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Practicing Relevance: The Origins, Practices, and Future of Applied Philosophy

Description: This dissertation takes up the question of the social function of philosophy. Popular accounts of the nature and value of philosophy reinforce long-standing perceptions that philosophy is useless or irrelevant to pressing societal problems. Yet, the increasingly neoliberal political-economic environment of higher education places a premium on mechanisms that link public funding for research to demonstrations of return on investment in the form of benefitting broader society. This institutional situation presents a philosophical problem warranting professional attention. This project offers a diagnosis of the problem and develops a way forward from it. Drawing from Foucauldian archaeological methods, my analysis focuses on the interplay of institutional structures and intellectual practices. Since the early 20th century, departments of philosophy on college and university campuses have been the center of gravity for professional philosophy in the US. Establishing this institutional ‘home' for philosophers drove the adoption of disciplinary practices, norms, and standards for inquiry. But the metaphilosophical assumptions underpinning disciplinarity have become problematic, I argue: they are poor guides for navigating the situation of higher education in the 21st century. Several movements within the profession of philosophy during the 1960s and 70s sought to reverse philosophers' general retreat from public affairs. Applied philosophy, environmental philosophy, and bioethics each offer a case study in attempts to address the problem of societal relevance. However, surveys of the journal literature in each field uncovered few reflections on whether or not individual projects, or the field as a whole, had any impact on the societal problems to which those philosophers turned their attention. This suggests a need for further thinking about implementation – how to institutionalize alternative practices of philosophy that do demonstrate societal relevance. By way of conclusion, I offer some of the necessary groundwork toward a philosophy of implementation, in the form of discussing significant …
Date: May 2017
Creator: Barr, Kelli Ray
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Comparison of the Educational Philosophies of Pragmatism and Essentialism and their Effects on Education

Description: The purpose of this study was to make an appraisal of the educational philosophies, pragmatism and essentialism, and their effects upon the aims, methods, and curriculum of education. No effective effort was made to branch off into the many philosophical ramifications of the question, but the practical aspects of each philosophy were studied in order to determine how it has influenced education.
Date: 1942
Creator: Womack, Vera
Partner: UNT Libraries

Environmental Philosophy and the Ethics of Terraforming Mars: Adding the Voices of Environmental Justice and Ecofeminism to the Ongoing Debate

Description: Questions concerning the ethics of terraforming Mars have received some attention from both philosophers and scientists during recent decades. A variety of theoretical approaches have been supplied by a number of authors, however research pursuant to this thesis has indicated at least two major blindspots in the published literature on the topic. First, a broad category of human considerations involving risks, dangers, and social, political, and economic inequalities that would likely be associated with efforts to terraform Mars have been woefully overlooked in the published literature to date. I attempt to rectify that oversight by employing the interpretive lens of environmental justice to address questions of environmental colonialism, equality in terms of political participation and inclusion in decision making structures, risks associated with technological progressivism, and responses to anthropogenic climate change. Only by including the historically marginalized and politically disenfranchised "voices," of both humans and nonhumans, can any future plan to terraform Mars be deemed ethical, moral or just according to the framework provided by environmental justice. Furthermore, broader political inclusion of this sort conforms to what ecofeminist author Val Plumwood calls the "intentional recognition stance" and provides an avenue through which globally societies can include nonanthropocentric considerations in decision making frameworks both for questions of terraforming Mars and also for a more local, contemporary set of environmental issues. The second blindspot I seek to correct concerns motivations for attempting terraforming on Mars previously inadequately philosophically elaborated in the published discourse. Specifically, the nonanthropocentric considerations postulated in the second chapter by various authors writing about terraforming, and elaborated in third with regard to environmental justice, reach their culmination in an ecofeminist ethic of care, sustainability, reproduction, and healthy growth which I uniquely elaborate based on a metaphorical similarity to the relationship between a gardener and a garden. Although at first …
Date: August 2013
Creator: French, Robert Heath
Partner: UNT Libraries

