Philosophy of Science studies the methodology, foundations and implications of science. It seeks answers to general questions, such as the nature of scientific evidence or laws, and also questions restricted to particular sciences, such as the measurement problem in quantum mechanics or the nature of selection in biology. It can also bear on science policy, for example, on the use of "evidence-based" medicine, on genetically modified food, or on climate modeling. In all of its forms philosophy of science is and has been a major strength of the UCSD Philosophy Department for over 25 years.
Many of our faculty members are distinguished researchers in this broad field, especially in philosophy of psychology and cognitive science, philosophy of perception, philosophy of biology, philosophy of social science, philosophy of physics, and general methodological and philosophical issues in science. In addition to their research, faculty members teach a diverse selection of graduate and undergraduate courses in the subject and supervise many dissertations in the field.
Philosophy of science at UCSD benefits from the Department's close association with several other groups. If they wish, students pursuing a PhD in philosophy of science have the option of applying to do interdisciplinary degrees with either of the following:
Our close ties to these two programs aid all the philosophers of science at UCSD, even those not pursuing an interdisciplinary degree. The two programs offer students additional choices in courses, colloquia, special workshops and reading groups.
The Philosophy Department has a partnership with the Department of Logic, Philosophy & Scientific Method at the London School of Economics. The program with LSE is an exchange where graduate students can apply to go to LSE for a quarter during their study (and LSE students can apply to come here for a quarter). Philosophers of science also benefit from the Department's close association with the Salk Institute across the street from campus, UC Irvine, UC Davis, and members of many different departments on campus.
William Bechtel addresses issues in the philosophy of life sciences, including cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, and cognitive science. He is principally engaged in developing an account of dynamic mechanistic explanation that integrates mechanistic research emphasizing the decomposition of biological mechanisms with dynamical systems approaches that emphasize their recomposition through mathematical modeling. Other projects address generalization in science through appeals to conserved mechanisms and the uses of diagrams in scientific reasoning. He employs biological research on circadian rhythms, sleep, and activity in resting brains as central exemplars. His recent books include Discovering Cell Mechanisms(Cambridge, 2006), Mental Mechanisms (Routledge, 2008), and a reissue, with new introduction, of Discovering Complexity (MIT, 2010). Bill also edits the journal Philosophical Psychology and is past president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, the Society for Machines and Mentality, and the Central States Philosophical Association.
Craig Callender works in philosophy of physics, philosophy of time and the philosophy and metaphysics of science. He has worked on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, especially Bohmian mechanics, philosophical issues confronting quantum gravity, the intersection of science and philosophy of time, philosophy of spacetime and laws of nature. He has published extensively in academic journals and is author of an introductory graphic book, Introducing Time (Icon 2001), and editor of Time, Reality & Experience (CUP, 2002), Physics Meets Philosophy at the Planck Length (CUP, 2001, with Nick Huggett), and the Oxford Handbook of Time (OUP, 2011). He is currently working on the foundations of statistical mechanics, our temporally asymmetric preferences and cognitive science, and a book on time and physics.
Nancy Cartwright works in the history and philosophy of science (especially physics and economics), causal inference, and objectivity in science. She has a joint appointment with UCSD and the London School of Economics. Major publications include: Measuring Causes: Invariance, Modularity and the Causal Markov Condition (London:CPNSS, 2000), The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science, (CUP, 2000); Otto Neurath: Philosophy between Science and Politics (CUP, 1995); Nature's Capacities and their Measurement (OUP, 1989), co-authors Thomas Uebel et. al., and How the Laws of Physics Lie (OUP, 1983). Much of her current work is on causal modeling and the nature of evidence for evidence-based policy. In addition to receiving the MacArthur Fellowship and being a Fellow of the British Academy, Nancy has also served as the President of the American Philosophical Association (Pacific Division) and President of the Philosophy of Science Association.
Patricia Churchland (emeritus) works on the conceptual and theoretical foundations of neuroscience and psychology, and on the nature of the theoretical interface between neuroscience and psychology. She is concerned to examine how empirical research in these sciences helps to solve, or to restructure, traditional problems in the philosophy of mind, and to explore the changes in our self-conception that such research may provoke. She si the author of Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain (MIT Press, 1986), The Computational Brain, with T. J. Sejnowski (MIT Press, 1992), The Mind-Brain Continuum, ed. by R. R. Llinas & P. S. Churchland (MIT Press, 1996).
