Grads, Grilled: Jordan Bell

Jordan Bell

Jordan Bell - UC DavisDepartment


Program and Year of Study

PhD, 1st year

Previous degrees and colleges

MA Philosophy, University of Florida (2015)

BA Philosophy (with honors), University of Central Florida (2013)

Where did you grow up?

Central Florida, about 20 minutes north of Orlando

Where do you live now?

Davis, CA

What's your favorite spot in Davis?

The arboretum and 3rd and U Cafe!

How do you relax?

I enjoy taking walks around the arboretum, listening to music, going out with friends for a few drinks, and having a nice long nap.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

If I remember correctly, it was Homer's Iliad

What was the last film you saw at the theater?

Logan. Hugh Jackman was majestic.

Research interests

My research pervades a few different subject areas within philosophy. I am primarily interested in the philosophy of mind. Currently I am invested in better understanding the relationship between the content of propositional attitude attributions/reports and the content of the corresponding mental states that such reports are about.

Dissertation title or topic

Since I am a first year, I do not have a dissertation topic yet. But it will likely have to do with the metaphysics of mind or issues concerning the relationship between mind and language.

Please share a surprising or noteworthy fact or finding from your research

Conceptual puzzles regarding the mind are inextricably linked with conceptual puzzles regarding language and theory of knowledge.

Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?

I have had an interest in pursuing graduate study since I began my undergraduate degree, but I think it solidified after taking a course in the philosophy of mind taught by Bill Butchard.

Which scholarly text do you wish you had written? Why?

Probably Saul Kripke’s Naming and Necessity, since it has been one of the most influential works of contemporary philosophy throughout all core fields of the analytic tradition.

Which other researchers at UC Davis are doing work that particularly interests you?

My mentor, Bernard Molyneux, who works in the philosophy of mind. Also, given my interest in mind I find Joy Geng’s (from the Department of Psychology) work on attention interesting.

What’s the best thing about being a grad student?

I end up receiving free food (and drink) often.

What's the worst?

Crippling anxiety and depression.

If you weren’t a grad student, what would you be doing?

Working some sort of blue-collar job, maybe teaching English abroad, and philanthropy.

Finally, please ask yourself a question

How do philosophy graduate students do research?

We spend most of our time tracing certain lines of thought that address a myriad of conceptual issues to their roots, and along the way refine our own view regarding the issues at hand. This involves considering reasoning for and against the extant positions, diagnosing their shortcomings, and buttressing our own position to be situated within the contemporary literature. Most importantly, we provide well-reasoned argument for adopting our chosen position and defend it against potential or actual criticisms. Philosophy, one might claim, is the art of rational inquiry writ large.

At least, that is what I take myself to be doing.

— May 2017