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Research Highlights

The Philosophy faculty has been busy over the last year or so. A few highlights:

Professor Adam Burgos published two essays on the topic of political resistance — an ongoing research project of his:

Professor Maria Balcells presented her paper “Moving from A to B: dynamic experience, persistence, and becoming” at the 7th annual meeting of the International Association for the Philosophy of Time in July 2022. Her paper critically examined the claim that the passage of time is an illusion by exploring the connection between our experience of motion and object persistence, utilizing research in philosophy of time and cognitive science. Ultimately, she argues that a veridical experience of dynamic change is compatible with the four-dimensionalist “static” image of time.

She also presented co-presented a paper with Professor Pete Groff at the 15th Annual Meeting of the Comparative and Continental Philosophy Circle (CCPC) in May at Tallinn University, Estonia entitled “Resuscitating Prophecy: Visionary Dreams, Signs and Precognition in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.” Asked for more details about it, Pete wrote:

It was something new and exciting for both of us, where we combined perspectives from history of philosophy/hermeneutics and contemporary analytic philosophy of time. I begin by looking at three general ways in which prophecy reemerges as a serious (and not merely ironic or parodic) philosophical-political idea in Nietzsche’s key text Thus Spoke Zarathustra: (1) it’s primarily legislation function (the creation of new values/meanings/goals/ways of life), (2) its pre-rational/non-discursive sources in dreams, visions and auditions and (3) the apparent phenomenon of precognition/foretelling (which we connect to Zarathustra’s culminating teaching of eternal recurrence). We interpret the idea literally as disclosing a circular model of time, and Maria shows the strange causal consequences that would follow from that (loss of the traditional temporal priority of cause and effect as well as the presumably asymmetric and irreflexive character of causal relations). In a nutshell, Zarathustra’s teaching of eternal recurrence, if taken seriously as a ‘cosmological’ doctrine (rather than just a counterfactual/existential thought experiment) has surprisingly radical epistemic implications which shed a more naturalistic light on the ‘precognitive’ dimensions of prophecy. 

Professor Groff, who just earned promotion to full Professor last spring, has been quite busy over the last year or so, publishing several articles and book chapters, including:

Professor Matthew Slater also co-presented a paper last November — with his Presidential Fellow, Emily Scholfield ’22 — at the Philosophy of Science Association meeting in a session on the trust of science. A revised version of their paper, “Trust of Science as a Public Collective Good,” is forthcoming in Philosophy of Science. Together with Matthew’s former postdoc and frequent co-author, Jo Huxster, they also saw published their paper “Public Conceptions of Scientific Consensus” in Erkenntnis. Said Slater about the latter:

We actually started this project in Emily’s first semester at Bucknell in my Science in the Public Eye course that I developed as part of an NSF grant (write-up here and here) and was considerably slowed by the pandemic, of course, especially since it involved interviews. But finally, in Emily’s last term as an undergrad — I think we checked the proofs a few days before Commencement! — it finally comes out. One of those full-circle moments. . . .

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