Current and previous PhD research

Current PhD Research

Carlos Acosta Gastélum

  • The Philosophical Theology of the XVIII C. Reverend Charles Chauncy of Boston
  • To give an account on the philosophical dimension in the theology of the Reverend Charles Chauncy, particularly with regard to his notion of the nature of Justification –its causes, evidences of it, etc.; but also his notion of the role played by divine grace in it (both operative and co-operative grace) and of the concept of conversion as a transformative experience in the spiritual growth of the individual.
  • Supervisor: David Efird

David Austin

  • The nature of assertion and its place within the wider field of communication
  • Supervisor: Greg Currie

John Blechl

  • Missing Pieces: Locating Berkeley’s Apparently Abandoned Parts of the Principles”
  • Missing Pieces investigates George Berkeley’s design to refute sceptical and atheistic thinkers during his time by questioning the dogmatic assumption Berkeley abandoned his intended scheme. In 1710, the Principles was first published as ‘Part 1.’ However, the intended Part 2 and possible Part 3 never appeared and the descriptor ‘Part 1’ was removed from later editions of the Principles. To date, no systematic examination has considered this program in its own right or its importance to Berkeley’s system as a whole. Drawing on explicit, implicit, and reasonably inferred objectives of this plan, the study probes Berkeley’s corpus for its execution and completion. The outcomes will either support the traditional assertion of abandonment or provide evidence for the fulfilment of the project, and they will bear significance on the continuity of Berkeley’s thought and his relation and influence on other Early Modern philosophers.
  • Supervisor: Tom Stoneham

Martin Bloomfield

  • A Faith Without Foundation
  • I'm interested in how we can start from a broadly anti-foundationalist, anti-realist, non-absolutist position (such as, for instance, that espoused by Rorty) yet at the same time hold religious beliefs. My research has led me to explore the philosophical work of Cornel West, who professes both a form of neopragmatism articulated in the terms we have just laid out and re-packaged as historicism, and a strong Christian faith. But West's historicism leads him into epistemic relativism, from where it appears very difficult to make any satisfactory claims about God at all, let alone one's relationship with him. My job is to follow him down the rabbit hole without getting lost, and come out of the other side with a coherent understanding of what such a faith, as well as the moral and epistemic claims that go alongside it, might look like.
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Jamie Cawthra

  • Impossible Fictions
  • Stories frequently depict impossible circumstances. In fictions from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to The Shining, a range of different impossibilities are used. Previous research on this topic has looked at the metaphysics and logic of these depictions, but I propose an aesthetic evaluation of these fictions, understanding them first and foremost as artistic endeavours. My work explores the aesthetic effects of these impossibilities, as well as their influence on the way we imagine and interpret fictions.
  • Supervisor: Greg Currie

Thippapan Chuosavasdi

  • Emotions in Buddhist Philosophy: The Case of Anger and Fear
  • Supervisors: Peter Lamarque and Amber Carpenter

Nick Courtney

  • Perception as the source of all knowledge: intrinsic properties and mind-independence
  • I argue that perceptual experience is what explains our acquisition of our basic concepts, such as our concepts of spatial properties. It does this by providing the subject with knowledge of what those properties are like. Perceptual experience has two distinct dimensions - a subjective dimension and an objective dimension. I argue that both dimensions of perceptual experience are necessary components of its aforementioned epistemic function. I argue that only when perception is thought of on the Naive realist model can we see how the objective and subjective dimensions of perceptual  experience can co-exist without interfering with one another. Moreover, this duality of dimensions may also provide the subject with one basis for the conceptual distinction between subject (i.e. herself) and object.
  • Supervisors: Louise Richardson, Paul Noordhof

Rafael D'Aversa

  • Moral Arguments and The Frege-Geach problem
  • My research interest is the nature of moral discourse, whether it has a cognitive or non-cognitive nature. In particular, I am asking whether the Frege-Geach problem constitutes a good reason to reject the non-cognitivist view on moral discourse, and also whether a non-cognitivist view on moral discourse can give a plausible account of logical concepts such as validity and inconsistency, which, contrary to the standard account, cannot appeal to the notions of truth and falsity. 
  • Supervisors: Christian Piller and Thomas Baldwin

