in favor of institutional interpretations of courts, elections, and protest movements. This has become particularly true of scholarship on trans politics and theories of ordinary life. These literatures often reduce political movements to their presumed universal intentions for constitutional ...


Unarticulated Constituents And Theories Of Meaning, Jesse Rappaport Sep 2018

Unarticulated Constituents And Theories Of Meaning, Jesse Rappaport

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This work is an investigation into a phenomenon introduced by John Perry that I call ‘totally unarticulated constituents.’ These are entities that are part of the propositional content of a speech act, but are not represented by any part of the sentence uttered or of the thought that is being expressed - that is, they are fully unarticulated. After offering a novel definition of this phenomenon, I argue that totally unarticulated constituents are attested in natural language, and may in fact be quite common. This raises fatal problems for a prominent theory of underspecification defended by Jason Stanley, according to which ...


Being In Performance: A Philosophical Account Of The Embodied Actor, Brad M. Krumholz May 2018

Being In Performance: A Philosophical Account Of The Embodied Actor, Brad M. Krumholz

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

In this dissertation I present and analyze three distinct actor-training exercises primarily through the lens of the Embodied Cognition (EC) branch of contemporary philosophy, which attempts to frame human understanding as a fully embodied interaction with the environment. Drawing from neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, and other branches of philosophy, EC provides both an excellent set of tools and a strong theoretical framework to help explain how people encounter meaning in life. I apply its unique perspectives to this philosophical account of the embodied actor as I analyze the various elements at play in actor training praxis, which allows me to shed ...


Party On, Derrida!: A Queer, Deconstructionist Look At Wayne's World, Glam, And The Losers Of Rock And Roll, Michelle A. Arp May 2018

Party On, Derrida!: A Queer, Deconstructionist Look At Wayne's World, Glam, And The Losers Of Rock And Roll, Michelle A. Arp

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

What do you get when you mix a girl from Long Island, critical theory, a movie based on a Saturday Night Live sketch, David Bowie, and alternative rock of the early 2000s? A lot of losers, a lot of queerness, and plenty of room for deconstruction.

Part performance studies, part queer studies, and part memoir, this study is a cross-genre and experimental analysis of postmodern ideologies, rock and roll, and comedy. More specifically, I use Jacques Derrida’s notion of “the slash” (Of Grammatology, 1967) in relation to high and low culture via comedies, such that of Wayne’s World ...


Politics As Loot: Reflections On Theories Of Decline In Political Thought, Milo Ward May 2018

Politics As Loot: Reflections On Theories Of Decline In Political Thought, Milo Ward

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This thesis responds to the perennial theories of political decline in Western political thought by reimagining politics as a part of the loot plundered by the victors of history. It unpacks and critiques prognostications of the impending end of politics, specifically those of theorists Wendy Brown and Hannah Arendt, by dredging up the colonial and the capitalist logics that covertly underpin assumptions that politics is something that can be exclusively possessed. The forensic treatment of narratives of political decline reveals the unmistakable tracks of the rationality of property relations behind laments over the fate of political traditions that also withhold ...


On A And B Theories Of Time, Edward Freeman May 2018

On A And B Theories Of Time, Edward Freeman

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Our metaphysical notion of temporality is exhausted by the concepts of fluid and static time. Following James Ellis McTaggart, philosophers refer to these times as the A-series and B-series respectively. To have a metaphysical argument against the reality of time as such, therefore, separate arguments against the reality of both temporal series are required. In the dissertation, I shall offer a number of both types of arguments. In the first chapter, McTaggart’s program is assessed. It is concluded that McTaggart has an argument against the reality of the A-series, but does not have one against the reality of the ...


The Two Inexical Uses Theory Of Proper Names And Frege's Puzzle, Daniel S. Shabasson May 2018

The Two Inexical Uses Theory Of Proper Names And Frege's Puzzle, Daniel S. Shabasson

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

I formulate a novel theory of proper names that is neither Millian nor Fregean to solve Frege’s puzzle. I argue that proper names are used as two kinds of indexicals. Sometimes a name is used indexically just to refer to its bearer. I call this a ‘Millian use’ of a name. Other times, a name is used indexically to refer to its bearer and to contribute the speaker’s descriptive conception of that bearer to the proposition. I call this a ‘Conception-indicating use’ of a name. Names are always rigid designators, both on Millian and Conception-indicating uses. I explain ...


Coincidence Of Bargaining Solutions And Rationalizability In Epistemic Games, Todd Stambaugh May 2018

Coincidence Of Bargaining Solutions And Rationalizability In Epistemic Games, Todd Stambaugh

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Chapter 1: In 1950, John Nash proposed the Bargaining Problem, for which a solution is a function that assigns to each space of possible utility assignments a single point in the space, in some sense representing the ’fair’ deal for the agents involved. Nash provided a solution of his own, and several others have been presented since then, including a notable solution by Ehud Kalai and Meir Smorodinsky. In chapter 1, a complete account is given for the conditions under which the two solutions will coincide for two player bargaining scenarios.

Chapter 2: In the same year, Nash presented one ...


Footnotes To Footnotes: Whitehead's Plato, Nathan Oglesby Feb 2018

Footnotes To Footnotes: Whitehead's Plato, Nathan Oglesby

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This dissertation examines the presence of Plato in the philosophical expressions of Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947). It was Whitehead who issued the well-known remark that “the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists in a series of footnotes to Plato" -- the purpose of this project is to examine the manner in which Whitehead positioned himself as one such footnote, with respect to his thought itself, and its origins, presentation and reception.

This examination involves: first, an explication of Whitehead’s cosmology and metaphysics and their ostensibly Platonic elements (consisting chiefly in the Timaeus); second, investigation ...


Scanlon's Contractualism And Its Critics, Kenneth R. Weisshaar Feb 2018

Scanlon's Contractualism And Its Critics, Kenneth R. Weisshaar

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This dissertation examines whether Thomas Scanlon’s contractualism satisfactorily explains its intended domain of morality which he terms “what we owe to each other.” Scanlon proposes that such interpersonal morality is based on justifying one’s actions to others by behaving according to principles that could not be reasonably rejected. This idea accounts for two key functions of a moral theory: explaining how moral judgments are made and why agents generally act according to these judgments. After reviewing the nature of constructivist moral theories to show why I chose to focus on Scanlon’s theory, I assess how effectively it ...


Conditions Of Personhood And Property, Zachary James Acree Feb 2018

Conditions Of Personhood And Property, Zachary James Acree

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This paper seeks to demonstrate that a more robust understanding of personhood both reveals flaws in the underlying assumptions of modern property law, and orients that law to a more just application. To do this, the law needs not only a better definition of what persons are, but also a better understanding of how persons function in their society. First, in order to provide some context to the issues at stake, there is a brief historical introduction to some of the problems that personhood inquiries have faced. After the introduction, this paper is divided into four sections. Part I summarizes ...