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STATEMENT OF TEACHING AND RESEARCH INTERESTS Benjamin Bayer I have long seen teaching as an ideal mechanism for clarifying my own understanding of philosophy. Having the responsibility to explain an abstract theory to laymen always forces one to understand it better. For this reason my plan is to develop a series of courses that are both informed by and complementary to my research. Of course I am also willing and able to teach courses outside of my area of specialization. I find that the opportunity to teach such courses forces me to acquire a broader philosophical vocabulary which is itself complementary to my current research. As an example, I would cite my recent effort at teaching environmental ethics. Though this course was not part of my usual repertoire, it prompted me to begin thinking again about the questions in ethical theory that got me interested in philosophy in the first place. Now I am contemplating a number of new papers in this area (see below), even though my previous research has been in epistemology. I wrote my dissertation on Quine and naturalized epistemology, which is a question in contemporary epistemology. Although the dissertation was largely polemical, it also emphasized that the most important matters of contention in the debate over naturalism cannot be settled without first resolving traditional questions about perception and abstraction, particularly from the early modern period. For this reason I was delighted to have the opportunity to develop a historically-oriented introductory-level courses for both Loyola of Chicago last fall, and at Colorado College this past fall. In the future, I want to develop similar courses which approach select topics (such as philosophy of perception and the theory of concepts) in a similar way. The final chapter of my dissertation contains a section on foundationalism vs. anti- foundationalism which I have now expanded into an independent paper, developing a version of foundationalism which incorporates empirical research on perception and concept-formation. In the coming year, I am interested in building on my view of foundationalism. First, I would like to examine how my approach resolves questions about inductive reasoning, particularly insofar as it implies that concepts abstracted from perception themselves amount to primitive inductive generalizations. Second, I would like to begin to revisit connections between a foundational epistemology of concepts and a theory of value concepts (especially as conditioned by sensations of pleasure and pain). When I’ve developed these projects in more detail, the findings should provide ample material for good philosophy of science and ethical theory courses. Generally speaking, I would approach the development of other courses from the perspective of an epistemologist (see examples in my attached proposed syllabi). Although the history of 20th century analytic philosophy is usually approached as the history of the philosophy of language, I would try to place the linguistic turn in the context of wider questions about consciousness that were debated at the beginning of the 20th century (as between Frege and Husserl). In metaphysics, I would try to emphasize how the problem of universals—closely connected to the problem of concepts—influences a variety of other metaphysical problems (concerning change, identity, causality, and modality). In philosophy of mind, I would approach the question of the relationship between the mental and the physical as one of applied epistemology (philosophy of science) as I did in my dissertation: the question of what kind of identity is supposed to exist between them, and whether it is supposedly grasped a priori or through empirical and/or pragmatic means.
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