Robert Williams. Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Leeds.
AOS: Philosophy of logic and language, Metaphysics, Formal epistemology.
Robbie will direct GROUNDS and directed the NatRep project. He was the lead supervisor for the NatRep PhD students. He is writing up project research on Radical Interpretation as the foundation for mental content and interpretationist theories of linguistic content. This involves in particular exploring and evaluating areas in which the defender of such views has undischarged theoretical debts (e.g. in accounting for the “source intentionality” of perception and action that is presupposed in the accounts of belief and desire content; or the individuation of words presupposed by the account of linguistic content). He also is engaged in a number of case studies where his favoured form of “substantive” radical interpretation, together with particular conjectures about cognitive architecture involved in a certain kind of thought, will give definite and evaluable predictions for the content of those thoughts. Case studies include singular concepts, natural-kind concepts, moral concepts and unrestricted quantifiers. Rational constraints on evidence/belief/desire/action is a key ingredient of Radical Interpretation, and Williams has done work both on structural rationality, developing and providing foundations for a logic-free Bayesian theory of rationality, and substantive rationality, particularly on moral indeterminacy and uncertainty. His work in these areas interacts with his long-standing interest in generalizing theories of rational evidence/belief/desire/action to cope with phenomena of indeterminacy and nonclassicality. He is increasingly interested in extending this style of metaphysics of representation to to the case of representational states of group and collective entities (teams, organizations or nations) and in the way that individual and group-level representations can interact, in theorizing social externalism and public language for example.
Two new PhD students, two postdoctoral research fellows will be recruited for the new project GROUNDS. They will joint Robert Williams, Daniel Elstein, Thomas Brouwer and Heather Logue as members of the core project team.
Daniel Elstein (Post-doctoral research fellow, Natrep)
The main focus of Daniel’s research has been in the foundations of morality, concentrating on the nature of moral judgement and how it is possible for moral claims to be justified. His other research interests are connected either to other applications of the expressivist machinery involved in this meta-ethical project, or to the conclusions in normative ethics which seem to follow from it. Within the nature of representation project, he has a particular interest in developing an anti-realist account of representation and in the relation between the general philosophy of normativity and the normativity of meaning.
Simon Hewitt (Post-doctoral research fellow, NatRep)
AOS: Logic, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mathematics.
Simon’s PhD research was on the plural interpretations of higher order quantification, and he has ongoing interests in paraconsistency, logical inferentialism and the philosophy of religion. Within the nature of representation project, he has an interest in the foundations of representation of logical and mathematical devices (e.g. quantification, terms for tuples) and the relative priority of linguistic and mental representation.
Gail Leckie. (Post-doctoral research fellow, NatRep)
AOS: Philosophy of language, philosophy of mind
I work in the philosophy of language, particularly on proper names, conceptual role semantics, individuating words and what is involved in understanding a language. I completed my thesis in 2014 on inferentialism, particularly for logical expressions. I remain interested in the philosophy of logic, particularly as this intersects with epistemology and the philosophy of thought in debates about the norms of inference. I taught in Oxford and Sussex before joining Leeds as a post-doc as part of the Nature of Representation project.
Thomas Brouwer (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, NatRep)
My research interests run from the philosophy of logic (the nature of truth and falsity, logical consequence, the normativity of logic) to metaphysics (metaontology, social ontology) and metasemantics (semantic indeterminacy, externalism). I obtained my PhD in 2013 at the University of Leeds, spent two years at the Northern Institute of Philosophy in Aberdeen, and returned to Leeds in 2015, joining NatRep in 2016.
Nick Tasker (project PhD student, NatRep).
Nick’s PhD thesis is on the metaphysics of public language. He is developing an account of words as social artefacts. In developing this theory, he draws on the state of the art in social ontology, and engages with the scepticism of many in the Chomskian generative linguistic tradition with public language. He was awarded a Jacobsen studentship for 2016-7.
Will Gamester (project PhD student, NatRep).
Will’s PhD thesis evaluates and defends pluralism about semantic properties such as truth. This leads him into topics such as: pinpointing the explanatory deficits in deflationary theories of truth; arguing that expressivists about morality should identify truth in ethics with a specific epistemically-constrained property; and engaging with the leading theoretical objections to pluralism (“mixing problems). He was awarded a Jacobsen studentship in 2016-17.
Jennifer Carr (postdoctoral research fellow in philosophy of language, NatRep).
Sept. 2013- Sept 2015
Jennifer gained her PhD from MIT in 2013. She works in philosophy of language and formal epistemology, with particular interest in topics such as the semantics of deontic modals and rational constraints on belief under conceptual expansion.
Rachel Goodman (postdoctoral research fellow in philosophy of mind, NatRep).
Sept 2013-Sept 2016
Rachel earned her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2013. Her dissertation was a defense of the idea that singular thought plays a special role with respect to thought more generally: it supplies thought’s content. Her current interests center on the relationship between mental files and singular thought, and the role of object-dependent content in a theory of thought. More broadly, she is interested in what grounds thought and makes it contentful, in the relationship between mental and linguistic content, and in questions about individual competence raised by being an externalist about mental content.
I mainly work in formal philosophy of mind. The focus of my research is on the nature of mental representation, with a particular emphasis on degrees of belief and other ‘quantitative’ propositional attitudes. I also have research interests in formal epistemology, decision theory, and the philosophy of language. My current work is on the de-idealisation of representation theorems for decision theory, the interpretation of imprecise credences, and the relationship between quantitative and qualitative degrees of belief.
Laura Crosilla (PhD student, NatRep)