Jeff Sebo, New York University
“Psychological Fragmentation and Self-Narrative”
Jeff claims that many of us have multiple personalities (in a non-pathological sense), but that we generally fail to notice, because we construct a coherent self-narrative that explains all of our actions. In constructing this self-narrative, we rely on an “equal weight” assumption: Where character traits differ in different contexts, the “real me” must be somewhere in the middle. However, in some cases of readily apprehensible fragmentation, this strategy fails, and we identify with particular, personality-level narratives, rather than a general, person-level self-narrative. Which narrative we identify with matters, because it determines how we act and how psychologically fragmented we become. Jeff is particularly interested in brainstorming ways to empirically support each of these premises.
Jonathan Phillips, Yale University
“The Ordinary Folk Concept of Happiness”
Jonathan’s research project is focused on understanding the ordinary folk concept of happiness. In the first part, conducted with Sam Liao and Sven Nyholm (both U. of Michigan), several studies suggest that people have a surprisingly Aristotelian conception of happiness; people are reluctant to attribute happiness if a person is leading a life that is not both meaningful and good. The second part, developed with Anna Alexandrova (U. of Missouri - St. Louis), focuses on studies that suggest that people are sensitive to certain contextual factors when determining whether or not a given person is happy.
New York University, Philosophy Department
(5 Washington Place)