Marsden grant for philosopher
Experience, Rationality, and the Way Things Seem
Every day we rely on experience to tell us about the world, and we suppose that we are rational for doing so. But what, more precisely, is the connection between experience and rationality? Chris Tucker has been awarded a prestigious Marsden grant of $327,234 to investigate this question over three years, making him one of two members of the Philosophy Department to currently hold a Marsden grant (the other being Glen Pettigrove).
The question of how experience and rationality are related is abstract, but Tucker argues that the correct answer has weighty implications. “Many people claim that they believe in God because of various religious experiences. We also believe that torturing for fun is morally wrong because it seems intuitively obvious, and this intuitive obviousness is taken to be a type of experience. Will the correct answer to this question vindicate or condemn such moral and religious belief?”
In addition to clarifying how we can have rational moral and religious beliefs, Tucker’s account of the connection between experience and rationality will help us to understand how we know things about ourselves, the physical world, the past, and math.
Tucker joined the Faculty of Arts last year from the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to that he was an Assistant Professor at Stonehill College (Massachusetts, USA).
The Faculty of Arts has won a significant share of 2011 Marsden Funding. Six research teams led by Arts were successful in their bids, winning a total of $3.5 million.
Applications to the Marsden Fund are extremely competitive. Of 1,078 preliminary proposals submitted from across New Zealand, only 88 were ultimately funded.