Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Philosophy Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

2016

Philosophy of Science

Theses/Dissertations

Articles 1 - 23 of 23

Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Rationality, Parapsychology, And Artificial Intelligence In Military And Intelligence Research By The United States Government In The Cold War, Guy M. Lomeo Dec 2016

Rationality, Parapsychology, And Artificial Intelligence In Military And Intelligence Research By The United States Government In The Cold War, Guy M. Lomeo

School of Arts & Sciences Theses

A study analyzing the roles of rationality, parapsychology, and artificial intelligence in military and intelligence research by the United States Government in the Cold War. An examination of the methodology behind the decisions to pursue research in two fields that were initially considered irrational.


Species Pluralism: Conceptual, Ontological, And Practical Dimensions, Justin Bzovy Nov 2016

Species Pluralism: Conceptual, Ontological, And Practical Dimensions, Justin Bzovy

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Species are central to biology, but there is currently no agreement on what the adequate species concept should be, and many have adopted a pluralist stance: different species concepts will be required for different purposes. This thesis is a multidimensional analysis of species pluralism. First I explicate how pluralism differs monism and relativism. I then consider the history of species pluralism. I argue that we must re-frame the species problem, and that re-evaluating Aristotle's role in the histories of systematics can shed light on pluralism. Next I consider different forms of pluralism: evolutionary and extra-evolutionary species pluralism, which differ ...


Seeing And Perceptual Content, Ben S. Phillips Sep 2016

Seeing And Perceptual Content, Ben S. Phillips

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

There are two widely held assumptions about perception: ascriber-independence (the view that the facts regarding what a subject perceives, as well as what her perceptual states represent, are independent of the interests of those attributing the relevant states to her), and determinacy (the view that perceptual content is relatively determinate). I challenge both of these assumptions, and develop a new approach to perceptual content, with implications for theories of mental content more broadly. In chapter one, I address the question of whether, in addition to low-level features, vision represents ordinary objects. I argue that there is just no fact of ...


Similarity, Adequacy, And Purpose: Understanding The Success Of Scientific Models, Melissa Jacquart Aug 2016

Similarity, Adequacy, And Purpose: Understanding The Success Of Scientific Models, Melissa Jacquart

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

A central component to scientific practice is the construction and use of scientific models. Scientists believe that the success of a model justifies making claims that go beyond the model itself. However, philosophical analysis of models suggests that drawing inferences about the world from successful models is more complex. In this dissertation I develop a framework that can help disentangle the related strands of evaluation of model success, model extendibility, and the ability to draw ampliative inferences about the world from models.

I present and critically assess two leading accounts of model assessment, arguing that neither is sufficient to provide ...


The Entelechial Thinker In Space: ‘Worlds Within Worlds’ In Durrell, Flaubert, And Carroll, Sheena M. Jary Aug 2016

The Entelechial Thinker In Space: ‘Worlds Within Worlds’ In Durrell, Flaubert, And Carroll, Sheena M. Jary

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

This thesis argues that the interior space of each individual mind has infinite potentiality to do or create x new reality in one’s life via possible worlds. I use Lawrence Durrell’s short story “Zero” (1939), Gustave Flaubert’s “Un coeur simple” (1877), and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) as literary representations of how readers outside of the literary text share an unbreakable bond with universal space. I discuss the infinite potentiality of the finite being, and the experiential data in the process of entelechy, or epistemological maturation of the mind. I bring Leibniz’s ...


An Inquiry Into The Distinction Between Belief And Imagination, Maxwell M. Gatyas Aug 2016

An Inquiry Into The Distinction Between Belief And Imagination, Maxwell M. Gatyas

Theses and Dissertations

Theories of mind typically see belief and imagination as distinct cognitive attitudes. While most admit that imagination is belief-like in many ways—e.g. in its capacity to guide action, cause emotional responses, and aid in decision-making processes—the popular view is to separate the two attitudes when constructing a theory of mental architecture. The similarities are not enough for theorists to admit that the two attitudes are indistinct. Imagination, then, is construed as an “analogue” of belief, similar in many ways, but nevertheless fundamentally different. In what follows I examine these methods of distinguishing between belief and imagination. My ...


