Trending Topics and Words in Philosophy Dissertations

What are the hot topics of philosophical dissertations since 2000? Click here to find out which words are most common in these dissertation titles.

What are the hot topics in philosophical dissertations since 2000?  Using the approximately 2,000 dissertation titles (excluding all “Unknown” dissertations) I had collected for other analyses, I separated out each word in a single title and put it into a column with all of the words from other titles.  The combined result was approximately 16,500 individual words (so about 5 words per title), and of those, about 3,400 distinct words.  After removing common and uninteresting words like “the” and “and”, I found how many times each word was used in this collection of dissertation title words. (Note: I did not correct for misspellings.  The words are as I found them in the placement records.)

Which words were the most popular? 

In first, the word “Theory” was used 177 times, meaning that 9% of dissertation titles used this word.  In second, “Philosophy” was used 98 times.  And in third, “Ethics” was used 76 times.  Here are the top 100 results.

Word WordCount
THEORY 177
PHILOSOPHY 98
ETHICS 76
DEFENSE 62
KNOWLEDGE 57
NATURE 56
PHILOSOPHICAL 55
EPISTEMOLOGY 55
METAPHYSICS 53
SCIENCE 53
MIND 46
POLITICAL 45
ETHICAL 45
ACTION 45
EPISTEMIC 43
ACCOUNT 42
PRACTICAL 42
PROBLEM 42
LANGUAGE 42
REASON 42
STUDY 40
APPROACH 40
MORAL 38
VIRTUE 38
SCIENTIFIC 37
MEANING 36
IDENTITY 36
AGENCY 36
EXPLANATION 36
LOGIC 35
TOWARD 35
SOCIAL 34
HUMAN 34
JUSTIFICATION 33
ESSAY 33
WHAT 33
CONTENT 32
THOUGHT 31
REASONS 31
REALISM 30
CRITIQUE 29
GOOD 29
MENTAL 29
NATURAL 29
FOUNDATIONS 28
CRITICAL 28
ESSAYS 28
CAUSATION 28
COGNITIVE 28
TRUTH 28
TIME 27
UNDERSTANDING 27
VALUE 27
SELF 27
RESPONSIBILITY 27
THEORIES 27
SEMANTICS 27
FREEDOM 27
INTERPRETATION 27
PERCEPTION 26
ROLE 26
SKEPTICISM 25
ARISTOTLE 25
NEW 24
LAW 24
PSYCHOLOGY 24
WORLD 24
RATIONALITY 23
NORMATIVITY 23
AUTONOMY 23
CONCEPTS 23
CONCEPTUAL 22
BETWEEN 22
ANALYSIS 22
NORMATIVE 22
REPRESENTATION 22
WITTGENSTEIN 22
STRUCTURE 21
OBJECTIVITY 21
ABSTRACT 21
EXPERIENCE 21
CONTEMPORARY 20
ONTOLOGY 20
LIFE 20
INQUIRY 20
HUME 20
PLATO 19
MATHEMATICS 19
ART 19
BEING 19
COGNITION 19
QUANTUM 19
PERSONAL 18
HEGEL 18
HEIDEGGER 18
JOHN 17
LIBERALISM 17
MAKING 17
MODAL 17
NIETZSCHE 17

Which word pairings/trios were the most popular?

It had been suggested to me that I should look at word clusters, that is, which words appear together often, in the dissertation titles.  These will be more revealing of the topic being discussed in the dissertation.  Once again, I split up each of the words in a dissertation title, but I kept track of which were associated with a specific dissertation.  Then I matched each word with every other word in the same dissertation and then found the most common pairings and trios.  Below are the approximately 180 most common and interesting pairings I found (counts > 3) and the 2 interesting trios (counts > 3) (Note: I have tried to get rid of repeats, but I may have missed some):

Pairs:

