Theses/Dissertations - Philosophy

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    Reporting theory of fictionalizing.
    (August 2022) Rosenbaum, John William, 1984-; Pruss, Alexander R.
    This is a dissertation in the philosophy of language. My main objective is to give the correct account of the speech act of fictionalizing, aka fiction-making or creating a fiction or storytelling, stipulating that this last excludes nonfiction stories and lies. The Introduction and Chapter Five work together to establish the exhaustiveness of the following trilemma of viable accounts of fictionalizing: David Lewis’s and John Searle’s pretend-assertion theory, Manuel Garcia-Carpintero’s and Greg Currie’s neo-Gricean audience-make-belief theory, and my reporting-on-fictional-situations theory. Chapter Four details an account of paradigmatic cases of reporting needed to understand my fictionalizing account, which is itself argued for in Chapter Five. Chapters Two and Three (with a smattering of Chapter Five) are meant to take pretense and make-belief theories out of the running altogether. Along the way readers will find contributions to discussions on assertion and other speech acts, pretense and other facsimile actions, the nature of propositions, fake news and misinformation, and even a potential resolution to a paradox related to tragic works of fiction, to name a few.
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    A politics for human flourishing.
    (August 2022) Rusch, Benjamin D., 1991-; Haldane, John.
    I argue that given the truth of an Aristotelian picture of human flourishing and the view that flourishing should be the aim of politics, a series of proposals should be adopted to promote more localized centers of social and economic life while still allowing for higher levels of political organization where it is beneficial. The unifying core of these proposals is that we can effectively adapt the liberal State’s way of regulating the relationship between individuals, which recognizes individual rights and responsibilities, and apply it instead to the relationship between local communities. Mine is not a liberal theory per se, but it learns from the liberal tradition and finds an Aristotelian justification for certain liberal institutions. I then show how this local-first model of governance may be used to promote human flourishing in the workplace, in education, and in other areas of life through responsible urban planning and use of technology.
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    [Title missing] : on the metaphysics and ethics of omissions.
    (August 2022) Rea, Joseph Burke, 1991-; Haldane, John.
    In this dissertation, I argue for a general analysis of omissions and then apply that analysis to an issue in medical ethics. One omits when they don’t act in a particular way, can act in that way, the action was required for some further activity, and one is already (in some sense) engaged in that further activity. I argue, contrary to contemporary analyses, that omissions are inherently normative, in the sense that the action not done was necessary for some good to be achieved. I then apply this analysis of omissions to medical futility, which is when a medical intervention cannot benefit a patient. I argue that we should understand “benefit” as the goods that the patient can seek or that physicians can provide. I then interpret medical futility as practical impossibility, whereby benefitting the patient is impossible, either because it physically cannot succeed or because it would fail to prioritize the relevant goods. Where a treatment cannot benefit the patient, it is futile, and therefore one is not obligated to seek it. In other words, refusing or withdrawing futile treatment does not constitute killing by omission.
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    Et in pulverem reverteris : a defense of Thomistic hylemorphic anthropology.
    (August 2022) Tomaszewski, Christopher M., 1988-; Pruss, Alexander R.
    What is the relationship between the human soul and the human body and what does this relationship tell us about the prospects for the survival of the human person in the interim state between death and the General Resurrection? This dissertation is an attempt to shed light upon both of these questions using Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics. Since animalism about the human person is currently enjoying a great resurgence in popularity, I begin by offering the contemporary animalist reason to adopt Aristotelian animalism by showing that substantial forms can do crucially important work in warding off worries about compositional vagueness that would otherwise threaten the determinate composition and existence of material composites in general, including animals. I then show that human substantial forms are unique by offering an account of intentionality as partial identity between mind and object which rules out materialistic accounts of intentionality. Rounding out the first part of the dissertation, I argue that the substantial form (or soul) of the human person cannot reasonably be construed on Aquinas’s philosophical anthropology to be identical with that human person. Turning to the question of survival, I closely investigate the textual basis for believing that Aquinas rejected survivalism, the view that the human person survives in the interim state between death and the General Resurrection. This involves, among other questions, whether Aquinas’s mereology is compatible with such survival. I argue that Aquinas endorses a mereological principle that is ultimately incompatible with the commitments of Thomistic survivalism. Then, building on Aquinas’s work, I develop three original arguments for corruptionism (the view according to which the human person does not survive in the interim state), one of which is metaphysical and two of which are bioethical. Finally, I conclude with a summary exposition and brief defense of a dozen other promising and original arguments for corruptionism, drawn from premises concerning, among other things, the nature of supposita, of life, of individuation and the role played in it by matter, of accidents, of original sin, and of the General Resurrection itself.
