|Philosopher Earns Fellowship to Study "Freedom and Agency"
May 30, 2007
Contact: Bill Giduz
Assistant Professor Meghan Griffith has received a Jessie Ball duPont Fund Fellowship to spend her pre-tenure sabbatical year researching and writing about “Freedom and Agency” at the National Humanities Center.
“Philosophers are never really done with these questions,” said Griffith, who has taught at Davidson for two years. “No issues are ever really settled, but I like the creativity involved in coming up with new approaches to old problems.”
|Griffith's fellowship will allow her a full year sabbatical to write a book on "Freedom and Agency."|
Griffith specializes in metaphysics, free will, moral responsibility, and action theory. As she explained, “It seems that there is a difference between actions we perform, and mere bodily movements or events that just happen to us. Philosophy of action begins here."
She will use her NHC Fellowship to articulate a theory of free action. “Philosophers are concerned with whether we can act freely,” she said. “If our actions are determined by prior causes, it looks as if we have no options about what we do. But if actions are undetermined, the worry is that our actions are random and not under our control. I’m trying to formulate a theory whereby our actions are not determined by prior events, but are caused and controlled by us.”
Griffith is among thirty-seven scholars of history, literature, philosophy, art history, anthropology, religion, and classics, chosen as fellowship winners from 400 applicants. They represent 27 colleges and universities in 16 states, Canada, and Germany.
She looks forward to discussing her work with the other fellows at the center in their regularly scheduled conferences. “Philosophy is all about dialogue. For a philosopher, it’s important to talk with and show your work to others, often especially to those who disagree because it forces you to strengthen your position.”
She is publishing an article linked to her theory in the journal Acta Analytica, and will present a related paper at a Conference on Responsibility, Agency, and Persons in October.
Griffith grew into an academic career in philosophy honestly. Her father taught philosophy at Lycoming College, and she grew up surrounded by academia. She was drawn initially to ancient philosophy, but settled on action theory for her doctoral studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She taught for two years at Washington and Lee University, and one at Lycoming, before joining the Davidson faculty.
“This is a great place to do philosophy,” she said. “My colleagues are wonderful, and it’s exciting to see such bright and curious students open their minds to puzzles or points of view they haven’t previously considered. We bring in great guest speakers, and the administration is incredibly supportive. This pre-tenure sabbatical policy is outstanding. I’m very fortunate.”
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked in the top ten liberal arts college in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine.
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Posted By: Bill Giduz