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New Developments in Analytic Philosophy Research Cluster

About the research

This research cluster provides a focus for research and publications on philosophical questions using the methods of analytic philosophy.

Analytic philosophy investigates a diverse range of philosophical questions, but is unified by both the fundamental nature of the questions it asks, and the method which it employs to provide answers to those questions. These questions include: What is the relationship between language and reality? What is the relationship between biological and cultural evolution? Must a realist about scientific entities also be a realist about mathematical and other entities? What, if anything, makes moral statements true?

Key areas for investigation within the cluster include, but are not limited to: the philosophy of science, the philosophy of biology, the philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language and logic, metaphysics, epistemology, normative ethics, and meta-ethics.


Professor Alex Miller


Research projects

The Logic of Imperatives

Charles Pigden and Josh Parsons

Can a command follow from other commands? Surely yes. But there is a problem: in logic, the concept of following from is defined in terms of truth and falsity, and commands cannot be true or false. Our project is to solve this problem by developing and exploring new conceptions of what it is for one command to follow from others. This has implications for ethics, as moral judgements are often assimilated to commands. This project will contribute to New Zealand's strong tradition of research in logic and ethics, areas of core importance to philosophy.

We expect to produce four journal articles and possibly a book from this project.

Towards A Unified Science of Religion

James Maclaurin and Greg Dawes

The belief in gods, demons, and other supernatural agents is a persistent feature of human culture, which cries out for explanation. In the last twenty-five years, explanations of religion have reached a new level of sophistication. We now have a range of different scientific theories of religion, in cognitive science, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology, drawing upon a significant body of empirical data.

This conference, sponsored by the New Developments in Analytic Philosophy Research Cluster, and orgaised by James Maclaurin and Greg Dawes, will bring together researchers from these different disciplines and different theoretical perspectives, to explore the possibility of a unified science of religion.

Theism and Explanation

Greg Dawes

In both history and the natural and social sciences, no proposed explanation that appealed to a divine action would be taken seriously. The creationist and intelligent design movements of today question this stance, arguing that it arises from nothing more than atheist prejudice. In this book, published by Routledge in 2009, Greg Dawes examines and rejects this claim, arguing that the methodological naturalism of the sciences is well founded. Even if appeal to a divine agent could be shown to have explanatory force, there would still be reason to prefer a natural (as opposed to supernatural) explanation.


What is Biodiversity?

James Maclaurin (with Kim Sterelny, ANU and Victoria University of Wellington)

James Maclaurin co-authored, with Kim Sterelny (Victoria University of Wellington and the Australian National University), this book, published by Chicago University Press. They argue that biological diversity is mistakenly seen as a property of interest only to conservation biologists. Their contrary view is that biological diversity is crucial to explanation and prediction in a wide variety of areas in the life sciences (including ecology, taxonomy, and evolutionary theory) but that this breadth of application has led to confusion regarding its proper characterisation and theoretical deployment. It was published in 2008.

This work was the product of a Marsden Grant.

Rule-Following and Meaning

Alex Miller

I am working on Kripke’s Wittgenstein, semantic normativity and related issues. I have (i) argued against non-factualist accounts of meaning (ii) argued against factualist interpretations of Kripke’s Wittgenstein, (iii) developed a non-factualist interpretation of Kripke’s Wittgenstein, (iv) argued against Wright’s judgement-dependent account of intention and meaning, (v) argued that meaning is not normative in any interesting sense, and (vi) argued that both non-reductionist and judgement-dependent accounts of meaning are consistent with cognitive-psychological explanations of semantic creativity. I am planning to investigate these issues further in the context of a 3rd edition of my Philosophy of Language (for Routledge), and I am also planning to write papers on Kripke’s Wittgenstein and semantic contextualism. Relatedly, I am a co-editor (with Crispin Wright and Bob Hale) of the 2nd edition of A Companion to the Philosophy of Language (in preparation for Blackwell).