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    Aretaic exemplars : a mixed-methods approach to character education.
    (2020-02-26) Little, Sabrina B., 1986-; Evans, C. Stephen.
    Virtue education is often framed in the philosophy literature as consisting of a number of discrete tactics, such as virtue-labeling, exemplar exposure, and nudging, with little regard for the level of maturity of the learner. This is a problem because age, life experiences, and growth in emotional and intellectual maturity impact how we respond to moral instruction. Furthermore, in the current virtue education literature, we lack a coherent narrative for how to advance a learner from natural character to moral virtue, developing the learner’s moral agency along the way. Ideally, virtue education tactics should build on one another over time. They should of course be age-appropriate, but they should also actively mature the learner, inviting her to rationally participate in her own habituation so that she becomes the sort of person who can choose well for herself. The goal of this project is to propose a developmental sequence for one particular avenue of moral education—learning about and being motivated to acquire virtues by way of aretaic exemplars. In part, this is a moral emotions project on admiration. I examine admiration’s elicitors and action-tendencies, as well as the ways in which our admiration can err, such as by mistaking qualities like charisma and popularity for moral excellences. A key focus of this project is addressing the practical question of how we might mature admiration over the course of moral development, to move a learner from admiration to virtue. Briefly, my solution draws on the classical tradition, which moves a learner through various stages—grammar (virtue concepts), logic (discursive reasoning about moral motivations and reasons for action), and rhetoric (post-deliberative action). I address how this structure, accompanied by a number of imitative practices, offers a productive pedagogical sequence for how to move a learner from admiration to moral virtue.
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    Virtue ethics and character development at the United States Air Force Academy.
    (2022-03-07) Toms, Kathryn, 1980-; Beckwith, Francis.
    Our nation requires that service academies “develop officers of character.” “Character,” by its very nature, is deep; it is an embedded aspect of one’s personhood. As such, character will invariably draw upon one’s deeply-held beliefs. But our pluralistic, liberal nation is—and should be—anathema to mandate citizens’ deeply-held beliefs. So a service academy is faced with a seemingly intractable problem: it must not mandate the deeply-held beliefs that necessarily inform the very character development that is mandated. I argue that virtue ethics can provide a feasible solution. Virtue ethics is compatible with diverse justificatory frameworks. Thus, the state can undergird a character education program with virtue ethics, while servicemembers are still free to choose the justificatory framework for those virtues. This upholds both the servicemembers’ civil liberties and the nation’s mandate to develop officers of character.
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    Aristotelianism and liberalism : toward a rapprochement.
    (2022-01-21) Paddock, Caroline, 1984-; Haldane, John.
