Theses (Philosophy)

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    Error bounds for an inequality system
    (2018-10-23) Wu, Zili; Ye, Jane J.
    For an inequality system, an error bound is an estimation for the distance from any point to the solution set of the inequality. The Ekeland variational principle (EVP) is an important tool in the study of error bounds. We prove that EVP is equivalent to an error bound result and present several sufficient conditions for an inequality system to have error bounds. In a metric space, a condition is similar to that of Takahashi. In a Banach space we express conditions in terms of an abstract subdifferential and the lower Dini derivative. We then discuss error bounds with exponents by a relation between the lower Dini derivatives of a function and its power function. For an l.s.c. convex function on a reflexive Banach space these conditions turn out to be equivalent. Furthermore a global error bound closely relates to the metric regularity.
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    Telling "I"'s: figuring the female subject in linking narratives by Anna Jameson, Sara Jeannette Duncan and Mavis Gallant
    (2018-06-14) Sellwood, Jane Leslie; Dean, Misao
    The linking short narratives explored in this study-- Anna Jameson's Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada, Sara Jeannette Duncan's The Pool In the Desert and Mavis Gallant's Home Truths— employ first-person narrators to both comply with and subvert dominant ideas of the gendered female subject. In addition, these representative linking narrative texts demonstrate that choices to do with form, as well as subject and theme, may both support and subvert the discourses of the time and place in which they are written. My exploration of these three representative texts draws from W.H. New's fragmentation theory of short narratives, Gérard Genette's narrative theory of voice and mood, Paul de Man's problematization of generic distinctions between autobiography and fiction, and Julia Kristeva's theory of the speaking subject as text in process and vice versa. Jameson's Romantic "I" uses the miscellany's flexible form of linking short narratives autobiographically to both reify and recuse nineteenth-century genre conventions of travel narrative and the gendered position of women in Europe and Canada. As the Recusant "I," first person narration in Duncan's quartet of stories figures splits not only between female desire and gender codes, but also between creative imagination and conditions of exile. With a psychopoetics of the unsaid, the Remembering "I" of Gallant's linking narratives figures female subjectivity as a process of both psychology and history. These women-authored linking narratives challenge assumptions that first-person narration is univocal, and therefore problematize distinctions between autobiography and fiction. In their uses of the linking narrative form, they also challenge aesthetic criteria that privilege wholeness and unity— of the novel, for example— in concepts of mimesis dominating representations of reality in their respective periods. These first-person linking narratives use the voice of the "I" subversively, telling the doubled position of the female subject in the discourses of genre and gender.
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    Unbelievable doubts (and other skeptical discoveries)
    (2017-05-01) Faerber, Jonathan; Woodcock, Scott
    Moral skeptics sometimes argue that science is at odds with morality. These arguments sometimes privilege scientific explanations of moral belief at the expense of objective moral knowledge. More specifically, since morality is (arguably) a biological adaptation involving belief, Richard Joyce and Sharon Street doubt the justification and objective truth of moral belief, respectively. This thesis defends objective normative facts from this empirical problem. Reasons for moral skepticism are not compatible with arguments against objective normativity. Put simply, without objective normativity, skeptics have no ultimate reason to doubt anything in particular, moral or otherwise. So, on pain of incoherence, moral skeptics should doubt the truth, rather than the objective normativity, of moral belief.
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    Health care in a multicultural Canada: the ethics of informed consent and the duty to warn of hereditary risk
    (2016-08-24) Dheri, Poonam; Kluge, Eike-Henner W.; Arbour, Laura
    Different people can have different cultural interpretations of the person—atomic versus embedded—and these may affect health care decision-making. This study examines both the ethics of variations in personhood as well as their implications for the doctrine of informed consent and the duty to warn of genetic disease risk. It argues that variations in personhood are consistent with the ethics of the Principle of Autonomy and the Canadian stand on informed consent, though autonomy and consent play out differently in practice on the two models. Also as a result of different interpretations of the person, the duty to warn of hereditary risk is found to be relevant to the atomic conception but unnecessary among embedded individuals.
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    Costly choices: gender and luck egalitarianism
    (2016-02-01) Byrnes, Emma; Macleod, Colin M.
