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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
December 11, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Information for prospective MA students

Greetings! Since you are reading this you are probably considering applying to our MA program and are wondering about my research interests and whether or not I might be a suitable supervisor for your Major Research Paper. So let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I joined Laurier’s Philosophy Department in 2000 and have supervised two doctoral students to successful completion: Hugh Alcock: Consciousness from a Naturalistic Perspective (2009), and Dwayne Moore: The Problem of Causal-Explanatory Exclusion (2010). We have since phased out our doctoral program but in 2007 we launched our thematic MA program, Self, Agency, and Community. I have supervised three MA students: Jennifer Howse: The Tibetan Contribution to Developing a New Theory of Mind (2008), Aaron Roberts: Amending the Causal-Dynamic Model of Strong Emergence (2012), and Fraydon Karimi: Explanatory Exclusion and Understanding (2014)

My graduate seminars have been very closely tied to my own research. Since 2007 I have offered several courses in the philosophy of mind. Although these seminars deal with a number of metaphysical issues—reductive vs. nonreductive physicalism, the nature of action explanation, emergence, qualia and consciousness—the central focus has been the problem of mental causation. In particular, I am intrigued with Jaegwon Kim’s extremely influential supervenience/exclusion argument (and several variants thereof). Kim’s argument, which targets nonreductive physicalism, purports to show that the alleged causal efficacy of mental properties is pre-empted by, or drains into, the causal efficacy of their physical supervenience bases. The result is that if one insists on embracing nonreductive physicalism, this comes with a very high cost: the mental lacks any genuine causal efficacy or explanatory import. I have written several articles on this and related issues. For a list of selected recent publications, please see my profile page.

If you have a research project in mind for our MA program and would like to discuss it with me, please feel free to contact me: