Mikayla Kelley

Mikayla Kelley
Neubauer Family Assistant Professor
Stuart Hall, Room 231-D
Office Hours: Autumn Quarter:
PhD, Stanford University, 2023; MA (Mathematics), University of California, Berkeley, 2019; BA (Mathematics), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016
Teaching at UChicago since 2023
Research Interests: Philosophy of Action, Formal Epistemology, Metaethics, Social Choice Theory, Epistemology

I joined the faculty in 2023 as Assistant Professor. My main interests are in philosophy of action and formal epistemology. Within philosophy of action, I am focused primarily on metaphysical and epistemological questions about action. Currently, I am working on developing a control theory of action. Within formal epistemology, I am interested in the accuracy-first program which offers accuracy-based justifications for epistemic norms. For the last few years, I've been working on generalizing the celebrated accuracy dominance argument for probabilism, the central norm of Bayesian epistemology.

Selected Publications

Related Courses

PHIL 20007/30007 The Metaphysics of Action

A fundamental category through which we understand the world is the category of action. This course offers an intensive overview of the metaphysics of action. We will first cover some basics including the relationship between actions, agency, and agents, the range of action kinds, what kind of thing action is, the distinction between basic and nonbasic action, agent nihilism, and the possibility of mental action. Next, in hopes of coming to better understand the nature of action, we will look at how action relates to other phenomena such as reasons, causation, knowledge, control, and normative life. (B) (II)

One prior philosophy course.

2024-2025 Winter
Category
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Action

PHIL 21513/31513 Accuracy and the Patterns of Rational Belief

Accuracy-first epistemology seeks to explain and justify rationality norms on belief by appeal to the epistemic good of accuracy. Its central commitment is that it is better to have accurate beliefs than inaccurate beliefs, and so one argument for satisfying some rationality norm is that doing so improves the accuracy of one's beliefs. This course will be an introduction to accuracy-first epistemology---its foundations, its promise, and its limits. (B) (II)

Two previous courses in philosophy and a strong background in mathematics are required.

2024-2025 Autumn
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 22960/32960 Bayesian Epistemology

This course will be an introduction to Bayesian epistemology. (B) (II)

Introduction to Logic (PHIL 20100/30000) or its equivalent.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 23022/33022 Agency and Virtual Reality: A Technophilosophical Exploration

This will be an exploratory course in philosophy of action focusing on how modern virtual reality technologies impact traditional debates within the metaphysics of action. Thus, we will engage in what David Chalmers calls “technophilosophy”: we will use new technologies to address old philosophical questions. In particular, we’ll be concerned with traditional metaphysical questions about agency such as what is action, what is distinctive about human action in particular, how do we exert control in action, what is the role of the body in agency, and to what extent does our agency manifest in the mind. But we will look at these questions keeping in close view that it may be only a matter of time before the vast majority of our lives are spent in virtual reality. To give sufficiently robust answers to these traditional questions---answers which are sensitive to a technologically changing world---we thus need to consider technophilosophical questions such as: could there be genuine virtual action? Can we make sense of genuine action without bodily movement? Are all actions in virtual reality simply mental actions? What are the limits of a human body, and could the human body extend into a virtual world? Are we responsible for what we do in virtual reality in the same way we are responsible for what we do in the real world?
A previous course in philosophy of action would be helpful but is not necessary. (B) (II)

At least one course in philosophy.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Action

PHIL 50002 Metaphysics of Action

This is a graduate seminar on the metaphysics of action. The course will be structured as an intensive overview of some of the basic questions in the area. We will briefly cover some fundamentals including the relationship between actions, agency, and agents, the range of action kinds, the distinction between basic and nonbasic action, and agent nihilism. We will then turn to the question of what kind of thing action is. Is it an event? A process? A causing? A sui generis kind of thing? After that, in hopes of coming to better understand the nature of action, we will look at how action relates to other phenomena such as reasons, causation, knowledge, control, and ethical practice. (II)

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Action