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Coming dissertations at Uppsala university

  • Hedonistic Act Utilitarianism : Action Guidance and Moral Intuitions Author: Simon Rosenqvist Link: Publication date: 2020-03-13 10:58

    According to hedonistic act utilitarianism, an act is morally right if and only if, and because, it produces at least as much pleasure minus pain as any alternative act available to the agent. This dissertation gives a partial defense of utilitarianism against two types of objections: action guidance objections and intuitive objections.

    In Chapter 1, the main themes of the dissertation are introduced. The chapter also examines questions of how to understand utilitarianism, including (a) how to best formulate the moral explanatory claim of the theory, (b) how to best interpret the phrase "pleasure minus pain," and (c) how the theory is related to act consequentialism.

    The first part (Chapters 2 and 3) deals with action guidance objections to utilitarianism. Chapter 2 defines two kinds of action guidance: doxastic and evidential guidance. It is argued that utilitarianism is evidentially but not doxastically guiding for us. Chapter 3 evaluates various action guidance objections to utilitarianism. These are the objections that utilitarianism, because it is not doxastically guiding, is a bad moral theory, fails to be a moral theory, is an uninteresting and unimportant moral theory, and is a false moral theory.

    The second part (Chapters 4, 5 and 6) deals with intuitive objections to utilitarianism. Chapter 4 presents three intuitive objections: Experience Machine, Transplant, and Utility Monster. Three defenses of utilitarianism are subsequently evaluated. Chapter 5 and 6 introduces two alternative defenses of utilitarianism against intuitive objections, both of which concern the role that imagination plays in thought experimentation. In Chapter 5, it is argued that we sometimes unknowingly carry out the wrong thought experiment when we direct intuitive objections against utilitarianism. In many such cases, we elicit moral intuitions that we believe give us reason to reject utilitarianism, but that in fact do not. In Chapter 6, it is argued that using the right kind of sensory imagination when we perform thought experiments will positively affect the epistemic trustworthiness of our moral intuitions. Moreover, it is suggested that doing so renders utilitarianism more plausible.

    In Chapter 7, the contents of the dissertation are summarized.

  • Who ate whom? Paleoecology revealed through synchrotron microtomography of coprolites (fossil feces) Author: Martin Qvarnström Link: Publication date: 2020-03-13 08:58

    Fossil droppings, known as coprolites, are being increasingly recognized as a valuable source of paleoecological information with special regard to diets, parasitism, and physiology of extinct taxa. Here, it is suggested that the excellent preservation and amount of inclusions in the coprolites (e.g. food residues and parasites) qualifies them as Lagerstätten – deposits with exceptional paleontological information. However, two interlinked problems commonly arise when they are studied. Firstly, it is often difficult to tie coprolites to producers and, secondly, it is challenging to recognize the fragmented and randomly distributed inclusions in their matrix. Here I use propagation phase-contrast synchrotron microtomography (PPC-SRμCT) in combination with other techniques to solve these problems. As a result, the oldest known example of archosaurian osteophagy is uncovered based on inter alia the occurrence of serrated teeth and many crushed bones in coprolites assigned to the Late Triassic theropod-like archosaur Smok wawelski. Osteophagy has previously been thought to be rare among extinct archosaurs with the exception of Late Cretaceous tyrannosaurids. This suggests some degree of ecological convergence between the tyrannosaurids and S. wawelski. Furthermore, exceptionally-preserved beetle remains are discovered in coprolites tentatively assigned to the Triassic dinosauriform Silesaurus opolensis, which had a specialized dentition and possessed beak-shaped jaws that were likely used to peck insects off the ground. Moreover, pterosaur coprolites are shown to contain similar food residues as found in droppings of recent flamingos, implying that some Late Jurassic pterosaurs were filter feeders. I argue that such paleoecological studies have a large impact on our understanding of ancient animals, and that studies of coprolites can unravel parts of ancient food webs in unprecedented ways. Information on past food webs may, in turn, be used to analyze trophic changes through time, which could cast new light on big evolutionary events. This is demonstrated by reconstructing trophic structures in early Mesozoic assemblages that represent snapshots of three stages of early dinosaur evolution.

  • The Spirit in Paul and John : A Comparative Analysis Author: Mathias Sånglöf Link: Publication date: 2020-03-12 09:34

    This study compares occurrences of the Spirit of God in Pauline and Johannine texts on a lexical, grammatical, and conceptual level. The following questions are asked: What are the common traits associated with the Spirit? What is the unique profile of each corpus? Can one corpus help us better understand the other? This objective is pursued by first considering similarities and differences at the lexical and grammatical levels and then by identifying important ideas connected with the Spirit. It is clear that both Paul and John connect the Spirit with God, Jesus, and believers in a salvation-historical framework.

    The analysis of the conceptual level is divided into two major themes. The first theme is Christ and the coming of the Spirit. In both corpora the Spirit’s coming is shown to be the result of Christ’s redemptive work, his death and resurrection. The second theme revolves around different ways in which the Spirit impacts the life of believers. One example examined is the Spirit’s role in believers becoming children of God. Paul uses the idea of “adoption” while John uses the idea of being “begotten.” While being two different models, they still both refer to believers as becoming children of God through the work of the Spirit. Likewise, how the Spirit enables good moral conduct and how the Spirit communicates knowledge of God are ideas clearly found in both corpora, even if different models are used to develop these ideas.

    The comparative approach has proven helpful for our understanding of both Paul and John. Placing these texts side by side has brought out certain things in common, but has also sharpened the unique profile of each corpus. Similarities and common traits are significant and at times may even help us to better understand individual texts in each corpus. At the same time, differences between the texts are also important, and they testify to the unique contribution of each corpus to early Christian thinking about the Spirit. We may conclude that both similarities and differences between Paul and John have proven relevant for interpreting the one corpus in light of the other.