Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Research Unit for Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Philosophy of Cognition


The unit coordinates research on interrelated issues in analytical epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of cognition. Currently prominent research questions within the unit concern modal conditions for knowledge and knowledge of modality, epistemic norms, dispositions and response-dependence, non-representational theories of cognition, process ontology, the role of intuitions and conceivability for modal cognition, mathematical knowledge, scientific realism, naturalism, and pragmatism.

The unit has a strong international profile, with solid ties to several of the worlds most prominent research centers in the field. 

The unit arranges a permanent research seminar with weekly meetings during term time, with a university-wide following, and often hosts workshops and conferences.

Please contact the coordinator of the unit if you wish to get involved!

Unit Coordinator

Events Spring 2019

All seminars take place 12:30–14:30 in 1467/616


8/1      Weng Hong Tang (NUS)                     

“Evidentialism and Fit”

22/2    Asger Kirkeby-Hinrup (Lund)             

"Empirical Data in the Philosophy of Mind"  

1/3      Lee Walters (Southhampton)            

“The Linguistic Approach to Ontology”

26/4    Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen (AU)                             

"Weighing epistemic and practical reasons for belief"

10/5    Johanna Seibt (AU)        

"The Mind as Process—Can We Naturalize the Mind By Recategorization?"

5/7     John Matthewson (Massey University, New Zealand)

 "Degrees of proper function"


Natural selection comes in degrees. Some biological traits are subjected to stronger selective force than others, selection on particular traits waxes and wanes over time, and some groups can only undergo an attenuated kind of selective process. This has downstream consequences for any notions that are standardly treated as binary but depend on natural selection. For instance, the proper function of a biological structure can be defined as what caused that (type of) structure to be selected in the past. We usually think of proper functions in binary terms: pumping blood is a function of the heart, but making thumping noises is not. However, if functions arise through natural selection, and natural selection comes in degrees, then a binary approach to proper functions is in tension with the biological facts. In order to resolve this tension, we need to revise our standard accounts of proper function. In particular, we may have to seriously consider the possibility that functions themselves come in degrees, in spite of the ramifications this will have for related concepts such as dysfunction, disease, and teleosemantic content.