Art Unfettered: Bergson and a Fluid Conception of Art

Description: This dissertation applies philosopher Henri Bergson's methodology and his ideas of duration and creativity to the definitional problem of art, particularly as formulated within analytic aesthetics. In mid-20th century, analytic aesthetics rejected essentialist definitions of art, but within a decade, two predominant definitions of art emerged as answers to the anti-essentialism of the decade prior: functionalism and proceduralism. These two definitions define art, respectively, in terms of the purpose that art serves and in terms of the conventions in place that confer the status of art onto artifacts. Despite other important definitions (including historical and intentionalist definitions), much of the literature in the analytic field of aesthetics center on the functional/procedural dichotomy, and this dichotomy is an exclusive one insofar as the two definitions appear incompatible with each other when it comes to art. I use Bergson's methodology to demonstrate that the tension between functionalism and proceduralism is an artificial one. In turn, abandoning the strict dichotomy between these two definitions of art opens the way for a more fluid conception of art. Using Bergson's application of duration and creativity to problems of laughter and morality, I draw parallels to what a Bergsonian characterization would entail.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Thompson, Seth Aaron
Partner: UNT Libraries

Participation in the Play of Nature: A Hermeneutic Approach to Environmental Aesthetics

Description: Within the environmental aesthetics literature, there is a noticeable schism between two general approaches to understanding the aesthetic value of nature: the ambient approach and the narrative approach. Ambient thinkers focus on the character of aesthetic appreciation of nature, the way in which one is embedded in multi-sensory environment. These ambient theorists emphasize the importance of those aesthetic experiences that are difficult to articulate. Narrative thinkers argue that aesthetic appreciation of nature is enhanced and enriched by narratives that are relevant to the natural object or environment encountered. Certain narratives – usually those based on scientific knowledge – encourage a depth of appreciation that is inaccessible to those unfamiliar with the narratives. In this dissertation, I attempt to articulate an account of environmental aesthetic experience that does justice to both of these approaches by drawing on the resources of philosophical hermeneutics, and especially on the aesthetic theory of Hans-Georg Gadamer. The most important aspects of Gadamer's work for environmental aesthetics are his phenomenology of play, his revival of practical philosophy, and his emphasis on the interpretive character of all understanding. His discussion of play fleshes out the core of ambient accounts, his focus on interpretation explains the insights of narrative accounts, and the two accounts are tied together by his attention to practice.
Date: December 2020
Creator: Aloi, Michael Joseph
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Food-Drug Relationship in Health and Medicine

Description: In this dissertation, I apply Gadamerian philosophical hermeneutics to examine interpretations of the food-drug relationship within the contexts of health and medicine. Assumptions regarding the relationship between these categories undergird a substantial academic discourse and function as key components in worldviews beyond the academy. Despite this, little work has been done in foregrounding them to allow for critique and consideration of alternative perspectives. Unearthing philosophical assumptions within various fields, epistemic systems, and regulatory bodies, I classify food-drug interpretations into two main categories: dichotomous interpretations of the categories of "food" and "drugs" as ontologically distinct, and continuum-based interpretations where these categories overlap. Rather than arguing for a single appropriate way of understanding the food-drug relationship, my project aims to disclose the complexities of both sets of interpretations, illustrating their virtues and vices, and underscoring the need for people to call their own interpretations into question while taking seriously those of others. The dialogical structure of philosophical hermeneutics provides a useful foundation for dialogue within and between dichotomous and continuum-based interpretations. We do not have unmediated access to a mind-independent reality, the terms "food" and "drugs" do not necessarily refer to natural kinds, and all interpretations likely have different degrees of strengths and blind spots. Food-drug interpretations are bound up with larger worldviews, holistic systems that generate meaning for their adherents. Granting this, conversation partners can seek to gain a clearer picture of differing interpretations, what they can learn from these interpretations, and how they can interrogate their own interpretive modes.
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Date: May 2019
Creator: Tuminello III, Joseph Anthony
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Critical Investigation of Positivism: Its Adequacy as an Approach for Accounting Research

Description: This dissertation addresses the influence of "positivism" in accounting research. Accounting research has been overwhelmed by "positivism" to the extent that the "scientific method" has become sacrosanct. The dysfunctional consequences include the extreme emphasis placed on methodology. Researchers believe that the methods applied, rather than the orientations of the human researcher, generate knowledge. This belief stems from an extreme objectivist ontological orientation. A second consequence of the "positivistic" influence is a change in direction of intellectual inquiries. Obsession with measurement and quantification has all but eliminated concern for values. Specifically this dissertation asserts that the "scientific method" has been misapplied and misunderstood. The misapplication is that a method developed in the natural sciences has been blindly accepted and endorsed in the social sciences. It has been misunderstood in the sense that the abstract Cartesian-Newtonian view of reality has been mistaken for reality itself. The ontological assumptions inherent in this view have become integrated in the Western mind. The axiomatic nature of these assumptions have been ignored. The primary purpose of this dissertation is to project a point concerning research and knowledge. Hence, there are no "research findings" in the conventional sense.
Date: August 1987
Creator: Eriksen, Scott D. (Scott Douglas)
Partner: UNT Libraries

