The British Academy is pleased to announce the result of the 2006 competition for Postdoctoral Fellowships. These awards were recently decided by the Academy in July 2006, and will be taken up by the award-holders from this autumn. Competition for the available awards was even more intense than ever this year, with almost 600 valid applications submitted for consideration, and only 32 awards able to be funded. As always, many excellent candidates could not be supported.
593 applications, 32 awards
The Genetic and Environmental Underpinnings of Over- and Under-Achievement among UK School Children
Heated debate of the issues surrounding social class, intelligence and academic achievement is a permanent and high-profile fixture in British politics. Although theories are legion, a full understanding of such problems as why children from poorer families often perform less well in school than their better-off counterparts has proved elusive. Behavioural genetic research suggests that educational policies and practices may benefit from taking the influence of genetics on ability and achievement into account. Using a large sample of identical and non-identical twins, Dr Asbury will control for genetic influences on the abilities and achievements of UK schoolchildren and aim to identify specific aspects of the home and school environment which encourage children to optimise and even out-perform their genetic propensities. She hopes that he results will prove valuable to policy-makers, teachers and parents by yielding concrete and scientifically grounded advice about the optimal means of nurturing children’s individual natures.
Equity in British Higher Education: The Impact of Expansion and Reform since 1960
Dr Boliver’s research will explore the impact of successive waves of expansion and reform on patterns of equity in British higher education since the 1960s. Drawing on quantitative data from a variety of sources, the research will examine the impact of changing student funding arrangements (most recently the introduction of variable tuition fees) and growing governmental intervention in admissions decisions (including the recent establishment of OFFA) on trends in equity of access to higher education in general, and to higher status universities in particular. The research will also examine changes over time in the distribution of the benefits to participation in higher education, assessing the equitableness of the returns enjoyed by graduates with different social background characteristics (such as gender, social class and ethnicity) and by those graduating from different types of higher education institution.
Non-Linear Models: Selection, Specification and Testing
Dr Castle's research will focus on the selection, specification and testing of non-linear models. Macro-economic data comprises the aggregation and mapping of highly complex heterogeneous agents' actions and is therefore likely to be non-linear. However, a linear specification is often postulated as it has proved difficult to develop tests for, and modelling of, general classes of non-linear functions relevant in economics, given the practical sample sizes available in macro-economics. The project will develop a feasible test to detect non-linearity in a wide class of models, and develop a systematic general-to-specific modelling procedure for selecting non-linear models that maintains a general functional form. The research aims to automate the modelling procedure and non-linearity test, providing extensive Monte Carlo and theoretical analyses of their properties to ensure that their implications are a good guide to the underlying reality. Applied work will focus on possible non-linearities in wage and price inflation.
An Anthropological Study of Public and Private Morality and Moral Authority among Muslim Communities in Lebanon
Public morality is of vital concern in the contemporary Islamic Middle East. This research will investigate the structures and uses of moral authority, moralising rhetoric and the boundaries between public and private morality. These themes will be examined through fieldwork in Lebanon, where local actors negotiate between competing ethics in a cosmopolitan environment. Participant observation in law courts, religious centres and other sites of public moral negotiation such as universities and political organisations, as well as private domains, will be contextualised with archival, textual and mass-mediated sources. This ethnography will contribute to studies of the relationship between liberal, secular ethical structures and Islamic conceptions, including the evolving relationships between law and morality, and religion and the state. It will also contribute to debates on civility and ‘civil society’ in the region, and help situate the terms in which ‘Islamic’ and ‘liberal’ values are debated in Western discourses.
Preparing the UK for the Offshored Economy: Facts, Theory and Policy
A major revolution is occurring in our economic and social life as (i) the information and communication (ICT) revolution continues apace and (ii) new countries join the international trading system. The last decade has witnessed what has been called the "Great Doubling", as the trade-integrated world population has doubled with the opening of China and India to trade. What is unparalleled in human history about this period is the interaction of the two revolutions. ICT now makes it much easier to offshore service sector jobs to workers paid a fraction of what developed country workers earn: with blue and white collar workers alike facing the challenge of competing with lower wages economies. Dr Criscuolo's research aims to describe and analyse these trends, both for the UK and other countries, using previously unavailable detailed official data. She is also building an international network of like-minded scholars.
