Philosophy Theses and Dissertations

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    Memory, Time, and Temporal Experience
    (2023) Pan, Shen; Carruthers, Peter; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation puts forth a series of empirically-grounded theoretical proposals about memory and temporal awareness. After an introductory chapter setting up the stage, Chapter 2 concerns episodic memory. According to the standard view, episodic memory is both distinctively metarepresentational and, relatedly, uniquely human. I argue that the standard view conflates two closely connected yet distinct senses of `episodic memory'. More specifically, I argue that even if the phenomenally conscious contents of episodic recollective experience are metarepresentational, that does not require that the episodic memory system have a metarepresentational structure. After arguing for a first-order account of the memory system, I show how the system-experience distinction helps to render the task of demonstrating episodic memory in non-human animals empirically tractable. Chapter 3 concerns altered temporal phenomenology in life-threatening danger. I argue that the phenomenon colloquially known as `time slowing down' turns out to consist of three distinct elements --- subjective time expansion, slowing down of perceptual motion, and timelessness. Drawing on empirical findings from a range of related fields, I explore how each element departs from ordinary, `normal' temporal experience. Collectively, these individual accounts in turn further our understanding of passage phenomenology and temporal consciousness in general. Chapter 4 investigates the cognitive underpinnings of our intuitive belief that time passes. On my account, while this belief is less metaphysically weighty than sometimes assumed, it is still of significant theoretical interest not only because it is linked to a rich phenomenology, but also because time's dynamic character is a psychologically compelling phenomenon. Both of these features, I argue, are best accounted for by taking seriously the idea that we have something akin to an intuitive theory in the domain of time, with the belief that time passes serving as an inference-guiding principle shaping our `manifest image' of time.
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    (2023) Masciari, Christopher; Carruthers, Peter; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation provides a defense of reductive representationalism about consciousness. After an introductory chapter, chapter 2 provides a representationalist account of olfaction. In the literature, Burge’s (2010) account of representation is widely endorsed. According to his account, perceptual representation represents “objectually”, that is, it represents features of the world, as objective. This depends on perceptual constancies. Many authors attempt to defend representationalism about olfaction by showing that there are olfactory constancies. I argue that there are none. Instead, I show that representationalism regarding olfaction is correct by showing that olfaction represents minimally. I then argue that representations in Burge’s sense are constructed when minimal olfactory content is embedded in object-files that contain other non- olfactory properties that meet Burge’s criteria for representation. In chapter 3, I defend a particular reductive representationalist account of consciousness—the global workspacetheory—against an alternative which suggests that consciousness is richer than the global workspace theory claims. I argue that experience is richer than is standardly suggested by proponents of the global workspace theory, but less rich than the alternative theory suggests. I argue that there are additional resources available to defenders of the global workspace theory in accommodating intuitions of richness that have yet to be fully appreciated by participants in the debate. In chapter 4, I defend reductive representationalism against a new objection presented by Adam Pautz (20172020). He recently suggested that there are several constraints on experience, known as “The Laws of Appearance,” that put pressure on the representationalist thesis about conscious experience because they suggest that experience is constrained in ways that representations are not. Since the representationalist claims that experience just is a matter of representing the world to be a certain way, the representationalist owes us an explanation, or else representationalism is false. I argue that the laws are not genuine laws, but that we have the intuition that they are because of the limits of imagination. As a consequence, I show that representationalism is not threatened.
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    (2023) Fyfe, Andrew Thomas; Kerstein, Samuel; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Kantian ethicists maintain that morality applies to all agents irrespective of an agent’s particular circumstances, interests, or concerns. That is, morality applies to an agent categorically rather than hypothetically. Kantian ethics attempts to prove this categoricity by deriving morality from the constitutive conditions of action. If such an argument could be made to work, then morality would follow from the constitutive preconditions or “logic” of agency and thereby apply categorically to all agents regardless of unique eccentricities concerning an agent’s particular circumstances or interests. As a result, an argument for Kantian ethics typically adheres to the following formula: (1) providing a theory of agency that (2) entails that all agents are committed to a Kantian ethical outlook. My focus in this dissertation is one of these arguments for Kantian ethics. Specifically, the argument of Christine Korsgaard. I cannot fully defend her argument here in its entirety, but with this dissertation I hope to provide the background work developing the necessary theory of agency in order for Korsgaard’s argument for Kantian ethics to succeed. Specifically, I aim to put forward, develop, and defend the sort of non-standard, teleological theory of agency upon which Korsgaard’s argument for Kantian ethics crucially depends. Moreover, with this dissertation I aim to attack the more widely accepted Davidsonian, causalist theory of agency which Korsgaard’s Aristotelian-Wittegenstienian-Anscombian teleological theory of agency opposes and I argue we should adopt instead.
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    Repositioning Cognitive Kinds
    (2022) Roige Mas, Aida; Carruthers, Peter; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation puts forward a series of theoretical proposals aimed to advance our understanding of cognitive kinds. The first chapter introduces the general debates that provide the philosophical underpinnings for the topics addressed in each of the following chapters. Chapter two compares and distinguishes between modules of the mind and mechanisms-as-causings, arguing that they should not be conflated in cognitive science. Additionally, it provides a novel “toolbox” model of accounts of mechanisms, and discusses what makes any such account adequate. Chapter three addresses the question of whether there is a role within the new mechanistic philosophy of science for representations. It advances a proposal on how to carve working entity types, so that they may include representational explanans. Chapter four offers an account of mental disorders, one that captures the regulative ideal behind psychiatry’s inclusion of certain conditions as psychopathologies. Mental disorders are alterations in the production of some mental outputs (e.g. behaviors, beliefs, emotions, desires), such that their degree of reasons-responsiveness is extremely diminished with respect to what we would folk-psychologically expect it to be.
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    (2022) Zhang, Yichi; Pacuit, Eric E.; Santorio, Paolo P.; Philosophy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Inquisitive semantics offers a unified analysis of declarative and interrogative sentences by construing information exchange as a process of raising and resolving issues. In this dissertation, I apply and extend inquisitive semantics in various new ways. On the one hand, I build upon the theoretical insight of inquisitive semantics and explore the prospect of incorporating other types of content into our conception of information exchange. On the other hand, the logical framework underlying inquisitive semantics is also of great interest in itself as it enjoys certain unique properties and is thus worth further investigation. In the first paper, I provide an account of live possibilities and model the dynamics of bringing a possibility to salience using inquisitive semantics. This account gives rise to a new dynamic analysis of conditionals, which is capable of capturing what I call the Extended Sobel Inference. In the second paper, drawing on the fact that disjunction in inquisitive semantics is understood as introducing a set of alternative answers to a question, I propose a Questions-Under-Discussion-based account of informational redundancy to tackle various Hurford sentences. In the third paper, I explore the prospect of cashing out the theoretical intuition behind inquisitive semantics using a non-bivalent framework. I develop a new logic which invalidates the Law of Excluded Middle just like inquisitive logic, but unlike inquisitive logic, it employs a negation that vindicates Double Negation Elimination.