Philosophy research interests

Browse the research interests of staff in the Philosophy programme.

For detailed research areas and lists of publications please see the profiles of individual staff.

Overview

The Philosophy Programme at Victoria has a broad range and depth of research skills. Academic staff are actively involved in the following research areas:

  • Logic: Victoria University has a proud history in logic. There are several logicians in the Philosophy Programme: Max Cresswell, who, together with George Hughes, is best known for his introductions to modal logic and technical work in that field; other interests include relevant logic and probability logic.
  • Ethics and Political Philosophy: Victoria University has a strong and varied programme of courses in ethics and political philosophy. In 2010, the internationally-recognised Leiter Report described Victoria as “probably the best place to study value theory in Australasia.” The Philosophy Programme has fruitful links with Political Science and International Relations.
  • Experimental Philosophy: Experimental philosophy (or X-phi) is an exciting new movement in philosophy. Practitioners employ scientific methods to help answer philosophical questions. Active areas of research include conceptions of pain and consciousness, causal attributions, happiness and well-being, the philosophical temperament, and the demographic makeup of philosophy.
  • Philosophy of Science: Areas of interest include the philosophy of biology, philosophy of social science, philosophy of psychology, the application of biological theory to problems in ethics, and on moral problems that have arisen (and will arise) from the introduction of new biotechnology.
  • Metaphysics and Epistemology: Many of the Philosophy faculty pursue research on topics falling under the heading of metaphysics and epistemology. Both Cei Maslen and Justin Sytsma are interested in the nature of causation; Stuart Brock and Richard Joyce have each published numerous articles on fictionalism.
  • Philosophy of Art: Courses in philosophy of art and aesthetics are offered at all levels. Topics centre around what art is, how we interpret it, why we value it, and how it is related to our social, political, and ethical values. Sondra Bacharach’s research interests concern the ontology of art and contemporary art, but she likes to explore interdisciplinary issues (past students have worked on topics like sentimentality and kitsch, street art, Butoh and Japanese aesthetics, and computer art).

Current research projects

Max Cresswell and Ed Mares: Marsden Grant Project: A Natural History of Necessity

The notion of necessity has played an important role in the history of philosophy and, in particular, the history of the study of logic. In the mid-20th Century there was a revolt against the notion of necessity led by the American philosopher W.V.O. Quine. We argue, however, that we cannot understand logic without necessity. We look at the history of logic and of philosophical concept of necessity to bring out the historical and conceptual connections between the two. We wish to show that the problem which brought about the revolt lies in the acceptance among philosophers of what we call a "structural" view of necessity, and that the rejection of this view has important and wide ranging consequences for philosophy.

Stuart Brock: Learning and Research Project: Measuring Critical Thinking Abilities

The objective of Stuart Brock's study is to evaluate the success of the Melbourne method of teaching critical thinking. How much of which is due to the visual representation of critical reasoning processes by way of an Argument Diagram, and how much to the practice and/or scaffolded support offered through the computer programme. The project aims to ensure that the content and method of teaching within PHIL 123: Critical Thinking maximises gains in critical thinking skills for students enrolled in the course. The results will be disseminated to the wider University community to allow coordinators of other courses to adapt the methods within their own courses.

Sondra Bacharach: Collaboratively Produced Art

Sondra Bacharach is currently completing a project on collaboratively produced art (with Deb Tollefsen) for which she was awarded a Marsden Fast-Start grant.