Department of Philosophy Graduate Projects

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Projects submitted by graduate students in fulfillment of their graduate degree requirements in philosophy.

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    Ontological and Ecological Change in Canadian Environmental Policy: Agency of the Other-Than Human, Settler Allyship, and the Centering of Indigenous Philosophies Through Attention to Anishinaabe Relationality
    (2024) Howe, Zephyr Sianna
    This thesis addresses practical applications of indigenous ontologies to promote decolonial views of animal and plant agency regarding issues relating to Canada’s role in the climate crisis. As a Canadian settler scholar, this author aims to contribute to literature that challenges western logic systems and instead centers indigenous ontological theories of being which provide a framework with which to view the agency of the other-than-human without adhering to the ontological limitations of western philosophy. Specific materials examined focus on themes of: Anishnaabe ontology, indigenous water governance, indigenous land claims, moral obligations towards participating in the creation of decolonial futures, and the animacy and agency of the other-than-human. I add to this ongoing discussion that Canada has a moral obligation to approach the settler-caused climate crisis through a lens of indigenous ontology and logic systems, while striving for decolonial futures. Current approaches to issues of climate change are driven by a conceptualization of agency of the non-human dominated by colonial logic systems and philosophies; this is a failure of Canadian politics and academia to put in the sufficient effort to decolonize Canadian public policy. I argue that the only acceptable path for Canadian environmental politics is one which centers indigenous knowledge, and peoples, within Canada.
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    Wittgenstein and the Appeal to Our Practices
    (2010-09-27T15:51:19Z) Howe, Kathleen Ann
    In On Certainty, Wittgenstein repeatedly responds to an imagined sceptic by appealing to our everyday expressions of knowledge, doubt, and certainty, thereby showing the sceptic's use of these expressions to flout common practice. Where the sceptic would raise doubts, we ordinarily would not blink an eye. The sceptic's words, despite their resemblance to our own, should not be mistaken for ours—in the sorts of context in which she utters them, they do not clearly express anything. Against the backdrop of ordinary use, this argument against the sceptic appears incisive. However, such ordinary use is precisely the sceptic's target. She aims to show that we are unwarranted in our epistemic conduct. If Wittgenstein means to refute scepticism, his appeal to our epistemic practices cannot stand on its own. It may well be that the sceptic disregards their bounds, but unless it can be shown that they so stand to reality as to warrant what we do, as to in fact produce knowledge, any appeal to them comes to nothing. In the following thesis, I will argue that Wittgenstein need not substantiate this relation between our epistemic practices and reality, for with this appeal to our practices, he intends not to refute the sceptic but to transform her claim into something with which we can and do live. In the first chapter, I provide a more detailed account of the thesis's subject and structure. In the second, I present Wittgenstein's response to scepticism in On Certainty and the apparent difficulty it runs into. In the third, I turn to Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations as a parallel problematic from which we can draw insight. In the fourth, I consider two readings of the rule-following considerations that attempt to avoid the parallel problem of substantiating the relation between our practices and reality and argue that having forgone this relation all together, neither is tenable against scepticism. In the final, I argue for parallel readings of the rule-following considerations and On Certainty that, while dependent on a certain relation between our practices and reality, hold that substantiating this relation is something we need not do.