    Does choice excuse inequality? Some contemporary egalitarians – often referred to as “Luck Egalitarians” – believe it does. However, many seemingly chosen inequalities obtain between men and women as a group. A recent surge of empirical literature has sought to demonstrate the role that individual choice plays in producing and maintaining a subset of existing gender inequalities (e.g. the gender wage gap). This thesis considers the status of such inequalities in the context of the Luck Egalitarian project. More precisely, it considers whether the claim that choice excuses inequality is appropriate to the phenomenon of gendered choice. In Chapter 1, I argue that Luck Egalitarianism, as it currently stands, does not adequately deal with the topic of gendered choice. I maintain that this is due largely to the fact that it is not sufficiently attentive to the social forces shaping gendered choices (e.g. socialization, hostile social climates). In Chapter 2, I discuss whether attending more fully to factors that facilitate autonomy gives Luck Egalitarianism a way to incorporate a more robust discussion of gender into its account of responsible choice. I argue that contextualizing the choice/circumstance principle is the key to ensuring that it tracks truly autonomous choice, and avoids treating choices shaped by gender norms as justifiably disadvantage-conferring. In Chapter 3, I begin the project of articulating a set of background conditions against which we can deem choices authentic. I draw on feminist approaches to the philosophy of autonomy to inform this project. I come to the conclusion that choice excuses inequality only if such choices are made against conditions which actively work against gender-specific constraints on choice.
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    Social Intercourse and Social Epistemology from Thomas Reid's Point of View
    (2015-09-02) Crosby, Alastair; Rysiew, Patrick William
    The first aim is to present the correct interpretation of Thomas Reid’s (1710-96) social epistemology. The second is to use Reid’s insights on these matters to help make some progress on a related contemporary philosophical problem. In the first chapter, I present and argue for an original interpretation of Reid’s account of the social operations. In the second, I do the same with respect to Reid’s account of testimony (a particular species of social operation) and its epistemology. In the third, I discuss a contemporary debate between epistemic individualists and epistemic socialists. I point out that the theorists engaged in that debate assume that epistemic individualism and epistemic socialism are inconsistent positions. I then consider the debate from Reid’s perspective, and, in doing so, show how the two positions might be reconciled.
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    On Virtue, Value, and Epistemic Normativity
    (2015-09-01) Boren, Ted (Buddy); Rysiew, Patrick William; Cameron, Margaret
    Virtue epistemology is epistemological evaluation that gives ‘intellectual virtue’ a primary consideration in its analysis. This thesis is about how two types of virtue epistemology are related to each other, and how when taken broadly as a whole, virtue epistemology has theoretical and practical benefits for epistemic and epistemological evaluation. I begin by way of a quick historical review, and define epistemology as the study of good or bad ways of grasping reality. Part One is then devoted to describing the ‘virtue’ part of virtue epistemology. I posit a broad view of virtue: that human excellences come in the form of cognitive faculties and character traits. What binds them is a meta-epistemological commitment that epistemological analysis should focus on the whole of the person, which includes how the person relates to the environment, other persons, and importantly the values of the whole person. In Part Two, I take a closer look of how the various conceptions of intellectual virtue are different, specifically with an examination of epistemic value. In Part Three, I take up an objection levelled by the Epistemic Anti-Realist that is a call for concern for intellectual virtues, and epistemological evaluation on the whole.
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    Is Sufficientarianism Sufficient? Prospects for the Sufficiency Threshold
    (2015-09-01) Hiebert, Melissa; Woodcock, Scott Frederick
    The central doctrine of sufficientarianism is that there is a certain threshold below which people are said to be objectively "badly-off," and that providing benefits to people who fall into this category has a special moral urgency. A big part of sufficientarianism's success as a theory, then, relies on the ability to define the threshold in a manner that is non-arbitrary and that justifies a large difference in moral consideration between people who are on opposite sides of the threshold. This thesis examines some attempts to define such a threshold, and eventually concludes that no such threshold is available to us. However, while sufficientarianism may not work as a theory, sufficiency thresholds remain useful due to their practical ability to give useful instruction to policy makers in order to assist in resource distribution and the promotion of social justice.
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    Overeating, Obesity, and Weakness of the Will
    (2015-08-28) Sommers, Jennifer Heidrun; Holder, Cindy
    The philosophical literature on akrasia and/or weakness of the will tends to focus on individual actions, removed from their wider socio-political context. This is problematic because actions, when removed from their wider context, can seem absurd or irrational when they may, in fact, be completely rational or, at least, coherent. Much of akrasia's apparent mystery or absurdity is eliminated when people's behaviours are considered within their cultural and political context. I apply theories from the social and behavioural sciences to a particular behaviour in order to show where the philosophical literature on akrasia and/or weakness of the will is insightful and where it is lacking. The problem used as the basis for my analysis is obesity caused by overeating. On the whole, I conclude that our intuitions about agency are unreliable, that we may have good reasons to overeat and/or neglect our health, and that willpower is, to some degree, a matter of luck.
