Graduate Dissertation Selected for Publication

By Robert Bastone, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

Joshua Rust

Joshua Rust, graduate student of the Philosophy Department, has recently agreed to publish his dissertation. Rust’s book critiques famed philosophy Professor John Searle’s highly criticized Construction of Social Reality, which has never before had a full-length book dedicated to its examination. Rust’s future book has been titled John Searle and the Construction of Social Reality and will be published by Thoemmes Continuum Publishing.

Rust described Searle’s work as relying on the basic assumption that there are two types of facts in the world: basic facts, objects of nature and the like, and social facts, creations of human culture like money and race. From this assumption comes the first premise that social facts are the product of society’s collective agreement. Rust’s work concurs with this premise, but disagrees with the second premise that these social facts bring about rights and obligations for society. He likens his theory of Searle’s work to the Wallace Stevens poem “ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by stating that there is more than just one model for examining social facts. Rust uses philosopher Max Weber’s notion that there are many different models or “ideal types” for examining the complex world, and asserts that Searle is limiting his work by merely giving one.

As an undergraduate, Joshua Rust studied under John Searle at the University of California, Berkeley. He commented that he spent most of his graduate career “working out” the philosophical problems Searle created for him as an undergraduate.

Joshua Rust’s work is set to be published in December of this year. He will be defending his dissertation in February 2005; and following the defense, he has six weeks to integrate any suggested changes into the manuscript which will be submitted by the end of March. Rust noted that the contract to publish his dissertation has challenged him to “change and sharpen his work” He also noted that his dissertation may have been ready months ago when he was “writing for only three people,” but now he has no idea how many will read his work.

Rust expects to be awarded his Ph.D. by the end of Winter Quarter in March 2005. After graduate school, he plans to begin postgraduate work at the London School of Economics.

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