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“How is it possible to know of my own psychological states for the most part effortlessly and authoritatively?” “How is it possible to know substantive facts of logic and mathematics, applicable to the natural world, just by thinking?” We propose a sustained, coordinated collaboration on these two great and intransigent philosophical problems.
We will run an intensive, thirty-three month investigation, involving two streams of regular research seminars conducted by a team of 14 philosophers combining 8 experienced researchers with 2 postdoctoral and 4 graduate student philosophers. The work will be supported by a wider network of interested scholars, mixing philosophers of international distinction with promising philosophers in early career and scientists, who will convene for biannual workshops. The collaboration will provide an exceptional research training for the beginning-career team members.
The seminar schedules for the two streams will be coordinated by certain structural similarities in the problems posed by self-knowledge and a priori knowledge and in the patterns of response to them in the recent debates.
Such a sustained, managed engagement promises not merely to illuminate the distinctive issues concerned — in which there is long-term and currently very intense interest in contemporary professional philosophy — but to carry important lessons about the predictable poverty of philosophical responses to the above “How is X possible?” questions. At a more general cultural level, a crucial insight is in prospect about the foreseeable limitations of any attempt to explain human rationality in purely natural-scientific terms.
Concrete deliverables will include no less than 15 research papers, 2 monographs and 2 edited anthologies.
Alongside the research, we will pursue a cognate programme of public engagement activities including public lectures, Café Philosophique meetings, and accessible short podcasts on a dedicated project website.