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    What makes pain unique? : a critique of representationalism about pain in service of perceptualism
    (2014-09-02) Park, Andrew Erich; Rysiew, Patrick William
    The goal of this thesis is to defend non-representationalist perceptualism about pain against the challenges brought to it by Murat Aydede. These challenges are intended to apply to both a strong version of representationalism and general perceptualism about pain, however I maintain that they are less effective when aimed at the latter. In the interest of pulling apart these two views, I suggest that a more comprehensive theory of introspection than what is currently being used in the debate should be given. This thesis is an attempt to put forward such a view in service of the perceptual theorist. Once an alternative theory of introspection is given, several of the challenges that target perceptualism are avoided. Additionally I argue that the version of representationalism developed by Michael Tye is undermined by his explanation of pain’s negative affect. Consequently, I claim that one need not endorse representationalist commitments in order to maintain the attractive tenets of perceptualism.
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    Existence, Noneism, and the varieties of worlds
    (2014-08-06) Garland, Carolyn; Raven, Michael J.; Yap, Audrey
    Intentionality is a feature of mental states that are directed towards objects. One puzzle of intentionality is that mental states can be directed towards nonexistent objects. We may relate to fictional characters, or worry about events that never take place. However, if these objects do not exist, then it is difficult to make sense of how it is that we bear these relations towards them. In this thesis I outline Graham Priest’s world-based semantic and metaphysical theory of intentionality intended to accommodate these intentional relations born towards nonexistent objects. Priest supposes that this theory is compatible with any conception of worlds. I argue that this is not the case. Within Priest’s framework merely possible worlds should be understood as existent genuine worlds, and impossible worlds can be neither existent genuine worlds, nor should they be conceived of as nonexistent objects. Instead impossible worlds must be something quite revolutionary.
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    Disability and Sexual Justice
    (2014-08-06) De Boer, Tracy; Macleod, Colin M.
    In this thesis my aim is to bring attention to the problem of sexual exclusion as experienced by members of the disability community and argue that this is an issue of justice. I do this by first discussing the value of sex. I maintain that sex is an integral part of a flourishing human life. Once this is established, I examine theories of justice and demonstrate how the systematic sexual exclusion of persons with disabilities can be understood as an injustice that must be addressed. Finally, I give an overview of some of the proposed solutions to the problem of sexual exclusion and conclude that the transformation of social attitudes is necessary for sexual justice.
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    Reexamining the Problem of Demarcating Science and Pseudoscience
    (2014-05-01) Westre, Evan; Yap, Audrey
    The demarcation problem aims to articulate the boundary between science and pseudoscience. Solutions to the problem have been notably raised by the logical positivists (verificationism), Karl Popper (falsificationism), and Imre Lakatos (methodology of research programmes). Due, largely, to the conclusions drawn by Larry Laudan, in a pivotal 1981 paper which dismissed the problem of demarcation as a “pseudo-problem”, the issue was brushed aside for years. Recently, however, there has been a revival of attempts to reexamine the demarcation problem and synthesize new solutions. My aim is to survey two of the contemporary attempts and to assess these approaches over and against the broader historical trajectory of the demarcation problem. These are the efforts of Nicholas Maxwell (aim-oriented empiricism), and Paul Hoyningen-Huene (systematicity). I suggest that the main virtue of the new attempts is that they promote a self-reflexive character within the sciences. A modern demarcation criterion should be sensitive towards the dynamic character of the sciences. Using, as an example, a case study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I also suggest that the potential for conflict between demarcation conclusions and the empirical success of a pseudoscientific discipline is problematic. I question whether it is sensible to reject, as pseudoscientific, a discipline which seems to display empirical success in cases where the rival paradigm, contemporary western medicine, is not successful. Ultimately, I argue that there are both good theoretical and good pragmatic grounds to support further investigation into a demarcation criterion and that Laudan’s dismissal of the problem was premature.
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    For What It’s Worth: Artistic Evaluation and the Institutional Theory of Art
    (2014-04-25) Abhainn, Michael; Young, James O.