Rebecca Davis

  • Area of research: Thick Concepts
  • Supervisors: Mary Leng and Catherine Wilson

Andrew Haggerstone

  • My research focuses on the relationship between language and the imagination, and hopes to contribute to recent discussions in Philosophy on the evolution of creativity and creative cognition. This research draws on work in Linguistics, Paleoanthropology and Comparative Psychology, as well as recent literature in Philosophy on both creativity and the imagination.
  • Supervisors: Greg Currie and Barry Lee

Britt Harrison

  • Cinematic Humanism: Realism not empiricism
  • Cinematic Humanism is the philosophical understanding of the fact that fictional films provide valuable insights into what it is to be human. It provides a unique appreciation of the relationship between the cognitive, the aesthetic and the cinematic. Prompted by this century’s latest developments in the philosophy of art and literature, particularly arguments for a so-called new ‘Literary Humanism’, Cinematic Humanism is the first-ever extension of this principled approach into the area of film, rooting its philosophical authority in the philosophy of language,aesthetics,  epistemology and the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein.
  • Supervisor: Peter Lamarque

Gordon Haynes (MPhil)

  • Trenton Merricks senses that we think of ourselves as souls that inhabit bodies and at death our souls go off to start another wonderful life, in another place. Christian theology teaches that this other life is reached only with the very same body that once walked the earth. There must then be a switch. On our deathbeds, God must switch us, leaving behind a representation of us to be buried and whisking the real us away – what is left to mourn over is some sort of simulacra. Or we can think of ourselves in a cartoon lift where, just like Tom & Jerry we jump out just before the final impact, walking away into the sunset unharmed. These solutions would get us round the problems of the theologians who spent hours pondering how we could be ‘reassembled’ once our bodies have decomposed and the molecules used in other living things. But aren’t we more than a just fusion of body and soul? How can we account for the Christian resurrection of the body in a way that is more satisfactory and less dependent on these bizarre thought experiments? Contemporary philosophical speculation on the resurrection using ancient metaphysical concepts may help us to find alternative routes to justify our belief about who we really are and how we can be resurrected.
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Noriaki Iwasa (MPhil)

William Kilborn

  • A New System of Worlds
  • I develop and defend a new modal metaphysics. The resultant system is one that is influenced by, yet significantly diverges from, the work of David Lewis and Timothy Williamson.
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Bridger Landle

  • The Metaphysics of Fission
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Stylianos Panagiotou

  • Philosophy of action/free will
  • Supervisor: Paul Noordhof

Zoe Porter

  • Moral Agency, Responsibility, and Robotics
  • Supervisor: Steve Holland

Conny Rhode

  • Topic: Dialogical Empiricism: The Burden of Proof upon Philosophical Methods
  • Area: Philosophical Methodology
  • My research is concerned with how academic philosophical dialogue should be conducted. More specifically, I am interested in the following situation. Imagine that you are discussing a philosophical issue with another philosopher. You assert some particular proposition P, and your interlocutor questions whether P is actually true, though without herself offering any grounds in favour of P. How should you respond? Do you always have to support (or else retract) P when challenged, or are there certain conditions under which P is privileged and has to be accepted by default, e.g. when P is foundational? Drawing on Informal Logic, I establish empirically that defeating one’s opponent in argument is the prevalent goal of philosophical dialogue (though not necessarily of philosophical thought), hence it is prudent to not claim that P is privileged. Absent such privilege, how can you support P? By examining certain pragmatic requirements to be met by any evidential support for P, I show that such supporting relations should prudently not cross any inference barriers. As I explain, this renders it instrumentally irrational to continue many of the common employments of a priori evidence in academic philosophical dialogue. The implications of this methodological restriction for substantive philosophical debates are broadly quietist, since many such debates depend upon the evidential employment of various kinds of a priori evidence and thus cannot be conducted any longer (with notable exceptions mainly in the Philosophy of Science). You can find my CV here.
  • Supervisors: Keith Allen and Mary Leng

