Christopher Stephens

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

philosophy of biology
philosophy of science
scientific philosophy
Why be rational?

Relevant Degree Programs


Research Methodology

Reading, writing, talking and thinking
Decision and game theory


Master's students
Doctoral students
Any time / year round

philosophical debates about evolutionary biology, topics in philosophy of science concerning the nature of evidence, the nature and justification of rationality. Evolutionary approaches to philosophical topics.

I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).

Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!

Check requirements
  • Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
  • Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
Focus your search
  • Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
  • Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
    • Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
    • Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
Make a good impression
  • Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
    • Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
    • Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
  • Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
  • Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
  • Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
    • Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
    • Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
  • Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
Attend an information session

G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Belief in context (2012)

I argue for a view I call sensitivism about belief. According to sensitivism, belief is sensitive to just those factors of context which epistemic contextualists claim are relevant to the semantics of words like "know": in particular, whether an agent believes p depends on the not-p alternatives salient to the agent, and the practical importance of p for the agent. I argue for sensitivism about both outright belief and partial belief, and outline a sensitivist formal model of belief.In chapter 1, I make a preliminary case for sensitivism, and for interest in sensitivism. After surveying some similar views in the literature, I present a scenario which is nicely explained by sensitivism, and which gives the view some intuitive plausibility. I also argue for the relevance of sensitivism to the debate over epistemic contextualism.In chapter 2, I argue that we need sensitivism about outright belief if we want to maintain both a Stalnakerian picture of how assertion works, and the principle that an assertion that p is sincere if and only if the assertor believes that p. I then outline a sensitivist formal model of outright belief. In chapter 3, I present a solution to the preface paradox which this model of belief makes available, and argue that it is more intuitively appealing than the more popular probabilistic solutions.In chapter 4, I argue that we should extend sensitivism to credences as well as outright belief. In particular, I advance the following two theses:(CONTEXT) Degrees of belief change from context to context, depending on the space of alternative possibilities.(UNITY) Outright belief is belief to degree 1.I claim that (UNITY) solves the usual paradoxes to which threshold views of outright belief fall prey, and (CONTEXT) undermines the usual reasons given for rejecting (UNITY).

View record

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Cognitive Architecture and the Function of Human Cognition (2010)

No abstract available.


If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Follow these steps to apply to UBC Graduate School!