    For most of its history art has been mimetic in nature; not surprisingly, mimetic theories of art held sway for a long time. By the middle of the twentieth century art had departed so radically from the mimetic traditions that philosophers were forced to shift their focus away from functional theories (which typically drew on the formal features of artworks) to procedural ones (which are concerned with the imperceptible, relational properties external to the work of art). This breakthrough would eventually culminate in the Institutional Theory of Art, a perspective that provides the most exhaustive classificatory definition of art available, and which (despite the objections of its critics) remains the most persuasive theory of art on offer. The same logic that makes the Institutional Theory of Art a satisfying classificatory theory can be applied, in a similar manner, to questions about the source of the terms by which we evaluate works of art. In other words: the Institutional Theory is capable of serving not only as a powerful classificatory theory, but also as a highly effective evaluative theory of art. Moreover, if the Institutional Theory can be shown to provide a satisfying account of artistic value, it may also be equipped to deal with the related problems of subjectivism (i.e., that artistic judgments are a matter of personal taste) and cultural relativism (i.e., that artistic judgments are culturally specific). Presently, no theory of art can explain away these difficulties; accordingly, an institutional account of artistic value might offer – as does the Institutional Theory of Art itself – an explanatory framework capable of dealing with seemingly intractable problems of subjectivism and relativism in artistic judgment.
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    Can Torture Ever Be Justified for a Democracy?
    (2014-01-08) St. Peter, Jerry; Holder, Cindy
    In this work, I defend the view that torture is an inexcusable practice for a democracy. Philosophical defenses of torture rely on hypothetical, abstract scenarios in which we are asked to imagine that a ticking bomb has been planted in the center of a metropolitan area and will kill thousands of innocents unless the terrorist, who has been captured by state agents but refuses to divulge the bomb’s location, is tortured. This model gives insufficient attention to the problematic relationship between pain and truth and reduces the recognition of torture as a practice of social and political domination. By taking a closer look at how democracies have practiced torture and how they have tried to reconcile its practice with democratic norms such as accountability and the rule of law, we are better equipped to understand what is at stake in justifying torture. The justifications that service and promote this violent practice fail to satisfy epistemic conditions of truth and evidence, and neglect moral restraints regarding our treatment of others as well as the profound consequences for allowing torture to persist in a democratic society.
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    Sacred Places, Storied Places: Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World
    (2014-01-08) Beauchamp, Michelle; Taylor, Duncan M.; Lawson, James Charles Barkley
    This dissertation begins with the hypothesis that sacred places and their stories are connected in complex ways. This refers to place-based sacred places; that is, places which gain their sacred qualities from their natural environment. The two main examples used are both located in the U.K.: Puzzlewood and the Forest of Dean, and Stonehenge. It is further theorized that the stories within these places are repositories of an ancient wisdom; a memory of what it means to live with a sense of the divine in nature. Paying attention to those stories, and to the presences found in these places, may engender a greater appreciation of the interconnectedness of the human world to the natural world and the sacred in nature. Thus an ethic of care for that storied place may develop, and a more harmonious relationship between people and the larger environment may come about. Such an ethic of care may be central in finding solutions to current environmental problems, and preventing future ones. Thus a new story about our relationship with the Earth, based on ancient wisdom, may become the conduit for a kinder, gentler future, where peace, social justice, and environmental care inform both cultural paradigms and individual worldviews. This fusion of stories, the sacred, and the sacred in nature as a way towards self-realization, the development of an ethic of care, and the vision a more harmonious future, is the unique contribution of this dissertation. Bringing together these diverse strands required a multidisciplinary approach with multiple methodologies, particularly phenomenology to account for experiences in or of sacred places, and hermeneutics to address the stories. In addition, there was a need to include some of the basics of system theory to explore both natural and social systems, and for philosophical inquiry to discuss spirituality and cosmology. Other elements of this dissertation include a background of the ways in which history is presented, how this contributes to the paradigms and worldviews found in the modern Western world, and how those paradigms affect thinking about sacredness in nature, as well as a discussion of why stories are central to all of our lives, and how places come to be imbued with stories. All of this is then set within a framework of the principles of the deep ecology movement. To bring all this together with a cohesive collection of methods, the concentric circles model was created and is explained. Additionally, this dissertation presents five criteria that could prove useful in assessing sacredness in place when such sacred sites are contested, as happens quite often. This too may help to protect (care for) these places.
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    The semantic approach as an anti-physicalist renewal of the explanatory gap problem in contemporary philosophy of mind
    (2014-01-02) Canning, Adrienne; Foss, Jeffrey E.
    Contemporary philosopher, Joseph Levine, has argued that human phenomenological experience cannot be explained solely through the resources of neuroscience, and that a significant ‘explanatory gap’ exists between the rich features of human experience and scientific explanations of the mind. This thesis examines Guiseppina D’Oro’s novel suggestion that the gap exists, but that it is a semantic rather than an empirical problem. D’Oro argues that the ‘gap’ is a persistent philosophical problem because of its semantic nature, and that advances in neuroscience will fail to resolve the gap because its source is a conceptual distinction that is not marked by empirical difference. In the thesis I will discuss some virtues and difficulties with D’Oro’s thesis, and the implications her claim has more broadly for philosophers of mind.