Anu Selvaraj-Thomson

  • My research, which is a philosophical examination of love for learning seeks solutions for young people’s disengagement with learning. Young people who “haven’t withdrawn from schools but are not fully taking part either because they have given up any trying or because they resist to do so” (Lumby, 2013) is estimated at between one fifth and one third of all 14-16 year olds (Steedman & Stoney, 2004). This is extremely worrying.Much of the new curricula for education cite the love for learning as the linchpin for continual personal and professional development. In spite of this, there has been very little research into what ‘love’ in love for learning refers to, and why exactly it should be seen as something worth pursuing. Without a clear understanding of what exactly this love entails, how can we do any real work to foster or encourage it?  In line with this, my research focuses on why love for learning is a valuable thing and how, if it is at all possible, does one begin to 'love learning'? For example, is this something that can be taught or acquired, or something that is innately possessed but needs to be recognised or 'triggered', or a combination?  Based on my findings, I also hope to present a basic ‘toolkit’ that could assist educators and policy makers in encouraging this love for learning.
  • Supervisor: Dorothea Debus

Joshua Sijuwade

  • The Gap Problem and the Metaphysics of God
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Jared Stoughton

  • Ontology and Existence in the Works of Vasubandhu
  • Supervisors: Paul Noordhof and Amber Carpenter

Elisabeth Thorsson

  • Locke between empiricism and Platonism
  • Supervisor: Tom Stoneham

Tamsin Timbrell

  • What are musical works, and how might we analyse the creative processes of their composition and performance?
  • I will be researching the ontology of musical works, and the implications which answers to ontological questions about music have for our understanding of the creative processes of composition and performance, and our definitions of creativity. Some of the ontological questions I will be focusing on are: what types of entities are musical works? Are musical works created or discovered? What are the criteria for the numerical and qualitative identity of musical works and their performances? And where do musical works exist in time? I hope to establish a Complex Platonist view of musical works, following the work of Jerrold Levinson (1980), who views musical works as abstract types which are instantiated by performances. The Complex Platonist also considers musical works to be partially discovered and partially created, which I believe will have important implications for how we view composition and performance, and for our definitions of creativity. For example, if musical works were entirely discovered, it would seem that the composer would not be bringing the work into existence. On the other hand, if musical works are created, the composer plays a more active role. I will also discuss performance: how a musician interacts with a musical work, and how the interpretation or editing of a musical work might affect its identity. 
  • Supervisor: Peter Lamarque

Adam Timmins

  • Epistemological conditions for a realist construal of historiographical practise
  • Supervisor: Tom Stoneham

Jack Warman

  • The Epistemological Significance of Irrelevant Causal Factors
  • How should we respond to the fact that our confidence in many of our beliefs can be explained by facts about our upbringing and background? It seems, for instance, that our religious beliefs are often held as a result of our upbringing. Although we often have reasons to offer in defence of our religious beliefs, it seems as if these reasons might also be explained by similar facts about our upbringing and background. The problem is, oftentimes these facts have no bearing on whether the beliefs which they explain are true or false. In this sense, they are irrelevant. This seems to be problematic. I hope to find a way to more systematically account for, and respond to, this apparent problem of the irrelevant causes. I will draw on psychological and sociological findings as well as the growing body of work in social epistemology.
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Deborah Wells

  • Experience, Rationalism and Psychosis: A Dennettian and Prediction Error Account
  • The aim of my research is to develop a Dennettian and Prediction Error account of psychosis. It is a rationalist approach to the extent that the features of psychosis are addressed wholly in terms of biological and cognitive function and the observable behaviours of an agent who interacts within an environment—within which the agent's cultural, social, interpersonal and personal circumstances are held to assume a key explanatory role. However, it is mild rationalist approach in so much as it freely acknowledges the significant role that anomalous experience may assume in particular cases.
  • Supervisor: Paul Noordhof

