Funded Research Projects


From the Routley-Meyer Semantics to Gaggle Theory and Beyond: The Evolution and Use of Relational Semantics for Substructural and Other Intensional Logics, Katalin Bimbo (PI)
SSHRC Insight Grant, (2019-2025)

A goal of the project is to analyze the impact of the ternary relational semantics for relevance logics (invented by R. K. Meyer and R. Routley) on the development of set-theoretical semantics for other substructural logics. As a preparation for the assessment of the influence of the Routley-Meyer semantics on other relational approaches, we will describe the history of the adoption of set-theoretical semantics for substructural logics focusing on the time period starting in the 1970s. We will utilize the viewpoint of generalized Galois logics to compare versions of such semantics and to introduce new ones. Last but not least, the project aims at using standard techniques from modal and algebraic logics, with adjustments if necessary, to obtain new results about certain substructural logics. More info ...

Standards, Aims, and Values: Biological Explanation and Beyond, Ingo Brigandt (PI)
SSHRC Insight Grant (2016-2023)

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 …

Cause and Context: An Experimental Methods Approach to Causal Discourse, Philip Corkum (PI)
SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2020-2023)

What we call the cause of an event can vary with our explanatory goals in a given context. The aims of the project are to identify the extent and nature of the context sensitivity exhibited by causal statements; to study the linguistic behaviour of English users for causal statements through experimental philosophy methodology; and to critically assess this methodology and its application to the issues raised by the causation literature. 

The Influence of Animal Industries on Publicly Funded Research, Education and Marketing in Canada, Howard Nye (PI)
MITACS, (2023-2024) 

As an enormous body of research makes clear, Canada needs to transition to a much more plant-based food system in order to improve Canadians’ dietary health, mitigate risks posed by zoonotic infectious diseases, address the climate and ecological emergency, and reduce gratuitous harm to farmed and free-living animals. A just transition to a more plant-based food system also has the potential to enable Canadians to access emerging economic opportunities, promote economic stability for rural Canadians, and fulfill Canada’s duties to food industry workers, marginalized communities facing food and environmental injustice, and members of Canada’s First Nations whose lands have been dispossessed. We intend to  examine the role of animal agriculture industries in Canadian food and agriculture policy formation, with a focus on publicly funded research, education, and marketing.

Fans of Science: Leveraging citizen science for understanding human storytelling, Geoffrey Rockwell
SSHRC Insight, (2022-2028)

Storytelling is a universal human practice that serves as a key site of education, collective memory, fostering social belief systems, and furthering human creativity. This project aims to leverage the fan-based passion of readers to further computational research into the functions of human storytelling using new online models of citizen science. Computational approaches to the study of storytelling have emerged as a robust new field of study thanks to major advances in machine learning and the explosion of digitized cultural material. However, one of the major hurdles facing the field is the lack of high-quality training data to computationally model narrative features that are essential for understanding why we tell stories. Our project brings together a multi-disciplinary team of experts to develop the first of its kind citizen-science platform to annotate large amounts of creative text.

MIgrant INtegration in the mid 21st century: BRidging Divides, Geoffrey Rockwell
Canada Research First Excellence Fund - CRFEF (2023)

The Bridging Divides CFREF program will bring together world-leading scholars from diverse disciplines at Ryerson, U of Alberta, UBC, and Concordia to drive innovative and transformative research to ultimately improve immigrant integration in Canada. This will be achieved through an interdisciplinary mode of inquiry spanning the main areas that impact successful integration through immigrants’ health, access and success in Canada’s labour market, homes and neighbourhoods, and civic participation. The Program will generate new qualitative and quantitative data, new methodologies and analytical approaches, as well as a range of innovative solutions to these complex and interrelated challenges.

