Philosophers Win Substantial ARC Early Career Awards

Several philosophy faculty are among the winners of Discovery Early Career Research Awards from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

They and their projects are:

  • Guillermo Badia (University of Queensland)
    Fuzzy logics for graded reasoning in applied contexts. Many things we care about, such as friendship or safety, come in degrees, but our current systems for tracking information are not built to handle this. This project aims to enhance many-valued logic as a tool to manage graded information. It expects to generate new knowledge in the area of logical languages for fuzzy databases and finite domains using an interdisciplinary approach between philosophers, mathematicians and computer scientists. Expected outcomes include new logical methods and modelling techniques for many-valued logics. This will provide significant benefits, such as the enhancement of fuzzy logic as a tool in artificial intelligence to handle reasoning with imprecise concepts, giving meaning to complex real-life data. (AU$356,000)
  • Daniel Canaris (University of Sydney / Sun Yat-Sen University)
    The Aristotelian Soul in Late Ming China. This project aims to uncover a seminal moment during the first stage of Sino-Western intellectual encounters when the Jesuit Francesco Sambiasi (1582-1649) collaborated with the mandarin Xu Guangqi (1562-1633) on the Lingyan lishao (1624), a Chinese translation of Aristotle’s On the Soul. Since Ming Chinese lacked direct analogues for the Aristotelian soul, this work provides significant insights into how conceptual translation is conducted between disparate cultures. The intended outcome of this project is to reveal the semantic transformations between the European and Chinese contexts. Benefits include the opening up of pioneering yet understudied texts and insights into why certain ideas fail to resonate in their new target culture. (AU$363,582)
  • Luara Ferracioli (University of Sydney)
    This project aims to assess the morality of ectogenesis, the process of gestating a foetus in an artificial womb. Recent technological advances in non-human ectogenesis raise the question of whether it is desirable to pursue research in human ectogenesis. This project expects to generate new knowledge in social philosophy by inquiring into the value of natural gestation, the foundations of parenthood, and the interests of foetuses during gestation. Expected outcomes of this project include an improved understanding of the costs, risks, and benefits of ectogenesis. This should provide significant benefits, such as resources for ethical decision-making in light of technologies aimed at radically reshaping the process of human creation. (AU$352,000)
  • Doug McConnell (Oxford, but will take up the grant at Macquarie University)
    This project aims to solve the philosophical problems of whether moral character motivates action and how it does so by developing an innovative account of moral character that draws on two overlooked bodies of research: the psychology of ‘moral identity’ and the philosophy of narrative self-constitution. The resulting narrative account of moral character claims that moral identities motivate moral action and, therefore, underpin moral character. The project then applies this knowledge to professional ethics, empirically testing the extent to which professional moral identities influence action and creating novel, self-narrative focused strategies to foster professional virtue. (AU $343,772)
  • Helen Ngo (University of Queensland)
    “No place like home? A phenomenology of racialised non-belonging.” Racism is a persistent problem in Australian society, yet its existential effects remain inadequately understood. This project aims to develop a new understanding of racism’s deep impact on one’s sense of self, and sense of place. The project seeks to use the emerging framework of critical phenomenology to illuminate different experiences of racialised non-belonging. Expected outcomes include an improved understanding of the ontological significance of feeling not at home in one’s environs, or in one’s own body. This expanded understanding will provide significant benefits by helping to motivate and guide more robust models of anti-racism in public life, leading to a more racially just society. (AU$ 416,000)
  • Clas Weber (University of Western Australia)
    This project aims to investigate the potential and the consequences of mind-uploading (i.e. transitioning a person from a biological hardware to an artificial one). It will use the methods of analytical philosophy to contribute to, and integrate, three different fields: philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and artificial intelligence. Expected outcomes include a theoretical and normative framework for mind-uploading, and a much-improved understanding of its implications. This should provide significant benefits, such as fostering exchange between philosophy and computer science, providing directions for scientific research and technological development, as well as informing legal guidelines for artificial intelligence development. (AU$352,000)

There were several other philosophically-related projects among the 196 approved for funding. You can see the full list of awardees here.

(via Samuel Baron)

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