Assessing Decision-Making Capacity After Severe Brain Injury, Andrew Peterson Jul 2016

Assessing Decision-Making Capacity After Severe Brain Injury, Andrew Peterson

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Severe brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability. Following severe brain injury diagnosis is difficult and errors frequently occur. Recent findings in clinical neuroscience may offer a solution. Neuroimaging has been used to detect preserved cognitive function and awareness in some patients clinically diagnosed as being in a vegetative state. Remarkably, neuroimaging has also been used to communicate with some vegetative patients through a series of yes/no questions. Some have speculated that, one day, this method may allow severely brain-injured patients to make medical decisions. Yet, skepticism is rife, due in part to the inherent difficulty ...


An Ecological Critique Of Capitalism, Macauley Berg May 2016

An Ecological Critique Of Capitalism, Macauley Berg

Undergraduate Honors Theses

I will be addressing the broad set of impacts generally referred to as "the environmental crisis.” I argue that this environmental crisis is truly an ecological one, insofar as humans are its primary drivers as well as its primary victims. I then investigate the structural cause (or structural causes) which produce this multitude of effects. In turn, this leads me to seek out and address the social underpinnings of this problem. I identify capitalism (specifically, its current form of global neoliberal economics) as a major driver of the ecological crisis and explore the relationship between capitalism and environmental practice. As ...


Producing Knowledge: The Social Made Visible In The Division Of Environmental Biology Of The National Science Foundation, Patrick Southern May 2016

Producing Knowledge: The Social Made Visible In The Division Of Environmental Biology Of The National Science Foundation, Patrick Southern

Capstone Collection

This inquiry explores how knowledge is produced in the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) of the National Science Foundation. Beginning from a poststructuralist understanding of science as firmly embedded in the unequal relations of society, this study sought to examine how the policies and procedures of funding research proposals in DEB influence and are influenced by those relations. Using an institutional ethnography approach to analysis, data were collected from analyzing publicly available texts from the division, NSF, Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the research community. The analysis demonstrates how the activities of DEB could maintain or exacerbate ...


Oh Sinnerman, Where You Gonna Run To?, Semein Washington May 2016

Oh Sinnerman, Where You Gonna Run To?, Semein Washington

Theses, Dissertations & Honors Papers

Semein Washington. OH SINNERMAN, WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO? (Under the direction of Mary Carroll Hackett, MFA) Department of English and Modern Language, April 2016.

The purpose of this thesis is to examine the growth of personal identity via poetry. “Oh Sinnerman,” is a run of thirty-eight poems in which the speaker learns survival through experience, and the underpinning ideas, whether traditional or modern, for which life is preserved. In theme, the poems tend to separate his experience into personal and social humanity. In poems such as “No Good Being,” “Sunday Tennis” and “How One Loves,” personal humanity shows through ...


Deontological Ethical System For Google's Self-Driving Car, Edgard Alejandro Arroliga Jr. May 2016

Deontological Ethical System For Google's Self-Driving Car, Edgard Alejandro Arroliga Jr.

Computer Science and Software Engineering

Google's Self-Driving Car is a revolutionary product that is riddled with ethical conundrums. It is able to accurately scan and drive through densely populated roads without much difficulty. However, there are some situations where the car will likely have to make decisions that affect, maybe even take, the lives of those on the road. Issues such as the Trolley Problem and the Rear-End Dilemma describe situations where there seems to be no single ethical answer as to how the car should act. In order to solve these issues, I propose that a Deontological Ethical System should be implemented because ...


The Constellations Of Empiricism, New Science, And Mind In Hobbes, Locke, And Hume, Lisa Pelot Apr 2016

The Constellations Of Empiricism, New Science, And Mind In Hobbes, Locke, And Hume, Lisa Pelot

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

In this thesis, positive and negative tensions among the “unit-ideas” of New Science and empiricism are explored as they relate to explanations of aspects of mind in the Modern period. Some constellations of ideas are mutually supporting, and provide fruitful discussion on how mind can fit into the natural world. This project aims to clarify the adequacy of this type of framework in accommodating and explaining mind, and aspects of mind. I proceed by analyzing key texts via the “unit-ideas” of New Science and empiricism. The three central chapters are case studies, looking at Hobbes, Locke, and Hume. Each chapter ...


