Lauren M. Ashwell
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology; M.A., B.A., B.S., University of Auckland
Lauren Ashwell works in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and feminist ethics, with particular interests in dispositions, desire, and objectification, in each of these respective areas.
In philosophy of mind, desire is an also-ran when it comes to theorizing about mental states – all the attention is on belief, (visual) perceptual experience, and pain. Desire is largely ignored, as it is assumed to be similar enough to belief that one can simply focus on belief in forming theories of the mind. Lauren is currently working on problems that arise from this assumption, in both the metaphysics and epistemology of our desires, with particular focus on how we introspect desire and motivation. Her interest in desire also extends into the area of feminist ethics, where she has looked at how desire might play a role in objectification.
Desire is thought to be closely connected to dispositions towards behavior; and so in working on the metaphysics of desire Lauren became interested in dispositional properties. The metaphysics of dispositions has implications, though, for the world beyond one’s mind, as many (if not all) fundamental properties seem to be dispositional in nature. Lauren argues that in both the metaphysics of the mind and also of the natural world we have to pay close attention to how dispositions interact and interfere with each other.