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Department of Philosophy


Michael Dickson

Title: Professor
Department: Philosophy
College of Arts and Sciences
Office: Close-Hipp 525
Resources: Personal Home Page
Curriculum Vitae
Department of Philosophy
Professor Michael Dickson


PhD, University of Notre Dame, 1995
BA/BS, University of South Carolina, 1990

Research Interests 

philosophy of music, philosophy of psychiatry, medieval philosophy

For a couple of decades, I worked in philosophy of physics, especially quantum theory.  I still advise students in this area but no longer publish in it.  After a (too-long) stint as an administrator, I have returned to civilian life, and am developing new research expertise in philosophy of music and philosophy of psychiatry.  My interest in music grows out of a lengthy training as a classical pianist and French horn player, a brief career as a professional musician before becoming a philosopher, and a continued abiding and serious interest in both musicology and musical performance.  My most recent work is a long paper on musical notation, to appear shortly in the journal Ergo.  I am also working on the idea that musical works are (in somewhat an 'ontological' sense of 'are') instructions.

I am also developing an interest in the philosophy of psychiatry, with a focus on symptoms associated with 'schizophrenia'.  I am currently working on a paper about the nature of delusions, and I am in the early stages of a paper about the role that individuals' self-understanding can and ought to play in both research and treatment of 'schizophrenia'.

In addition, I am reviving an old interest in medieval philosophy, originally developed as a graduate student, and subsequently as a teaching avocation at Indiana University, where I worked for ten years in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.  Specifically, I have an interest in medieval theories of truth and medieval aesthetics (and the connections between them), among other things.

I have also done some research in game theory, especially variations of signaling games.  This work has included both analytical results and simulations of multi-agent systems.  If the opportunity presents itself, I could puruse this research further.

Finally, I have done some work in what we might as well call 'epistemology of of philosophy', focused on the role that so-called 'intuitions' in fact play in contemporary philosophy (which is prominent in some areas) as compared to the role that I believe they should play (which is more or less 'none').  My view in a nutshell is that rather than citing 'intuition' as a form of evidence, we should admit that we don't know, and just leave such things as 'thoughts deserving of further investigation'.

Recent Presentations

  • "Signaling and Coordinative Semantics for Music" (Expression Language and Music, U Conn)
  • “Musical Notation and Musical Instructions" (American Society for Aesthetics, Philadelphia)
  • "Intellectual Humility" (Madpeople's Coping Mechanisms, Oxford, England)

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.