Paul Churchland (emeritus) is interested in the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence and cognitive neurobiology, epistemology, and perception. He is the author of The Engine of Reason, The Seat of the Soul: A Philosophical Journey into the Brain (MIT Press, 1995), A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science, (MIT Press, 1989), Images of Science: Scientific Realism versus Constructive Empiricism, (University of Chicago Press, 1985), Matter and Consciousness, (MIT Press, 1984), and Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind, (Cambridge University Press, 1979).
Jonathan Cohen works and teaches on topics at the intersection of philosophy of mind, language, and perception, particularly as these are informed by psychology, linguistics, and vision science. Much of his work in recent years has concerned color and color vision.
Gerald Doppelt is principally interested in two areas of philosophy, philosophy of science and political theory. In philosophy of science, in his Ph.D. thesis and subsequent research, he has been concerned with the conflicts between empiricist, historicist, and pragmatic conceptions of science (including social science), especially concerning the role of observational data in validation. As a teacher, he has been concerned to develop a humanistic way of teaching philosophy that helps students understand and think critically about their society, and their lives within it. He tries to explicate that dimension of philosophical theories which reflects and bears on concrete problems in a society's form of culture, political organization, and daily social life.
Rick Grush works primarily in theoretical cognitive science and the metaphysics of mind and representation.
Eric Watkins works in the history of philosophy of science, specializing in Kant's philosophy of science and its historical context (i.e., Leibnizian and Newtonian natural philosophy) as well as the role of matter, the laws that govern it, and the forces that are active in it. He has taught several graduate seminars in the history of philosophy of science and has received grants from the NSF, the NEH, and the Templeton Foundation to pursue research in this area. His articles on the philosophy of science of Kant, Newton, and Leibniz have appeared in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (twice), Perspectives on Science (twice), Journal of the History of Philosophy and in a volume in the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science (Kluwer Press). He has also edited Kant and the Sciences (Oxford University Press 2001) and is the general editor of Natural Science for the Cambridge Edition of Immanuel Kant (2011)
Christian Wüthrich's research focuses on foundational issues in physics, particularly in general relativity and quantum gravity. He is also working on the implications of philosophy of physics for general philosophy of science and metaphysics, including issues such as space and time, persistence, laws of nature, determinism, and causation. Chris has recently won a prestigious ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship to work on the philosophy of quantum gravity.
Apart from contact in individual meetings, local conferences, colloquia and courses, philosophers of science also get together in various reading groups and associations. Our primary reading group, running since 2001, is the
This group meets bi-weekly during term to discuss recent work in the field, whether from books, articles or drafts written by members. Off weeks are then the occasion for two other more specialized groups:
The first works in philosophy of biology, the second in philosophy of physics. Information on all of these groups is available here. Those interested in philosophy of physics also benefit from a meeting each month during term of the Southern California Philosophy of Physics Research Group. These meetings are held at UC Irvine and more information can be found here.
We also get together in various ad hoc conferences, e.g., Biology by the Sea and Philosophy of Science Retreat, edit a journal (Philosophical Psychology) and stay active in the major philosophy of science organizations, e.g., PSA, EPSA.
The Philosophy Department has significant interests, resources, and offerings in various parts of ethics, broadly understood, especially ethical theory, history of ethics, political philosophy, applied ethics and jurisprudence. The primary focus of the ethics program is in the analytical tradition, though the department also has significant resources in the continental tradition, especially the moral and social philosophy associated with German idealism and critical theory. Undergraduate course offerings span most parts of value theory, including classics in moral and political philosophy, contemporary moral theory and metaethics, political philosophy, philosophy of law, biomedical and environmental ethics, and aesthetics. The department participates in the undergraduate law and society minor. At the graduate level, faculty tend to alternate between seminars that cover central or foundational issues in ethical theory, history of ethics, political philosophy, and jurisprudence and seminars that focus on current research projects of faculty members. In recent years several graduate students have chosen to write Ph.D. theses in ethical theory or the history of ethics. Interested faculty and graduate students participate in various reading groups in ethics. Professors Arneson and Brink are affiliated faculty members in UCSD's Research Ethics Program, which has sponsored a monthly discussion group in biomedical ethics, and at the University of San Diego Law School's Institute for Law and Philosophy.
