Postgraduate Research Students in the Department of Philosophy

Below is a list of current research students in the Department of Philosophy. Click here for recent graduates.


Erdinc Atasever
Adorno and the Poetics of Revolution
Adorno’s critique, to my reconstructive reading, aims to eradicate a poetic way of perceiving reality inspired by tragic-epic poetry. Tragic-epic poetry, for Adorno, is to blame for bringing the bourgeois individual into existence. Adorno does so to end domination and ensure that the bourgeois perpetrated tragedy of Auschwitz, after which it is “barbaric to write poetry”, never repeats itself. The bourgeois, for Adorno, is not a class but a specific species of subjectivity that identifies itself with truth/meaning and exploits-dominates all things else considered as lacking truth/meaning. And tragic-epic poetry is its inspiration. But Adorno’s theory becomes complicit with the status-quo, insofar as revolution, in the sense of offering an alternative to domination, must involve identification with a meaning, however conceived. Revolution, in other words, begins precisely in the poetry Adorno shuns.

Supervisor: Assoc Prof John Grumley
Email:


Saurabh Bhattacharya

Saurabh Bhattacharya
Civil Disobedience and the Tension between Public and Private Ethics
Philosophical discussions around civil disobedience broadly explore two different questions. On one hand, there is the ‘definitional question’ regarding civil disobedience: what makes an action an act of civil disobedience? Discussions revolving around the definitional question seek to provide a set of criteria that tell us in virtue of which features acts fall under the concept. My primary aim in this thesis is to answer an ‘ethical question’ regarding civil disobedience, viz., under what circumstances, and on what grounds, can an act of civil disobedience gain ethical justification? I intend to investigate the ethical status of the agent engaged in the act rather than the ethical position of the act as a personified ‘other’. I will argue that a civil disobedience act can be ethically justifiable iff the agent’s ethical stance is justifiable both internally – justifiable to herself – and externally – justifiable within the agent’s status as a citizen of a socio-political setup. If we fail to address the ethical status of the agent, and how the agent can justify this ethical status by still remaining true to her ethical status as a citizen of the socio-political setup within which she engages in the act, any discussion of the act’s ethical status runs the danger of becoming reliant solely on the way the act’s immediate socio-political environment interprets this status.

Supervisor: Dr Caroline West
Email:
Website


Pierrick Bourrat

Pierrick Bourrat
PhD
Reconceptualizing the Darwinian apparatus
The aim of my thesis is to develop new conceptual tools for the Darwinian apparatus and more specifically give a solution to the problems encountered with the classical Darwinian approach. Such problems include the so called major transitions, the status of heredity and the nature of fitness and natural selection.

Supervisor: Prof Paul Griffiths
Email:
Website


Ben Cross
Political Liberalism, Virtue and Neutrality
I argue that political liberalism can achieve its dual goals of public justification and substantive liberal justice only if the citizens of a well-ordered society attain a certain standard of virtue which may prove to be the subject of reasonable disagreement. As such, insofar as liberalism is properly committed to a particular kind of neutrality and anti-perfectionism, there is a certain degree of tension internal to the idea of a well-ordered liberal society.

Supervisor: Dr Thomas Besch
Email:


Lok-Chi Chan

Lok-Chi Chan
Naturalism and Introspection
Ontological naturalism is the view that all exisitng kinds of properties and relations are those of a particular broad group: properties and relations which have adequate similarities to those postulated by natural sciences. Meanwhile, the most plausible realism of science is arguably structural realism, which states we can only know the relational properties of things by their causal impacts on us, and not their fundamental intrinsic properties. From these two premises, different aspects of ontological naturalism, such as its consistency and responses to possible non-natural things, will be reassessed.

Supervisor: Prof David Braddon-Mitchell
Email:


David Chua

David Chua
The Metaphysics of Aristotelian-Thomistic Powers
The primary question I am currently investigating is: what are causal powers?

To this end my primary research interests cover contemporary metaphysics as well as history of philosophy (primarily Ancient and Scholastic metaphysics).

I have secondary research interests in epistemology and metaethics.

