Philosophy - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

Receive updates for this collection

A further reinterpretation of the moral philosophy of John Stuart Mill. --

Author: 
Date created: 
1972
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Simon Fraser University. Theses (Dept. of Philosophy)
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

A comparative analysis of Esfeld's holism and O'Connor's emergence

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

Since philosophers have called upon the presence of both holistic and emergent properties to explain how a whole can be ‘more than the sum of its parts’, this project explores whether a given property may be described as both holistic and emergent. After presenting Esfeld’s account of holism and O’Connor’s account of emergence I argue that only top-down holistic properties could potentially be emergent. Because bottom-up holistic properties are instantiated by the parts of a whole instead of by the whole itself, they cannot introduce the form of downward causation which is O’Connor’s most important criterion of emergence. Despite these findings, however, I note that these two accounts involve importantly distin ct stories of the generation of their respective properties and, since no one property can be generated in two distinct ways, I conclude that, in the senses currently delineated by these authors, no property can be both holistic and emergent.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Philosophy - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Some ternary frames

Date created: 
1978
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Simon Fraser University. Theses (Dept. of Philosophy)
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

A generalized relational semantics for modal logic

Date created: 
1978
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Simon Fraser University. Theses (Dept. of Philosophy)
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

The experience of agency and the self

Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

The main focus of this thesis is the conscious experience that attends the actions that we perform as agents. The ‘feeling of doing’ is widely acknowledged to be an essential component of our mental life, yet there has been little effort to study it seriously up until fairly recently. The first half of the thesis is devoted to a discussion of some metaphysical issues surrounding the veridicality of the experience of agency. I start by evaluating the arguments of ‘agent-causationists’ who, within the more general framework of their libertarian theory of free will, purport to demonstrate that the experience of agency is veridical and can be directly translated into a naturalistically plausible metaphysics. Next, I turn to the ‘illusion ists’ who attempt to show that, in one way or another, the experience of agency is misleading. I argue that both camps fail to make their case effectively. The second half of this thesis is concerned with the phenomenology of the experience of agency. I sketch an account of its content and go on to argue that, described as such, it may be viewed as a rich source of self-knowledge that plays an indispensable role in the creation and development of our self-concept.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Philosophy - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Some feminist reflections on autonomy, self-respect, and the liberal state

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

Recently, the women of a breakaway polygamist Mormon sect in Bountiful, B.C. defended their choice of religious beliefs, which are premised upon female submission and inferiority. In response to this case, I asked: what conditions must obtain in order that we can say that an individual has chosen autonomously? In this project, I offer a weakly substantive account of personal autonomy, which states that an autonomous individual must meet certain procedural conditions and must have self-respect. In addition, I argue that a weakly substantive account is attractive for feminist aims and for women in general. However, the account of personal autonomy I offer is problematic for political liberalism, in that political liberalism is committed implicitly to the account of personal autonomy that I have set forth. This raises questions around the claim that political liberalism does not favour any comprehensive doctrine in its political conception of justice.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Philosophy - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Recovering understanding

Author: 
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

The history of theoretical progress is also a history of increases in the skill with which innovations are linguistically proposed. One dimension of this refinement is the difficulty of the task of recovering past understandings theoretical terms. A study of ancient philosophy reveals vivid examples. Standard approaches to ancient texts provide evidence of, but do not sufficiently illuminate, the difficulty. My biology of language, and essentially diachronic, approach focuses neither on understanding the ancients, nor on overcoming the difficulty in understanding them, but rather on understanding those features of the difficulty which my approach makes apparent. George Steiner provides the starting point for a discussion of ways of understanding the difficulty. Leonard Palmer’s paper on Greek justice is represented as the minimal standard of methodological care required of any attempt to overcome it. The terms, logos and cause, are examined as examples of our difficulty in understanding inherited theoretical language.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Philosophy - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

All meaning is natural

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

It is the received philosophical view that there are two fundamentally different types of meanings: natural ones and non-natural ones. Linguistic meanings are said to be of the second sort. Properly understood however, language is a physical, biological phenomenon. Indeed, it is an evolved species. In evolutionary biology, the physical significance of items is explained by reference to the physical significance of ancestral items and to features of the biological relationship of engendering. When language is investigated along similar lines, the natural/rion-natural distinction ceases to appear fundamental. More fundamental is the distinction between phenomena capable of explanation within a relatively lower order physical theory and those that require an explanatory theory of relatively higher-order. From this perspective, talk of corivention or non-naturalness in linguistics resembles that ofjunction in biology: it serves only as a conversational shorthand for higher-order explanations.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Philosophy - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

The Physics of Language: Toward a Phase-Transition of Language Change

Author: 
Date created: 
2003
Abstract: 

Interdisciplinary work, such as this, often requires a reform of more traditional notions in order to include novel views. Functionaliaation is such a notion and much of the thrust of this work is that for purposes of explanatory theory, the notion must be redefined. In this thesis, functionalization involves a much broader class of linguistic behavior than what is usually understood in linguistics. We understand functionaliaation, as linguists understand it, to involve a loss of lexicality, but by this we mean a loss of a particular sort of lexicality and that particularization has the consequence that the term as we use it applies to a much broader class of linguistic items than is usually comprehended by the term. Our specific sample involves instances of perceptually bound lexical vocabulary that acquire a function of perceptually divorced uses - such as connectives, but also mental, religious and ethical vocabulary. This definition of functionalization includes but is not bound by the notion of grammaticaliaation and as such departs from its traditional linguistic use. We have chosen this vocabulary because it lends itself more readily to reform than does the more entrenched notion of grammaticaliaation. Given this definition we notice that a large portion of our linguistic uses are functionalized that is, have perhaps discoverable causal roles, but causal roles, the explanation of which must be an evolutionary explanation that draws upon the causal roles of ancestral forms of speech. If such vocabulary is to be given definition, then it must be given definition in terms of language that has undergone a similar transformation The research reported in this thesis treats language as a physical system subject to the same forces as other systems describable in physical terms. Moreover, we suggest that the language of mechanical transformations such as first-order phase transitions is directly applicable to such fundamental structural changes in language. When it is borne in mind that the process of grammaticalization is itself evolved, it becomes evident further that such physical phenomena as first-order phase transitions could explain the emergence of grammaticalization itself, and therefore the original advent of syntax.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Special Arrangements: Philosophy/Computing Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

The burden of syntax

Date created: 
2011-04-27
Abstract: 

A theorist's responsibility for the theory he proposes is inseparable from his responsibility for the language in which the theory is expressed. Language science is no different in this regard. Theorists agree that language is the product of a population, and individual humans participate in linguistic social activity. But disagreements about typology cannot be mediated solely by aprioristic considerations. It has become a norm of scientific discourse that theoretical idiom is to be vindicated empirically. Evidence is needed both to serve as common ground and to make disciplined inferences about the individual sequencing demands of colloquy. I take up Philip Lieberman's proposal that circuits projecting to and from the basal ganglia could underlie aspects of motor, linguistic, and perhaps even cognitive sequencing. The evidence illustrates how the study of individual sequencing requirements might proceed without aprioristic typology.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ray Jennings
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Philosophy
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.