Recent ARC Funded Projects

In recent years there has been some concern within the Australasian Continental Philosophy community that CP-related project proposals haven't been more successful in obtaining funding from the Australian Research Council. The following summaries describe some of our Members' projects, which currently are  funded by the ARC. For further information about ARC funding outcomes, visit the ARC website.


ARC grants 2012

DECRA Dr Miriam Bankovsky La Trobe University

1606 Political Science

Revisiting the foundations of mainstream economics: a cooperative account of wellbeing and moral improvement.

Summary: This study represents a major theoretical challenge to the individualistic definition of wellbeing that defines mainstream economics. It does so by advancing an alternative paradigm for understanding individual wellbeing as co-dependent on the wellbeing of others, exploring intersubjective attitudes that facilitate cooperative economic behaviour.

DISCOVERY and DORA Prof Paul Redding, The University of Sydney

2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields

Analysis in the idealist tradition: the development of Leibniz's analytic method by Kant and Hegel and its implications for contemporary philosophy.

Summary: This project investigates the development of the 'analytic' method in the idealist philosophies of Leibniz, Kant and Hegel and compares it to 'analysis' as used in analytic philosophy. It thereby seeks to find a ground for dialogue between strands within contemporary philosophy that are usually thought to be opposed.

DISCOVERY Dr Melissa M. Merritt, The University of New South Wales

2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields

Enlightened judgment: reflection and cognitive virtue in Kant's critical philosophy.

Summary: This project aims to explain our cognitive practices what is sound judgment and how does it depend on the ability to be critical about our concepts? What is intellectual creativity, and what makes it possible? The answers are provided through a new interpretation of the philosophical ideal of enlightenment, with special attention to the work of Kant.

FUTURE FELLOWSHIP Dr. Catherine J. Mills, Monash University

2203 Philosophy

A new understanding of responsibility in the ethics of human reproduction.

Summary: New developments in reproductive medicine and prenatal testing technologies are transforming pregnancy and generating difficult moral and policy questions for parents and the Australian community. This project will provide a new framework for reproductive responsibility that helps to ensure a healthy start to life for all Australians.

FUTURE FELLOWSHIP Dr. Alison F. Ross, Monash University

2203 Philosophy

Improving decision-making processes in complex environments.

Summary: This project will develop a new approach to understanding the factors involved in complex decision making. It will investigate the processes and mechanisms that individuals use to make decisions in complex environments. This project will also show that one way individuals deal with the problem of complexity is to frame their experiences aesthetically.


Previous ARC Grants

Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. First Investigator: Dr Dalia Nassar

Nature and Culture in German Romantic Philosophy and Environmental Philosophy

Summary: The project aims to provide the first philosophical study of the German romantic understanding of the relation between nature and culture and assess its relevance for contemporary environmental questions and concerns. The project will initiate a significant and illuminating dialogue between German romantic philosophy and environmental philosophy, and offer new perspectives on the historical development of German romanticism and idealism. The outcomes of this study will be: a deeper knowledge of German philosophy; important insights into the history of the idea of nature; new ways of understanding our ethical relation to the natural world.

Field of Research (FOR):
History of Philosophy 65%
Environmental Philosophy 35%

Relation between Nature and Culture
German romanticism and idealism
Environmental Philosophy


Discovery. Chief Investigators: A/Prof Marion Maddox, A/Prof Roland Boer, Christopher Hartney, Dr Geoffrey Boucher, Dr Matthew Sharpe

Religion and political thought.

Summary: RAPT is the Australian arm of an Australian-generated global project, already underway in Europe, North America and Asia. We examine a growing body of contradictory data not yet adequately analysed: the increasingly open Christian religiosity, and pro-Christian policies, of political leaders in a secular society. Two colloquia gather specialists in politics, religion, philosophy, psychoanalysis, theology and biblical criticism, producing an edited scholarly volume and public policy document. We analyse the data in light of the current geopolitical climate, contribute to an Australian tradition of political theory, offer concrete policy proposals, problematise the religion-politics separation and advance international collaboration.