Grace Whistler

  • Camus as Moral Philosopher
  • My thesis reassesses the writings of Albert Camus in relation to current debates at the intersection of ethics and aesthetics. My approach is somewhat interdisciplinary, as my main interests lie in questions of philosophical style and the phenomenological effects that texts have on us as readers. More info at: https://york.academia.edu/GraceWhistler
  •  Supervisor: Peter Lamarque

David Worsley

  • Making Amends: Atonement and the Second-Person
  • If atonement between victim and malefactor is made, both persons are in some sense united with each other. Borrowing from medieval philosophy and contemporary cognitive science, I examine what this eventual union might look like, and what atonement must do to make such union possible. I argue that any attempt to explain how atonement can be made must adequately deal with the appropriateness of guilt and shame in the wrongdoer, as well as promoting the wrongdoer's desire for union with their victim. I argue that the presence of guilt (the 'deontic' problem), shame (the 'relational' problem), or a lack of desire for union (the 'ontological' problem) in the wrongdoer can each prevent union between a wrongdoer and their victim, and that each of these must be dealt with separately. Developing an account of wrongdoing that uses what Stephen Darwall describes as the 'second-person standpoint', I offer a solution to each of these problems. Shame can be defeated by offering a sincere apology (where sincerity is grounded on repentance, and, where necessary, some supererogatory penance), the lack of desire can be dealt with by a certain kind of second-personal encounter with the victim, and guilt can be overcome through the payment of some reparation. However, union between victim and wrongdoer also requires the victim to desire union with the wrongdoer. I deny that the victim owes the wrongdoer the opportunity for what Aquinas describes as 'real union', nevertheless I argue that the victim does indeed owe their wrongdoer the opportunity for what Aquinas calls 'affective union.' I conclude with the thought that although atonement cannot be coerced, it can and indeed should be facilitated and encouraged by others. 
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Catherine Yarrow

  • The philosophy of religious language
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Past theses