Catastrophe in Permanence: Benjamin's Natural History of Environmental Crisis

Description: Walter Benjamin warned in 1940 of a certain inconspicuous threat to political thinking, not least of all to materialism, that takes progress as an historical norm. Implicit in this conception is what he describes as an empty continuum of time along which the prevailing tradition chronicles its own mythic development and drains everyday life of genuine historical experience. The myth of progressive history advances insidiously today in consumeristic and technocratic attempts at reconciling cultural imagery with organic nature. In this dissertation, I pursue the contradictions of such images as they crystallize around the natural history of twenty-first century commodity society, where promises of ecological remediation, sustainable urban development, and climate change mitigation have yet to introduce a true crisis of historical experience to the ongoing environmental crisis of capitalism. A more radical way of seeing the cultural representation of nature would, I argue, penetrate its mythic determination by market forces and bear witness to the natural-historical ruins and traces that constitute, in Benjamin's terms, a single "catastrophe" where others perceive historical continuity. I argue that Benjamin's critique of progress is instructive to interpreting those utopian dreams, ablaze in consumer life and technological fantasy, that recent decades of growing environmental concern have channeled into the recovery of an experience of the natural world. His dialectics of nature and alienated history confront the wish-image of organic abundance with the transience of its appropriated expression in the commodity-form. Drawing together this confrontation with a varied literature on collective memory, nature, and the city, I suggest that our poverty of experience is more than simply a technical, economic, or even ecological problem, but rather follows from the commodification of history itself. The goal of this work is to reflect upon the potentiality of communal politics that subsist not in rushing headlong into a progressive …
Date: May 2017
Creator: Bower, Matthew S.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Toward an Ecocentric Philosophy of Energy in a Time of Transition

Description: Ecocentrism is a philosophical position developed in the field of environmental philosophy that offers an alternative view of the complex relationships between humans and the nonhuman world. This dissertation develops an ecocentric philosophy of energy in order to account for a wider set of ethics and values dimensions involved in energy politics. It focuses especially on inter-species justice as a crucial missing element behind even those energy policies that seek to transition society from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The goal is to develop an ecocentric philosophy of energy that accounts for the fundamental and deep ecological interdependences of human and nonhuman animals, plants, and other living and non-living beings. I start with an introduction and a summary of the chapters followed in chapter 2 by a clarification of the terms "paradigm" and "energy." In chapter 3 I offer an exploration of the origins of the "energy paradigm" or the predominant understanding of energy that emerged during modernity (18th century onwards). The modern energy paradigm progressively became a "traditional" forma mentis that is nonetheless based on flawed presuppositions about the human-energy-nature relationship. I criticize the homogeneous, colonizing and hegemonic nature of this paradigm, unveil its tacit anthropocentric and instrumental assumptions, and show how it still fuels contemporary lifestyles and policy. Chapter 4 presents a literature review that traces the most significant contributions from the humanities (broadly construed to include social sciences such as anthropology and sociology) to the study of energy. In this chapter, I also focus on the scarcer yet relevant literature on energy's metaphysical, ontological, and ethical dimensions. In chapter 5 I develop the theory of a radical, ecocentric philosophy of energy, building on the work of other ecocentric thinkers such as Holmes Rolston III, J. Baird Callicott, and Arne Naess. Chapter 6 suggests paths towards the …
Date: August 2018
Creator: Frigo, Giovanni
Partner: UNT Libraries

Pragmatism in the Modern School

Description: This study proposes to (1) set forth, in a brief way, the gradual evolution of pragmatism from about 1905 down to the present, (2) to clearly define pragmatism and to differentiate between it and some other "isms" having philosophical significance, (3) and to show how pragmatism has made for itself a place in the modern school curriculum.
Date: 1940
Creator: Wallace, Audie Price
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Philosophical Perspective of Art

Description: The underlying problem of the thesis is elucidating the relationship between the art object and philosophy. The thesis is organized into an introduction and four chapters. The introduction poses the need for a philosophical approach to the art object, and the phenomological method is briefly described. The first chapter defines and describes two basic structures found in the art object. The second chapter probes into the ontological structure of the art object in terms of form and media. The third chapter focuses on the relation of form and media evident in personal art works. The fourth chapter summarizes the content of preceding chapters and describes the relationship between the art object and the phenomological method, and discusses the significance of this relationship to philosophy and mankind.
Date: May 1977
Creator: Hopp, Larry F.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Ranges of consideration: crossing the fields of ecology, philosophy and science studies.