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    The Spirit of Empiricism?: An Analysis of Empiricism as a Stance
    (2013-09-27) Di Carlo, Navarre; Foss, Jeffrey E.
    In The Empirical Stance Bas van Fraassen sets out to uncover the spirit of empiricism: “what is empiricism, and what it could be, if it is to be a viable philosophy today?” (2002, p. 31). In answer to this question van Fraassen rejects the canonical characterization of empiricism as a philosophical position established on a thesis (such as all knowledge comes from sense experience), and argues that we must endorse empiricism as a philosophical position established in a stance. But what the empirical stance is or entails exactly, van Fraassen has failed to make clear. The purpose of this thesis is to analyze and philosophically evaluate empiricism as a stance. In light of my analysis, however, I will argue that van Fraassen has not provided a concrete characterization of stance empiricism (or indeed stances in general), and that the concept remains problematically vague. In Chapter, 1 I begin with a review and analysis of The Empirical Stance. I discuss van Fraassen’s arguments against the canonical characterization of empiricism, as well as the initial sketch of what stance empiricism is or entails provided by van Fraassen. Furthermore, I offer what I see as the clearest characterization of stance empiricism that can be seen form the initial sketch van Fraassen has provided: that the empirical stance is an epistemic strategy, with a commitment to empirical inquiry. In Chapter 2, I refute a prominent critique which has been made against van Fraassen’s ‘stance-ism’ – that stances are problematically relative. This critique is particularly problematic for stance empiricism as it compromises two of van Fraassen’s proposed characteristics of empiricism. In the remaining chapters I argue that stance empiricism is a problematically vague concept. In Chapter 3, I argue that it is not entirely clear what role experience, and the empirical, is to play in the empirical stance. In Chapter 4, I discuss two characterizations of stances which are similar to that which I draw at the end of Chapter 1. I go on to argue that in light of van Fraassen’s response to such characterizations we can see that they are inadequate in being able to fully encapsulate the concept of a stance. In Chapter 5, I conclude by arguing that for stance empiricism (and indeed any stance) to be a coherent position it must be limited to something in terms of being definable by some necessary beliefs. Furthermore, I offer a potential objection to my thesis – that for van Fraassen vagueness is a nonissue; I rebut this objection by arguing that even by van Fraassen’s own lights stances are problematically vague.
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    The Foundations of Aristotle's Functionalist Approach to Political Theory
    (2013-09-27) Welle, Nathan; Wilburn, Joshua J.
    Aristotle’s articulation of a correct state is inherently socially hierarchical. This has led many scholars to view the functionalist approach as being at odds with the inherent equality of persons that is taken for granted in contemporary political theory. My thesis therefore aims to offer a defence of functionalist theory, demonstrating that it can be formulated to respect the functioning of every individual. In Chapter 1, I examine the key Aristotelian concept of natural justice. In order to draw out the subtleties of natural justice, I compare it with Cicero’s articulation of natural law. In Chapter 2, I compare and contrast Martha Nussbaum’s and Aristotle’s articulations of political philosophy. In Chapter 3, I examine the Aristotelian notion of friendship by considering the work of Cooper and Bentley. I argue against most contemporary theorists that Aristotle’s basic understanding of human relationships is altruistic.
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    Confronting the Normativity Objection: W.V. Quine’s Engineering Model and Michael A. Bishop and J.D. Trout’s Strategic Reliabilism
    (2013-09-04) Moghaddam, Soroush; Rysiew, Patrick William
    The purpose of this thesis is to critically examine how W.V. Quine, Michael A. Bishop and J.D. Trout confront the normativity objection against naturalized epistemology. In Chapter One, normativity in epistemology is introduced, followed by a brief look over Quine’s grievances against the traditional approach to epistemology. Quine rejects traditional epistemology and assimilates epistemology with science. The second chapter assesses how Quine naturalizes epistemology, and the third chapter evaluates his engineering response against the normativity objection. Bishop and Trout’s theory, founded upon the Aristotelian Principle, concentrates on reasoning and epistemic excellence instead of belief justification. Strategic Reliabilism’s attempt to dissolve the naturalistic challenge and resolve the normativity objection is inspected in Chapter Four. The final chapter, succinctly, summarizes its preceding chapters and ends by suggesting a closer exploration of the link between epistemology and cognitive sciences, to better understand the underlying mechanics of the objections that face naturalized epistemology.