Philosophy research students

See current research students within the Philosophy Programme

Students are listed alphabetically under their respective programmes and degrees.

Philosophy PhD candidates

Snita Ahir-Knight

Thesis title: 'Mental disorder and mental health interventions for children and youth: the cases of non-suicidal self-harm and unruly behaviour. A philosophical inquiry'

Supervisors: Simon Keller and Nick Agar

About: Snita Ahir-Knight's dissertation is a contribution to the philosophy of mental disorder. Considering the cases of non-suicidal self-harm in youth, and unruly behaviour in children and youth, the thesis argues that behaviours and thoughts that are usually a passing phase and helpful for one’s development are not mental disorders; that managing life in the best way one can is not disordered; and, furthermore, that whether one has a mental disorder should not determine whether one is offered a mental health intervention.

While the dissertation will appeal to philosophers, it is hoped that youth, parents, teachers, clinicians, policy makers and similar will be interested in the contents. This is because important practical questions are asked that challenge common views, and guide policies and clinical practice to improve the welfare and service outcomes for children and youth.

Snita Ahir-Knight is a philosophy PhD student at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. She received a Degree in Social Work with first-class honors from Oxford Brookes University and a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of London. She has a current and established career as a social worker and child and adolescent therapist.

Richard Aragao

Thesis title: 'Ontology, Existence and Context-Dependence'

Supervisors: Cei Maslen and Stuart Brock

About: It is canonically accepted that the mere utilization of logical quantifiers according to traditional semantics involves ontological implications. Such implications are said to be connected to the entities of the domain of quantification of our theories, languages and discourses taken as value of the bound variables. However, this assumed relation between ontology and quantification has many problematic implications and it also can be said to sound, if deeply analysed, extremely counter-intuitive.

My main research objective is to provide an alternative view, which I name the context-dependent interpretation, that contrasts with the canonical interpretation of the logical quantifiers. According to my view, the concept of “existence”, differently than what Quine asserts, is not univocal and it differs from context to context. Consequently, the quantifiers of the formal logic are not meant to capture, and are not capable of capturing, such notion. My aims are to show that: (a) Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment is a questionable semantic approach and is connected with Quine’s prejudices regarding metaphysics; (b) Some alternative views to Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment, especially the ontological deflationist and the fictionalist approach, have difficulties of their own, compromising its usefulness to be good solutions for the problem between quantification and ontology; and finally (c) the context-dependent interpretation of the concept of existence, as I intend to propose, is an intuitive and straightforward approach not based on metaphysical prejudices that takes into consideration how the concepts of “existence”, “being” and “ontology” are used not only in natural and formal languages but also in ordinary, scientific, ontological and even technical contexts.

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Timothy Irwin

Thesis title: 'A Semantics for Accounting'

Supervisors: Ed Mares and Tony van Zijl (Accounting)

Jorge Morales-Delgado

Thesis title: 'Inheritance Networks and the Phenomena of Floating Conclusions'

Supervisor: Ed Mares and Sondra Bacharach

Elizabeth Olsen

Thesis title: 'Teaching introductory logic'

Supervisors: Ed Mares and Max Cresswell

Eyyuphan Ozdemir

Thesis title: 'Reconsidering Epistemic Gap Arguments in terms of Acquaintance Knowledge and Phenomenal Concepts'

Supervisor: Justin Systma and Eugen Fischer (University of East Anglia, UK)

Jonathan Pengelly

Thesis title: 'Protecting the Artificial Soul'

Supervisors: Nick Agar and Ramon Das

Jordan Skrzynski

Thesis title: 'Optimism in Philosophy'

Supervisors: Cei Maslen and Ed Mares

Melissa Snater

Thesis title: 'A theory of injustice: coming to terms with determinism'

Supervisor: Justin Systma

Philosophy MA students

Billie Berry

Thesis title: 'Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Personality-Psychopathology Relationship and Dimensional Classification'

Supervisor: Ed Mares and Simon Keller

Mikka Kaeser

Supervisor: Justin Systma

Ambrose Maran Muthulingam

Supervisor: Ed Mares

Esther Marshall

Supervisor: Sondra Bacharach

Eli McKeown

Supervisor: Simon Keller

Dan Simpson Beck

Supervisor: Justin Systma