Supervisors: Dr Kristie Miller & Prof Paul Thom
Email:
Website


Millie Churcher

Millie Churcher
The Sympathetic Imagination
Building on the work of early modern sentimentalist philosophers David Hume and Adam Smith, my thesis explores the social and political dimensions of the sympathetic imagination.

Supervisors: Prof Moira Gatens & Dr Anik Waldow
Email:
Website


Andrew Cooper

Andrew Cooper
Tragedy and Philosophy: The Legacy of Kant's Critique of Judgment
Andrew's PhD thesis considers the ontological and political implications of Kant's Critique of Judgment emerging in the writings of Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Castoriadis. In particular, it explores the links between philosophy and poetry, epistemology and political theory, and objective and democratic forms of value. To date Andrew's work has clustered around the themes of creativity, imagination, art and politics, and he hopes to continue working on the intersection of the imagination, community and social transformation after his doctoral thesis.

Supervisor: Assoc Prof John Grumley
Email:
Website


Karen Crowther

Karen Crowther
Appearing out of Nowhere: The Emergence of Spacetime from Quantum Gravity
Attempts to construct a quantum theory of gravity have prompted the suggestion that the notion of spacetime will not appear in a fundamental theory. I ask why this is the case, and how it is that our familiar conception of spacetime can be `recovered’ in the regime where it obviously applies. In order to do this, I examine several different approaches towards quantum gravity, as well as explore the idea of `emergence’ in physics more generally.

Supervisor: Dr Dean Rickles


Brenton Dart

Brenton Dart
Coercion, Justification and Justice: Realism and Liberalism in Bernard Williams’ Political Philosophy
In my thesis I investigate the limits of normativity in regards to questions of state legitimacy, with a specific focus on Bernard Williams’ political philosophy. I focus on the implications of the distinction Williams makes between “political realism” and “political moralism” and how such a distinction impacts on the claims of legitimacy primarily within liberal theory. I put forward the argument that while Williams’ preference for political realism entails constraints on how we answer questions of state legitimacy, his form of political realism (which I refer to as “thin political realism”) does accommodate a necessary degree of normativity, in contrasts to other “thick” forms of political realism.

Supervisor: Dr Thomas Besch
Email:
Website


Dominic Kenneth Dimech
Consequences of Scepticism
I am researching scepticism and responses to scepticism. I'm looking at the implications of not being able to solve scepticism and I'm very interested in the status of responses that fall short of solving scepticism but nevertheless tell us something about our epistemological position in the world. I am particularly interested in Hume's philosophical system and naturalism as a response to scepticism more generally.
Supervisor: Dr Anik Waldow
Associate Supervisor: Dr David Macarthur
Email:


Andrew Donnelly
The Conditions of Conscience
When an agent claims that she cannot perform some action because it would be contrary to her conscience, what does she mean? Many argue that a claim of conscience is an agent's claim about the morality of some proposed or past action. I argue that this view is only partially correct. The correct analysis of conscience involves a moral condition, an identity condition and a communicative condition. The advantage of this analysis is that it best explains why agents possess a moral right of conscience.

Supervisors: Dr Caroline West & Dr Tom Dougherty
Email:


James Dorahy

James Dorahy
György Márkus and the Dynamics of Cultural Enlightenment
My doctoral thesis examines the dynamics of cultural modernity via the prism of György Márkus' post-Budapest oeuvre. The work begins by presenting the modern postulate of culture as the primary vehicle through which the ‘self-assertive’ moment of the Enlightenment would be realised. The thesis then proceeds via a consideration of Márkus’ critical engagement with several key interpreters of the Enlightenment and modern culture: Kant, Hegel, Benjamin, Adorno and Raymond Williams. Finally, the thesis concludes with an assessment of the ways in which Márkus’ own reflections on the constitution of cultural modernity shed new light on the possible realisation of this, as yet, unfulfilled charge.

Supervisor: Assoc Prof John Grumley
Email:
Website


Rachael Driver
Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Mathematics

Supervisor: Dr David Macarthur
Email:


Michael Duncan
Composition as Identity
Most metaphysicians believe that when two or more objects compose something they bring into existence a further object. Many also claim that two objects always compose another. I argue that each of these views is mistaken. Composition occurs only sometimes, and when it does no further object is brought into being.