Realism and Antirealism

Alex Miller

I work on issues concerning the extent to which accounts of linguistic and mental representation constrain the plausibility of realist views in metaphysics, both in the context of historical figures (Russell) and recent philosophy (Dummett, Wright). I also work on these issues in the context of metaethics. As well as producing Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction (a second edition of my 2003 metaethics survey book), I have also worked on papers following up themes from the 2003 volume: in particular, I’ve investigated whether “synthetic” forms of non-cognitivism might avoid certain prominent a priori arguments against quasi-realism, and I have further defended the idea that program explanation cannot be used to defend non-reductionist forms of ethical naturalism and investigated the relationship between minimalism about truth and ethical expressivism. I am currently working on Case Studies in Advanced Metaethics (under contract with Polity Press), which will survey in detail some recent important developments within the field.

Hume, Is and Ought and Hume, Motivation and Virtue

Charles Pigden

Charles Pigden has recently edited two books: Hume, Is and Ought (2010) and Hume, Motivation and Virtue (2009). Both books are based on papers delivered at the conference on Hume, Motivation, Is and Ought held at Otago in January 2003.

Hume's famous No-Ought-From-Is passage is one of the most talked-about single paragraphs in the entire history of philosophy and continues to be the focus for meta-ethical debate in the analytic tradition down to the present day. In Pigden's view No-Ought-From-Is is true but trivial since it is simply an instance of the conservativeness of logic, the thesis that in a valid deductive argument, you cannot get out what you have not put in. Hume, Is and Ought, is largely devoted to this issue and contains papers by several leading researchers in this field.

Hume's 'Motivation Argument' is, if anything, even more discussed than No-Ought-From-Is and constitutes one of the chief themes of Hume on Motivation and Virtue. The big debate in analytic meta-ethics is whether the fact that moral beliefs have motivational force implies that they lack a truth-value. Pigden argues that it does not, whilst others argue that it does.

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Researcher profiles

Professor Greg Dawes is a member of both the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Theology and Religion. Greg gained his first graduate degree at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome before returning to New Zealand to complete a PhD in Biblical Studies at the University of Otago. He then completed a second PhD, in the philosophy of religion. He has a particular interest in the methodological naturalism or (more precisely) the methodological atheism of the modern sciences as well as in the philosophy of perception. He is currently fascinated by Pascal's much-cited claim that there exist "reasons of the heart, of which reason knows nothing." Are there such reasons? If so, what kind of reasons are they?

Dr James Maclaurin is an Associate Professor and Head of Department in the Department of Philosophy. James studied at the University of Otago before leaving to pursue a career in acting. He later returned to study, first at Victoria University of Wellington and later at the Australian National University. He has taught at the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne and Victoria University of Wellington. James' main research interests are in Philosophy of Biology (where he has written on innateness, fitness, theoretical morphology and biological diversity) and more generally in Philosophy of Science (particularly natural kinds and laws of nature). He is also interested in related metaphysical issues, such as possible worlds (as a basis for probability and similarity) as well as non-reductive materialism.

Professor Alex Miller is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy. Alex took his undergraduate degree in mathematics and philosophy at the University of Glasgow and did his graduate work in philosophy at the University of St. Andrews and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Alex joined the Otago department in June 2012. Prior to this he was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, and has also taught at Nottingham, Cardiff, and Macquarie.

Associate Professor Andrew Moore is based in the Department of Philosophy. Andrew studied at the University of Canterbury before taking up a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. He chairs the National Ethics Advisory Committee and is a member of other policy committees that advise the Minister of Health. He is also a member of an externally funded research project on biotechnology and ethics. His research and publications are on ethics, political philosophy, ethics and public policy, and practical ethics.

Professor Emeritus Alan Musgrave is a member of the Department of Philosophy. Alan was educated at the London School of Economics, where with Imre Lakatos he edited Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, one of the most influential collections of essays in recent philosophy of science. He came to Otago as Head of Department in 1970. His chief interests are the theory of knowledge and the history and philosophy of science. Alan's book Common Sense, Science, and Scepticism forms the basis of the introductory course in epistemology.

