Christopher Stephens

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

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

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Research Methodology

Reading, writing, talking and thinking
Decision and game theory

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).

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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.


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