  • David Price - Application and Ontology in Mathematics: a Defence of Fictionalism (2017)
  • Robert Davies - Self-Knowledge, Memory, and Deliberation (2017)
  • Christopher Hodder - A Structured Approach to the Adam Smith Problem (2016)
  • Joshua CockayneKierkegaard and the God-Relationship (2016)
    • Current occupation: Associate Lecturer, Dept. of Philosophy, University of York
  • Helen BradleyPictorial Representation and the Significance of Style (2016)
  • Louise MoodyNaive Realism, Imaginative Disjunctivism, and the Problem of Misleading Experience (2015)
    • Current occupation:Humanities Research Centre Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of York, 2016/17
  • Christopher RobbinsPascal and the Therapy of Faith (2015)
    • Current occupation: Legal draftsman
  • Rosemary Jane SmithTranscendental Arguments and Scepticism (2015)
    • Current occupation: Digital Editor, University of York and Freelance Proofreader and Editor
  •  Suki FinnNeo-Carnapian Quietism (2015)
    • Current occupation: Research Fellow, Philosophy Department, University of Southampton
  • Mats VolbergThe Foundation and Nature of Contemporary Liberalism (2015)
    • Current occupation: Research Fellow in Practical Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, University of Tartu
  • Tae-Kyung KimThe demonstrative concept, the problem of reference, and the first person (2015)
  • Daniel MoltoRelative identity and logic (2015)
    •  Current occupation: Teaching Fellow at the University of York
  • Daniel GustafssonA Philosophy of Christian Art (2015)
    • Current occupation: Teaching in Sweden
  • Dom ShawThe Contemporary Relevance of Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy (2015)
    • Current occupation: Executive trainee, KPMG
  • Ken PepperPushing the boundaries of consciousness and cognition (2015)
    •  Current occupation:Playing heavy metal guitar in Exeter
  • Filippo ContesiThe Disgusting in Art (2014)
    • Current occupation:Postdoctoral fellow at the Institut Jean Nicod in Paris, funded by the EHESS (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales):
  • Rafe McGregor - The Autonomy of Aesthetic Virtue (2014)
    • Current occupation: Visiting Fellow, Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science, Leeds
  • Richard TamburroThe Free Actions of Glorified Saints (2014)
    • Current occupation: Director of Westside School of Theology, Portland, Oregon
  • Ema Sullivan BissettBelief, Truth, and Biological Function (2014)
    • Current occupation: Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Birmingham
  • Wattaneeporn Kajornprasart - Isaiah Berlin (2014)
  • Brendan HarringtonThe pernicious problems of the scheme/content distinction (2014)
  • Jenny CampbellA second natural analysis of freedom and moral responsibility (2013)
  • David Stocks (MPhil) - The trust between patient and doctor (2012)
  • Bob Clark - A Wittgensteinian perspective on (apparent) problems to do with the applicability of mathematics (2011)
  • Owen Hulatt - Adorno (2011)
    • Current occupation: Teaching Fellow in the Department
  • Vladislav Vojotovic (2011)
  • Robin DennisEgocentricity and Objectivity (2011)
  • Richard Flockemann (2011) 
  • Rachael WisemanSpeaking on Oneself (2010)
    • Current occupation: Research Fellow, University of Durham
  • Eva-Maria DüringerEmotions and Values (2010)
    • Current occupation: Akademische Rätin (Assistant Professor), Tübingen
  • Elaine HornerLeaving the Question of Truth: The Grammar of Colour (2009)
  • Michael John WilbyHow the Folk Make the Mind (2008)
    • Current occupation: Tutor at Anglia Ruskin; won the Philosophical Explorations early career researcher essay prize 2010
  • Christopher Michael DowlingThe Vindication of Aesthetic Empiricism (2007)
    • Current occupation:Tutor for the Open University; Teaching Fellow at York 2008-10
  • Mahlet-Tsigé GetachewThe Redress of Metaphor: A Philosophical Slant (2007)
    • Current occupation: Taught at University of Richmond
  • Mark A. TurnerLanguage, Thought and Psychopathology: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Psychosis (2005)
    • Current occupation:Consultant Psychiatrist
  • Han-Kyul KimJohn Locke: Agnostic Essentialist, Nominal Dualist, Symmetric Monist. A New Interpretation of His Metaphysics of Mind and Matter (2002)
    • Current occupation: Two years as Visiting Fellow at Yale; now Assistant Professor at Temple
  • Aliou TallFrom Mathematics in Logic to Logic in Mathematics: Boole and Frege (2002)
    • Current occupation:Working for US AID in the DRC
  • Stephen Holland - A Critique of John McDowell’s Philosophy of Value (2000)
    • Current occupation: Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at York
  • Beth Anne SavickeyWittgenstein’s Method of Grammatical Investigation (1995)
    • Current occupation: Associate Professor and Dept. Chair, University of Winnipeg
  • Daniel Douglas HuttoThe Presence of Mind: An Investigation and Defense of Commonsense Psychology (1993)
    • Current occupation: Professor, University of Hertfordshire
  • Sonya SikkaThree Forms of Transcendence: A Study of Heidegger and Medieval Mystical Theology (1993)
    • Current occupation: Associate Professor, University of Ottowa
  • Marcus John TowseIntentionality, Morality and Humanity (1990)
    • Current occupation: Vice President, Scarborough Sixth Form College
  • Alan BaileyThe Pyrrhonean Way of Sextus Empiricus (1988)
  • Rosemary NewmanSensibility and the Imagination (1988)
  • Mark William RowePhilosophy, Psychology, Criticism: A Defense of Traditional Aesthetics (1986)
  • William John RobinsonHolism, Semantics and Ontology (1984)
  • Colin StirlingThe Foundations of Logical Analyses of Tense (1980)
  • Aletta Ann BartonThe Possibility of Objectivity in Moral Argument: Some Aspects of Utilitarian Morality in the Work of R. M. Hare and Philippa Foot (1979)
  • John Philip NolanThe Thing-in-Itself in Kant’s Philosophy (1975)
  • John Holliday LaneThe Christian Concept of Mystery in Doctrine. An Examination of John Toland's 'Christianity Not Mysterious' (1696), its Allies and Critics (1974)
  • Roger MartinHume on Personal Identity (1974)