Professor Charles Pigden is based in the Department of Philosophy. Charles graduated from Kings College, Cambridge in 1979, then spent five years studying in Australia before first coming to Otago as a postdoctoral fellow in 1986. After briefly teaching at Massey, he returned to Otago as a lecturer in 1988. Charles has published on a wide range of subjects from the analytic/synthetic distinction through conspiracy theories to the existence (or otherwise) of abstract objects. He is a 'Russell scholar' having edited Russell on Ethics (1999) and contributed the chapter on ethics to the Cambridge Companion to Bertrand Russell. His chief interest is in ethics, particularly meta-ethics. Charles is a defender of the error-theory with a special interest in Hume and the Is/Ought Question.

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Postgraduate research

Recently completed and current research by Masters and PhD students linked to the research cluster:


  • Radical simulationism versus theory-theory (P Ogle, 2006)
  • Ethics of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (S Thakur, 2006)
  • Religion in the public square (G People, 2008s)
  • Could religious 'explanations' explain? (G Dawes, 2007)
  • Can there be an ontologically privileged language? (E Gill, current)
  • Personal Enhancement and Personal Freedom (C Gallop, current)
  • Substantivalism and Temporally Shiften Worlds (S Grant, 2012)
  • McDowell's Realism (Paul Broadbent, 2013)
  • Imperative Logic (H Clark-Younger, current)
  • Is it conceptually possible for a lifelong solarity individual to follow rules and have a language? (D Wee, current)

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  • Presentism and special relativity (C Boulton, 2006)
  • Realism and idealisation (E Cochrane, 2006)
  • The concept of disease (T Knox, 2006)
  • Time travel and dynamic theories of time (I Lawson, 2006)
  • The Morality of Suicide (D Sears, 2006)
  • Ontological and Methodological Individualism (S Sue, 2006)
  • Emotional responses to music (R Majeed, 2007)
  • Constitution and stage theory (E Jennings, 2007)
  • The tolerance of intolerance (H Lawford-Smith, 2007)
  • The philosophy of mathematics (M Fahmi, 2007)
  • Two-Dimensional Modal Semantics (K McQueen, 2008)
  • Character and Moral Psychology (C Yonetani, 2009)
  • Rawls and Future Generations (M Stewart, 2009)
  • Prediction and Hypothetico-Deductivism (M George, 2009)
  • Motivation Externalism and Prudential Reasons (A Donnelly, 2010)
  • Ersatzer Presentism and the Limits of the Modal Analogy (J Darcy, 2013)
  • What is methodological naturalism? (M Mcleod, current)

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Selection of recent publications


2013 Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition (Cambridge: Polity Press, xiv + 314pp).

Dawes, Gregory W. Theism and Explanation. Routledge Philosophy of Religion Series. New York, NY: Routledge, 2009.

Moore, A. J. Ethical Guidelines for Intervention Studies, National Ethics Advisory Committee, Wellington: Ministry of Health, November 2009, pp. vi, 37. ISBN 978-0-478-33907-9 (print).

Musgrave, A. E. Secular Sermons, Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2009

Maclaurin, J. and K. Sterelny, What is Biodiversity? Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008

Dyke, H. Metaphysics and the Representational Fallacy. New York: Routledge, 2007

Moore, A .J. Ethical Guidelines for Observational Studies: Observational Research, Audits, and Related Activities, National Ethics Advisory Committee (Chair, Andrew Moore), Wellington, Ministry of Health, December 2006, pp. vi, 29. ISBN 0-478-29921-4 (Book).

Moore, A. J. Ethical Values for Planning for and Responding to a Pandemic in New Zealand: A Statement for Discussion, National Ethics Advisory Committee (Chair, Andrew Moore), Wellington, Ministry of Health, July 2006, pp. vii, 53. ISBN: 0-478-30015-8 (Book).

