The Jurispridential Turn


Project code: ART009

Disciplinary Area

Philosophy

Supervisor

Tim Dare

The study of the ethics of the legal profession has a number of strands.  Some strands are ‘doctrinal’; conceened with the ‘law of lawyering’; others are sociological, concerned with the nature of the legal profession; others pedagogical, concerned with issues around training lawyers to behave ethically. 

The Project Supervisor is one of a small group of scholars who have instigated what has been termed the ‘jurisprudential turn’; the development of a strand of legal ethics concerned with the philosophical study of the ethics of the legal profession. 

Philosophical legal ethics has developed to a stage where a review article would be a useful resource for scholars and teachers.  The project supervisor has been asked to provide such a review to an International Encyclopedia of Legal Theory.  This main goal of this project is to produce that (circa) 6,000 word review article.

The Project Supervisor and the scholar would also look for an opportunity to co-author a separate substantive contribution to the legal ethics literature.

Scholar’s Work

The scholar would be asked to:

  • Develop a comprehensive annotated bibliography of work in and leading to philosophical legal ethics.  Doing so would involve reading leading articles and books at the direction of supervisor.
  • Help draft the review article.
  • Identify opportunities for a separate substantve contribution to the philosophical legal ethics literature and to co-author that article.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The scholar should have good research and writing skills.  They should be able to locate and assess relevant literature.

An academic background in both law and philosophy will be an advantage but is not essential.  The successful candidate will however almost certainly have a good academic background in either law or philosophy.

The supervisor will provide guidance and will meet with the scholar regularly, but the successful candidate will have a good deal of initiative and be able to work without constant supervision. 

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Thinking the impossible


Project code: ART014

Disciplinary Area

Philosophy

Supervisor

Patrick Girard

Philosophers are not only concerned with what the world is like, but also what it could be like. This is the study of possibility. Philosophers have made great advances in our philosophical understanding of possibility though the application of modal logic. Modal logic is the logic of possibility and necessity, and makes essential use of so-called possible worlds, the ways things could be.  The study of possible worlds in modal logic provides unprecedented insight into what had once seemed like terminally muddy philosophy. But with this new logical toolkit comes inherent limitations: modal logic is constrained by logical consistency, the final arbiter of what counts as ‘possible’.

To think about the impossible, we need a new mathematical framework, based on paraconsistent logic. Parconsistent logic is a mathematical system devised to control inconsistencies. The main goal of the project is to create a paraconsistent modal logic, a theory that incorporates impossible worlds, the ways things cannot be, to release standard modal logic from the constraints of consistency.

Scholar’s Work

The scholar will first need gain familiarity with paraconsistent and modal logic. If they don’t already have background training in non-classical logic, that means catching up with the standard textbook “An introduction to non-classical logic” by Graham Priest. The scholar will then do a literature review in paraconsistent logic, modal logic, and in the metaphysics of possible worlds. This involves doing a comprehensive search in the library and various online ressources. Throughout this research, the scholar will be building an anotated bibliography.  Finally, the scholar, in collaboration with the main investigator, will investigate various new framework for the development of paraconsistent modal logic. This involves proposing and exploring various paraconsistent logical models, testing them with examples, and comparing them with the ressources found in the literature review.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

Familiarity with logic and a good grasp modal logic are essential, and preferably accompanied by basic training in metaphysics.

General experience with mathematics would also be beneficial.

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The Origin of Life and Astrobiology: Big Questions at the Interface of Philosophy and Science


Project code: ART035

Disciplinary Area

Philosophy

Supervisor

Dr Emily Parke

This research project focuses on philosophical questions about the origin of life and astrobiology. These interdisiplinary research areas seek to understand how life emerged on Earth four billion years ago, whether further life exists in the universe, and how to find it.

The project addresses questions spanning philosophy and science, including: What is the difference between nonliving and living things, and why does it matter? What is the relationship between explaining the origin of living things, the origin of Darwinian evolution, and the origin of biological information? How does explanation in research on the origin of life and astrobiology work differently from explanation in other sciences? How does the unique combination of plausibility arguments, mathematical and computational models, laboratory experiments, and historical reconstruction used in these research areas challenge our standard assumptions about how science works? How do attempts to find “weird” or anomalous life forms on Earth inform attempts to identify life on other planets? How do attempts to build minimal cells from scratch in the laboratory inform theories of the origin of life, and are they informative even when they fail?

Scholar’s Work

At the outset of the project the scholar will gain familiarity with some key literature in research on the origin of life and astrobiology, to get up to speed with the project. The scholar’s primary activities will then include conducting research online and in the library, collecting and surveying papers and other works, and providing verbal and written summary reports to the supervisor on a regular basis. The information and literature researched will include a combination of contemporary and historical science and philosophy of science.

The scholar might also assist with research tasks related to the activities of the University of Auckland Interdisciplinary Origins Group, a collaborative project amongst the supervisor and members of the Faculty of Science with overlapping research interests. These tasks might include, for example, assisting with preparing funding proposals, planning workshops, or researching the activities of similar interdisiplinary centres around the world.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The scholar should have a major, specialisation, or postgraduate degree in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, or Physics. If not, the scholar should be able to demonstrate equivalent proficiency in one of those areas, or another scientific field relevant to the project’s subject matter.

Some coursework or background in philosophy (especially philosophy of science) is preferable, but not required.

The scholar should have the potential to survey interdisciplinary literature, and categorise and summarise it efficiently.

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