Georgios Anagnostopoulos' interests in ancient philosophy include Greek ethics, especially the moral and political philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. He is also interested in contemporary conceptions of liberalism and perfectionism.
Richard Arneson's research interests are in ethical theory and political philosophy. He has done work on a variety of issues in social and political philosophy, with a special emphasis on theories of distributive justice. He is currently working on issues concerning (1) the role of individual responsibility within a broadly egalitarian conception of social justice and (2) the prospects for consequentialist conceptions of morality. He is also interested in the moral and political philosophy of J.S. Mill.
Saba Bazargan's research interests are in applied ethics and normative ethics. He is currently working on revisionist theories of Just War according to which the moral permissibility of imposing harms in warfare depends on the justness of the war being fought. He also works on theories of individual responsibility for collectively committed harms.
David Brink's research interests are in ethical theory, the history of ethics, and jurisprudence. He has done work in metaethics about the objectivity of ethics and on various figures in the history of ethics, including the Greeks, Kant, Mill, Sidgwick, and Green. He is currently working on historical and systematic conceptions of practical reason, moral demands, and the normativity of ethics. Also, he works on issues in analytical and constitutional jurisprudence about the role of judicial review within a constitutional democracy and the nature and scope of rights to freedom of expression, due process, and equal protection
Besides his interests in philosophy of science, Gerald Doppelt is interested in issues in political philosophy, especially debates between liberals and communitarians about the nature of liberty, equality, and justice.
Michael Hardimon's research interests in the history of philosophy focus on the moral and social philosophy with the Kantian and the German idealist traditions. He also has interests in contemporary moral and political philosophy and issues involving race.
Dana Nelkin is especially interested in ethical issues that intersect with issues in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and action theory. Currently, she is working on a book about free will and moral responsibility. She has recently written on the nature of self-deception and, with Sam Rickless, is defending a secular version of the doctrine of double effect.
Sam Rickless's interests in ancient philosophy include interests in Greek ethics, especially Plato's ethics, and he has wide ranging interests in the history of ethics, moral theory, and jurisprudence. He has published on the doctrine of doing and allowing, Kant's argument for the categorical imperative, and the role of religion in the public square. He is currently at work on the moral foundations of constitutional jurisprudence in the areas of criminal procedure, due process, and equal protection. With Dana Nelkin, he has been working to defend a secular version of the traditional doctrine of double effect.
Donald Rutherford's interests in early modern philosophy include interests in early modern moral philosophy, especially that of Hobbes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. Recently, he has been concerned with a comparison between Stoic and early modern forms of perfectionism.
Other UCSD faculty with significant interests in value theory include Craig Callendar (environmental ethics), Pat Churchland (moral psychology and neuroscience), Paul Churchland (metaethics and neuroscience), Jonathan Cohen (metaethics), and Eric Watkins (Kant's ethics).
Periodically, interested ethics faculty and graduate students get together for an ethics reading group. Recently, a group read and discussed Christine Korsgaard's Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity. More recently, the group examined Alan Wortheimer's book Coercion, along with Robert Nozick's seminal article of the same name.
Michael Kalichman, whose primary appointment is in the medical school, directs UCSD's Center for Research Ethics with the assistance of Mary Devereaux. The main purpose of the Center is to foster interdisciplinary discussion of ethical issues that arise in academic research of all kinds. However, the Center has close ties to the medical school and has broadened its mission to include a variety of topics in biomedical ethics. There is a monthly discussion group in biomedical ethics, held in the medical school, and efforts are being made to build an interdisciplinary network in biomedical ethics at UCSD. Professors Arneson and Rickless have given lectures within the Center's biomedical ethics program.
The University of San Diego Law School recently established an Institute for Law and Philosophy, which is directed by Larry Alexander. Professors Arneson and Brink are affiliated faculty at the Law School and the Institute, and Professors Nelkin and Rickless have been involved in the Institute's programs. The Institute has sponsored several roundtable conferences on topics such as fairness and efficiency in the law, deontology, hate crime legislation, the foundations of free speech, compensation, causation and the law, and moral and legal luck, which bring together outside scholars and faculty from the USD law school and the UCSD philosophy department. It has also hosted special lectures and public debates. There is discussion underway about the possibility of establishing a joint degree program in law and philosophy that would allow interested students to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy at UCSD and a J.D. at USD.