Holy Ground: The Creation and Desecration of Sacred Space in Medieval Europe
My research examines the cultural and religious significance of the floor-surface in the Middle Ages, with reference to the definition and representation of sacred space, the relationship between art and liturgy, and continuity with the ancient world. Focusing on Western Europe from the eighth to the early thirteenth century, with particular emphasis on Italy, it also considers responses to the practices of previous eras and of neighbouring societies. The study will combine fieldwork and archival research, and employ a range of visual, archaeological, and textual evidence to explore four themes: the role of the unadorned ground in the construction and consecration of sacred buildings; the decorated pavement and related liturgies; conferment of sanctity by the tread of holy individuals; and desecration of holy objects underfoot. By addressing the floor-surface as a whole, I aim to demonstrate how successive layers of decoration and use shaped perceptions of sacred ground.
Principles of Civil Evidence
Dr Dwyer’s research will identify and examine the key principles that underpin civil evidence in English law, and more widely within the Western European legal tradition. The project covers three interrelated areas: first, an examination of the principles that underlie civil expert evidence, as one specific aspect of English civil evidence; secondly, a background study of principles of civil evidence in the Western European legal tradition; thirdly, a detailed study of the principles of English civil evidence. This research will represent a significant and much needed contribution to Evidence scholarship, since most work in England over the last twenty years has focussed on criminal evidence. It will make a similar contribution to the comparative and historical study of European civil evidence, which is of particular broader importance in light of the harmonisation-of-laws provision of Article 65 of the EC Treaty.
The Use of Ideal Theory in Social Justice Debates
Much of the important contemporary work in political philosophy since John Rawls published A Theory of Justice in 1971 has been work in ‘ideal theory’. Though ideal theoretical accounts differ significantly in their methodologies, they are alike in focussing their analytical energies on the nature of a just society, rather than on what the distribution of benefits and burdens in society should look like now, given the resources constraints we face, the electoral preferences of the public, and the costs of political upheaval.
Dr Eddy’s project is a critical study of the use of ideal theory in the contemporary philosophical work on social justice. She aims to provide a systematic investigation of the ways ideal theory is used in social justice debates, to evaluate the reasons for engaging in it, and to raise doubts about the retreat from real-world theorising.
Ontological Controversies in the Twelfth Century: Gilbert of Poitiers, the ‘School of Chartres’ and the Debate on Ontological Particularism
The twelfth century was a time of intense philosophical controversy in the French schools. It centred on both logical and ontological problems, in particular the problem of universals and individuation. Beside the well-known controversy between Peter Abelard and William of Champeaux, there was another controversy between upholders of ontological realism, who admitted the existence of universal entities, and defenders of ontological particularism, for whom everything that exists is particular. This second debate took place in the intellectual context of the "School of Chartres": Thierry of Chartres and Clarembald of Arras strongly opposed the particularist ontology of Gilbert of Poitiers. The conceptual framework for the dispute was provided by Boethius' Opuscula Sacra, on which the participants all wrote commentaries. This project aims to reconstruct the debate through an analysis of the positions taken and a clarification of how the different arguments answer each other.
Standing in for God and Caesar: The Political Lives of Orthodox Monastics in Romania and Serbia
Dr Forbess’s project has three objectives: 1) to produce a longue-durée comparative account of relations between Orthodox Church and state in Romania and Serbia/Montenegro; 2) to explore how monks and nuns exert political influence through their relations with political elites and with the faithful; 3) to document a novel phenomenon occurring within the Serbian Orthodox Church, where monks are striving to safeguard the territorial integrity of the state by re-colonising monasteries in Kosovo and encouraging the return of refugees. Although the ethno-nationalist political agendas of Orthodox Churches are well documented, we know little of how these are enacted in everyday contexts, making if difficult to understand and assess their impact in ethnic and religious conflicts. The political lives of Orthodox monks and nuns constitute an excellent strategic vantage-point from which to explore contestations over power because, within Orthodox Churches, they form an elite whose charismatic reputations translate into a legitimacy that can be politicised.
