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Research Overview

My research divides into roughly six categories. Below you can find mostly non-specialist descriptions of the questions I work on, as well as links to relevant articles. For a more comprehensive list, see my articles page or email me for available drafts.

For AY 2018-2019, my main research projects are:

  • Articles extending the theory of temporal neutrality in Time Biases;
  • An untitled book on ethical commitment, intellectual commitment and rational faith;
  • Public-facing articles and talks on how we live out philosophical commitments;
  • An article on methodology in modal and temporal ontology; and
  • Research related to ongoing EPG grant projects.

I advise PhDs related to any of these topics. I’m currently directing the dissertation for Ting Cho Lau (PhD expected 2019), who is writing on normative powers and rationality. Title: Normative Powers: Controlling What We Do By Controlling What We Know. And I’m directing the orals for Ross Jensen, who is researching (broadly) the connection between time, rationality, virtue, and environmental ethics.

(1) Time and Rationality

The passage of time plays a crucial role in how we organize our beliefs, how we model the exchange of information, and how we form and evaluate preferences. I’m interested in connections between the nature of time and different standards of rationality. And I defend a temporally neutral theory of prudential rationality. [Click for more…]

(2) Time, Change and Existence

There are considerable puzzles for how we reason about time and change, both in natural languages and in formal logic. I think the best unified response to these puzzles is to treat all forms of change as property change. The resulting theory raises interesting questions about persistence through time, about the nature of properties, and about the ways logical formalism can and cannot constrain theories of time. [Click for more…]

(3) Essentialism and Modal Conventions

Do some objects have essential properties—properties that they could not lack and which play some role in characterizing their nature? Essences play a starring role in recent debates about metaphysical modality and methodology.  In current work, I investigate potential anti-essentialist arguments.  I am also interested in the best approaches to modal conventionalism—in particular, the view that modal truths depend on objectively knowable explanatory conventions. [Click for more…]

(4) Philosophy as a Way of Life

What does it mean to organize one’s life around a set of philosophical commitments? And to what extent does philosophical integrity require specific forms of interpersonal and institutional commitment? In current work, I develop an intellectualist approach to these questions and a related methodology for work in philosophy of religion. This work is tied to the standards of rationality research in (1) and will (ultimately) be a book on intellectual and ethical commitment. [Site coming soon…]

(5) Religious Pluralism, Religious Language and Rational Faith

Religious disagreement is often thought to pose a particular epistemic challenge for theists and atheists alike–namely, does the mere fact that there is pervasive disagreement among peers about religious matters provide evidence that undermines justification for holding the beliefs?  Some say it does, others say it doesn’t, and still others deny that peer disagreement is possible on religious matters. (These puzzles can further generalize to philosophical, political and aesthetic disagreements.)  In current work, I argue that related forms of disagreement also pose a unique semantic challenge, because certain kinds of disagreement can undermine the potential for terms in shared religious language to refer. [Click for more…]

(6) Encyclopedia Articles and Miscellaneous

Sometimes I work on topics that defy characterization. [Click for more…]

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