Research grants


Members of the Philosophy Program became eligible to apply for competitive grants awarded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) in 2002. Below is a list of all ARC grants held by Program members and administered within the Program. Lists of earlier grants are maintained in the archives. Additional ARC grants are held in conjunction with scholars from other academic departments and universities. Full details of all ARC grants with which Program members are associated can be obtained by contacting the Program's Administrator.

Current ARC projects

2019 ARC Discovery Grant
Trust in a Social and Digital World

Dr Colin Klein & Dr. Mark Alfano (Delft / ACU Melbourne) 

Distinguishing on-line information from disinformation can be difficult. This epistemological task can be greatly assisted by networks of trusted peers, but figuring out who to trust is itself a challenge. Identifying, designing, and facilitating networks of trust is therefore an urgent task. This project constitutes the first attempt to offer a systematic and empirically-informed account of the way networks facilitate or hinder knowledge. By using the tools of social epistemology, virtue epistemology, and network science, we will identify how individuals should distribute their trust when embedded in epistemically hostile environments.

2018 ARC Future Fellowships
Feasibility in politics: Taking account of groups and institutions

Dr Nicholas Southwood

This project aims to research feasibility in politics. Normative political discourse is pervaded by the use of claims about what is feasible and infeasible. The project will examine feasibility practices, the functions they serve, what is required to serve the functions effectively, how actual practices stack up, and how to improve them. It will fuse philosophical and empirical analysis; encompass three salient case studies (immigration, poverty and climate change); and engage practitioners, commentators and ordinary citizens. The project intends to inform the development of just and effective immigration, poverty and climate change policy, reflecting a better understanding of the role of feasibility in politics.

2018 ARC Future Fellowships
A Buddhist challenge to Western conceptions of logic

Dr Koji Tanaka

This project aims to advance and defend a theory about the nature of logic and rationality. The project will draw on Buddhist logic texts and demonstrate their relevance to contemporary Western debates about the nature of logic. It seeks to show that a Buddhist theory of logic can challenge widely-entrenched but unexamined Western conceptions of the nature of logic. The project is expected to advance intellectual engagement between Buddhist and Western philosophers, bring attention to texts and theories not currently available to the Western philosophical world, and demonstrate the importance of a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to global philosophy.

2018 Discovery Grant
Ethics, Responsibility and the Carbon Budget

Prof. Christian Barry
Total funding: $356,926.00

In order to avoid dangerous climate change the world must drastically limit its emissions of greenhouse gases. The aim of this project will be to provide a rigorous ethical framework for dividing the world’s remaining ‘carbon budget’ (CB). The project will develop a new analysis of how our assumptions concerning risk and harm shape our conception of the CB. It will also provide a new understanding of how future emission rights should be allocated given that countries have emitted vastly different quantities of GHGs in the past. Crucially, the project will analyse how the CB will impact the climate transition plans of countries such as Australia. The project will thus bring significant new research in philosophy to bear on a practical issue.

2018 Discovery Early Career Researcher Award for funding
Buddhist Meta-Ethics and Moral Psychology

Dr Bronwyn Finnigan
Project ID: DE180100001
Total funding: $383,183.00

The project aims to investigate the meta-ethical and moral psychological foundations of Buddhist ethical thought. It will critically analyse the theoretical differences between Buddhist philosophical traditions as they bear on ethics, and reveal a plurality of theoretical grounds on which Western thinkers can embrace Buddhist insights. The project is expected to advance intellectual engagement between Buddhist and Western ethicists, to contribute to current research at the intersection of Buddhism and science, and to demonstrate the importance of a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to global philosophy.

2018 Discovery Early Career Researcher Award for funding
Making More Effective Groups: A Philosophical and Empirical Examination

Dr Matt Kopec
Total funding: $357,007.00

This project will be an interdisciplinary examination of how groups can make better judgements and decisions, using theoretical tools from philosophy and empirical results from the social, behavioural, economic, and organisational sciences. The project first aims to devise and defend a normative framework for understanding group rationality that accords well with a range of empirical fields, and then to use the most salient and secure results from these empirical fields to devise concrete guidelines that various groups can use to improve the quality of their enquiries and decisions. The end goal is for real-world groups in healthcare, business, and government to adopt these strategies, thus improving the judgements and decisions they make.

