Molly Brown

Previous Education

BA, Philosophy, Calvin College, 2014; MA, University of Chicago, 2017

Research Interests

Epistemology, Philosophy of Science, American Pragmatism, Social and Feminist Philosophy, Logic and History of Logic, Philosophy of Religion

Dissertation

Title: “The Mysterious Art of Guessing: Creativity and Conjecture” 

Committee: Kevin Davey and Anubav Vasudevan (co-chairs), Michael Kremer, and Meghan Page (Loyola University, Maryland)

 

Papers Presented

“J.S. Mill on Inductive Skepticism and Social Categories,” Women in Philosophy Chicago Area Spring Conference, Northwestern University, May 2018

“Mill’s Feminist Epistemology," Women in Philosophy: Past, Present, and Future (the 6th Annual Conference and General Meeting of Society for Women in Philosophy), University College Dublin, May 2018

Recent Courses

PHIL 23012 Faith, Hope, Trust: Epistemology and Value

This course will examine the attitudes of faith, hope, and trust: what they are, and in what situations they are justified. That is, why does it mean to have faith in something or someone, to hope for something, and/or to trust someone? And what does it take for that faith, hope, or trust to be well-grounded or reasonable? (For that matter, is 'reasonability' even a criterion we want to apply to these attitudes?) Often one of these attitudes have been modeled in terms of another - faith, e.g., has been modeled both in terms of hope ("faith is hope in things not seen") or trust ("I have faith in you - I'd trust you with my life"). One of our primary goals, then, will be to examine the ways faith, hope, and trust relate to each other and/or play independent roles in our epistemic lives. We'll also be paying close to attention to the relationship each of these attitudes bears to 'doxastic' attitudes like opinion, belief, and knowledge. (So, for instance, can you have faith about something that you KNOW? Can you trust in an opinion?) Throughout, we'll also be looking at how faith, hope, and trust play out in interpersonal and communal settings: what does it mean for a community to hope for something (like the Cubs winning the World Series) - can we model this in the same way we model one person having faith in another, or do we need a different framework to explain communal attitudes? Readings will include (amongst others): Annette Baier, Liz Jackson, Adrienne Martin, Paulina Sliwa, Kyla Ebels-Duggan, Meghan Page, Lara Buchak, Pamela Hieronymi, Jane Friedman, Victoria McGeer, Judith Baker, and Katherine Hawley. (B)

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 28011 Gut Feelings and Fake News

In this course, we will examine the psychological bases of knowledge and inquire into their wider epistemological significance. Our guiding aim is to understand
some of the ways in which our reliance on intuition, heuristics, and gut feelings shape our attitudes toward “fake news”—or deliberate misinformation and manipulation—in its many guises. Three questions will guide our investigation. First, how should insights about the rationality (or lack thereof) of gut feelings inform the way we think about fundamental issues in epistemology? We will consider, for example, justification, the nature of evidence, the reliability of testimony, and intellectual virtues and
vices. Second, might some of the reasoning biases that are typically deemed irrational be, at least in some contexts, rational? Third, insofar as our gut feelings do produce irrational behavior, what lessons should we draw about our own thinking and the ways in which we evaluate and engage in discourse? What normative principles might we adopt that both (a) give due place to our deep dependence upon gut feelings and (b) help mitigate their potentially pernicious effects? (B)

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 28011 Gut Feelings and Fake News

In this course, we will examine the psychological bases of knowledge and inquire into their wider epistemological significance. Our guiding aim is to understand
some of the ways in which our reliance on intuition, heuristics, and gut feelings shape our attitudes toward “fake news”—or deliberate misinformation and manipulation—in its many guises. Three questions will guide our investigation. First, how should insights about the rationality (or lack thereof) of gut feelings inform the way we think about fundamental issues in epistemology? We will consider, for example, justification, the nature of evidence, the reliability of testimony, and intellectual virtues and
vices. Second, might some of the reasoning biases that are typically deemed irrational be, at least in some contexts, rational? Third, insofar as our gut feelings do produce irrational behavior, what lessons should we draw about our own thinking and the ways in which we evaluate and engage in discourse? What normative principles might we adopt that both (a) give due place to our deep dependence upon gut feelings and (b) help mitigate their potentially pernicious effects? (B)

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 29200-01/29300-01 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Creativity and the Logic of Discovery

In this course we will explore epistemological issues surrounding the process of discovery. Our investigation will be guided by three questions: (1) Does the stage of inquiry concerned with generating hypotheses or, broadly speaking, novel ideas possess a discernible rational structure? (2) What (if any) general rules, methods, cognitive attitudes, and epistemic standards might be appropriate to this activity across different domains? (3) How should insights about the discovery process inform the way we reason in our everyday contexts? We will think about, for example, what C.S. Peirce called “musement” or “pure play”, a creative activity that he thought to be crucially important for producing the ideas that are converted into scientific and philosophical study. The notion of creativity and the relation it bears to a logic of discovery will also loom large in our discussion of other related topics, which will include: concepts from Gestalt psychology; objectivity and bias in observation; tacit knowledge and know-how in theoretical contexts; usage of metaphor and analogy in representing phenomena in scientific reasoning; and strategic guesswork involved in mathematical problem-solving.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Spring