Ongoing PhD Projects
Refutations can be performed in different ways. A common way is refutation by a counterexample. A refutation of this kind has a specific logical structure. In some fields, such as mathematics or logic, counterexamples are sufficient for refutation. In philosophy, on the other hand, there are cases such as the Gettier problem or sentences such as "I feel pain" that cannot be unambiguously refuted by a single logical refutation in the first case and not at all in the second case. The view that a refutation is only possible in the sense of a logical refutation is, in my opinion, mistaken. In my dissertation project, different reasons and arguments are given against this view. I am trying to develop a theory of refutation that can explain which sentences are refutable, what types of refutations there are besides logical refutations, and how to systematically refute a refutable sentence.
Perceiving Differences: How Social Perception Shapes Forms of Racism (Benedict Kenyah-Damptey)
My PhD Project is concerned with theories of social perception taken from the social-psychological research on racism. I investigate how the social categories we perceive when we perceive another person can predispose us to certain forms of (in this case: racial) discrimination, commonly known as dehumanization. Research shows that dehumanizing person perception (i.e., subtle or blatant forms of denial of another person’s ‘humanness’) impedes or biases our mind perception of other people. Therefore, it affects our tendencies of mind ascription/attribution (mentalizing). This in turn can mean that we not only perceive them as less agential beings, but also that we perceptually exclude them from the realm to which our morally responsible actions refer.”
In my doctoral thesis I will address various questions and problems that arise from the phenomenology of the body according to Merleau-Ponty. I will answer them with the help of artificial intelligence and robotics, since body and mind cannot be considered independently in humans. With the help of interoperational robotics and artificial neural networks, each of which are subcategories of the areas just mentioned, mind and body can be modeled individually. This leads to the fact that the questions and problems can be dealt with on a "pure body" or a "pure mind" basis.
Completed PhD projects
Language acquisition and conceptualisation (Leda Berio)
My project is concerned with the relation between language acquisition and conceptualisation. The idea is to investigate how social interaction, especially language-mediated communication, shapes what is commonly referred to as "public meaning". The assumption is that public meaning is constituted by a partial overlap of the content of individual representations and that looking at the data regarding development can shed light on the mechanisms that are at play both during first language acquisition and during the process of "tuning" speakers' and hearers' meaning to get to effective (or "effective enough") communication. I will be focusing on the acquisition of colour words and mental terms.
Implicit prejudices (René Baston)
The main aim of my PhD project is to explore the theoretical groundings of the psychological notion of ‘implicit prejudice’. In order to investigate implications of this concept, I am critically examining discussions in the philosophy of mind (e.g. what is the justification for ascribing mental states?) and relating these discussions to debates about the theoretical foundations of cognitive science (e.g. what can count as a representation?).
Naturalising Communication: A Theory of Socio-Cognitive Development (Sam Taylor)
My research aims to develop a formal and conceptual framework to describe the relation between the development of cognition, the emergence of public meaning, and the possibility of communication. I am currently attempting to integrate Bayesian models of cognition with socio-cognitive theories of development to develop a theory of communication grounded in cognitive biology.
Acting together. An integrated account of joint action (Nicolas Lindner)
In my PhD thesis I examine philosophical and psychological foundations of joint action. The focus of the thesis is on different approaches to shared intentionality and its underlying socio-cognitive abilities. With recourse to said capacities I will also address questions concerning the ontogeny of acting together in early childhood. In reference to developmental psychology the main interest here is the onset of children's joint action and the socio-cognitive capacities that are necessary to that end. Ultimately, the goal of the thesis is an integrated account of acting together that combines philosophical thinking with theoretical considerations and empirical evidence from psychology.