Description: Environmental issues are often complex with many different constituents operating according to a broad range of communication techniques. In order to foster negotiations, different perspectives need to be articulated in lucid ways sensitive to various viewpoints and circumstances. In my thesis I investigate how certain approaches to environmental discourse effect dialogue and negotiation. My first two chapters focus on environmental problems surrounding rangeland ecology along the U.S./Mexico border; whereas the last two chapters explore more theoretical conflicts concerning the philosophy of nature. Throughout the thesis I show the significance of nonhumans (prairie dogs, cattle, biological assessment sheets, environmental laws, etc.) in the human community. Only by considering the roles of nonhumans do we broaden and enrich the conversation between ourselves concerning environmental issues.
Access: Restricted to UNT Community Members. Login required if off-campus.
Date: December 2002
Creator: Dinneen, Nathan
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Study of the Modern Philosophy and Modern Psychology of Education

Description: The purpose of this study is three-fold: 1. To make a study of modern philosophy and modern psychology of education. 2. To show by comparison how well the Gainesville elementary schools comply in a modern philosophy and a modern psychology of education. 3. To make recommendations for changes that could be made for the improvement of the Gainesville elementary school system.
Date: 1947
Creator: Clements, Bess
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Instrument to Determine whether Certain Fundamental Philosophical and Educational Beliefs Are Held by Selected Public School Teachers in the Areas of Elementary Education, Secondary Education, and Guidance

Description: The problem of this study was to develop an instrument which would reveal whether certain fundamental philosophical and educational beliefs are held by public school teachers in the areas of elementary education, secondary education, and guidance.
Date: January 1968
Creator: Thomas, Neil Eugene
Partner: UNT Libraries

Hermeneutic Environmental Philosophy: Identity, Action, and the Imagination

Description: One of the major themes in environmental philosophy in the twenty-first century has broadly focused on how we experience and value the natural world. Along those lines, the driving question I take up in this project is if our ordinary experiences are seen as interpretations, what is the significance of this for our moral claims about the environment? Drawing on the hermeneutic philosophies of Hans Georg-Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur, I examine environmental interpretation as it relates particularly to identity, meaningful action, and the mediating function of the imagination. These three interconnected aspects show both our capability for new understandings related to the natural world, as well as problem of conflicting, yet equally valid, views on environmental value. To explore this tension further I consider the relevance of hermeneutic conceptions of truth and translation for environmental ethics. A hermeneutic notion of truth highlights the difficulties in making strong normative claims about the environment, while a hermeneutic view of translation is helpful in thinking about the otherness of nature and what this means for ecological values. In this project I am particularly interested in the conflict of environmental interpretation and the implications that a hermeneutic frame has for the limits of environmental understanding and value. I argue that hermeneutics and narrative theory shows that we can argue for direct moral consideration of ecological others or the natural world only as merely possible interpretations among others.
Date: December 2020
Creator: Bell, Nathan M.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Orca Recovery by Changing Cultural Attitudes (ORCCA): How Anthropocentrism and Capitalism Led to an Endangered Species in Puget Sound

Description: Ways of understanding, living, and communicating with non-human species, and more specifically endangered species, have been thought of dualistically and hierarchically in Western cultures. This type of thinking is harmful when examining environmental issues that involve more than just humans, which is arguably all environmental issues. By enforcing a nature/culture dichotomy, humans are seen as separate from nature and therefore they can ethically excuse themselves from dealing with environmental issues that happen "out there" in nature. This thesis explores two manifestations of this nature/culture separation as it continues to threaten wild orca populations in Puget Sound. The first is because of an anthropocentric culture and the second is because of the capitalist socio-economic system. The anthropocentric part of this type of thinking raises humans up on a pedestal, above all non-human species. It gives humans the excuse to only care about issues that affect them directly. The capitalistic part of this type of thinking enforces human's exploitation and commodification of nature. I argue that anthropocentrism and capitalism together create a human/nature relationship that harms nature and benefits humans. This relationship is illustrated by a small population of orcas, called the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW), off the coast of Washington State that are endangered because of human interference. Lack of prey, toxic water pollution, and excessive noise from boats caused them to become endangered, and these issues are produced by Western society's anthropocentric attitudes and capitalistic systems. The SRKW's will go extinct if the environmental destruction of Puget Sound doesn't end and it will only end if the anthropocentric attitudes and capitalistic systems are dismantled.
Date: May 2020
Creator: Jandick, Brittany
Partner: UNT Libraries
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