Christopher Stephens

Associate Professor

Research Interests

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

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Research Methodology

Reading, writing, talking and thinking
Decision and game theory
probability

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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).

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
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).

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Cognitive Architecture and the Function of Human Cognition (2010)

No abstract available.

 
 

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