Word1 Word2 PairCount
PHILOSOPHY SCIENCE 15
PERSONAL IDENTITY 13
PRACTICAL REASON 13
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY 11
VIRTUE ETHICS 11
MENTAL CAUSATION 10
THEORY TOWARD 10
TOWARD THEORY 10
THEORY DEFENSE 10
THEORY MIND 8
FREEDOM WILL 8
THREE ESSAYS 8
EPISTEMIC JUSTIFICATION 8
NATURAL PHILOSOPHY 7
MATHEMATICS PHILOSOPHY 7
ETHICAL THEORY 7
TRUTH THEORY 7
QUANTUM MECHANICS 7
FREE WILL 7
ANALYSIS PHILOSOPHICAL 6
SEMANTICS LOGIC 6
QUA PROBLEM 6
FOLK PSYCHOLOGY 6
THEORY CONTENT 6
HUME TREATISE 6
QUANTUM THEORY 6
PHILOSOPHICAL THEORY 6
LANGUAGE THOUGHT 6
POLITICAL IDEAL 6
BEING TIME 6
MAKING SENSE 6
MILITARY ETHIC 6
SOCIAL THEORY 6
THOMAS AQUINAS 6
HUMAN NATURE 6
CONTENT THEORY 6
PROBLEM QUA 6
GOOD WHAT 6
ACTION THEORY 5
BUSINESS ETHICS 5
CAUSATION METAPHYSICS 5
CONTENT MENTAL 5
CRITICAL THEORY 5
CRITICAL PHILOSOPHY 5
EARLY PHILOSOPHY 5
ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS 5
EPISTEMOLOGY UNDERSTANDING 5
ETHICAL NATURE 5
ETHICAL ETHICS 5
EXPLANATION THEORY 5
FOUNDATIONS THEORY 5
GOOD THEORY 5
HABERMAS THEORY 5
IDENTITY THEORY 5
INQUIRY INTO 5
INTUITIONS PHILOSOPHICAL 5
MENTAL REPRESENTATION 5
MENTAL CONTENT 5
METAPHYSICS CAUSATION 5
MIND SCIENCE 5
MODAL LOGIC 5
NEW THEORY 5
NORMATIVE THEORY 5
PHILOSOPHICAL INTUITIONS 5
PHILOSOPHY MIND 5
PHILOSOPHY LANGUAGE 5
POLITICAL OBLIGATIONS 5
PRACTICAL REASONS 5
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN 5
SCIENCE MIND 5
SCIENTIFIC REALISM 5
SEMANTICS MEANING 5
THEORY GOOD 5
THEORY EXPLANATION 5
THEORY FOUNDATIONS 5
VIRTUE THEORY 5
WITTGENSTEIN LANGUAGE 5
WITTGENSTEIN TRACTATUS 5
ACCOUNT ACTION 4
BAYESIAN THEORY 4
BEING METAPHYSICS 4
BEING HEIDEGGER 4
BELIEF LANGUAGE 4
CAUSATION PROBLEM 4
CAUSATION THEORY 4
CAUSATION EXPLANATION 4
COLLECTIVE ACTION 4
CONTEXT SCIENCE 4
CONTEXT JUSTIFICATION 4
CRITICAL EXAMINATION 4
DECISION THEORY 4
DEFENSE EPISTEMIC 4
DEMOCRATIC THEORY 4
DIRECT REALISM 4
DIVINE LEIBNIZ 4
EARLY CENTURY 4
EPISTEMIC DEFENSE 4
EPISTEMIC THEORY 4
EPISTEMIC KNOWLEDGE 4
EPISTEMOLOGY JUSTIFICATION 4
EPISTEMOLOGY SCIENTIFIC 4
EPISTEMOLOGY PROBLEM 4
ESSAY PHILOSOPHY 4
ESSAYS PHILOSOPHICAL 4
ETHIC TOWARD 4
EXPLANATION CAUSATION 4
FREE DEFENSE 4
FREEDOM HEGEL 4
GETTING IT 4
GOD SKEPTICISM 4
GRAMMAR MATHEMATICS 4
HEIDEGGER BEING 4
HUMAN ETHICS 4
IDEAL THEORY 4
IDEAL OBLIGATIONS 4
IDENTITY RESPONSIBILITY 4
INTELLIGENT BEHAVIOR 4
INTERPERSONAL SHARED 4
INTERPRETATION THEORY 4
JOHN LOCKE 4
JUSTIFICATION EPISTEMOLOGY 4
JUSTIFICATION CONTEXT 4
KANT REASON 4
LANGUAGE BELIEF 4
LEIBNIZ DIVINE 4
LOGICAL FORM 4
MARTIN HEIDEGGER 4
MATHEMATICS GRAMMAR 4
MEANING THEORY 4
MENTAL PROBLEM 4
METAPHYSICAL FOUNDATIONS 4
METAPHYSICS PHILOSOPHY 4
METAPHYSICS PROBLEM 4
METAPHYSICS BEING 4
MORAL PSYCHOLOGY 4
NATURAL SCIENCE 4
NATURALIZED EPISTEMOLOGY 4
NATURE REASON 4
NEW APPROACH 4
NORMATIVE ETHICS 4
OBLIGATIONS IDEAL 4
PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS 4
PHILOSOPHICAL STUDY 4
PHILOSOPHY ESSAY 4
PHILOSOPHY METAPHYSICS 4
PLATO REPUBLIC 4
POLITICAL AUTHORITY 4
POLITICAL THEORY 4
POSSIBLE WORLDS 4
PRACTICAL AGENCY 4
PRACTICAL THEORY 4
PROBLEM APPROACH 4
PROBLEM METAPHYSICS 4
PROBLEM EPISTEMOLOGY 4
PROBLEM CAUSATION 4
REASON NATURE 4
REASON KANT 4
RESPONSIBILITY IDENTITY 4
RULE LAW 4
SCIENCE CONTEXT 4
SCIENCE SCIENTIFIC 4
SCIENTIFIC EPISTEMOLOGY 4
SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION 4
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE 4
SHARED INTERPERSONAL 4
SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY 4
SPATIAL REPRESENTATION 4
SPINOZA THEORY 4
STATE NEUTRALITY 4
STUDY CASE 4
THEORY KNOWLEDGE 4
THEORY INTERPRETATION 4
THEORY TIME 4
THEORY MEANING 4
THEORY SPINOZA 4
THEORY PRACTICAL 4
TIME THEORY 4
TOWARD ETHIC 4
TOWARD UNDERSTANDING 4
VIRTUE EPISTEMOLOGY 4

Trios:

After controlling for dissertation titles that used the same word multiple times in their title (e.g., “Military”), I only found 2 trios that were used more than 3 times in separate dissertations.  But perhaps someone else can find more…

Word1 Word2 Word3 TrioCount
Causation Mental Problem 4
Free Will Defense 4

 

Which words were the Most Unusual/Surprising?

Which words/topics would it be surprising to find in a dissertation title?  Here are some that I found which jumped out at me and which were used more than once:

Word Count of Word
LOVE 9
SPIRIT 5
SHAME 4
SILENCE 4
FAILURE 4
SECESSION 3
SEX 3
MILITARY 3
HOPE 3
DOUBT 3
BUDDHISM 2
FORREST 2
ARMCHAIR 2
COUCH 2
SLAVES 2
SEXUAL 2
GANGSTER 2
ANATOMY 2
UNIVERSE 2
HONEYBEE 2
CONFESSION 2
RESCUE 2
ENTRENCHMENT 2

What do you notice?

Click below to download the full dataset of dissertation titles (approximately 2,000). Please post in the comments below anything interesting that you find in the dataset.  Thanks!

DissertationTitles.csv (122.14 kb)

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