Supervisor: Assoc Prof Kristie Miller
Email:


Lacey Hui Ping Saw
The Development of Plato’s Views about Divine Inspiration and Mimêsis, the Relation Between these Two Concepts, and its implications for Plato’s Criticisms of Poetry
My research focuses on the relationship between Plato’s account of divine inspiration and mimêsis. I examine why Plato has provided two apparently inconsistent accounts of poetry-making; whether there is in fact a contradiction between the two; and the reasons why one account was chosen instead of the other in different dialogues. I will argue that the two accounts are not inconsistent, rather; they are a reflection of the different ways in which poetry might be viewed. Accordingly, I will explore the implications of such an interpretation for Plato’s critiques of poetry.

Supervisor: Prof Rick Benitez
Email:


Kari Greenswag

Kari Greenswag
A Global Ethic of Care: An Alternative to Global Justice
The ethics of care has gone far beyond its origins, and now has been transformed to a critical ethics of care that seeks to morally assess and provide the grounding for political, civil, and economic actions. Fiona Robinson has even worked to expand the ethics of care to global concerns. There are, however, lingering issues and problems for a global care ethic that I seek to provide answers for. My goal is to strengthen a global conception of the ethic of care, and to show that it can provide a substantial alternative to the more prominent theories of global justice.

Supervisor: Prof Moira Gatens
Email:


Adam Hochman
Interactive constructionism about race
The central idea of my thesis is that we should be interactive constructionists about race. I argue that recent attempts to revive race as a biological kind fail. Social constructionism about race, on the other hand, needs to be revised. Biological difference is not just invested with socio-cultural meaning to construct race. Socio-cultural practices also affect reproductive relations and other factors that maintain, create, and dissolve biological differences between racialised groups. And race is not only a social construct. It is also a historical construct, a psychological construct, and so on. Social constructionism about race is too narrow, and not interactive enough; hence the need for a broader, more interactive constructionism about race.

Supervisor: Prof Paul Griffiths
Email:
Website


Anthony Hooper

Anthony Hooper
Everlasting Fame: Immortality and 'Kleos' in Heraclitus and Plato
In my thesis I analyse the distinctly philosophical contributions of Heraclitus and Plato to the 'kleos' or 'fame' tradition of immortality. Heraclitus, I argue, presents a non-doctrinal critique of the tradition, resituating this model of immortality within the context of a world in flux. In the Symposium, Plato offers a model of immortality that is clearly inspired by this account in Heraclitus, though I argue he reinterprets this model within a distinctly ethical context.

Supervisor: Prof Rick Benitez
Email:
Website


Robyn Kath

Robyn Kath
Ethics, Procreation and Population
My thesis project is approximately: to develop a moral decision procedure for decisions about creating people. Other interests include moral philosophy, logic, feminist philosophy, causation.
Supervisors: Prof David Braddon-Mitchell, Prof Duncan Ivison & Dr Michael McDermott
Email:



Andrew Latham

Andrew James Latham
The Cognitive Neuroscience of Free Will
Free will has come under increasing investigation by cognitive neuroscientists. Unfortunately, the forms of free will being tested are of little interest to contemporary debates (requiring dualism or self-determination) and current experimental paradigms lend themselves to automacity. This project aims to examine the following general questions: What forms of free will (if any) are empirically tractable? What cognitive processes (and neural underpinnings) are engaged when exercising free will? How important are these processes for the folk concept of free will?

Supervisors: Prof David Braddon-Mitchell & Prof Bernard Balleine
Email:


Bin Liu

Bin Liu
Two-dimensional Semantics
I am interested in the philosophy of language (especially two-dimensional semantics and possible worlds theory), the philosophy of mind and metaphysics.

Supervisor: Assoc Prof Nick Smith
Associate Supervisor: Assoc Prof Kristie Miller
Email:



Bruce Long
A Physicalist-Reductionist Conception of the Nature of Information, With Applications
Unifications of various quantitative mathematical measures of information have been proposed. However, philosophers generally eschew reductionism – certainly reductive physicalism – about the nature of information. Most favour some combination of pluralism, Platonism/transcendentalism, constructivism, probabilism, computationalism, subjectivism, and even possibilism about information. This thesis proposes that according to our best scientific and mathematical theories of information, information exists independently of minds, language, mathematics, computation, and non-physical possibility spaces. It presents a physicalist reductionist conception of the nature of information according to which information is intrinsically semantic and non-alethic. This is applied to the philosophy of mathematics, of biology, and of physics.