Normalisation in Mathematics: Elementary Mathematical Terms Are Logical Constants
A fundamental question in the philosophy of mathematics is this: can the same theory we use to explain the logical truths also be used to explain the mathematical truths?
A satisfactory account of even elementary mathematics has, perhaps since Kant and Leibniz, been a philosophical holy grail. One reason for this is that we have a strong intuition that elementary mathematics is just like elementary logic, except that its basic constituents are quantities and orderings rather than propositions. Most modern theories fail to account for this intuition, they have mathematics as either derivable from logic, or a different enterprise altogether (e.g. a convenient fiction or a science of structures).
Dr Gabbay aims to use formal results relating to proof normalisation (a.k.a. harmony) to provide a core of an account of elementary mathematics and logic which, among other things, will resolve the fundamental question above.
The aim is to argue that logic can be founded on a system of proofs and inference rules, and that mathematics can be founded similarly on a system of calculations and manipulation rules.
Counter-Revolution in Comparative Context, c.1787–1815
The project will compare counter-revolutionary ideology and attitudes in Ireland, France and Britain in the era of the French Revolution and Napoleon. It will investigate the ways in which counter-revolutionaries sought to meet the challenges posed by both Revolutionary theory and action in these very different societies. The transfer of ideas among, and the connections between, counter-revolutionaries are of particular interest. Examining these will illuminate how far counter-revolutionaries believed themselves to be engaged in a common European struggle. The research will examine how far local political, social and religious conditions shaped the understanding of universal counter-revolutionary themes such as monarchy, religion and property. In addition to highlighting national differences, the research will explore disagreements within the various countries to reveal counter-revolution as a complex, diverse, and sophisticated movement. The project will contribute to the historiography of counter-revolution at national and international levels.
The Artist as Author: Gauguin’s Literary Strategies
Unlike his paintings, Paul Gauguin’s extensive literary output remains neglected, and in part unpublished. Scholars have dismissed his writing as a subsidiary activity, accepting at face value his denials of literary expertise, and insisting that he derived his aesthetic theories from his literary colleagues. Situating Gauguin’s texts in the context of interdisciplinary rivalries in fin-de-siècle France, this study will argue that Gauguin’s apparent naivety should be understood instead as a deliberate strategy designed to assert painting’s independence from literature. Dr Goddard will reassess Gauguin’s practice of appropriating and repeating fragments of text from a range of sources (usually criticised as plagiarism), comparing it to the manipulation and synthesis of motifs which has long been recognised in his pictorial practice. Questioning the standard view of Gauguin as an unskilled and purely intuitive writer, she will propose that his written work engaged with and contributed to aesthetic debates at the turn of the century.
New Horizons in British Literary Romanticism: A Study of the Accounts of British Travellers in Germany, c.1760–1840
Dr Junod’s project explores Anglo-German literary and cultural relations and focuses on the accounts of British travellers to Germany in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Using manuscript as well as printed travel journals, letters, and sketches (both literary and visual), she will investigate the connections between language and experience emerging from these accounts. Concurrently, her project analyses the ways in which travel literature about Germany was disseminated in Britain, at a time when the German Grand Tour had not yet been transformed into a mass-tourism and collective experience through the publication of the highly popular guidebooks of the Murray and Baedeker firms. Through a close examination of works predating the publication of such tourist guidebooks, Dr Junod aims to refine our understanding of the British mental and physical map of Germany during this period and to investigate the imaginative impact of these travel accounts on British Romantic literature.