The SpokenWeb: Conceiving and Creating a Nationally Networked Archive of Literary Recordings for Research and Teaching, Geoffrey Rockwell (Co-Applicant)
SSHRC Partnership Grant (2018-2025)

The SpokenWeb partnership is developing coordinated and collaborative approaches to literary historical study, digital development, and critical and pedagogical engagement with diverse collections of literary sound recordings from across Canada and beyond. The partnership is led by Jason Camlot at Concordia University and brings together 12 university and community partners across Canada with literary audio collections. At the University of Alberta we have a collection that includes readings by the likes of Margaret Atwood, W.O. Mitchell, Timothy Findley, Robert Kroetsch and Margaret Laurence, among many others. The Ualberta team is led by Michael O'Driscoll of English and Film Studies. More info ...

Visual Matters: Imagining Alternative Visualization Through VisoVoyant, Geoffrey Rockwell (PI)
SSHRC Insight Grant (2020-2023)

Visualization is the new knowing. From big data to complex processes, visualization tools and data walls are deployed for discovering knowledge and representing it back to others. The tools, however, are not accessible to most scholars, especially humanists that are trained to work with text. Visual Matters takes a speculative design approach to prototyping alternative visualization environments that challenge ideas about surveillance and data. We will do this adapting an existing text analysis environment, Voyant, so that it can be used freely to experiment with interactive visualization as a way of knowing text. Visual Matters explores new ways textual scholars can learn through the graphical by giving them the tools to design their own speculative visualizations.

Passion, Power and Representation in Early Modern Philosophy, Amy Schmitter (PI)
SSHRC Insight Grant (2016-2024)

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 …

Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature’s Choreography, Jennifer Welchman
SSHRC IDG, (2023-2026)

The objective of this project is to develop an enriched model for aesthetic assessment of natural sites that will fill serious gaps in the assessments produced by models currently used in Canada and North America by conservation, landscape, and development planners, which prioritize visual over all other perceptual qualities of nature. Current theoretical models for aesthetic appreciation of nature do not counteract this as they are derived from practices of aesthetic appreciation of static artworks, such as landscape painting (‘landscape model’) and abstract sculpture (‘object model’). While the first is appropriate for scenic views and the second for objects such as intriguing boulders, seashells, blasted trees, and so forth, both neglect other perceptual qualities which natural areas may offer the public.. In particular, they fail members of indigenous communities, whose aesthetic appreciation of nature has historically included engagement with textures, aromas, and tastes, as well as sights and sounds they experience while engaging in traditional activities such as harvesting medical plants, hunting, trapping, fishing and clamming. 


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 …

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 …

Turning Back the Speculative Turn: Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Luc Nancy at the Limits of Phenomenology, Marie-Eve Morin (PI)
SSHRC Insight Grant (2014-2017)

This research project seeks to meet the charges leveled by the new speculative realist movement against phenomenology by means of a comparative study of Merleau-Ponty’s and Nancy’s work. Speculative realism has challenged the way phenomenology comes to terms with the realism/anti-realism debate. While classic realists assume that our thoughts give us access to the world as it is, anti-realists point out that we only ever have access to mental representations and hence can only speak of the world as it appears to us, not of the world as it is independently of us. Oddly enough, speculative realism shares with anti-realism the assumption of a divide between mind and world: we are stuck inside, we need to speculate about what’s outside. Before the speculative turn, phenomenology had sought to overcome this mind-world divide by appealing to everyday experience. At the same time, phenomenology falls prey to the speculative critique because it limits what can be talked about to what can be experienced by humans. My research seeks to take up the speculative challenge to phenomenology by developing a concept of experience that respects the materiality and exteriority of what exists but without reinstating the mind-world divide. I look to Merleau-Ponty and Nancy to meet this challenge because I don’t think that their respective positions are accounted for by the two extremes of anti-realism and speculative realism. Indeed, both thinkers overcome the mind-world divide while proposing an experience of the real that is neither correlationist nor anthropocentric. For both Nancy and Merleau-Ponty, humans do not impose their own meaning on what exists, and thought is not the measure of the real. Rather, in the encounter with the real, there is exposition (Nancy) or intertwining (Merleau-Ponty) of the inside and the outside so that the relation between them becomes reversible. 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.

Information and more information …

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 …