Zinet Ritschel (1 yr MA) for her paper In Defence of Mental Disorders as Homeostatic Property Clusters

In this paper I argue that mental disorders are best understood as symptomatic property clusters supported by homeostatic biological and non-biological causal mechanisms. This conception draws on Richard Boyd’s homeostatic property cluster theory. In response to the problem of multifactorial causation for the homeostatic property cluster view, I propose a distinction between proximal and distal causes as the basis for a non-pragmatic causal hierarchy which can justify prioritising proximal causes in causal selection. I then argue that other non-epistemic aims and values can legitimately undermine the priority of proximal causes in the process of causal selection. I conclude that the homeostatic property cluster theory provides an ideal model of mental disorders. Because this model is grounded in genuine causal relations, it maintains the possibility of epistemic value for mental disorder categories and resists collapse into pure constructionism. However, since the model is equally equipped to accommodate the role of normative influences in causal selection, it can simultaneously account for the interest-relative nature of the resulting classifications and explanations.

Forrest Schreick, (3d yr PhD) for his paper Illusionism as Scepticism

Illusionism about phenomenal consciousness has recently garnered much attention. Briefly, the illusionist holds that introspection represents conscious states as having phenomenal or qualitative properties they actually lack. In contrast, the realist holds that our conscious states instantiate some phenomenal or qualitative properties. In this paper, I will explicate the illusionist's position, claimed advantages over realism about phenomenal consciousness, and a common argument for their view—the argument from error. Then I will mount a defence of realism by showing that the illusionist’s argument from error is a form of sceptical argument. If the argument from error is a sceptical argument, then the illusionist is committed to a broader form of scepticism and other sceptical arguments. If we are not gripped by other sceptical arguments, we shouldn’t be gripped by the argument from error.