Plutarch as a Historian of Philosophy
Plutarch has been widely used as a source for ancient Greek philosophy; yet his philosophical competence and reliability has often been doubted. So far there has been no systematic discussion of Plutarch’s presentation and interpretation of the philosophy of the past in general. The aim of the project is to fill in this gap in classical scholarship by examining and evaluating Plutarch’s method and capacity as a historian of philosophy. Dr Kechagia will explore Plutarch’s techniques of quoting and his readings of past philosophical theories on a number of case studies deriving from different writings (mainly from the Moralia) and focusing on different philosophical themes. Comparisons with Plutarch’s methods as a historian in the Lives will also be applied. Following such an examination Plutarch may well turn out to be not just a source that simply transmits information, but a genuine historian of philosophy who can be seen to make important contributions to our understanding of Greek philosophy.
Bandits, Rebels and State Formation in Early Islam, c.600–c.800CE
This research will investigate the nature and limits of the power of the Islamic ‘state’ in the first two centuries of Islam. Studies of unrest (after Hobsbawm, ‘banditry’) have proved valuable in understanding the dynamics of state power and reactions to it. While acknowledging the great explanatory power of Hobsbawm’s model, this research will seek to identify any features specific to unrest in the early caliphate, as well as its variety, through case-studies of unrest and banditry in regions of Iraq and Iran under the Umayyads and early Abbasids. A necessary preliminary is a survey of the language in which violence is described in the sources. Another, related question is that of discourse about violence: ‘state letters’, poetry and religious tradition reveal a variety of attitudes; the ‘Islamification’ of late-antique ideas about divinely-sanctioned government, and resistance to it, is an important theme, not least in the development of Qur’anic justifications for the treatment of bandits and rebels.
The Impact of Negative Life Events on Children’s Antisocial Behaviour
How negative life events affect delinquent development in different contexts is a key question for future research. Dr Murray will investigate this issue in three studies following children’s lives in England, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The effects of parental imprisonment on children in England will be compared across three generations in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development. Findings from England will be compared with those from a similar study in the Netherlands. Data from a longitudinal-experimental study in Switzerland (Z-proso) will be used to investigate how individual and family factors can protect children from the effects of negative life events. Finally, the effects of parent and school-based prevention programmes in Switzerland will be evaluated. This programme of research will considerably advance understanding of the conditions under which negative life events contribute to delinquency, and what can be done to protect children who experience negative life events.
The Glass Industry of Mycenaean Greece: Technology, Production and Economy at Palatial Thebes and Beyond, c.1400–1200BC
An interdisciplinary investigation of glass technology and production within the economic context of palatial Thebes and the sites under its influence aims to provide a model for the Mycenaean glass industry. Compositional and isotopic analysis of glass from Thebes and contemporary Mycenaean sites in east central Greece will determine and provenance the raw materials involved in glass manufacture. The results will illustrate the modes of palatial glass production and its distribution to consumption sites. Exploitation of natural resources, patterns of exchange in glass objects and raw glass, and technology transfer will be explored within international trade network and diplomacy in the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean. Given the rarity of prehistoric industrial remains of glass production, models for the operation of the Theban glass industry will be invaluable in prehistoric archaeology and in glass studies in the Old World. This is the first time such research using glass analyses will be carried out in the Bronze Age Mediterranean world.
From ‘Tradition’ to ‘Modernity’: Symbolism and Ritual in the Political Culture of the Ethiopian Empire, 1850s–1930s
This project aims to examine continuity and change in the process leading to the emergence of Ethiopia’s modern political culture. Ethiopia occupies a unique position in the history of the continent as the only African state to maintain its independence in the era of European colonial conquest. Yet its transition to modernity remains a surprisingly unexplored topic. Dr Orlowska aspires to reconstruct historically how this indigenous empire evolved as it moved into a wider geographic, ethnic and economic context.