Supervisors: Prof Paul Griffiths & Assoc Prof Dean Rickles
Website


Sarah Drews-Lucas

Sarah Drews Lucas
Narrative Agency in Contemporary Feminist Political Philosophy

In my project I claim that a concept of narrative agency, understood as the individual’s capacity to ‘make sense’ of herself over time and in relation to others, is a precondition for autonomy and reflexivity. With an emphasis on the irreducibility, the inherent relationality, and the generative potential of narrative agency, I work through some of the ‘rationalist residue’ often said to plague narrative theories of agency and suggest some of the ways in which a concept of narrative agency might help feminist critical theory to posit mutual recognition and respect as normative criteria for progressive self and social transformation, even as theorists recognize these criteria to be transitory and contingent.

Supervisor : Prof Moira Gatens
Email :


Laura MacDonald
Traversing the Explanatory Gap: Why Zombies Should Be Inconceivable

The conceivability of philosophical zombies would tell us nothing ontological about the mind, but it would tell us something troubling about our conception thereof and our ability to be satisfied with any account of consciousness. I argue that the conceivability of zombies would be a problem for all camps in philosophy of mind, despite the failure of the entailment argument.

Supervisor: Prof David Braddon-Mitchell
Email:


Nick Malpas

Nick Malpas
One World, Many Voices: Hannah Arendt and the Foundations of a New Political Morality
I argue that Arendt’s political thought contains an implicit commitment to a set of universal norms or a ‘political morality’ articulated in terms such as the right to have rights, respect, plurality, and humanity. These terms all express the basic normative principle that all people are entitled to belong to and participate in a political community. This principle is based on Arendt’s claim that such belonging and opportunity for political participation are necessary for a properly human existence. Developing this simple normative insight will involve laying out distinctive conceptions of human rights, interpersonal action, politics, political community, political legitimacy, and normative deliberation.

Supervisor: Prof Duncan Ivison
Email:


Andy McGuinness

Andy McGuiness
Peircean abduction and musical perception

Email:
Website


John McIntyre
Science as a Social Institution
Science is the most authoritative form of knowledge in modern society. I am examining science as a set of social norms and practices which fit within, and play a role within, the broader set of norms and practices which constitute society. This involves questions of the relation of science to other discourses such as those of philosophy, morality, religion or common sense and also questions about the relationship of scientific knowledge to political power. I am primarily focussing on the ‘immature’ human sciences and am looking at two philosophers who theorised extensively about science – Jurgen Habermas and Michel Foucault.

Supervisor: Associate Professor John Grumley
Email:


Simon Morris
Republicanism: an alternative to liberalism?
The shortcomings of a purely market-based approach to solving the world's social and environmental problems is everywhere in evidence. Non-market approaches, however, run into the the criticism that they are inimical to freedom. The version of freedom being defended in that criticism is the liberal ideal of freedom as non-interference. Does the ideal of freedom as non-domination, advanced by Philip Pettit, Quentin Skinner and increasing numbers of other republican thinkers in recent years offer an alternative which can reconcile liberty and collective action?

Supervisor: Professor Duncan Ivison
Associate Supervisor: Professor Moira Gatens
Email:


Thomas Raysmith

Thomas Raysmith
Embodiment
My research, for the most part, focuses on an investigation of the content of cognitive states, which I take to be conceptually articulated. I am looking closely at the work of Robert Brandom and taking up his argument that concepts are determined by socio-historical linguistic practices. Ultimately I believe, however, that Brandom’s system founders on the notion of empirical content of cognitive states. It leaves thought divorced from the world, disembodied. I suggest that G. W. F. Hegel’s discussions of universality, particularity, and singularity offer a way incorporating empirical content, and thus embodied cognition, whilst keeping hold of Brandom’s insights.

