Research / Teaching Area
Thomas Bittner earned a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Washington in 1995, and since then he has taught at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Wellesley College, arriving at UBC in 2003. His research is mainly in the philosophy of mind, but he is also interested in ethical, legal, and social questions. He is currently working on issues related to weakness of will, as it is conceived of in philosophy and also in psychology (often under the rubric of “self-control”).
WRDS 150 Research Area: Self-Control
My main research interest concerns the nature of conscious experience especially in the context of voluntary action. My publications on this include:
“Consciousness and the Act of Will” (1996) Philosophical Studies, 81 (2-3): 331-41.
“Could the Stream of Consciousness Flow through the Brain?” (2004) Philosophia, 31 (3-4): 449-73.
I’ve also been interested in the (so-called) hypothesis of extended cognition and in the (to my way of thinking) related topic of moral luck. I’ve written about these issues in:
“Punishment for Criminal Attempts: A Legal Perspective on the Problem of Moral Luck” (2008) Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 38 (1): 51-83.
“Parity Cuts Both Ways: Split Brains and Extended Cognition” (2011) Teorema, 30 (2): 19-33
WRDS 150: Artificial Intelligence
This section of WRDS 150A looks into the possibility of designing and creating genuinely intelligent
systems and some of the implications of this project. We will investigate a selection of the most
influential research writings on this question taking them as our models of scholarly work in a number of
different academic disciplines. Our main aim will be to contribute to this tradition of inquiry by
completing a term project that takes up an interesting question related to this topic.
In pursuit of this aim, we will learn about the characteristic features of scholarly writing and about how
writers employ these features in specific research contexts. We will also, of course, practice using them
ourselves in the various assignments we produce for this course.