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  • About
  • The Global ETD Search service is a free service for researchers to find electronic theses and dissertations. This service is provided by the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.
    Our metadata is collected from universities around the world. If you manage a university/consortium/country archive and want to be added, details can be found on the NDLTD website.
11

Grammar, ambiguity, and descriptions : a study in the semantics of definite descriptions

Hughes, Thomas James January 2015 (has links)
The semantics of definite descriptions has been a central topic in philosophy of language ever since Russell’s landmark paper ‘On Denoting’(1905). Russell argued that definite descriptions should not be seen as referential expressions, but instead as quantificational expressions. In other words, a sentential utterance containing a definite description should be understood as expressing a general/object-independent proposition. A problem arises with the view once we consider the fact that definite descriptions are used frequently and consistently to refer to particular individuals. Through this observation, Donnellan (1966) argued that definite descriptions would be better understood as having two distinct uses, one referential and one attributive/quantificational. We can call this the ambiguity problem in definite descriptions. The following thesis will argue that the ambiguity problem disappears once we take seriously the grammar that underpins sentential utterances containing definite descriptions, and that the semantics of the definite article is determined in part by the grammatical topology of determiner phrases and in part by what grammatical environments determiner phrases can be felicitously placed. The thesis, therefore, is that the semantics of definite descriptions is grounded in grammatical facts.
12

Zoogenesis : thinking encounter with animals

Iveson, Richard January 2011 (has links)
The “question of the animal,” as it has become known, is central—both strategically and in-itself—to contemporary philosophy and politics, and in my thesis, Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounter with Animals, I seek to further explore the ongoing deconstruction of the human-animal dichotomy. Therein I argue that, if we are to stall the genocidal machine by which various bodies are reproduced as “killable,” the reinscription of other animals within the domains of philosophy, ethics, and politics remains essential. The interruption of this murderous logic is of the utmost importance, not only for other animals, but also for all those millions of “other” humans who find themselves excluded by the regulatory norms of gender, sexuality, race, and/or class. Divided into five parts, and engaging with writers as diverse as Nietzsche, Derrida, Butler, Plato, Heidegger, Kafka, Blanchot, Rancière, William S. Burroughs and Bernard Stiegler, I explore the notion of an originary technicity of being within ever broader levels of analysis. Beginning with the apocalyptic zoo-genesis of an “animal encounter” which exceeds every determinable form, I then consider “improper” tropes which function in the opposite direction to the genocidal theatrics of “animalisation,” calling forth instead forbidden place-holding metonymies which hold open the space of invention itself. From there, I trace the implications of the “zoogenetic demand” through the various overlapping domains of ethics, responsibility, nationalism, community, and biotechnology. This demand, I argue, requires a necessarily exorbitant ethics of the unrecognisable other—of an excessive hospitality from which nonhuman animals cannot be excluded—and without which the privileging of the white Western heterosexual male is inevitably reinforced. In conclusion, I argue that it is excessive mutability which constitutes both the promised posthumanism of vigilant betrayal and at once the poisonous threat of a collapse into absolute nihilism—a pharmakon which must ever again be renegotiated.
13

Powers of existence : the question of otherness in the philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy

Rugo, Daniele January 2010 (has links)
While the present work analyzes three distinct motifs – body, world, with – in the work of Jean-Luc Nancy, the dissertation intends to investigate Nancy’s reading of Heidegger, with particular focus on the question of Being-with. Given the nature of the reflection – opening the question of otherness from within Heidegger – the research will also articulate a dialogue between Nancy and Levinas. Through the examination of Nancy’s reading of Heidegger, the dissertation will then endeavor to establish the original gesture of Nancy’s contribution to philosophy, which will be identified in the concept of powers of existence. Under the light of the analysis of the three concepts which structure the work, the conclusions will define powers of existence as singular resistances of existence to the mastering decision of philosophical work. This being the case philosophy will in turn continuously loosen its categories and key words in the attempt to decide its course according to what happens between us. The opening of a series of incommensurable measures responds to the demand existence casts on philosophical work. The problem of otherness is thus resolved as the work of powers of existence.
14

Kinds of agency and the role of reflective endorsement

Bucelli, Irene January 2015 (has links)
Human beings act, and it is intuitive to think that they are agents in a rather unique way, one that is different from other animals. This intuition has led some philosophers to think that human agency exhibits the distinctive feature of being self-controlled, self-governed and autonomous. Some authors identify a form of agency, sometimes defined as full-blown, strong or par excellence, with which we can only credit human beings, and which is taken to be distinctive of some human actions. Within this framework, a prominent understanding of the notion of self-governance conceives it in terms of the agent directing and governing his own practical thought and actions. This position not only considers that self-governance is required for our behaviour to count as a full-blown action, but it also identifies the condition of self-governance with the agent’s reflective endorsement: with the commitment to his own doings by means of his reflective capacities. This thesis asks whether it makes sense to distinguish two kinds of agency, one of which is specifically human and expresses the agent’s self-governance. I take issue with the prominent attempt to make sense of the distinction in terms of reflective endorsement and I claim that there are foundational reasons why accounts that employ this notion are unsatisfactory. In particular I argue that reflective endorsement approaches to agency are too restrictive and not realistic. While the main aim of the thesis is to criticize the fundamental assumptions that ground this highly prominent view of human actions, the difficulties that will emerge from my discussion will point at the desiderata for an alternative theory of agency, which will remain as a working hypothesis to develop in further work.
15

