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The Australian National University

2010 ARC Grants

ARC projects 2010


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.


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.


Benefiting from Injustice
Prof RE Goodin (RSSS, ANU); Dr. CH Barry (RSSS, ANU); Dr. GE Overland (CAPPE/Oslo); Dr. L Ypi (LSE)
2011 : $100,000
2012 : $100,000
2013 : $109,000

Do people have duties to address injustices arising from the fact that they are benefiting from them or have benefited from them in the past? This project investigates the quite different ways in which people and groups can be said to benefit from injustice, and the distinct moral reasons that beneficiaries of injustice have to address the harms suffered by the victims of injustice. We also explore the implications of our findings for thinking about key areas of public concern—policies regarding the treatment of former colonies and indigenous populations of colonized territories, international trade, and climate change.


Knowledge of Consciousness (ARC Future Fellowship)
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.


The Responsibilities of the Affluent to Address Global Poverty
Dr. CH Barry (RSSS, ANU); Dr. GE Overland (CAPPE/Oslo); Prof. Thomas Pogge (CAPPE/Yale)
2009 : $79,000
2010 : $90,000
2011 : $120,000

In this project we will investigate the duties of people in wealthy countries to address global poverty. Two principles are commonly invoked in support of the view that we—the affluent in the developed world-—have weighty moral reasons (heretofore referred to as ‘responsibilities’) to address global poverty. The first is based on the idea that because the poor are in severe need and we are in a position to alleviate such need at moderate cost, we have responsibilities to do so—the principle of assistance. The second is based on the idea that because the poor are in severe need and we have contributed or are contributing to their need we have responsibilities to alleviate it—the principle of contribution. The aim of this project is to explore the meaning, moral significance, and some practical implications of these two principles.


Belief singular versus beliefs plural
Prof FC Jackson (RSSS, ANU); Dr D Braddon-Mitchell (Sydney); Prof PR Godfrey-Smith (Princeton)
2006 : $60,000
2007 : $35,000
2008 : $35,000
2009 : $55,000
2010 : $25,000

Research on the brain and how it represents the environment has the potential to reconfigure our ordinary conceptions of belief and rationality. This project explores the impact of the changes and their implications.


The Objects of Probabilities
Prof AR Hajek (RSSS, ANU)
2010 : $ 93,000 

2011 : $ 94,000

2012 : $ 96,000

Probabilities impact almost every aspect of our lives. Actuaries calculate probabilities of property loss due to bushfires, while climatologists warn that such probabilities will increase alarmingly. Probabilities abound in engineering, medicine, the law, the sciences and social sciences, and much philosophy. Yet we lack a proper understanding of the kinds of things that receive probabilities: the objects of probabilities. This project will provide such understanding. It will rethink the foundations of probability and decision theory, with potential ramifications for the philosophy, science, and public policy that are based on these theories. It thus aims to strengthen Australia's research profile and international standing in these areas.


Evolvability and the Evolution of Complexity
Prof K Sterelny (RSSS, ANU); Dr B Calcott (RSSS, ANU)
2010 : $ 91,70
2011 : $ 86,000
2012 : $ 89,000
Anyone engaging in a moment's reflection on the striking richness, diversity, and complexity of the biological world is faced with the question: how did it get here? Though natural selection is central to answering this question, important new work has identified various conditions that make some lineages of organisms "evolvable": capable of changing in ways that radically expand the range of further possible changes. This project will clarify and integrate these various conditions using empirical examples and simple models. The resulting work from this project will provide a clearer general understanding of what biological complexity is, and how science has compelling candidates for understanding how it evolves.


Updated: 21 January 2011/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School / Page Contact:  Web Publisher