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Graham Clay | PhD Candidate, Philosophy

University of Notre Dame


gclay [at]

I am a fifth-year graduate student in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. I did my undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My main interests are in the history of philosophy, especially the early modern period. My dissertation is on Hume’s epistemology and philosophy of mind. I am also interested in skepticism and its history, metaphysics, metaethics, the history and philosophy of logic, and Aristotle.

My advisor is Samuel Newlands.

Recent Teaching

Systematic Thinking: God, Identity, and the Moderns
Spring 2018

I designed this modular class in order to help non-majors begin to develop systematic philosophical worldviews. In the form of the class I taught this past spring at Notre Dame, it was split into two units, with one on personal identity and the other on God. My goal is to challenge my students to develop consistent systematic views on the issues covered in each unit. The content and assignments reflect this goal. For instance, this past spring students were required to commit to a view on personal identity in their first paper and then, in their second paper, they were required to take up consistent views on either the permissibility of abortion, the permissibility of euthanasia, moral responsibility, or the possibility of the afterlife. Since I designed the units so that they were self-contained, they could be swapped—in future semesters—for others that better fit the needs of the department at that time. What will be retained is an emphasis on teaching students to see the links between philosophical commitments on issues that matter to them.


My central goal is to answer the question of whether Hume allows for the possibility of knowledge without belief. Contemporary epistemologists have been very interested in the relationship between knowledge and belief for decades, and one consensus is that we cannot know something without believing it. I argue that Hume runs afoul of this dogma, both in cases involving perception and in cases involving abstract philosophical reasoning. I argue that contemporary epistemologists have much to gain from studying Hume’s positions and arguments. Along the way, I develop a new interpretation of Hume’s position on knowledge, and I analyze how it should affect our understanding of Hume’s skepticism, as well as the relationship between infallibilism and external world skepticism more generally.

Other Research Projects

[paper on defining Berkeley’s idealism] – draft available
[paper on Locke’s dualism] – draft available
[paper on Brouwer’s philosophy of mind] – in progress


Aristotle’s Argument from Truth in Metaphysics Γ 4
Analysis, 79 (1): 17-24. 2019.

Some of Aristotle’s statements about the indemonstrability of the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC) in Metaphysics Γ 4 merit more attention. The consensus seems to be that Aristotle provides two arguments against the demonstrability of the PNC, with one located in Γ 3 and the other found in the first paragraph of Γ 4. In this article, I argue that Aristotle also relies upon a third argument for the same conclusion: the argument from truth. Although Aristotle does not explicitly state this argument, it is the best argument that he could use to defend some of his statements in the second paragraph of Γ 4. Since the argument relies on only a few of Aristotle’s core views about truth, I propose that it is faithful to his considered position throughout his corpus, and it may be the strongest argument he could offer for the indemonstrability of the PNC.

[final version] /// [penultimate draft]

Russell and the Temporal Contiguity of Causes and Effects
Erkenntnis, 83 (6): 1245-1264. 2018.

There are some necessary conditions on causal relations that seem to be so trivial that they do not merit further inquiry. Many philosophers assume that the requirement that there could be no temporal gaps between causes and their effects is such a condition. Bertrand Russell disagrees. In this paper, an in-depth discussion of Russell’s argument against this necessary condition is the centerpiece of an analysis of what is at stake when one accepts or denies that there can be temporal gaps between causes and effects. It is argued that whether one accepts or denies this condition, one is implicated in taking on substantial and wide-ranging philosophical positions. Therefore, it is not a trivial necessary condition of causal relations and it merits further inquiry.

[final version] /// [corrected penultimate draft]


Editorial Assistant, NDPR

Graduate Mentor, ND

Referee, NDNW Grad. Conf.


History of Modern
for Samuel Newlands

Introduction to Philosophy
for Meghan Sullivan

Introduction to Philosophy
for Joseph Karbowski