Congratulations to Philosophy PhD Candidate Olin Robus, who was awarded the prestigious Graduate School Presidential Dissertation Fellowship for 2016-2017! This competitive award, which provides one quarter of full fellowship funding with tuition and benefits, is intended to assist PhD candidates in the final stages of writing and completing their dissertations. Olin's dissertation, "It's Not What You Know, It's What You Do: Naturalism, Pragmatism, and the New Method of Metaphysics," challenges recent 'scientific' revisions of traditional attempts to develop metaphysical theories. He claims that "what the attempts to naturalize metaphysics miss, is that science's value lies not in 'delivering' a fixed and eternal description of reality, but by being the collection of our best practices for holding our descriptions accountable to the world."
The consequences of Olin's project center on the social and political role science and scientific knowledge claims play in modern democratic contexts. He explains:
My criticism of attempts to naturalize metaphysics imply that it is not enough to require that citizens are generally `pro-science', or are prepared to defer to scientists on questions of reality, or even that they have a detailed understanding of our best scientific theories. The requirement is instead that citizens are aware of and engaged with the practices of scientific inquiry. A scientific metaphysics, on my account, locates the source of epistemic (and democratic) authority in the citizen, and her active engagement with the world.
We look forward to Olin's completed dissertation!