Philosophy Research Collection

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The UCD School of Philosophy is the largest teaching and research centre for Philosophy in Ireland, and is recognized as one of the top ten schools in the English Speaking World for graduate studies in Twentieth Century Continental Philosophy (The Philosophical Gourmet report). Our interests cover the broad areas of Contemporary European (Continental) Philosophy, Analytic Philosophy, Classical Philosophy and its contemporary manifestations.

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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 163
  • Publication
    The Auditory Field: The Spatial Character of Auditory Experience
    (University of Michigan Library, 2022)
    It is widely accepted that there is a visual field, but the analogous notion of an auditory field is rejected by many philosophers on the grounds that the metaphysics or phenomenology of audition lack the necessary spatial structure. In this paper, I argue that many of the common objections to the existence of an auditory field are misguided and that, contrary to a tradition of philosophical scepticism about the spatiality of auditory experience, it is as richly spatial as visual experience — and in some ways even more so. By carefully considering the spatiality and boundedness of audition, along with how sounds or their sources are experienced as occurring within the surrounding acoustic environment, we can gain a better understanding of (i) our auditory experience of space and (ii) the conditions for the existence of spatial sensory fields in general in a way that does not privilege vision over the other senses.
  • Publication
    Does Property-Perception Entail the Content View?
    (Springer Nature, 2024)
    Visual perception is widely taken to present properties such as redness, roundness, and so on. This in turn might be thought to give rise to accuracy conditions for experience, and so content, regardless of which metaphysical view of perception one endorses. An influential version of this argument —Susanna Siegel’s ‘Argument from Appearing’ — aims to establish the existence of content as common ground between representational and relational views of perception. This goes against proponents of ‘austere’ relationalism who deny that content plays a substantive role in philosophical explanations of conscious perceptual experience. Though Siegel’s argument purports to be neutral with respect to the metaphysics of perception, it relies upon an equivocation between the presentation of property-types and property-instances. Consequently, the argument begs the question against the austere relational view, and so fails to establish the desired conclusion. So while relationalists can and should allow that experiences have accuracy conditions, it does not follow from this that they have contents of any philosophically interesting or significant kind.
  • Publication
    Does Attention Exist?
    (British Undergraduate Philosophy Society, 2007-07)
    The introduction to the Phenomenology of Perception (Merleau‑Ponty 2002: 34)
 states that “Attention… as a general and formal activity, does not exist”. This paper examines the meaning and truth of this difficult and surprising statement, along with its implications for the account of perception given by theorists such as Fred Dretske (1988) and Christopher Peacocke (1983). In order to elucidate Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological account of human perception, I present two alternative models of how attention might be thought to operate. The first is derived from the works of the aforementioned theorists and is, I argue, based upon a largely inaccurate computational or mechanistic understanding of the mind. The second is drawn from the work of Merleau-Ponty and cognitive scientist and philosopher, Alva Noë, and takes into account some recent neurological theories concerning the role of attention in human consciousness. On the basis of these models I argue that attention is an essential, rather than incidental, characteristic of consciousness that is constitutive of both thought and perception, and which cannot be understood in terms of the independent faculty or ‘general and unconditioned power’ that Dretske et al.’s account requires. I conclude by considering two potential counterexamples to my argument, and evaluate the threat that these pose to the phenomenological model.
  • Publication
    Aristotle, Empedocles, and the Reception of the Four Elements Hypothesis
    (Brill, 2021-01-25)
    In this paper I discuss the meaning and significance of Aristotle’s claim that Empedocles “was the first to speak of the four so-called elements of the material kind” (Metaph. I.4, 985a32). I argue that this claim tells us a great deal about the reception of the four elements hypothesis, i.e., the hypothesis that that fire, air, water, and earth are the elements of bodies. Firstly, it indicates that the hypothesis is a familiar one among Aristotle’s contemporaries. Secondly, the fact that Aristotle highlights the priority of Empedocles is evidence that Empedocles’ priority was not well known to his contemporaries. I suggest, moreover, that we should not presume that it was well known to Aristotle’s contemporaries that Empedocles held the four elements hypothesis. Empedocles’ theory is best understood as a version of a view that had become popular already by Plato’s time.
  • Publication
    Review of John Dillon, The Heirs of Plato: A Study of the Old Academy (347-274 BC)
    (Blackwell Publishing, 2004-04-01)
    In The Heirs of Plato John Dillon explores the development of the Academy in the seventy years after Plato's death in 347 bc, the period generally known as the ‘Old Academy’. This period of ancient philosophy has suffered much neglect, due mainly to the poverty of the surviving evidence, but also, in part, due to the perception of the Old Academy's major figures as philosophically sterile followers of Plato. Dillon argues that there is sufficient secondary evidence for a coherent reconstruction of the philosophical activities of Plato's immediate successors; and, furthermore, that their activities merit our serious attention.