The project focuses on the importance of meaning encoded in symbolic forms. Dr Orlowska plans to analyse the vital period between the 1850s and 1930s to explore the evolution in rituals of state and the application of historic symbols of power and legitimacy. These were often invoked in the pageantry of political ritual. Examining the performative aspect of imperial ceremonies will allow her to see how ritual was adopted and reinvented in the decades under discussion. The project will involve analysis of the substantial body of indigenous literature as well as visual images of Ethiopian art.
The Evolutionary Plausibility of the Simpler Syntax Hypothesis: Biological and Cultural Roles
Language sets humans apart from all other species. In investigating this unique capacity, two questions are primary: Why is language the way it is? Why do only humans have language? Linguistic theory has typically failed to recognise the importance of evolutionary considerations in answering these questions. This project will examine both the biological and cultural evolutionary processes impacting on these questions, taking as a starting point a picture of language as a system of form-meaning mappings ranging from completely general grammatical rules to completely idiosyncratic lexical items. The biological evolutionary plausibility of such a view will be investigated by determining how close to typically evolving natural systems it is, while its cultural evolutionary plausibility will be investigated using iterated learning experiments which explore the social transmission of language.
The Internal Organization of Firms and Governments
In recent years organizations have experienced profound transformations, typically in the direction of more teamwork, shorter chains of command and greater reliance on incentive pay and information sharing. Motivated by these facts, this project aims to investigate theoretically how the design of an organization interacts with key aspects of its management, in particular training decisions, the ability of the organization to innovate, and accountability.
The project consists of three parts. The first will examine how organizations should jointly determine their internal structure and promotion and training policies. For instance, as the number of levels in a firm (optimally) decreases, should the firm provide more training to its best employees or to low-achievers? The second part of the project will consider how firms should design communication protocols ('employee conduct rules') to protect their knowledge from expropriation. Finally, the project will examine the issues of incentives, accountability and "blame shifting" in government.
The Medieval Italian Leagues (12th–16th Centuries)
The political history of the northern half of Italy between the 12th and the 16th centuries is usually portrayed as an evolution from autonomous cities, and then city-based lordships, into the Renaissance regional states developed by the most powerful of them. My postdoctoral research instead will reconsider the role of leagues, such as the Lombard, Guelf, Ghibelline and Italian leagues, which are largely understudied. They are usually dismissed as temporary and ever-changing military alliances, but a closer examination reveals that at least some of them were regional entities with governing bodies, which also fostered economic co-operation and peaceful resolution of disputes. Some leagues had also leading roles in the creation of the regional states. The project will also examine the link between these regional associations and identities, including the Italian one. Its sources include the records of these associations, but also contemporary iconography, and historical, political and juridical treatises.
Touching Literature: A Reading of Emotion in Narrative since 1939
Dr Ratcliffe’s project explores how writers have thought about feeling, producing an account of the changing relationship between fiction, emotion and morality in the last sixty years. She will focus most closely on novels by Joyce, Golding, Pynchon, Beckett and Martin Amis, who approach the idea of literary sentiment in a particularly complex and allusive way. Films, music, visual art and bestselling genre fiction of the period will also be examined. Drawing on recent work in the fields of sociology, neurophysiology and psychology, Touching Literature aims to expand the terms in which literary critics have thought about emotion and to demonstrate the extent to which our perceptions of feeling are themselves shaped by fictions. Seeking to show how approaches to questions of emotion have changed during the twentieth century, Dr Ratcliffe also intends to locate shared conceptions of emotion through time. Ultimately, the book resulting from this research will offer a significant contribution to the study of ethics, narrative and cognition.
