Date of Award


First Advisor

Brian Conolly

Second Advisor

Rebecca Fiske

Third Advisor

Paul Shields


The pursuit of philosophy is a troubled one. The problems that have plagued ontology and epistemology since the Classical era have stayed with us, enduring through millenia of analysis. We have seen progress, but only obliquely: our quarry has evolved, fractured, and grown more nuanced alongside our canon of theory and method. But more threateningly, we have seen the birth of a new generation of problems — those of cognition, computation, incompleteness and indefinability — which bring into question the very basis of our experiential and proof-building capacities. For too long, the a priori has remained the ambiguous realm of assertion, intuition, and axiomatic conflict. The nature of the questions we are now faced with demands of us something greater: a science unbounded by presumption and axiomatic predisposition, wherein the value of a theory is not irreducible and simple but a manifold and application-specific consideration as complex as the theory itself. Such a science does not yet exist. Indeed, it is unclear that such a science will ever exist.