Evaluating The Quantum Postulate In The Context Of Pursuit, Molly M. Kao Apr 2016

Evaluating The Quantum Postulate In The Context Of Pursuit, Molly M. Kao

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

The purpose of this dissertation is to contribute to our understanding of scientific theory pursuit by providing a detailed case study on the development of early quantum theory, from roughly 1900 to 1916.

I first elaborate on why this case should be considered an instance of piecemeal pursuit by presenting the historical quantum conjectures that were being used in different contexts. These conjectures gave varied interpretations of quantization. By comparing these conjectures, I identify a general quantum postulate that captures the underlying assumption common to all the cases. I argue that it is possible to consider a general postulate about ...


Leibniz's More Fundamental Ontology: From Overshadowed Individuals To Metaphysical Atoms, Marin Lucio Mare Apr 2016

Leibniz's More Fundamental Ontology: From Overshadowed Individuals To Metaphysical Atoms, Marin Lucio Mare

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

I aim to offer an innovative interpretation of Leibniz’s philosophy, first by examining how the various views that make up his ontology of individual substance involve a persistent rejection of atomism in natural philosophy and secondly, by exploring the significance of this rejection in the larger context of Seventeenth-century physics. My thesis is structured as a developmental story, each chapter analyzing the discontinuities or changes Leibniz makes to his views on individuation and atomism from his early to late years. The goal is to illuminate underrepresented views on individuals and atoms throughout Leibniz’s works and thus bring a ...


On The Role Of Mathematics In Scientific Representation, Saad Anis Feb 2016

On The Role Of Mathematics In Scientific Representation, Saad Anis

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

In this dissertation, I consider from a philosophical perspective three related questions concerning the contribution of mathematics to scientific representation. In answering these questions, I propose and defend Carnapian frameworks for examination into the nature and role of mathematics in science.

The first research question concerns the varied ways in which mathematics contributes to scientific representation. In response, I consider in Chapter 2 two recent philosophical proposals claiming to account for the explanatory role of mathematics in science, by Philip Kitcher, and Otavio Bueno and Mark Colyvan. My novel and detailed critique of these accounts shows that they are too ...


In Theory, There's Hope: Queer Co-(M)Motions Of Science And Subjectivity, Cordelia Sand Jan 2016

In Theory, There's Hope: Queer Co-(M)Motions Of Science And Subjectivity, Cordelia Sand

Masters Theses

Given the state of the planet at present —specifically, the linked global ecological and economic crises that conjure dark imaginings and nihilistic actualities of increasing resource depletion, poisonings, and wide-scale sufferings and extinctions—I ask What might we hope now? What points of intervention offer possibility for transformation? At best, the response can only be partial. The approach this thesis takes initiates from specific pre-discursive assumptions. The first understands current conditions as having been produced, and continuing to be so, through practices that enact and sustain neoliberal relations. Secondly, these practices are expressive of a subjectivity tied to a Cartesian ...


Evidence And Formal Models In The Linguistic Sciences, Carlos Gray Santana Jan 2016

Evidence And Formal Models In The Linguistic Sciences, Carlos Gray Santana

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

This dissertation contains a collection of essays centered on the relationship between theoretical model-building and empirical evidence-gathering in linguistics and related language sciences. The first chapter sets the stage by demonstrating that the subject matter of linguistics is manifold, and contending that discussion of relationships between linguistic models, evidence, and language itself depends on the subject matter at hand. The second chapter defends a restrictive account of scientific evidence. I make use of this account in the third chapter, in which I argue that if my account of scientific evidence is correct, then linguistic intuitions do not generally qualify as ...


