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The Australian National University

2012 ARC Grants

The Basis of Conscious Thought
Prof DJ Chalmers (ANU); Dr U Kriegel (Arizona)
2010 : $121,000
2011 : $40,000
2012 : $97,000
2013 : $90,000
2014 : $98,000

The science and philosophy of consciousness has made much progress in recent years, and the study of conscious thought is the next frontier. The project will place Australian research on the leading edge of this area. An international network of researchers will analyse both the neurobiological basis and the subjective experience of conscious thought, yielding a unified account of conscious thinking from the first-person and third-person perspectives. The resulting account will illuminate the nature of human thinking and reasoning, and will be applied to the detection of consciousness in post-coma patients.


ARC Future Fellowship
Knowledge of Consciousness

Prof D Stoljar (RSSS, ANU)
2010 : $98,500
2011 : $196,000
2012 : $202,000
2013 : $202,000
2014 : $98,000

Creatures that are both rational and conscious—i.e., most of us, most of the time—possess considerable introspective knowledge of our own psychological states. We know that we know that Vienna is the capital of Austria, that we feel a tingle in the elbow and a host of other things. But what exactly is introspection? How does knowledge by introspection differ from other kinds of knowledge? Why are some psychological states introspectible and some not—e.g. those postulated by cognitive science or linguistics, or those involving deep-seated desire or prejudice? This project explores and defends a new philosophical perspective on introspection, and charts its connection to rationality and consciousness.


Philosophical Progress
Prof D Stoljar (RSSS, ANU); Prof FC Jackson (RSSS, ANU)
2011 : $80,000
2012 : $75,000
2013 : $75,000

Can there be progress in philosophy? It is often said that philosophical problems are perennials for which it is pointless to expect a solution. On the other hand, professional philosophy seems to have organized itself, perhaps unconsciously, around the opposite view: how else to explain the panoply of conferences, graduate programs, journals, websites etc? Who is right? This project asks what philosophical progress might be, and whether it is rational to think that there is (has been, will be) any. To answer this question we will use a combination of techniques: clarification of the issues, comparative analysis of notions of progress in the sciences and philosophy, and interviews with prominent people in philosophy.


Political Normativity and the Feasibility Requirement
Dr Nicholas Southwood (RSSS, ANU), Prof H G Brennan (RSSS, ANU), Prof David M Estlund (Brown University)
2012: $148,474.00
2013: $124,747.00
2014: $135,366.00

It is commonly assumed that normative theorising about social and political reality must be feasible in outlook, that it must not go beyond what may realistically be achieved. Yet the 'Feasibility Requirement', as we call it, has received little serious scholarly attention. This project will investigate the nature, justification, and implications of the Feasibility Requirement. We shall approach this task in a highly multi-disciplinary way, combining general philosophical and social scientific analysis with detailed consideration of the implications of the Feasibility Requirement for a number of pressing real-world issues, including climate change, multiculturalism, political participation, inequality, historical justice, and war.


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