Lisa Bastian

Lisa Bastian 2020

PhD 2020

HEI: University of St Andrews

Funding: AHRC DTP

Title: Attitudes First: Rationality Attributions and the Normativity of Rationality 

Supervisors: Dr Justin Snedegar and Prof Jessica Brown 


What was your research about?

My research focused on the notion of rationality: what do we have to be like to qualify as “rational”, how is rationality related to reasons and evidence, how can we decide whether someone is rational, and how important is it to be rational? 

These questions allowed me to do research in a few sub-fields of Philosophy, namely Meta-Ethics, Epistemology and Philosophy of Language. 

What made you apply for the SGSAH AHRC DTP?

After doing a Master’s in Philosophy, I felt like I hadn’t engaged nearly enough with it. I had found a topic that really interested me and supervisors that were encouraging and excited. The thought of being able to dive into a topic completely for a few years and to read and think about what I was passionate about seemed like an exceptional opportunity to me.

I had also always toyed with the idea of an academic career and doing a PhD would allow me to keep this as a possibility. In the end, my decision depended heavily on whether I could secure funding. So SGSAH played a crucial role in my decision. 

Which aspects of your PhD did you enjoy the most?

Being part of a community of researchers was the most important aspect to me. The PhD community at St Andrews is large but closely connected, given how small the place is. I enjoyed that my colleagues were also my friends and that I could discuss both work and life with them, whether over a morning coffee or a drink at the pub. Sharing an office with others in a building full of other PhD students and academic staff created a very stimulating environment. These exchanges are the most valuable thing I take away with me.

How has your PhD helped you to decide on a career path?

I had always entertained the idea of pursuing an academic career. Undertaking a PhD was obviously necessary for this. But the time during my PhD has also helped me to decide whether an academic career is really what I wanted. I have gained valuable insights into what life as an academic would be like: whether it’s having to structure your own research over a long period of time, or having to balance time for research with teaching and admin. This helped me in deciding to apply for academic jobs.  

And now?

I am an Assistant Professor at the Philosophy Department of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. I mostly teach Ethics and Political Philosophy, both within the Philosophy Bachelor and the PPE programme 

One piece of advice you would give an incoming PhD researcher?

Build a peer network – the relationships to other PhD students are the most valuable resource one can have. Their feedback can be more considerate than that of your supervisors. Their experiences match yours. Their crises are your crises and they are best suited to help you through it. 

Where can people find you?

Academic profiles: https://research.vu.nl/en/persons/lisa-bastian and https://vu-nl.academia.edu/LisaBastian/ 

This article was published on 18 May, 2022