    In this dissertation I offer an Aristotelian approach to remedying ambiguities and inconsistencies that have in recent years undermined and weakened liberal politics and theory. To this end, I offer five sketches of problems or puzzles internal to the liberal tradition, clarify key concepts that the liberal tradition inherited from Aristotle, and then argue for a way forward that should be amenable to both liberals and Aristotelians. I begin with two theoretical chapters having to do with the common good and its relationship to justice. The main issues are what the common good is (Chapter Two,) and which members of society should be considered as equals with regards to it (Chapter Three). After arguing that justice is constitutive of, not merely a means to, the common good, and that both Aristotelians and liberals should recognize that all human members of society are equal with regards to it, I move on to three more applied chapters. First, I argue that Aristotelians and liberals can and should agree on the truth of Mill’s harm principle, given the Aristotelian dictum that justice is always interpersonal. This rules out legal moralism and legal paternalism, which are traditionally thought to be key pieces of an Aristotelian theory of the government’s educative function. Nevertheless, I show that liberal government does have a legitimate educative function and should carry this out primarily through cardinal virtue education in publicly funded schools. Finally, I consider the contemporary firestorm of disagreement around religious freedom. I argue that when we conceive of religion broadly as a conception of what is of ultimate value, religious freedom becomes a facilitating condition for the availability of practical rationality, a basic aspect of the good life for both Aristotelians and liberals.
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    The fate of nature : ethical naturalism in historical and critical context.
    (2020-07-08) Myers, Adam, 1985-; Haldane, John.
    Ethical naturalism is an ethical theory that holds that practical norms are a species of natural norms. It was a position held by almost all ancient ethical theorists, but despite a renaissance among some in the past three quarters of a century, it fell by and large into ill repute centuries ago. This dissertation aims to assess contemporary naturalism in light of that history. In chapter two, I note that contemporary ethical naturalism has had little interest in the historical background of their own theorizing, and I try to fill that gap. The remaining chapters contribute to this task. In chapter three, I explore the concepts of nature at work in some of the writings of Aristotle and Cicero, suggesting that Aristotle has a richer conceptual repertory than usually realised, which could be of use to contemporary ethical naturalists, and that Cicero is needlessly neglected by them. In chapter four, I consider two significant historical developments that make the use of nature concepts difficult today. First, I consider the rise of the empirical human sciences. Second, I consider a line of thinking that concerns nature’s relation to history and society, a line that moves from Rousseau through Kant. I consider too the legacy of this line of thought among neo-Kantians. In chapter five, I consider a final challenge for ethical naturalists, that of genealogy and reflection. Certain kinds of genealogies have been put forth to show the irrelevance of concepts of nature to ethics, but I try to vindicate the notion that ethical naturalism not only can but must be vindicated using a kind of genealogical method. In conclusion, I remark on the prospects of an ethical naturalism more explicitly in conversation with the human sciences and with the history of nature concepts in ethical life.
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    The conscious mind unified.
    (2020-07-30) Rickabaugh, Brandon, 1976-; Pruss, Alexander R.; O'Connor, Timothy, 1965-
    The current state of consciousness research is at an impasse. Neuroscience faces a variety of recalcitrant problems regarding the neurobiological binding together of states of consciousness. Philosophy faces the combination problem, that of holistically unifying phenomenal consciousness. In response, I argue that these problems all result from a naturalistic assumption that subjects of consciousness are built up out of distinct physical parts. I begin by developing a Husserlian mereology of part-whole relations, which I apply to both an ontology of the holistic unity of the subjects of consciousness and the holistic unity of phenomenal consciousness itself. After a detailed analysis of the ontology and neuroscience of phenomenally unified consciousness, I argue against the three major naturalist views: physicalism, Russellian panpsychism, and emergentism. I develop various arguments demonstrating that these views each fail to account for the possibility of subjects of phenomenally unified consciousness. In the final chapter, I show how these arguments entail that the subject of phenomenal unity must be partless, must be a simple holistic unity. In turn, this provides a defense of substance dualism or at least something near enough. Given the widespread rejection of mind-body dualism, I answer certain neurological objections and conclude by sketching the details of an underexplored neo-Aristotelian form of substance dualism. I conclude that each of us, indeed every subject of phenomenally unified consciousness, is not made up of distinct parts. Not a brain. Not a body. Every embodied subject of phenomenally unified consciousness is a bodily soul.
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    Fallow season : depression and its forebears.