Neoplatonic love : the metaphysics of Eros in Plotinus, Proclus and the Pseudo-Dionysius

Vasilakis, Dimitrios January 2014 (has links)
This thesis examines the notion of Love (Eros) in key texts of the Neoplatonic philosophers Plotinus (204/5–270 C.E), Proclus (c.412–485 C.E.) and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th-early 6th cent.). In the first chapter I discuss Plotinus’ treatise devoted to Love (Enneads,III.5) and I attempt to show the ontological importance of Eros within the Plotinian system. For Plotinus for an entity (say Soul) to be/exist is to be erotic, i.e. be directed to the intelligible realm. Hence, one of the conclusions is that Love implies deficiency, and, thus, it takes place in a vertical scheme, where an inferior entity has eros for its higher progenitor. If this is so, then Proclus apparently diverges greatly from Plotinus, because in his Commentary on the First Alcibiades Proclus clearly states that inferior entities have reversive (/upwards) eros for their superiors, whereas the latter have providential (/downwards) eros for their inferiors. Thus, the project of my second chapter is to analyze Proclus’ position and show that in fact he does not diverge much from Plotinus; the former only explicates something that is already implicit in the latter. The first part of my discussion emphasizes the ethical aspect, whereas the second deals with the metaphysical aspect. Finally, in the third chapter I examine pseudo-Dionysius’ treatment of God as Eros in his work On the Divine Names. One motivation was the verdict of a number of old scholars that the Areopagite is a plagiarizer of Proclus. Still, the examination of Eros is a characteristic case, where one can ascertain Dionysius’ similarities and divergences from Proclus. Supported by recent literature, we can suggest that Dionysius uses more of a Proclean language (cf. providential and reversive eros), rather than Proclean positions, owing to ontological presuppositions that differentiate the Neoplatonic philosopher from the Church Father. Proclus forms the bridge between pagan Neoplatonism (Plotinus) and Christian philosophy (pseudo-Dionysius).
16

The scope and development of Kant's theodicy

Huxford, George Gilbert January 2015 (has links)
The thesis which underpins the whole study is that Kant's engagement with theodicy was career-long and not confined to his short treatise of 1791, On the Failure of All Attempted Philosophical Theodicies, which dealt explicitly with the subject. In the study, Kant's developing thought on theodicy is treated in three periods, pre-Critical, early-Critical, and late-Critical. Each of the periods has its own special character, respectively that of exploration, transition, and conclusion. In the course of developing the underpinning thesis, I argue for a further five substantial theses: o Kant's stance on theodicy developed through his career, from an essentially Leibnizian starting point to his own unique authentic theodicy. • Kant did not reject all theodicies. He rejected so-called philosophical theodicies based on theoretical/speculative reason but advanced authentic theodicy grounded in practical reason. In this way he found a middle ground between philosophical theodicy and fideism, both of which he rejected. • Kant's work in other areas, particularly that in natural science and his Critical epistemology, served to constrain his theodicy. • Metaphysical Evil conceived as limitation and Kant's Radical Evil perform the same function, namely providing the ground for the possibility of moral evil in the world. • Nevertheless, Kant's authentic theodicy fails (i) because it fails to meet his own definition (ii) it relies on the Highest Good which cannot bear the weight Kant puts on it because (a) there is no a priori deduction of a duty in its regard and (b) intractable difficulties in applying the Highest Good in practice.
17

Towards a hybrid theory of Property Entitlement, from a combination of Lockean and Humean elements

Humphries, Simon James January 2015 (has links)
John Locke’s approach to property rights is often seen as inherently unsatisfactory in today’s world, because of problems in a number of areas, significant amongst which are difficulties in tracing a historical chain from just initial acquisition to current title and a certain imprecision which seems unavoidable within the theory. As a result, a more conventional approach has tended to predominate. This might be thought to be exemplified by the writings of David Hume. In this essay, I argue that liberal rights assumptions can give rise to genuine Lockean-style property claims, because these seem to do justice to a number of our ethical intuitions, and that these need to be incorporated in our ideas of how property title is justly acquired. I suggest that these intuitions relate to the genesis of property rights, whilst Humean thoughts are often more relevant when we are unable to properly trace such genesis. I also suggest that conventionalists should not dismiss Locke, nor vice versa. Instead we need a hybrid theory that incorporates both elements. I do not reach a final conclusion on how the two might be brought together, but suggest a way forward for this endeavour. Locke’s theory is one about how property gets going – so indeed is Hume’s. But thoughts about property rights today are not so much about how they get going, but about how they are properly instantiated in today’s world. These thoughts seem to demand a conventionalist approach. But no such approach can avoid thoughts about the genesis of such rights. My thesis departs from the current day emphasis, because it focuses on the genesis of property rights and suggests that considerations around such matters are not to be avoided. I do not claim to have the final solution to this problem: my purpose is to bring this intellectual conflict to people’s attention. I seek to point the way to a complex theory of property rights and give some support to it.
18

Sententialism : why not?

