Assistant Professor, Philosophy
An education that aims to develop Leaders with Heart cannot attempt to teach students what to think, but rather, should empower them how to think, so they are able to fortify their individual moral, ethical and social ideologies to help navigate our very complex political, economic and cultural systems.
Dr. Bland is the 2017-2018 recipient of the John and Gail MacNaughton Prize for Excellence in Teaching, marking him as an extraordinarily engaging and supportive faculty member and educator.
I am deeply interested in the difference between justified and unjustified beliefs. My recent
research has been focussed on the following two questions: Can we justify any of our beliefs?
Can we objectively distinguish justified from unjustified beliefs? In response to both questions, I
answer a resounding ‘yes’, but for very different reasons. This sets me apart from most
philosophers, who answer ‘yes’, but for the same reason in both cases. I have developed my
position in a series of recently published articles, and I continue to do so in a book-length
My research also concerns the distinction between those principles that are the outcomes of our
investigations, and those principles that are necessarily presupposed in our investigations. In
particular, I have argued that this is an important distinction to make in our scientific knowledge
of space-time. Does Einsteinan physics reveal the invariance of the speed of light, or does it
presuppose it? Answering questions like these is an important step towards a better
understanding of the structure of scientific knowledge.
Teaching philosophy isn’t like teaching the tango; there aren’t simple, prescribed steps for
getting from one place to another. There is almost always more than one way to answer a
philosophical problem and almost never widespread consensus about which way is best. For this
reason, engaging in philosophy requires students to conceptualize the world, as well as the
problems that it presents them with, in a number of different ways. I have found that teaching
students how to do this well requires doing the following things:
1. Showing how philosophical problems threaten the way that we make sense of the world.
2. Giving students the opportunity to engage with these problems on their own.
3. Informing students of the theories that offer the most promising answers to these problems.
4. Leading students through the process of critically evaluating candidate theories.
5. Providing students with the opportunity to find entirely new ways of solving these problems.
In this way, I do not lead students to any particular philosophical perspective, but attempt to equip them with the intellectual wherewithal to find and defend their own unique perspective on the world.