    (2020-06-22) McAllister, Derek Layne, 1987-; Evans, C. Stephen.
    This dissertation is part history, part analysis. It surveys prima facie historical antecedents to our current clinical concept of depression—a chapter each on acedia, tristitia, noche oscura, melancholia, and Tungsindighed. The analytic portion compares and contrasts each historical condition with depression, examining symptoms, etiology, historical context, and more. As it turns out, many, if not all, of these historical conditions can present with or essentially have some kind of spiritual etiology—unlike depression, which is often seen as a pathological psychiatric condition. More than a mere historical recounting, however, this dissertation also engages critically with the contemporary literature on depression and offers strategies for incorporating the “old” forgotten wisdom with the “new” discipline of psychiatry. This dissertation thus brings together the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, virtue ethics, and philosophy of psychology and psychiatry (especially mental health), featuring themes from Thomas Aquinas, Søren Kierkegaard, and the Desert Fathers, among others.
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    Pragmatism and the theory-dependence of explanatory judgments in science.
    (2020-05-28) Prasetya, Yunus, 1992-; Marcum, James A.
    Many philosophical accounts of scientific explanation purport to be pragmatic. They claim that what counts as a good scientific explanation depends, in a significant way, on the context in which the purported explanation is offered. I start this project by defending a pragmatic approach to analyzing explanations. Bas van Fraassen’s account of explanation is one of the most developed pragmatic accounts of explanation. So, that is what I discuss next. I argue that it survives most of the objections raised against it. I then argue, from the framework provided by van Fraassen’s account, that the acceptance of a theory sometimes involves the acceptance of a set of criteria for evaluating explanations. This set of criteria is theory-laden, and if an explanatory judgment is made on the basis of this set, it is theory-laden. One implication of my thesis is that inference to the best explanation is not a rationally-compelling rule of inference. I defend this claim in the penultimate chapter.
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    Is that my heart? A hylomorphic account of bodily parthood.
    (2020-03-19) Yancey, Hilary J., 1990-; Pruss, Alexander R.
    This dissertation investigates the metaphysics of human body parts; particularly, the epistemic conditions under which something can be said to be a “body part of” some particular human being. In this dissertation I draw on the hylomorphism of Aristotle and John Duns Scotus to argue that a necessary and sufficient condition on human bodily parthood is an object’s functioning for the sake of the whole human being and the maintenance of her biological life. I argue that, on this view of bodily parthood, at least some prostheses or artificial organs (“artificial body parts”) are truly body parts of the human beings in whom they operate. I defend this view in reference to both Aristotelian and Scotistic hylomorphism, as well as answering objections raised by some contemporary views of bodily parthood as merely conventional. I argue that this has important implications for medical ethics, including potentially restricting medical interventions in end-of-life care and heightening the legal ramification of damage done to prostheses. I argue that investigation into the metaphysical questions surrounding body parts and their composition can illuminate hitherto underappreciated dimensions of ethical questions in medicine.  
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    Resistance : its nature, virtues, and application to matters of faith.
    (2019-04-01) Colgrove, Nicholas Michael, 1988-; Pruss, Alexander R.
    There are many cries to resist particular objects (e.g. inequality in the workplace) but very little is said concerning the nature of resistance. As such, this project begins by mapping the concept of resistance. Next, I develop several tools that allow us to distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable instances of resistance. I then argue that many versions of “the problem of evil” are actually instances of resistance. As such, these versions of the problem of evil are subject to the tools of evaluation developed here. And, as it turns out, many instances of the problem of evil are instances of unreasonable resistance. I end the project by discussing the intersection between resistance and faith, arguing that faith (and the resistance it generates) can be perfectly rational while also providing a kind of response to the relevant problems of evil.
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    A Thomistic principle of virtue individuation.