UCSD offers extensive opportunities for coursework and research in the history of philosophy. In addition to graduate seminars and dissertation supervision, faculty participate in the History of Philosophy Roundtable (where graduate students and faculty present their research), facilitate translation groups, organize reading groups that discuss recently published books of general interest, maintain web-resources, and host conferences that bring leading scholars to UCSD. The wide range of faculty interests and expertise, the variety of historiographical approaches pursued, and the numerous activities available to graduate students create a lively intellectual environment, making UCSD an excellent place for students interested in the history of philosophy.
Georgios Anagnostopoulos works primarily in ancient philosophy on both Aristotle and Plato. He is the author of Aristotle on the Goals and Exactness of Ethics (Berkeley, 1994) as well as articles on Plato's Cratylus and philosophy of science. He has edited two special issues of Topoi, most recently "Aristotle on Philosophy of Mind, Ethics, and Politics" (1996).
Michael Hardimon works on Hegel and the development of ethical thought in German philosophy from Kant to Nietzsche, as well as its relevance for contemporary ethical theory. He is the author of Hegel's Social Philosophy (Cambridge, 1994) as well as "Role Obligations" (The Journal of Philosophy, 1994) and "The Project of Reconciliation" (Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1992). In addition to contemporary interests in applied ethics and philosophical problems of race, he has strong interests in Kant and Nietzsche.
Monte Johnson specializes in ancient philosophy and its influence on medieval and early modern philosophy. He is the author of Aristotle on Teleology (Oxford, 2005) and 'Authenticating Aristotle's Protrepticus' (with D. S. Hutchinson, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 2005). His main philosophical interests lie in natural philosophy (especially cosmology and biology) and scientific method. He employs a diverse range of philosophical and philological techniques (including analysis, translation, commentary, textual and literary criticism, paleography, and papyrology) in order to interpret and reconstruct Greek philosophy. He is currently working on a study of atomism as a systematic philosophy, the role of experiment and empirical data collection in Aristotle, and the reconstruction of Aristotle's lost work Protrepticus (Exhortation to Philosophy).
Sam Rickless works on a wide range of topics in philosophy, including both ancient and early modern history of philosophy, philosophy of language, metaphysics, philosophy of law, and ethics. He is the author of Plato's Forms in Transition: A Reading of the Parmenides (Cambridge, 2007), and articles on Plato's Parmenides (Philosophical Review, 1998; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007) and Plato's Protagoras (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 1998). In early modern philosophy, he is the author of "Is Locke's Theory of Knowledge Inconsistent?" (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2008), "Locke's Polemic Against Nativism" (in The Cambridge Companion to Locke's Essay, 2007), "Locke on the Freedom to Will" (The Locke Newsletter, 2000), and "Locke on Primary and Secondary Qualities" (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 1997). He has also published essays on the Cartesian Circle (NoÃ»s, 2005) and on Kant's argument for the categorical imperative (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2004). He is currently working on a book tentatively titled Berkeley's Argument for Idealism.
Donald Rutherford has interests that span the history of philosophy, with most of his published work focusing on the early modern period. He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Early Modern Philosophy (2006) and (with Jan Cover) Leibniz: Nature and Freedom (Oxford, 2005). In addition to many articles, he is the author of Leibniz and the Rational Order of Nature (Cambridge, 1995), and has edited (with Brandon Look) a critical edition and translation of the Leibniz-Des Bosses correspondence (Yale, 2007). He is currently working on a book to be titled The Wisdom of the Moderns: The Science of Happiness in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, which explores the fate of eudaimonistic ethical theory in early modern philosophy. Outside of the early modern period, his strongest interests are in Hellenistic philosophy, Kant, and Nietzsche.
Clinton Tolley works primarily in the history of philosophy of logic, in particular, on the history of attempts -- and criticisms of attempts -- to provide metaphysical and/or epistemological foundations for logic. The problem which lies at the center of his research is that of determining the relation that obtains between logic and the rest of philosophy (independence?, interdependence?, priority?, equipriority?, logic as 'first' philosophy?, or merely as a 'propaedeutic' to philosophy?). He is especially interested in exploring the ways in which this problem is addressed within the modern, post-Kantian, phenomenological, and early analytic traditions, focusing on the work of Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, and Frege. In addition to a book on Kant's logic, he is currently working on articles on: the nature of concepts in Kant; Kant's criticism of Leibniz's arguments for a theological foundation for logic; Hegel's dialectical account of the logical articulation of conceptual content; Husserl's theory of categorial intuition; and Husserl's criticism of Frege's conception of identity.
