Kaija Mortensen

Teaching Fellow in Philosophy

B.A., Colorado College
Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz

Programs: Philosophy

My research is driven by a desire to better understand philosophical ways of knowing (and the relationships between philosophical ways of knowing and the many other ways we know ourselves and the world). My current work addresses the role of intuition in philosophical arguments and engages issues in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and experimental philosophy.

I write about the relationship between the questions philosophers ask, the (stated or implicit) goals of their inquiry, and the methods they use to reach those goals. I am also interested in the relationship between philosophical methods and the methods employed by other disciplines. For example, what distinguishes a philosophical question from a scientific question? How might the methods of social science shed light on traditionally philosophical questions? What are the relationships between religious, aesthetic and philosophical ways of knowing? While my current research primarily participates in debates in contemporary analytic philosophy, my interest in philosophical methods and my teaching experience have deepened my interest in the history of both modern philosophy and 20th century analytic philosophy.

My approach to teaching is shaped by my conviction that dialogue is the central activity of philosophy. Participation in such dialogue—regardless of one’s role as student or teacher—requires learning (1) how to charitably understand and clearly reconstruct the arguments of others, (2) how to critique ideas in ways that contribute productively to an overall investigation, and (3) how to enter one’s own voice into an ongoing conversation articulately and on point. As a teacher, I endeavor to help students apply skills they already possess towards the development of additional skills. I strive to create a nurturing educational environment in which students feel comfortable taking risks that will increase their knowledge and develop critical, reflective habits of mind.

PHIL 120 Philosophy of Human Nature