Edited books

Dawes, G and J. Maclaurin (eds) A New Science of Religion. New York: Routledge (2012).

Maclaurin, James, (ed) Rationis Defensor: Essays in Honour of Colin Cheyne. Dordrecht: Springer (2012).

Charles R Pigden ed. (2010) Hume on Id and Ought, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan

Charles R Pigden ed. (2009) Hume on Motivation and Virtue, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan

Heather Dyke ed. (2009) From Truth to Reality: New Essays in Logic and Metaphysics, New York: Routledge.

Colin Cheyne and John Worrall (eds) (2006) Rationality and Reality: Conversations with Alan Musgrave. Dordrecht: Springer

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Book chapters

Dyke, H and J. Maclaurin "Time and Evolution" in Adrian Bardon and Heather Dyke (eds) A Companion to the Philosophy of Time. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell (2013).

Miller, A. "The Development of Theories of Meaning: From Frege to McDowell and Beyond",in M. Beaney (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press. (2013)

Miller, A. “Minimalism About Truth and Ethics”, in H. Lafollette (ed.) The International Encyclopdedia of Ethics Oxford: Blackwell. (2013)

Pigden. Charles. ‘Analytic Philosophy ’ in Ruse and Bullivant eds. The Oxford Handbook on Atheism, Oxford, Oxford University Press, , pp. 307-319. (2013)

Pigden, Charles. 'Russell's Moral Philosophy' (major revision) Stanford Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2013)

Pigden, Charles. ‘The Is-Ought Gap‘ in Lafollette ed. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell. (2013)

Pigden, Charles ‘Russell, Bertrand‘ in Lafollette ed. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell. (2013)

Weber, Z. ‘Paraconsistent Logic’ (with G Priest and K Tanaka) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [Link] (2013)

Weber, Z. ‘Figures, Formulae, and Functors’ In Visual Reasoning With Diagrams, edited by Sun-Joo Shin and Amirouche Moktefi. Springer. [Link] (2013)

Cheyne, C. 'The Asymmetry of Formal Logic.' The Logica Yearbook 2011, M. Peliš & V. Pun?ochá? (eds) London: College Publications (2012) 49-62.

Miller, A. “Judgement-Dependence, Tacit Knowledge And Linguistic Understanding”, in P. Stalmaszczyk (ed) Philosophical and Formal Approaches to Linguistic Analysis. Germany :Ontos (2012)

Miller, A. “Semantic Realism and the Argument from Motivational Internalism”, in R. Schantz (ed) Prospects for Meaning? Berlin: De Gruyter. (2012)

Musgrave, A.E. (2010) 'Darwin's Life and Method'. In Aspects of Darwin: A New Zealand Celebration. D.Galloway and J. Timmins (eds), Hewitson Library Occasional Monograph no.1, Friends of the Knox College Library, Dunedin, New Zealand, 20-35.

Musgrave, A.E. (2010) 'Critical Rationalism, Explanation and Severe Tests'. In Error and Inference: Recent Exchanges on Experimental Reasoning, Reliability, and the Objectivity and Rationality of Science. D.G. Mayo and A. Spanos (eds). Cambridge and London: Cambridge University Press, 88-112.

Dyke, H. (2009) Introduction. In Heather Dyke (ed.) From Truth to Reality: New Essays in Logic and Metaphysics, New York: Routledge, 2009.

Musgrave, A. E. Critical Rationalism, Explanation and Severe Tests. In Error and Inference: Recent Exchanges on the Philosophy of Science, Inductive-Statistical Inference, and Reliable Evidence. D. Mayo and A. Spanos (eds). Cambridge and London: Cambridge University Press (2009).

Musgrave, A. E. Experience and Perceptual Belief. In Rethinking Popper (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science). S. Parusnikova and R. S. Cohen (eds). Dordrecht: Springer Science and Business Media (2009), 5-19.

Musgrave, A. E. Pleonastic Platonism. In From Truth to Reality: New Essays in Logic and Metaphysics. H. Dyke (ed). New York: Routledge (2009), 66-84.