Eric Watkins specializes in Kant's theoretical and practical philosophy and the history of modern philosophy more generally, both before and after Kant. He also has interests in metaphysics and the history of philosophy of science. He is the author of Kant and the Metaphysics of Causality (Cambridge, 2005). In addition to publishing numerous articles, he has edited Kant and the Sciences (Oxford, 2000) and Readings in Modern Philosophy (2 vols., Hackett, 2000). He is in the process of editing Kant's Scientific Writings and translating Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: Background Source Materials, both for Cambridge University Press.
David Brink works in ethical theory, history of ethics, and jurisprudence. His approach blends historical concern with the views of important figures and traditions in the history of ethics and systematic concern with the clearest and most plausible formulations of ethical principles. Much of his work combines historical and systematic perspectives, though in different ratios for different projects. Within the history of ethics, he has published articles on Greek ethics ("Eudaimonism, Love and Friendship, and Political Community"), Kant ("Kantian Rationalism: Inescapability, Authority, and Supremacy"), Mill ("Mill's Deliberative Utilitarianism" and "Millian Principles, Freedom of Expression, and Hate Speech"), Sidgwick ("Sidgwick's Dualism of Practical Reason," "Sidgwick and the Rationale for Rational Egoism," and "Commonsense and First Principles in Sidgwick's Methods"), and Green ("Self-Realization and the Common Good"). He recently edited a new edition of T.H. Green's Prolegomena to Ethics (Oxford, 2003) and published Perfectionism and the Common Good: Themes in the Philosophy of T.H. Green (Oxford, 2003). He has taught historically oriented seminars on Greek ethics and political theory, Mill's moral and political philosophy, and Green's ethics of self-realization. He has supervised theses on the ethics of Hobbes and Spinoza and on Kant's theory of virtue.
Rick Grush has a significant interest in 18th and 19th century philosophers of mind, particularly with respect to the experience of space and time. This interest is an organic aspect of his broader research agenda to understand the physical bases of mentality. He is the author of "Berkeley and the Spatiality of Vision" (Journal of the History of Philosophy, 2007), and "A Brief History of Time Consciousness" (with Holly Andersen, forthcoming in Journal of the History of Philosophy). The bulk of his historical research has been on Berkeley, Kant, Hodgson and Husserl.
A number of other faculty inside and outside the department also have significant interests in the history of philosophy. In addition to David Brink , Gerald Doppelt and Richard Arneson teach the history of moral, social, and political philosophy, while Gila Sher and Dana Nelkin along with Rick Grush have significant systematic interests in Kant. Nancy Cartwright , Craig Callender , and Robert Westman (History) participate in the Science Studies Program, which brings together scholars from history, philosophy, and sociology working on the history and philosophy of science. The work of faculty in the Political Science Department and the German Studies Program connects closely with the history of philosophy.
Faculty and graduate students with interests in the history of philosophy meet biweekly at the History of Philosophy Roundtable, a forum for graduate students to present work in progress. Papers are distributed and read in advance so that there is ample time for extensive discussion and constructive feedback on graduate students' research. In the recent past, students have presented papers on Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Reid, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Husserl.
The university offers undergraduate and graduate level courses that teach students the basic grammar and vocabulary of several foreign languages. However, in order to give students the opportunity to gain experience with philosophical texts written in a foreign language (to pass the language requirement) or to hone their translation skills for specific research projects, several faculty have organized weekly translation groups.
The Greek Group, headed by Monte Johnson, began meeting in January 2007 to read Plato's Statesman.
The Latin Group, headed by Don Rutherford, has recently translated texts by Spinoza, Bayle and Hobbes.
The German Group, headed by Eric Watkins, has worked on texts by Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, Kant, Lambert, Herz, and Carnap.
Monte Johnson maintains a page with extensive translations and materials related to the reconstruction of Aristotle's lost work Protrepticus.
The core philosophical areas of epistemology and metaphysics are well represented in the intellectual life of the UCSD Philosophy Department. These areas lie at the center of the research of several of our faculty members; specifically, our faculty are actively researching such diverse metaphysical topics as free will, Humean supervenience, laws, spacetime, color, the self, reduction, modality, properties, natural kinds, truth, and causation, and epistemological issues including empirical knowledge, explanation, the nature of perception, evidence, and rationality. Of course, faculty members also teach a diverse selection of graduate and undergraduate courses and supervise dissertations in these areas.
