Philosophy

Funded Research Projects

Passion, Power and Representation in Early Modern Philosophy, Amy Schmitter (PI)
SSHRC Insight Grant (2016–2021)

Many works of early modern philosophy teem with treatments of passion, power or representation, yet the philosophical reception of these concepts has sometimes generated more heat than light. This project is directed at clarifying these familiar, but poorly understood notions by examining how they function in the texts of several pivotal early modern figures. Paying attention to intersections between branches of philosophy concerned with these concepts may help explain some puzzles in early modern views of perceptual intentionality and action. The latter include questions about what fuels various mental acts, about what the nature of mental content is and about motivation to deeds, and perhaps, even about the character of the aesthetics that emerged gradually during the early modern period. The project aims at defamiliarizing common concepts, and rethinking neglected alternatives by indicating how much patterns of thought have changed, which will provide a proof of the possibility of substitute conceptions.     More info …

Standards, Aims, and Values: Biological Explanation and Beyond, Ingo Brigandt (PI)
SSHRC Insight Grant (2016–2022)

Philosophy of science has traditionally construed and studied science in terms of representations of the natural world, such as data and theories. This project emphasizes an additional dimension, namely, the values held by scientists, which include explanatory and other investigative aims as well as methodological and explanatory standards. The development of the philosophical framework will draw on case studies from three biological domains. (1) In systems biology, various models and modeling strategies will be scrutinized together with the question how explanatory goals necessitate the concerted use of several models. (2) Explanatory frameworks for the evolution of complexity make various idealizations, which raises the problem whether the simplifications are justified by representational aims. (3) In the domain of human evolution and of the social behavior of non-human primates, the project focuses on social and environmental values. Specifically, the impact of feminist values on scientific objectivity will be examined.     More info …

‘The Trial and Execution of Socrates’: An Interdisciplinary Course Incorporating Blended and Project-Based Learning, Kathrin Koslicki (PI), Jana Grekul (U of A), Laura Servage (University of Toronto)
TLEF Grant (Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund Grant) (2015–2018)

The goal of this project is to develop an undergraduate philosophy course, which focuses on the trial and execution of Socrates in 399 B.C. and creates an exceptional learning environment for students at the University of Alberta. The course is interdisciplinary and it takes a project-based approaches to teaching and learning. Special features of the course include (1) pre-recorded guest lectures, (2) non-lecture-type classroom activities and (3) case-study projects developed by students, which compare this historical event to contemporary challenges in democratic societies.     More info …


New Narratives in the History of Philosophy, Amy Schmitter (Collaborator)
SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (2015–2018)

This is a large-scale partnership development grant (with collaborators from Canada, U.S.A., U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Turkey and Australia) that aims to develop new narratives of our philosophical past that centrally include women thinkers, and thereby reconfigure, enrich and reinvigorate the philosophical canon, focusing on the early modern period (roughly 1560–1810). It supports a network of scholars, databases and multiple projects.     More info …

Bertrand Russell's Notes, Lectures, and Critics 1905–1914, Bernard Linsky (PI)
SSHRC Insight Grant (2014–2018)

The main goal of this project is to edit notes on Russell's university lectures between 1910 and 1914 on symbolic logic and theory of knowledge from Cambridge University (1910–1912) and Harvard (1914). These notes are by Henry M. Sheffer, G. E. Moore, Harry T. Costello, Victor F. Lenzen, and T. S. Eliot. (Eliot was a graduate student in Philosophy at Harvard in 1914.) The project also includes editing an unpublished translation by Rose Rand (a graduate student in Vienna in the 1930s) of a long paper on Russell's logic by the Polish logician Leon Chwistek, as well as an examination of Russell's notes for his reviews of the Austrian philosopher Alexius Meinong.     More info …


The Third Place is the Charm: The Emergence, the Development and the Future of the Ternary Relational Semantics for Relevance and some Other Non-classical Logics, Katalin Bimbo (PI)
SSHRC Insight Grant (2014–2019)

The goal of this project is to investigate the connections and interactions between different approaches to the relational semantics of relevance and substructural logics, and some other non-classical logics. An aim of the project is to write the history of the relational semantics for relevance logics starting from the late 1960s/early 1970s. The ternary relation that models fusion and entailment has different sources and interpretations. The latter will be enriched by a systematic exploration of informal interpretations. Relational semantics had proved extremely fruitful in the metatheory of modal logics. Applications of ternary relational semantics are expected to provide new results for further non-classical logics (such as linear logic) through understanding certain components of those logics through the ternary relation in the semantics of relevance logics.     More info …


Computer Corpus Investigations of Mass and Count Nouns, F. Jeffry Pelletier (PI)
Anneliese Meier Prize (2013–2018)

This five-year grant enables interaction by the PI with members of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum Linguistics faculty to study the phenomena surrounding mass nouns, both from a linguistic, a philosophical, and a formal semantic point of view. Prototypical mass nouns in English are water and gold; they are contrasted (in English) with prototypical count nouns like dog and table. Count terms are so-called, because they can occur with numerals and can be pluralized, e.g., two dogs; it is alleged that mass nouns cannot be counted or pluralized, but instead are measured, e.g., a gram of gold. But there are a number of “dual life” nouns that are both mass and count (e.g., candy and candies), and there are “abstract” nouns (e.g., curiosity) that seem not to fit the distinction, and the case of nominalizations (e.g., causation and causation) raises additional difficulties. Furthermore, the particular words that are count or mass in one language can differ in their classification in another language – even in very closely-related languages like English and German.

The goal of the project is to investigate the problems concerning the mass/count distinction in English by considering a much wider group of nouns than the handful that are usually considered by those who consult their own intuitions. The research employs a large corpus of naturally-occurring English language and it examines various properties relevant to the mass/count distinction that the nouns have. Then, the results obtained shall be compared with a related study being completed for a German corpus.

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Research areas | Publications