Felappi, Giulia January 2015 (has links)
As is generally agreed, there are good reasons to take a propositional attitude attribution like 'Olga believes that Cicero is smart' to express the holding of a relation between Olga and the denotation of ‘that Cicero is smart’. But what does ‘that Cicero is smart’ denote? According to the so-called face-value theory, it denotes a proposition. While there is no agreement on what propositions are, they are taken to be entities not reducible to sentences. According to sententialism, by contrast, ‘that Cicero is smart’ denotes the sentence “Cicero is smart”. Sententialism is generally considered to be obviously inadequate, and the aim of this dissertation is to show that sententialism is in fact as good an option as the face-value theory is, if not a better one. According to the sententialist account that I develop, Olga believes that Cicero is smart if she believes something which we can represent with the sentence “Cicero is smart”. As I show in Chapter 2, by relying on some features of representation, sententialists seem able to account for propositional attitude attributions in quite an interesting way. The main reasons why sententialism is generally considered doomed are the famous Church translation argument and a problem raised by Schiffer. I examine them in Chapter 3, where I conclude that these allegedly fatal objections do not in fact succeed in showing that sententialism is incorrect. In Chapter 4 I deal with other attributions, i.e. the socalled wh-attributions, such as 'Jim knows what Rose wants', and I show that, when it comes to ‘wh’-clauses, sententialism seems not only a viable alternative to the face-value theory but actually a better one. The general conclusion I reach is that the sentence against sententialism has been passed too quickly and that sententialism is indeed a viable account of our talk about attitudes.
19

Feeling reasons : how emotions explain action

Carman, Mary Elizabeth January 2015 (has links)
There is a growing body of literature across disciplines emphasising the way in which emotions are not straightforwardly opposed to reason, as was once typically supposed. In particular, it is often argued that emotions give us evaluative information about the world around us and that they are crucial for the good-functioning of our rational decision-making capacities. Despite this enhanced understanding of the functional role of emotions, however, the extent to which it has implications for our conception of rational agency has yet to be comprehensively addressed. This thesis fills some of that gap. Part of our conception of ourselves as rational agents is that we guide our actions by reasons, and part of our conception of rational action is that it is action done in light of reasons. In this thesis, I examine what implications an enhanced understanding of emotion has on our conception of rational agency and argue that we can act rationally when acting on the basis of an emotional experience. By examining our concept of ‘emotion’ and how we explain action via emotion, I argue for four main claims. First, by looking at the role of emotions in explanations of action, I argue that there is conceptual space for emotions to be involved in rational action. Second, I argue that emotions provide access to reasons which could be the reasons in light of which an agent acts and, third, the agent can indeed act in light of them and guide her action when acting on the basis of an emotional experience. Finally, I argue that such action is reasonable, understood as being subjectively rational. My arguments contribute towards a robust conception of rational agency, one which acknowledges our emotional nature and which is able to incorporate emotions into an account of how we do indeed act in many of the cases when we act rationally.
20

The logical and philosophical foundations for the possibility of true contradictions

Martin, B. J. L. January 2014 (has links)
The view that contradictions cannot be true has been part of accepted philosophical theory since at least the time of Aristotle. In this regard, it is almost unique in the history of philosophy. Only in the last forty years has the view been systematically challenged with the advent of dialetheism. Since Graham Priest introduced dialetheism as a solution to certain self-referential paradoxes, the possibility of true contradictions has been a live issue in the philosophy of logic. Yet, despite the arguments advanced by dialetheists, many logicians and philosophers still hold the opinion that contradictions cannot be true. Rather than advocating the truth of certain contradictions, this thesis offers a different challenge to the classical logician. By showing that it can be philosophically coherent to propose that true contradictions are metaphysically possible, the thesis suggests that the classical logician must do more than she currently has to justify her confidence in the impossibility of true contradictions. Simply fighting off the dialetheist’s putative examples of true contradictions at the actual world isn’t enough to justify the classical logician’s conclusion that true contradictions are impossible. To aid the thesis dialectically, we introduce a new position, absolutism, which hypothesises that it’s metaphysically possible for at least one contradiction to be true, contrasting with the dialetheic hypothesis that some contradictions are true in the actual world. We demonstrate that absolutism can be given a philosophically coherent interpretation, an appropriate logic, and that certain criticisms are completely toothless against absolutism. The challenge put to the classical logician is then: On what logical or philosophical grounds can we rule out the metaphysical possibility of true contradictions?

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