Ethical Considerations Facing The Regulation Of Self-Driving Cars In The United States, Richard Mancuso Jan 2016

Ethical Considerations Facing The Regulation Of Self-Driving Cars In The United States, Richard Mancuso

CMC Senior Theses

Self-driving cars are here. Once an advanced technology that seemed futuristic, they are now closer than most believe. Many of the largest automobile manufacturers are working on autonomous vehicle technology of their own. Perhaps most well-known, though, are the cars being developed by Tesla and Google. Both companies have well-developed prototypes of fully autonomous vehicles, meaning they require no human input or supervision, and Tesla has promised widespread, consumer availability of this technology in the next one to two years.

Along with the availability of this technology to the public and transportation companies like Uber and Lyft, comes a need ...


Becoming What We Are: Virtue And Practical Wisdom As Natural Ends, Keith Buhler Jan 2016

Becoming What We Are: Virtue And Practical Wisdom As Natural Ends, Keith Buhler

Theses and Dissertations--Philosophy

This dissertation is about ethical naturalism. Philippa Foot and John McDowell both defend contemporary neo-Aristotelian ethics but each represents a rival expression of the same. They are united in the affirmation that virtue is ‘natural goodness’ for human beings. Nevertheless, they are divided in their rival conceptions of ‘nature.’ McDowell distinguishes second nature or the "space of reasons" from first nature or the “realm of law.” Foot rejects this division.

On Foot's naturalism, natural goodness is just as much a feature of first nature as health is, even though human practical reasoning is unique in the biological world. I ...


The Path To Supersubstantivalism, Joshua D. Moulton Jan 2016

The Path To Supersubstantivalism, Joshua D. Moulton

Doctoral Dissertations

This dissertation is divided into two parts. In the first part I defend substantivalism. I do this by offering, in chapter 1, a counterpart-theoretic defense of substantivalism from Leibniz’ shift arguments. Then, in chapter 2, I defend substantivalism from the hole argument and argue, against the consensus, that the question of haecceitism is irrelevant to substantivalism in the context of general relativity.

In the second part of the dissertation I defend supersubstantivalism. I do this by offering, in chapter 3, an argument against dualistic substantivalism. The argument appeals to plausible principles of modal plenitude to show that the dualist is ...


Understanding And Its Role In Inquiry, Benjamin T. Rancourt Jan 2016

Understanding And Its Role In Inquiry, Benjamin T. Rancourt

Doctoral Dissertations

In this dissertation, I argue that understanding possesses unique epistemic value. I propose and defend a novel account of understanding that I call the management account of understanding, which is the view that an agent A understands a subject matter S just in case A has the ability to extract the relevant information and exploit it with the relevant cognitive capacities to answer questions in S. Since inquiry is the process of raising and answering questions, I argue that without understanding, it would be impossible to engage in successful inquiry. I argue that understanding is indispensable for effective cognition and ...


Physical Geometry, James P. Binkoski Jan 2016

Physical Geometry, James P. Binkoski

Doctoral Dissertations

All physical theories, from classical Newtonian mechanics to relativistic quantum field theory, entail propositions concerning the geometric structure of spacetime. To give an example, the general theory of relativity entails that spacetime is curved, smooth, and four-dimensional. In this dissertation, I take the structural commitments of our theories seriously and ask: how is such structure instantiated in the physical world? Mathematically, a property like 'being curved' is perfectly well-defined insofar as we know what it means for a mathematical space to be curved. But what could it mean to say that the physical world is curved? Call this the problem ...


Data Epistemologies / Surveillance And Uncertainty, Sun Ha Hong Jan 2016

Data Epistemologies / Surveillance And Uncertainty, Sun Ha Hong

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Data Epistemologies studies the changing ways in which ‘knowledge’ is defined, promised, problematised, legitimated vis-á-vis the advent of digital, ‘big’ data surveillance technologies in early twenty-first century America. As part of the period’s fascination with ‘new’ media and ‘big’ data, such technologies intersect ambitious claims to better knowledge with a problematisation of uncertainty. This entanglement, I argue, results in contextual reconfigurations of what ‘counts’ as knowledge and who (or what) is granted authority to produce it – whether it involves proving that indiscriminate domestic surveillance prevents terrorist attacks, to arguing that machinic sensors can know us better than we can ...