Informal Justice in India: Actors’ Perspectives in Violence Against Women Cases
Dr. Relis’ research will examine the role of informal justice in human rights violation cases of violence against women in India through professional, lay and gendered participants’ understandings, perceptions and experiences (plaintiffs/victims, defendants, [legal] representatives, mediators). Drawing upon fieldwork in different locations in India, where such cases often undergo informal justice mediations, the research will explore through predominantly qualitative, partly ethnographic methods how, if at all, international human rights norms (e.g. those enshrined in CEDAW) have permeated informal justice processing of these cases at grass roots levels, how informal justice mediations ‘work’, the theoretical ideas that inform these processes (e.g. restorative justice, human rights) and how these ideas are understood by those on the ground. Actors’ understandings of disputes, objectives for and perceptions of mediations and mediators, and what underlies them will also be examined. The findings will be placed within the context of existing discourses around informal justice, international human rights norms, and the debate on universalism versus cultural relativism, merging insights from these literatures.
The Shock of the Old: Modernism and Greek Tragedy
This research project is intended to be the first comprehensive study of the modernist reception of Greek tragedy, from Freud to Fascism, within the specific time frame 1890-1939. The study will be international and interdisciplinary in scope, and consider instances of direct and indirect classical influences on modernist culture. The aim is to produce an original monograph that will add significantly to the existing field of classical reception studies a closely argued demonstration of the ways in which Greek tragedy has been received by succeeding generations and thereby shaped the history of ideas. One specific line of inquiry which Dr Riley proposes to develop in The Shock of the Old, and which will provide her research with a cohesive focus, is how the modernist fascination with Greek myth informed the period’s new and pervasive sense of the instability of the self and the universe – a crisis of faith and identity separately diagnosed by Hofmannsthal (in Ein Brief) and T. S. Eliot (in Four Quartets) as a ‘slipping’ or ‘sliding’.
Economies of Ethnicity: Material, Visual and Oral Cultures and the Formation of Ethnic Identities in the Burmese Colonial and Postcolonial State
Since independence Burma has experienced endemic ethnic conflict. The state recognises 13 ethnic ‘families’ and marginalises alternative narratives of identity. Interactions between colonial and postcolonial practices of ‘othering’ continue to exacerbate conflict and create disjuncture in the historical representation of ethnic groups. Authentication of indigenous identities lacking textual traditions is problematized by reliance on colonial texts, historicist models of Christian conversion, militarization, and the internalisation of exonyms in cultural discourse. Dr Sadan's research addresses the historical process of ethnic reification by examining the temporal, spatial, demographic and cultural complexities that underpin ethnic categories. Attaching significance to cognitive as well as political histories, it will be a multi-disciplinary study of the role that oral, visual and material cultures play in the formulation, negotiation and articulation of identities over time. New understandings of historical ‘ethnicity’ in Southeast Asia will be developed, as will better understandings of this entrenched ethnic conflict.
Evaluation of Paradigms for Assessing Individual Differences in, and Validating Trait Measures of, Reward-Reactivity
Converging research in personality postulates a major trait dimension based upon individual differences in bio-behavioural reactions to reward. Unfortunately, the operationalisation and measurement of this dimension has proved extremely difficult due to a lack of clear paradigms for assessing reward-reactivity. Recent paradigms emerging from cognitive neuroscience research may potentially assist personality psychologists with this problem. First, it has been shown that some forms of category-learning depend upon the neural circuitry which processes reward events (Ashby et al., 1998). Second, recent electroencephalogram research assessing neural activity following rewarding events has identified a possible temporal signature of reward-reactivity (Potts, Martin, Burton & Montague, 2006). Third, certain gene polymorphisms have been linked with the density of neurons which respond to reward (Richie & Noble, 1996, 2003). Luke Smillie will evaluate these potential behavioural, neural and genetic paradigms for assessing reward-reactivity, and then use these paradigms to validate and revise existing trait measures of reward-reactivity.
Tudor Diplomatic Culture
In the sixteenth century English diplomacy developed to incorporate permanent embassies at foreign courts for the first time. Tudor diplomacy expanded from a series of ceremonial occasions into a sustained social and political activity. This project will trace the consequent developments in English diplomatic practice over the course of a ‘long’ sixteenth century, as well as the effects of two issues particularly pertinent to the English context: female monarchy and state Protestantism, both of which were inherently problematic, at least initially, for English diplomats. It will consider English Ambassadors’ methodology, including the instructions and equipment they were given, information gathering and notions of civility and courtly behaviour. The intellectual contacts of diplomats and their role in the transmission of technologies and social, political and religious ideas to and from England will also be analysed to elicit the true significance of this important manifestation of political culture.
From Deixis to Anaphora: A One-Way Development?
Dr Stavinschi aims to challenge the common view that anaphoric uses of demonstratives necessarily derive from exophoric ones. This will be done through (i) a detailed examination from a theoretical viewpoint of the development of Latin IPSE into a deictic, and (ii) a close analysis of changes in the adverbial systems. In Italo- and Ibero-Romance the adverbs, while developing more slowly than the adnominal-pronominal demonstratives, follow totally independent but strikingly similar pathways. Unlike IPSE'S transformation (prior to the earliest Romance texts), the development of second-person adverbs must have occurred during the well-attested Romance period, since the medieval forms are seemingly anaphors. A thorough analysis of later material will provide an excellent base for identifying the mechanisms underlying these changes, while the double investigation proposed will contribute crucial evidence to the much debated issue of directionality in grammaticalization.
The Epistemology and Metaphysics of Animal Communication
On standard ethological views, animals influence the behaviour of other individuals by communicating semantic information. This may be information about the sender’s fighting ability, about predators, and so on. However, both the nature of semantic information and its attribution to biological features raise substantial philosophical difficulties. One of the epistemological challenges is to define suitable criteria for attributing semantic content to animal traits. Some criteria found in scientific practice, such as heuristic value or the availability of informational descriptions, seem compatible with non-informational explanations of animal communication, and might therefore be inadequate. Among the metaphysical challenges is the need to supplement informational theories of animal behaviour with a satisfactory account of semantic content. This is a challenge because prominent philosophical theories of content do not appear to apply easily to animal signals.
Apart from clarifying conceptual issues specific to theories of animal communication, this project pursues two broader philosophical goals. The first is a naturalistic account of rule-following, which should be of wider applicability. The second goal is to establish animal signals as a test case for naturalistic theories of content and to assess existent theories in this light.
Josse Bade (Ascensius): The Uses of Humanist Commentaries in the Renaissance
The project will focus on the output of the prolific humanist printer and scholar Josse Bade (Badius Ascensius), whose editions and commentaries, chiefly of Latin works, had a wide distribution in sixteenth-century Europe. Bade’s output marked an important stage in the transitional period between medieval and humanist pedagogy and scholarship. Bade wrote Latin commentaries on works by almost all of the canonical poets of Roman antiquity (including Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Juvenal, Persius and Lucan), along with many of the major rhetorical theorists, philosophers and historians. The comprehensiveness of his commentary work and the consistency of his approach to pedagogy make Bade’s work an excellent starting point for an investigation into the uses of Latin language commentaries. This project will set the commentaries both in the context of humanist education and of the broader cultural function they served: providing models for rhetoric, moral philosophy and the writing of literature, and perspectives on ancient history and mythology.
Talking About One’s Own Language
Dr Whittle will investigate the extent to which one can talk about the truth of the sentences of one’s own language, or about the truth of the sentences of all languages. He will focus on generalizations about truth—either about one’s own language or about all of them. Though apparently unproblematic and essential to philosophy, existing accounts deem these to be (by and large) inexpressible. Dr Whittle’s account will explain how they can be true despite their apparently circular nature: if one makes a generalization about the truth of the sentences of one’s language (e.g.), then it is in part about its own truth—and so might be thought to be defective as ‘This sentence is not true’ is. Part of this account will be a formal theory of truth using a modification of the technique of supervaluations.
This work will be extended to other concepts that raise similar issues: knowledge, belief, provability and necessity. The resulting account of provability will allow a reassessment of the philosophical significance of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.