Summary for public release: Why do so many Australian political leaders increasingly profess religious belief, while the public becomes more secular? What does this mean for our politics? RAPT's interdisciplinary, rigorous analysis contributes both to a large international project (Asia, Europe & Nth America), and to developing an Australian tradition of political theory.

Church and state
Religion and public life
Religion and politics

FOR Codes:
Religion and Society 50%
Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History) 25%
Social Philosophy 25%

Decra. Chief Investigator: Paul Formosa, Macquarie University

Dignity and respect: a Kantian theoretical approach to practical rationality and human agency

A4. Summary of Proposal

(In no more than 750 characters (approx 100 words) of plain language, summarise aims, signi?cance and expected outcomes.)

Appeals to the innate dignity of human beings are commonplace in important public debates in bioethics and on the grounding of human rights. But why do humans, and not other animals, have dignity? Do all humans have dignity? And how should we practically acknowledge the dignity of others? This project will provide systematic answers to these questions by deploying an innovative Kantian theoretical framework. This will be used to show that the demands of practical reason ground the moral status of human agents as the bearers of dignity. The outcome of this project will be an improved understanding of human dignity, its basis, and its implications.

A5. Summary of Project for Public Release

(In no more than 350 characters (approx 50 words), please provide a two-sentence descriptor of the purpose and expected outcome of the project which is suitable for media or other publicity material. Do not duplicate or simply truncate the 'Summary of Proposal'.)

A core component of living a ful?lling human life is having one's dignity practically acknowledged. This project will explore what dignity is, its philosophical basis and its practical implications for bioethics; the outcomes will be to improve our understanding of human dignity and to enhance Australia's international reputation in philosophy.

B2. Field of Research (FOR)
Field of Research (FOR) Field of Research (FOR) Percent

1 Ethical Theory 50
2 Social Philosophy 50

B4. Keywords
1 Kant, Immanuel
2 Dignity

DECRA. Chief Investigator: Joanne Faulkner

The Politicised Child in Postcolonial Community: A Political Ontology of Childhood and Memory examined through cases in Australia and Canada  2012-2014

Summary: The project interrogates the emerging political significance and use of childhood, drawing on two case studies: political mobilisation surrounding the stolen generations in Australia; and the survivors of compulsory sterilisation in Canada. By bringing into dialogue insights from collective memory studies, childhood studies, and political philosophy, the project will evaluate the strategic risks and potentialities of articulating political identity around the figure of the wronged child. The project seeks to intervene in public debates on the political meaning of memory and childhood in discussions of reconciliation, and will contribute significantly to developing the burgeoning field of the philosophy of childhood.

Summary for Public Release: The project investigates the meaning and use of childhood in recent political and social movements, such as the ‘Stolen Generations’ in Australia and sterilised children in Canada. This research will contribute to current debates about the need for reconciliation, and to Australia’s international profile in the field of political philosophy.

FoR codes:
1 Political Theory and Political Philosophy 50%
2 Phenomenology 30%
3 Postcolonial Studies 20%

1 Continental Philosophy

2 Cultural meaning of childhood

3 Collective memory


 Discovery. Chief investigator: Heikki Ikäheimo (Macquarie University). Partner investigators: Arto Laitinen (University of Jyväskylä), Michael Quante (University of Münster), Italo Testa (University of Parma)

The social ontology of personhood – a recognition-theoretical approach (2010)

What distinguishes persons from those animals that are not persons? What distinguishes the life-world of persons from a natural environment of animals? It is clear in social science, as well as common sense, that these questions are in many ways closely intertwined. On the one hand, human animals do not develop into persons in a merely natural environment. And on the other hand, those animals that are not persons are not capable of creating and maintaining the social and institutional structures characteristic of a life-world of persons. This intuitively clear intertwinement of personhood and the constitutive features of the world in which they live is not, however, sufficiently dealt by any of the current special branches of philosophical inquiry. The theme of personhood is mostly examined in philosophy in abstraction from the social and institutional structures of the life-world in which persons live and develop into persons. And the constitution of these structures is mostly dealt with in abstraction from questions concerning the constitution of subjects capable of building and maintaining them – namely persons. Hence, in place of a whole picture of the world of persons we have two distinct pictures the interconnections of which have not been adequately scrutinized. This project aims at changing the situation. It will develop a synthetic conceptual framework which shows how the essential characteristics of persons and the central structures of their life-world are interdependent, and how both come about and are maintained by attitudes and relations of interpersonal recognition.