Email:


Susanna Saracco

Susanna Saracco
Plato and Human Intellectual Development: A New Theoretical Framework Emphasising the Higher-Order Pedagogy of the Platonic Dialogues
The objects and capacities that Plato scholars study can be conveniently located in four segments of the divided line–shadows, objects, numbers, forms; and imagination, belief, thought, intuition. But the dialogues offer clues for reconstructing a framework that reveals the pedagogical significance of Plato's preoccupations with these objects and capacities.

Supervisor: Prof Rick Benitez
Email:


Inja Stracenski

Inja Stracenski
Knowledge of God: Spinoza's Metaphysics of Morals
My thesis examines Spinoza's account of how our understanding of God changes our conception of morality. According to Spinoza, knowledge and love of God represent humanity's highest intellectual and moral achievements. Investigating part I of the Ethics, I will outline the connections between Spinoza's metaphysics and moral theory, analysing the metaphysical features of his thinking from the perspective of ethics.

Supervisor: Prof Moira Gatens
Email:


Saranga Sudarshan

Saranga Sudarshan
The (In)Justice of Inheritance
My research is focused on the status of wealth inheritance as an institution in society and the implications the institution has for various normative ethical theories. Particularly I am interested in the different ways that theories of distributive and non-distributive justice engage with wealth inheritance. Currently I am working out the implicit background moral judgements made by theories of justice and the how such judgements guide the way particular theories engage with wealth inheritance.

Supervisor: Dr Thomas Besch
Email:
Website


Simon Varey

Simon Varey
Directly Referential Expressions
David Kaplan argued that indexical expressions should be seen as directly referential expressions, within the framework of his Logic of Demonstratives. In this thesis, I argue that definite descriptions, indefinite descriptions and proper nouns should also be seen as directly referential expressions. I will present a semantic analysis of these expressions as directly referential and show that this analysis provides the best explanation of their linguistic behaviour. I will also suggest that this analysis can provide some insight into our conceptual repertoire.

Supervisor: Assoc Prof Nick Smith
Email:



Elena Walsh

Elena Walsh
The construction of emotional dispositions
Please visit my website for information about my dissertation and research interests.

Supervisors: Paul E. Griffiths & A/Prof Dominic Murphy
Email:
Website


Stuart Wong
Global Justice and Ordinary Citizens
Supervisor: Dr. Thomas Besch


Recent graduates

  • Byron Clugston
    Thesis title: The Structure and Function of the Idea of “God” in Idealist Logic
    Supervisor: Paul Redding
  • Louise Richardson-Self
    Thesis title: A Critical Analysis of Same-Sex Marriage within Human Rights Discourse
    Supervisor: Moira Gatens
  • Ben Bramble
    Thesis title: Pleasure and Desire in Moral Theory
    Supervisor: David Braddon-Mitchell
  • Sam Baron
    Thesis title: Presentism: from now until the end of time
    Supervisor: David Braddon-Mitchell
  • Peter Evans
    PhD Candidate
    Thesis title: An Examination of Retrocausality in Quantum Mechanics.
    Suprevisor: Huw Price
  • Alison Fernandes
    Thesis title: Analytic approaches to existence: what sense can be made of the claim that the world exists independently of our practices in coming to know it?
    Supervisor: David Braddon-Mitchell
  • Matthew Hammerton
    MPhil Candidate
    Supervisor: Caroline West
  • Alison L.S. Harwood
    Thesis title: Everydayness in Martin Heidegger's Sein und Zeit
    Supervisor: Paul Crittenden
  • Raamy Majeed
    PhD Candidate
    Thesis title: Qualia: 'The Intrinsic Nature of Experience'
    Supervisor: David Braddon-Mitchell
  • Fabien Medvecky
    PhD awarded 2012
    Thesis Title: Valuing the Distant Future: A Philosophical Analysis of the Social Discount Rate in Intergenerational Decisions
    Supervisor: Mark Colyvan
  • Ali Navabi
    PhD Candidate
    Supervisor: Huw Price
  • Kyla Reid
    PhD candidate
    Supervisor: Duncan Ivison
  • Tim Smartt
    MPhil Candidate
    Thesis title: Was Richard Rorty a Platonist?
    Supervisor: Rick Benitez
  • Helen Stasa
    PhD Candidate
    Thesis title: Well-being
    Supervisor: Caroline West