    (2018-10-16) Beary, Alina A., 1978-; Roberts, Robert Campbell, 1942-
    In this dissertation, I aim to accomplish two goals. The first goal is to draw contemporary moral philosophers' attention to the need for a principal approach to virtue individuation. When we individuate virtues, we answer questions about the number of human virtues that exist and the ways in which they differ from one another. Most contemporary moral philosophers answer these questions in a haphazard way -- a practice that is in no small way responsible for the chaotic and cacophonous state of contemporary virtue ethics. I spend the second chapter developing a case for a principled approach to virtue individuation and laying out the desiderata for such a principle. I suggest that whatever criterion of individuation we adopt, it should be flexible yet parsimonious, so as to respect and preserve the diversity within the virtues. Moreover, our criterion must connect to our foundational beliefs about human nature and the nature of virtues in a non-trivial way. Having established the desiderata for a criterion of virtue individuation, I move to my second goal. This goal is to articulate Aquinas's approach to virtue individuation as a model for the way in which one might go about articulating one's own criterion. I argue that Aquinas individuates virtues based on their subject, their object, and their mode, and that this approach is an organic product of Aquinas's metaphysics of human nature. Accordingly, I dedicate the third chapter to sketching the relevant aspects of Aquinas's moral psychology and to situating Aquinas's account of habitus -- which is commonly translated into English as "habit" or "disposition" and of which virtue is a species -- within his moral psychology. The fourth chapter lays out Aquinas's account of virtues, paying special attention to the questions of virtue's subject, object, and mode. It also maps out the conceptual space -- the taxonomy of virtues -- that individual virtues may inhabit. With the conceptual apparatus thus established, in chapter five I explicated the Thomistic principle of virtue individuation. I demonstrate and test Aquinas's method by examining the virtues of generosity and magnificence, infused and acquired temperance, and, finally, a contemporary case of anger-regulating virtues.
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    Roles and the ethical life.
    (2018-06-06) Yan, Mengyao, 1987-; Beaty, Michael D.
    Role ethics, broadly speaking, is a normative ethical theory that has a prominent emphasis on roles. Although it was prominent in ancient cultures, such as in China and Greece, role ethics waned during the Enlightenment era. Not until very recently has role ethics been articulated in its own terms. Among current discussions on roles, the most systematic role ethics are Confucian role ethics (as interpreted by Roger Ames and some others), Epictetus’ role ethics (as interpreted by Brian Johnson), Sarah Harper’s rolecentered morality and Jeremy Evans’ role ethics. They are my primary interlocutors as I develop and defend an alternative approach to understanding, examining and guiding our ethical life. By arguing that our ethical life is pervasively structured by roles, and drawing on the lights that my primary interlocutors have shed, I propose a role-structured ethics or role ethics that addresses some central issues regarding the nature of roles, the self, role identification, role fulfillment, role conflicts, and changing roles. Importantly, I emphasize the place of traditions in constructing a complete normative role ethics. So throughout the dissertation, I outline and defend the basic structure of any plausible specific role ethics, which is neutral among various traditions. I call such a structure “Role Ethics.” In particular, I investigate the nature of roles and its relation to the self, role fulfillment and its relation to the concept of duties, virtues and skills, as well as the nature of role conflicts and how to approach them. Along these lines of exploration, I also argue that they have important implications on the dignity of persons, moral education, and the notion of practical wisdom. Last but not the least, due to the universality of roles in various traditions, I propose that Role Ethics can serve as a platform to bring various traditions into meaningful dialogue.
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    Thomas Aquinas's psychology of fear.