Keywords: recognition, Axel Honneth, Robert Brandom, Hegel, German idealism, social ontology

Field of research:  Social Philosophy


Discovery. Chief Investigators: Lisa Trahair (UNSW), Robert Sinnerbrink (Macquarie); Participant Investigator: Gregory Flaxman (University of North Carolina)

Film as Philosophy: Understanding Cinematic Thinking (2010)

Cinematic thinking is the fundamental presupposition of a recent trend in the study of cinema known as 'film-philosophy'. Yet what the concept of cinematic thinking entails and how precisely films can be understood as thinking objects remains a neglected or contentious issue in these new approaches. This project will establish the parameters for understanding cinematic thinking by analysing how thought is conceived in both philosophical approaches to film and films by key contemporary filmmakers. The project's significance lies in its critical intervention into a new genre of academic writing and its contribution to the understanding of film as philosophy.

Keywords: Film Studies, Cultural Studies, Continental Philosophy, Cultural Theory

RFCD Codes: 410302 Cinema Studies (40%)
420304 Screen and Media Culture (30%)
420302 Cultural Theory (30%)

Discovery. Chief Investigators: Nick Smith (Macquarie), Jean-Philippe Deranty (Macquarie); Participant Investigators: Emmanuel Renault (ENS Lyon), Christophe Dejours (CNAM Paris)

Work and self-development: a philosophical reappraisal (2010)

A rich tradition of philosophical thought, stretching from Adam Smith in the eighteenth century to Hannah Arendt in the twentieth, takes the experience of work to be a decisive factor in the development of properly human capacities. Yet in the past two decades philosophers have fallen silent on this issue. Drawing on recent empirical research on the effects of work experience on the formation of cognitive, emotional and moral skills and competences, and integrating these findings within a new philosophical anthropology of the working subject, the project breaks this silence and revitalises the classical idea of the central self-formative significance of work.

Keywords: Philosophy of Work, Philosophical Anthropology, Critical Social Theory, Frankfurt School.

RFCD Codes: 440110 Social Philosophy

370101 Social Theory

Discovery. Chief Investigator: Prof Desmond R Manderson

The sight of justice: images and the rule of law (2010)

The rule of law is a key issue in global and national governance, which this project will study in a novel way: through the images and art that have helped us make sense of it.  This will give new insights into its history, evolution and current challenges, and new ways of encouraging public understanding and engagement with the law.

Keywords : law and the humanities, law and the image, legal history, rule of law

Field of Research: Legal Theory, Jurisprudence and Legal Interpretation (60%)

History and Philosophy of Law and Justice (40%)


Discovery. Chief Investigators: Paul Redding (University of Sydney); Paolo Diego Bubbio (University of Sydney)

The God of Hegel's Post-Kantian Idealism (2009)

The nineteenth-century idealist philosopher G. W. F. Hegel occupied a critical position within the history of modern European attitudes to God and religion. In line with recent reinterpretations of his philosophical idealism, this project explores the consequences of Hegel's conception of God for understanding and evaluating his philosophy more generally. In a series of monographs we aim to show how Hegel's hitherto misunderstood conception of God by-passes traditional oppositions between theistic and anthropocentric-atheistic attitudes to religion. Besides providing further evidence for the "post-Kantian" interpretation of his philosophy, we show the relevance of Hegel's neglected approach for contemporary debates over religion.