Musgrave, A. E. ‘Popper and Hypothetico-Deductivism’, in S. Hartmann (ed), Handbook of the History of Logic, Volume 10: Inductive Logic, Elsevier (2009), 201-230.

Pigden, C. (2009) 'Introduction' in Pigden (ed.) Hume on Motivation and Virtue (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) pp. 1-29 (2009)

Pigden, C. (2009) 'If Not Non-cognitivism Then What? ' in Pigden (ed.) Hume on Motivation and Virtue (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) pp. 80-104

Pigden, C. (2009) ‘A Niggle at Nagel’ in Sandis, Constantine ed. (2009) New Essays on the Explanation of Action, (Houndmills, Palgrave Macmillan) pp. 220-241

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Refereed journal articles

Dawes, Gregory W. (2013). Belief is not the issue: A defence of inference to the best explanation. Ratio 26 (1):62-78.

Dyke, H. and J Maclaurin, "What shall we do with Analytic Metaphysics", Australasian Journal of Philosophy, DOI:10.1080/00048402.2012.762029. (2013)

Weber, Z. ‘Existence and [\E]xistence’ (with Heather Dyke). "Paradox and Mind" special issue of Journal of Experimental and Theoretical AI:25(3) [Link]. (2013)

Dawes, Gregory W. (2012). Evolution and the Bible: The Hermeneutical Question. Relegere 2:37-63.

Pigden, Charles R. (2012): ‘Identifying Goodness’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 90:1, 93-109

Pigden, Charles (2012) ‘A sensible Knave? Hume, Jane Austen and Mr Elliot’ Journal of Intellectual History, 22.3, 465-480

Weber, Z. ‘Real Analysis in Paraconsistent Logic’ (with Maarteen McKubre-Jordens). Journal of Philosophical Logic, 41(5): 901 - 922. [Link]

Weber, Z. ‘Transfinite Cardinals in Paraconsistent Set Theory.’ Review of Symbolic Logic 5(2):269-293 [Link].

Dawes, Gregory W. (2011). In defense of naturalism. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 70 (1):3-25.

Dawes, Gregory W. (2011). Understanding Naturalism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):757-758.

Dyke, H. The Evolutionary Origins of Tensed Language and Belief' Biology and Philosophy 26 (2011): 401-418. Published online via Online First 22 March 2011 here.

Maclaurin, J. and H. Dyke, What is Analytic Metaphysics For?, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2011, DOI:10.1080/00048402.2011.587439.

Miller, A. "Jackson, Serious Metaphysics and Conceptual Analysis", Analysis 2011.

Miller, A. “Moral Realism and Program Explanation: A Reply to Nelson”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2009).

Miller, A. “Thoughts, Oughts and the Conceptual Primacy of Belief”, Analysis (2008).

Moore, A., 'New Zealand ethics committee matters', Research Ethics 7/4, 2011:132-135.

Pigden, Charles (2010) ‘Coercive Theories of Meaning or Why Language Should Not Matter (So Much) to Philosophy’ Logique et Analyse, 210 , 151-184.

Cheyne, C., 'A Paradox of Justified Believing.' Ratio 22: 278-290 (2009)

Maclaurin, James (2009), "Against Reduction: A critical notice of Molecular models: philosophical papers on molecular biology by Sahotra Sarkar", Biology and Philosophy. Available online at

Dyke, H. (2007) 'Words, Pictures and Ontology: A Commentary on John Heil's From an Ontological Point of View', SWIF Philosophy of Mind Review 6: 31-41

Dyke, H. (2007) 'Tenseless/Non-Modal Truthmakers for Tensed/Modal Truths', Logique et Analyse 199: 269-87

Cheyne, C. & Pigden, C. Negative truths from positive facts. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84: 249-265 (2006)

Maclaurin, J. (2006). 'The Innate / Acquired Distinction'. The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia. F. Pfeifer and S. Sarkar. New York, Routledge: 394-400

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