April 30, 2021

Better understanding the evolution of cooperation

Archie Fields III proposes "Intergrating Models and Narratives to Better Explain the Evolution of Cooperation” in his April 30, 2021 PhD thesis defence
Archie Fields III

Congratulations to Archie Fields III on the defence of his PhD thesis “Integrating Models and Narratives to Better Explain the Evolution of Cooperation” on the April 30, 2021.

His thesis committee included Dr. Marc Ereshefsky (supervisor), Dr. Megan Delehanty (co-supervisor), Dr. John Baker and Dr. C. Kenneth Waters (committee members), Dr. Jeremy Fox (internal examiner, Biological Sciences, UCalgary), Dr. Jonathan Birch (external examiner, London School of Economics) and Dr. Ann Levey (neutral chair).

We asked Archie to provide us with some insight into his thesis, and his graduate studies experience in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary.

  1. Tell us about your thesis topic

Questions surrounding the evolution of cooperation, especially human cooperation, have driven research in many disciplines. Two key methodologies used to research and explain the evolution of cooperation are modeling and constructing narratives. A number of scientists and philosophers have suggested that advancing research on the evolution of cooperation will require integrating models and narratives. Relatively little has been said about what challenges exist to integrating models and narratives, how to go about integrating models and narratives, and what particular benefits might be gained by accomplishing such integration. In my dissertation, I address these questions in order to show how models and narratives can be integrated to produce better research on and explanations of the evolution of cooperation.

  1. What was the most valuable outcome of the graduate program for you?

It has taught me a lot about what I can do. I’m interested in pursuing other projects (both creative and research-oriented) that are not directly related to my philosophy research. Writing a dissertation has shown me that I have the discipline and motivation to write and research on my own, and I think that will serve my other interests, as well as any future career I have in philosophy.

The decision to do my studies at UCalgary meant leaving another program. A big part of the reason was to follow my partner, and now spouse, Berly Brumble. We got married right here in the Department of Philosophy lounge space (by Dr. David Dick, no less) and that was a valuable outcome indeed!

  1. What are the next steps/plans for you?

There are so many things to do! First, I’m going to spend as much of this next summer as I can enjoying the mountains and floating the Bow River on those beautiful Calgary summer days. I will also continue working on my research and applying for academic employment. If that doesn’t work out, or even if it does, I hope to continue writing, imagining, and thinking as I work on future projects.