Keywords: Kant, Hegel, Idealism, Philosophical theology

RFCD codes:    440105 (History of Philosophy and History of Ideas) 70%

440112 (Hermeneutic theory) 20%

440207 (Religion and Society) 10%


Discovery. Chief Investigators: Alison Ross (Monash), Andrew Benjamin (Monash); Participant Investigator: Kryzsztof Ziarek (SUNY at Buffalo).

Persuasive Force: The Role of Aesthetic Elements in Moral Persuasion (2009)

In modern societies individuals are not persuaded to moral positions because they see these positions to be pointless and ineffective in addressing serious problems. This proposal will show that this problem arises because individuals are not engaged by the abstract nature of moral argumentation. Moreover, it will solve this problem by showing that for individuals to be persuaded to engage in paths of action, moral argumentation needs to engage with an aesthetic background. This background will be shown to be the necessary condition for moral categories and language to have persuasive force. Because of its innovative approach to the problem of moral motivation this proposal will have an international impact on debates over moral conduct and raise the international profile of Australia in this field. In addition to its academic benefits in research training and our national research reputation this proposal has implications for the way social policy is devised. In particular, the reconsideration of the sources of moral action proposed here has important implications for understanding the dynamics involved in religious fundamentalism and political violence.

Keywords: Aesthetics, German Aesthetic Theory, Continental Moral and Ethical Theory, Contemporary French Philosophy, Kant

RFCD Codes:   440101 (Aesthetics)

440105 (History of Philosophy and History of Ideas)

440111 (Phenomenology)


PDF. Chief Investigator: Joanne Faulkner (UNSW)

The Concept of Innocence and the Political Community: Australian Identity and Social Health

The project analyses the pivotal role of 'innocence' in shaping the Australian community's perceptions of its own identity, and potential threats to the health of its social fabric. Drawing upon psychoanalytic theorym the project argues that the community manages anxiety regarding its core values through 'the innocent' (typically women and children), understood as a site for the negotiation of the community's hopes and fears. The project makes an original contribution to discussions of the Australian community's relation to its colonial past, and its indigenous and migrant populations, and recent reappraisals of Australian identity flowing from these considerations.

Keywords: The concept of innocence; political community; whiteness studies; psychoanalytic theory; continental philosophy; cultural trauma

RFCD Codes:  440110 Social philosophy (50%)

379999 Studies in human society not elsewhere classified (30%)

420303 Culture, gender, sexuality (20%)


Discovery. Chief Investigators: Dr Jack Reynolds (La Trobe); Dr James Chase (University of Tasmania). Partner Investigators: Prof. James Williams (University of Dundee); Prof. Edwin Mares (Victoria University at Wellington).

Analytic and Continental: Arguments on the Methods and Value of Philosophy (2008)

Analytic and continental philosophy have become increasingly specialised and differentiated fields of endeavour. Historically defined by having been practiced in Anglo-American English-speaking countries and Continental European countries respectively, these days the geographical differentiation has become far less reliable. Nonetheless, academic philosophers, postgraduate and undergraduate students, journals, conferences, publication series, and even entire publishing houses, all now often live entirely within one or the other tradition. In some respects each tradition now has more ongoing connections to disciplines outside of philosophy than it has with its internal 'other'. And indeed the divide has now ramified throughout the social sciences and humanities. It is familiar wherever a confirmation theorist meets a constructivist, or a poststructuralist meets a positivist, in myriad debates about the significance of Foucault, or the scope of covering law explanation. Arguably, the analytic/continental divide has helped to yield methodological incomprehension and rejection between different camps in sociology, history, anthropology, literary theory, archaeology and many other fields.

No doubt there are many causes of this philosophical divide. A list of them might include matters of philosophical heritage, the development of different philosophical conversations in different countries, the increasing professionalisation of philosophy over the twentieth century, the snowballing nature of mutual disinterest or distrust. But what are the ongoing reasons for the divide? What philosophically defensible justification can any analytic or continental philosopher offer for ignoring work carried out on the other side of the fence? This project seeks to answer this question, by systematically examining some of the most important methodological and philosophical differences that have separated (and continue to separate) these traditions.


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