Some of the epistemological and metaphysical research carried out in the Department connects with issues in philosophy of science and cognitive science, and is enhanced by the Department's connections with the UCSD Science Studies Program and the UCSD Department of Cognitive Science (philosophy graduate students have the option of applying to do interdisciplinary degrees with either of these programs), as well as the Philosophy Department's less formal connections with other UCSD departments including linguistics, physics, math, psychology, and so on.
Paul Churchland is currently at work on a new book entitled, Inner Spaces & Outer Spaces: The New Epistemology, which addresses a wide range of entirely traditional epistemological issues from the emerging perspective of the several sciences of the brain. The aim is to exploit the striking advances recently made, in our understanding of the architecture and activities of the physical brain, to illuminate, to reformulate, and to solve, a broad range of classical epistemological problems. The metaphysics is materialistic, and the epistemology is naturalistic.
Craig Callender has written in various areas of metaphysics, including the nature of time, Humean supervenience, and objective probability. He also teaches on topics such as time, causation, laws of nature and natural kinds.
Nancy Cartwright's principal interests are philosophy and history of science (especially physics and economics), causal inference and objectivity in science. Her publications include How the Laws of Physics Lie (1983), Nature's Capacities and their Measurement (1989), Otto Neurath: Philosophy between Science and Politics [co-author] (1995), and The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science (1999).
Jonathan Cohen is especially interested in the metaphysics of color properties; part of the interest of this topic is that it may shed light on the metaphysics of other sorts of properties (e.g., aesthetic, moral) that philosophers have found difficulty accommodating within a materialist conception of the world. He has also published on such topics as explanation, the metaphysics of information, the epistemological properties of photographs vis a vis other kinds of depictive representations, and the metaphysics of representation.
Rick Grush's primary interest is understanding the mind and the nature of mental representation, as well as the physically implemented information processing mechanisms that make them possible. His large front burner has been occupied with our capacity to represent space and time, and he is currently working on a book on this topic, tentatively titled Spatiotemporal Representation. His small front burner has the nature of subjectivity, and its relation to egocentric spatial and temporal representation, simmering quietly. He approaches these issues from philosophical, historical, and scientific standpoints.
Dana Nelkin's work on free will often leads her into both metaphysical and epistemological issues. For example, she is interested in the relationship between freedom, determinism, and mechanism, and in our limits and commitments as rational agents. She is also interested in a constellation of epistemological issues that she has begun to explore in "Rationality, Knowledge, and the Lottery Paradox."
Gila Sher's research centers on epistemology and metaphysics. The main issues she is working on are: epistemic friction and epistemic freedom, foundations without foundationalism (foundational holism), a neo-Quinean model of knowledge, a substantivist approach to truth, the unity and diversity of truth, moderate pluralism of correspondence principles, the foundational problem of logic, logic and reality, structuralism in logic and mathematics, formality as an ontological notion.
Eric Watkins works primarily on Kant's metaphysical and epistemological views. His recent book, Kant and the Metaphysics of Causality (Cambridge University Press, 2005) considers the complex issue of causality in Kant and his predecessors, but also how Kant's views are relevant to several contemporary contexts (such as discussions about the laws of nature, the nature of events, and agency-theory). He is presently focusing more on questions in epistemology: (1) In what way might sensations be relevant to justifying (empirical) knowledge (without falling prey to the so-called "myth of the given")? (2) Is there justification for thinking that we can know only how reality appears to us and not reality itself? (3) Could we know that we are free in a fundamental respect (despite the apparent hold of determinism)?
Christian Wüthrich works on issues in the metaphysics of science, particularly in the ontology of space and time. He also dabbles in persistence, causation, identity, and modality, mostly in relation to extant and historical theories in the physical sciences.
In addition to these courses, epistemological and metaphysical issues loom large in several of the department's ad hoc reading groups, which provide opportunities for philosophical discussion in a less structured setting. Recent reading groups that have concerned themselves with matters epistemological/metaphysical have revolved around works including McDowell's Mind and World, Williamson's Knowledge and Its Limits, and Williams's Truth and Truthfulness. In addition, the Department's Experimental Philosophy Lab often devotes its weekly discussion to epistemological and metaphysical topics.