Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs
Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters
Recent graduates in philosophy with some expertise in philosophy of environment or decision theory. Potentially graduates from other fields (e.g., economics).
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
ADVICE AND INSIGHTS FROM UBC FACULTY ON REACHING OUT TO SUPERVISORS
These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.
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.
The dissertation investigates the nature of partial beliefs and norms governing their use. One widely accepted (though not uncontested) norm for partial belief change is Bayesian conditionalization. Information theory provides a far-reaching generalization of Bayesian conditionalization and gives it a foundation in an intuition that pays attention principally to information contained in probability distributions and information gained with new evidence. This generalization has fallen out of favour with contemporary epistemologists. They prefer an eclectic approach which sometimes conflicts with norms based on information theory, particularly the entropy principles of information theory. The principle of maximum entropy mandates a rational agent to hold minimally informative partial beliefs given certain background constraints; the principle of minimum cross-entropy mandates a rational agent to update partial beliefs at minimal information gain consistent with the new evidence. The dissertation shows that information theory generalizes Bayesian norms and does not conflict with them. It also shows that the norms of information theory can only be defended when the agent entertains sharp credences. Many contemporary Bayesians permit indeterminate credal states for rational agents, which is incompatible with the norms of information theory. The dissertation then defends two claims: (1) the partial beliefs that a rational agent holds are formally expressed by sharp credences; and (2) when a rational agent updates these partial beliefs in the light of new evidence, the norms used are based on and in agreement with information theory. In the dissertation, I defuse a collection of counter-examples that have been marshaled against entropy principles. More importantly, building on previous work by others and expanding it, I provide a coherent and comprehensive theory of the use of information theory in formal epistemology. Information theory rivals probability theory in formal virtue, theoretical substance, and coherence across intuitions and case studies. My dissertation demonstrates its significance in explaining the doxastic states of a rational agent and in providing the right kind of normativity for them.
I discuss the implications of Simpson’s paradox for epistemology and decision theory. In Chapter One I outline the paradox, focussing on its identiﬁcation, nature, and type of reasoning that it involves. In Chapter Two I discuss the view that Simpson’s paradox is resolved by means of graph-based causal analysis. In Chapter Three I outline a major problem (hitherto unacknowledged) that Simpson’s paradox poses for the probabilistic Bayesian theory of evidence. I make a proposal to split the probabilistic concept of evidence into a causal and a news-value kind of evidence, tracking causal probabilities under an intervention, and tracking overall probabilistic relevance under conditioning. In Chapters Four and Five I apply the proposal to two further areas of concern. In Chapter Four I defend a uniﬁed causal view of Simpson’s paradox. In Chapter Five I defuse a problem about counterfactual force of evidence. In Chapters Six and Seven I discuss Simpson’s paradox and the sure thing principle in decision theory. I then conclude in Chapter Eight.
Philosophers subscribing to particular principles of statistical inference and evidence need to be aware of the limitations and practical consequences of the statistical approach they endorse. The framework proposed (for statistical inference in the field of medicine) allows disparate statistical approaches to emerge in their appropriate context. My dissertation proposes a decision theoretic model, together with methodological guidelines, that provide important considerations for deciding on clinical trial conduct. These considerations do not amount to more stopping rules. Instead, they are principles that address the complexity of interpreting and responding to interim data, based on a broad range of epistemic and ethical factors. While they are not stopping rules, they would assist a Data Monitoring Committee in judging its position with regard to necessary precautionary interpretation of interim data. By vindicating a framework that accommodates a wide range of approaches to statistical inference in one important setting (clinical trials), my results pose a serious challenge for any approach that advocates a single, universal principle of statistical inference.