Ashley Keefner

MA Philosophy

Ashley Keefner“The grad community is really cool at UWaterloo, and in our department specifically,” says Ashley Keefner, an MA student in Philosophy. “Everybody talks to each other and helps each other.” Whether it is looking over each other’s papers, practicing for presentations together, or grabbing lunch at the grad house, peers and professors in the Department of Philosophy provide constant support.

With a background in Arts and Science, Ashley continued to broaden her education by taking a Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Science while simultaneously working towards her Master of Arts. “I knew I wanted to go to Waterloo; it was a good fit with my interdisciplinary background.” Her focus areas are philosophy of mind and cognitive science.  She is currently examining the idea of theory of mind in birds.  “Theory of mind has to do with attributing mental states to others, whether they be humans, animals, or things, and using those mental states to make inferences about another’s behaviour,” Ashley explains. She explores questions such as: Can birds attribute mental states to other birds? How might birds do this? Do birds have a theory of mind? Currently in the writing stage, Ashley is exploring these questions from a philosophical perspective.

Ashley immersed herself in the graduate student life at UWaterloo even before she arrived on campus. During the application process, she visited the campus, sat in on the graduate student conference, and met with a current MA student to learn about the program. She later made the move to UWaterloo and has really enjoyed living in graduate housing. Ashley is also the MA representative for the Philosophy Graduate Student Association. “It’s given me a lot of great opportunities in terms of seeing how things run in the department.”

Ashley will be returning to UWaterloo in September 2013 to begin her PhD in Philosophy where she hopes to further her research on theory of mind, focusing on questions such as: Why are some people better than others at employing a theory of mind?  Who has a theory of mind and who doesn’t? When asked about what she will do after her PhD, Ashley said “I am thinking about doing my MBA.” An interdisciplinary student at heart, Ashley hopes to examine other subject areas and continue to expand her education.

July 2013 Megan Scarborough

University of Waterloo

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