2017 Discovery Projects
Ethics and risk

Dr Seth Lazar; Professor Frank Jackson; Professor Alan Hajek; Professor Philip Pettit; Associate Professor Katie Steele; Professor Lara Buchak

This project aims to develop a theory of risk. From the extreme to the everyday, from warfare to the drive to work, the modern world is unimaginable without mutual imposition of risk. Philosophers must explain how risks can be justified, or risk irrelevance. This project will use the tools of ethics (the study of right and wrong action) and decision theory (the study of rational decision-making under uncertainty) to develop a comprehensive theory of the ethics of risk. This project is expected to improve understanding of the risks people impose on others as individuals and as a society.

2017 Discovery Projects
The language of consciousness

Professor Daniel Stoljar; Professor David Chalmers

This project aims to study language used to describe states of consciousness. It will bring the machinery of modern philosophy of language and linguistics to bear on semantic, syntactic and pragmatic aspects of the language of consciousness, as it is used both every day and in the technical contexts of the philosophy and science of consciousness. The project expects to fill a gap in philosophical and scientific study of consciousness, widely regarded both inside and outside the academy as a major test case for contemporary knowledge.

Completed ARC Projects 


2015 Discovery Projects
Gendered Excellence in Social Sciences

Dr F K Jenkins, Dr H Keane, Em/Prof M Sawer, Dr C A Donovan
2015: $157,470.00
2016: $127,500.00
2017: $112,544.00

Gender equity has still not been realised, despite decades of activism, policy and research. In some of the social sciences women make up less than 15% of the professoriate. Yet these are the disciplines that should most aid our understanding of how gender works in society. The project asks what impact women’s limited influence and status in these key fields of research has upon our capacity to grapple with the social and political changes necessary for progress toward gender equality. In doing so, it builds persuasive arguments about how and why gender matters in the social sciences. By examining how we judge excellence in social science research, the project will contribute to advancing women in all fields.

2014 Discovery Projects
The Demands of Reason

Dr Nicholas Southwood (ANU), Prof P N Pettit (ANU), Dr V McGeer (ANU, Princeton), Prof J Broome (Oxford)
2014: $44,000.00
2015: $54,000.00
2016: $68,000.00

We may reason well or badly, depending on whether we satisfy two kinds of demands. We must register all and only relevant considerations. And we must respond correctly to them. But ‘the demands of reason’, as we call them, remain inadequately understood. Drawing on work from philosophy, psychology, political and legal theory, and the social sciences, this project aims to investigate the nature, power and reach of reason’s demands. It aims to shed light on what they are; whether they have the positive transformative power attributed to them by enlightenment thinkers; and whether they can be adduced to explain the nature and origin of other important normative demands, such as the demands of morality, prudence and law.

2014 Future Fellowship
Changing your mind by changing your brain: An interventionist perspective on cognitive neuroscience.

Dr Colin Klein
PROJECT ID: FT140100422
Total funding: 135,959.29

By exploring the philosophical foundations of functional brain imaging, this research will clarify the theoretical and ethical implications of both neuroimaging and technologies for direct brain intervention. It will provide practical guidance for working scientists, and ethical recommendations for policymakers, health providers,and the public.

2013 Australian Laureate Fellowship
The Origins of Inequality, hierarchy, and Social Complexity

Prof K Sterelny
2013: $197,961.00
2014: $409,322.00
2015: $422,722.00
2016: $416,197.00
2017: $377,670.50
2018: $172,884.50

The aim of this project is to explain the social contract — the cooperative foundations of human social life — and the survival of that contract as elites and social complexity emerged from the egalitarian and intimate lives of Pleistocene foragers about 10,000 years ago. The project will identify the evolutionary, social and cognitive mechanisms that made the million year long history of human cooperation possible, examine its limits and failures, and will explore the normative upshot of this million year history of human social life.

Updated:  25 March 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications