Graduate Students Dmitri Gallow, Bryan Parkhurst, and Dan Peterson have been awarded Rackham Predoctoral Fellowships for 2013-14. Rackham Predoctoral Fellowships are extremely competitive and prestigious. The Fellowship supports outstanding doctoral students who have achieved candidacy and are actively working on dissertation research and writing. It provides awardees with a stipend for three terms of support, candidacy tuition, registration fees and health and dental coverage. Dmitri, Bryan and Dan will be honored at reception held at Rackham in April. Please join us in congratulating this great achievement.

Dmitri Gallow: AOS: Philosophy of Science, Epistemology, Metaphysics

Dissertation Title: The Emergence of Causation
Dissertation Abstract:
Several philosophers have expressed sympathy with a view which I, following Menzies (1988), call causal reductionism. This is the thesis that events picked out by coarse-grained descriptions—like, e.g., ‘Chris’s smoking’ and ‘Chris’s contraction of lung cancer’—are causally related if the events picked out by the corresponding fine-grained descriptions—e.g., the maximally specific fundamental physical descriptions of Chris’s smoking and his contraction of cancer—are causally related. I dub the denial of causal reductionism causal emergentism. In the dissertation, I offer a defense of causal emergentism and explore some related issues having to do with structural equations models.

Bryan Parkhurst: AOS: Aesthetics, Music Theory

IIDP student in Music Theory & Philosophy
Dissertation Title: Listening to Reason: Philosophical Encounters with Music and Music TheoryDissertation Abstract:
My dissertation is a three-part essay on the various ways in which the philosophical notions of necessity bear on our thinking and theorizing about music.

Part One is a philosophical justification of a music-theoretical claim. Schenker maintains that tonal “masterworks” possess necessity: these pieces couldn’t have been other than they are, and their parts stand in law-like relations with one another. I offer a rational reconstruction of this assertion and a philosophical defense of Schenker’s position that draws on the ideas of mechanical and organic explanation developed in Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment.

In Part Two, I flesh out two conceptions of freedom as it pertains to music composition: roughly, freedom from the constraints of musical rules (negative freedom), as contrasted with freedom as the self-directed imposition of certain kinds of compositional strictures. I use the writings of Schoenberg and Schenker (representatives of the negative and positive views of musical freedom, respectively) to address the question of what kind of aesthetic necessities composers are bound by, or bind themselves by.

Drawing on the works of Hegel and the music theorists Hauptmann and Riemann (the chief proponents of music-theoretical "logicism,") Part Three explains what it could mean to say that music has its own logic. This permits me to address the question of whether certain musical choices can be said to be rationally compelled, and whether music is therefore subject to rational criticism.

Dan Peterson: AOS: Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Time, Epistemology, Metaphysics

Dissertation Title: Prospects for a New Account of Time Reversal
Dissertation Abstract:
Recent literature concerning the symmetry of time reversal has left unclear both what this symmetry is and what physical theories are invariant under it. In this dissertation, I argue that to understand how time reversal transforms physical states, we should seek out symmetry transformations that meet minimal criteria of time reversal-hood under which all of the fundamental physical laws are invariant. If there is a unique transformation that emerges from this procedure, that transformation may be properly called time reversal. I apply my methodology to model worlds governed by various differential equations and examine the consequences of my account in each world. In the final section, I discuss what failures of time reversal invariance in the fundamental laws tell us about the nature of spacetime and conclude that two prima facie promising arguments for a connection between temporally asymmetric features of the laws and spacetime are not promising.