    (2018-07-10) Cartagena, Nathan Luis, 1988-; Miner, Robert C., 1970-
    Thomas Aquinas develops a strikingly expansive psychology of fear (timor) within his masterwork, the Summa theologiae. Whereas many classify fear under a single category (e.g., emotion, passion, or sentiment), Aquinas specifies seven distinct categories of fear: the passion of fear (passio timoris); the gift of fear (donum timoris); the sin of fear (peccatum timoris); the sin of fearlessness (peccatum intimiditatis); the vice of fear (vitium timoris); the vice of fearlessness (vitium intimiditatis); and the propassion of fear (propassio timoris). And whereas many classify courage as the only virtue indexed to fear, Aquinas argues that courage (fortitudo) and perseverance (perseverantia) perfect this passion. Furthermore, he contends that the gift of courage (donum fortitudinis) also perfects human fears and is necessary for the Spirit-guided life required to attain and remain in blessedness (beatitudo). Why does Aquinas champion this comparatively expansive account of fear? What are its merits? This dissertation answers these questions through a comprehensive treatment of the Summa’s psychology of fear.
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    The virtue of taking ownership.
    (2018-02-07) Wilson, Matthew F., 1978-; Evans, C. Stephen.
    This dissertation argues that the capacity to “take ownership” is a fundamental feature of human life to which people may be well or poorly disposed. Although we commonly exhort others to “take ownership” in their work, education, or other projects, there has been very little conceptual or philosophical analysis of the concept. To my knowledge, no one has conceived of it as a virtue. This dissertation offers a full conceptual account of what the virtue is, its related vices, and how the virtue is related to neighboring concepts like responsibility and stewardship. It also offers some practical ethical guidance for people who wish to cultivate the virtue in themselves. Chapter Two offers an account of the psychology of “taking ownership.” I argue that taking ownership is best understood as a species of psychological attachment, whereby one conceives of a project under the aspect of “mine” or “ours.” Chapter Three extends this account by developing it further into an account of my proposed virtue – “taking-ownership.” This virtue is a character trait that disposes one well to forming these psychological attachments. I argue that the virtue is also situated between a set of related vices, those of “over-investment” and “over-possessiveness” on the one hand, and a “lack of ownership” on the other. This chapter also provides rich descriptions of the characteristic feelings and actions that constitute being well and poorly disposed to taking ownership. Although Chapter three illuminates many of the good-making feature of taking-ownership, chapter four takes up the issue in more explicit fashion. There I provide further justification for the claim that the character trait is good, why the character trait is good, and I address the worry that people may take ownership in bad or evil projects. Chapter five responds to three other possible objections for considering this character trait a virtue. Chapter six concludes the dissertation by considering the ways in which one might attempt to cultivate the virtue of taking-ownership personally. There I emphasize the role that habits of “attention” might play in the development of the virtue. I also provide some idea for directions on future research.
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    Growth in infused virtue in the work of Thomas Aquinas.
    (2018-03-19) Brandt, Jared, 1989-; Miner, Robert C., 1970-
    Thomas Aquinas inherits two distinct conceptions of the virtuous human being. From Aristotle, he receives a vision of harmony and human achievement: through the process of habituation, the distinct parts of the virtuous soul are operating as one under the guidance of reason. From Augustine, Aquinas receives a vision of moral struggle and victory through divine assistance: the virtuous person is able to resist the inclinations of the flesh through virtues that are given by God and only fully actualized in the next life. This dissertation explores an underappreciated area of Aquinas’s thought—on the topic of growth in the infused virtues—where he brings these teachings of Aristotle and Augustine into a brilliant harmony. In order to fully understand and appreciate Aquinas’s teaching on growth in infused virtue, one must first understand the essence of the infused virtues and their increase. This is the goal of Chapters Two and Three. In Chapter Two, I explore Aquinas’s discussion of habits in the Summa Theologiae by tracing three important topics: the essence of habits, the cause of habits, and the increase of habits. In Chapter Three, I elucidate Aquinas’s teaching on the essence of the infused virtues and situate these important virtues within his picture of the flourishing human life. The fourth chapter lays out Aquinas’s teaching on growth in infused virtue. I develop a metaphysical account of increase in infused virtue and pay careful attention to the associated stages. The chapter concludes with a close examination of the important imperfections that Aquinas associates with the infused virtues. I demonstrate that growth in infused virtue—rather than the development of the acquired virtues (as many contemporary commentators suggest)—is an effective remedy for these imperfections. In the concluding chapter, I emphasize the ways in which Aquinas’s understanding of growth in infused virtue represents the deepest point of his harmony of Aristotle and Augustine. I also situate my project among two prominent interpretive trends in Thomistic literature and highlight two important implications of the project.
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    Animals now and then.
    (2018-01-12) Thornton, Allison Krile, 1988-; Pruss, Alexander R.
    One aim of this dissertation is to remove ambiguities that have impeded a clear discussion and adequate evaluation of animalism. To that end I develop a taxonomy of different varieties of animalism and argue that there are substantive differences between them. In earlier debates about animalism, the previously elided distinctions that my taxonomy makes clear create unnecessary confusion and disagreement. My taxonomy resolves some of that confusion and provides the parties to the debate with a conceptual framework for importantly distinct accounts of personal identity. I also evaluate animalist arguments in light of the distinctions my taxonomy tracks. Specifically I identify which arguments support which varieties of animalism. The most popular varieties, I argue, are critically under-supported. All rely on a tacit presupposition that ‘animal’ is a natural kind term or a substance sortal, a supposition that animalists are under some pressure to reject. Thus, my evaluation prompts a refocusing of the standard defenses of animalism to prioritize defending the tacit presupposition. Finally, I defend a hylomorphic variety of animalism from two objections: first, from the objection that if animalism is true, then human persons cannot survive death, or at least they cannot exist in an intermediate, disembodied state between their deaths and resurrections (if indeed they are to be resurrected). I do this by arguing that given hylomorphism, animals can become immaterial, and that this is less an affront to intuition and mereology than it might seem. Second, I defend a hylomorphic variety of animalism from the objection that if it is true, we are not the primary thinkers of our thoughts. The criticism is that if hylomorphism can solve certain puzzles (for example, the problem of temporary intrinsics), the resolving of which is one of the main points in hylomorphism’s favor, the view implies that our contingent mental properties primarily characterize something other than us. I argue that this criticism turns on a misunderstanding of how the hylomorphism at stake solves the relevant puzzles and that it can do so without major modification.
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    Groundwork for a Thomistic account of contemporary property roles.
    (2018-04-11) Cleveland, Lindsay Kathryn, 1982-; Pruss, Alexander R.
    Chapter one serves as an introduction to the whole dissertation. In it I explain why I think philosophers should pursue a systematic, pluralist account of contemporary property roles and consider Thomistic explanations of such roles. I also summarize in more detail the chapters that make up this dissertation. In chapter two I explain the metaphysical and semantic roles that properties are thought to play and briefly introduce the main contemporary accounts of properties in terms of which property roles they address and which they have trouble explaining. In chapter three I consider one contemporary view of properties, namely robust Platonism regarding properties, which is explanatorily powerful but which has some objectionable features. I address one such feature that is of interest to theists. I show the failure of a recent attempt to reconcile robust Platonism regarding God’s attributes with the classical theist views that God is ultimate in the explanation of all reality and that God does not depend on anything distinct from Himself for His existing or His intrinsic attributes. I argue further that there seems to be no other possible way to reconcile them. In chapter four, which is a brief interlude, I clarify some important differences between the account of the divine ideas on one type of theistic Platonism that I critique in chapter three and the accounts given by Augustine and by Aquinas. In chapter five I disambiguate some of the various uses of property terms in contemporary Aquinas scholarship and resolve one substantive disagreement regarding what for Aquinas should be regarded as ‘properties’. Then I critique and modify some features of Jeffrey Brower’s reconstruction of Aquinas’s account of the same-species relation and use the modifications in my own account, which yields a distinctive explanation of the metaphysical property role of accounting for the substantive similarities between things. In chapter six I lay some groundwork for a Thomistic account of the metaphysical property roles of accounting for the characteristics and metaphysical constitution of individual things. I do so by critiquing and modifying Brower’s account of Aquinas’s hylomorphism as a unique type of substratum theory.