• Moods, orthodoxy holds, exist outside the space of reasons. A depressed subject may change their thoughts and behaviors as a result of their depression. But, according to this view, their mood gives them no genuine reason to do so. Instead, moods are mere causal influences on cognition. The issue is that moods, with their diffuse phenomenology, appear to lack intentionality (Directionlessness). But intentionality appears to be a necessary condition on rationality (The Content Constraint). Togeth…Read more
  • Barry Maguire argues that there are no reasons for affective attitudes. ‘There is no reason for your incredulous reaction to’ this thesis, he claims. In this paper, I argue that we have no reason to accept his thesis. I first examine Maguire's purported differences between reasons for action and so-called reasons for affective attitudes. In each case, I argue that the differences are exaggerated and that to the extent they obtain, they are best explained by differences between actions and affect…Read more
  • Camus and Sartre on the Absurd
    Philosophers' Imprint 21 (32). 2021.
    In this paper, I highlight the philosophical differences between Camus’s and Sartre’s notions of the absurd. “The absurd” is a technical term for both philosophers, and they mean different things by it. The Camusian absurd is a mismatch between theoretical reasoning and practical reasoning. The Sartrean absurd, in contrast, is our theoretical inability to explain contingency or existence. For Sartre, there is only relative, local absurdity; for Camus, the absurd is universal and absolute. I show…Read more
  • Knowing what it is
    Philosophical Studies 1-16. forthcoming.
    Essentialists understand modal properties in terms of the essences of things. Given this view, it is natural to think that our knowledge of modality ultimately derives from our knowledge of the essences of things. Is that view plausible? Do we genuinely have knowledge of the essences of things, in a form substantial enough to ground our modal knowledge? The more we pack into the notion of essence to allow it to underpin modal properties, the harder it is to claim genuine knowledge. I will argue …Read more
  • In The Innocent Eye, Nico Orlandi argues that vision is not a cognitive process. In particular, she argues that forming subject-level visual representations that are available for reasoning should not itself be understood as a process of inference. This comes to the claim that vision (properly so-called) is a process that produces representations but is not best understood as a process that uses representations.
  • Philosophical Methodology: From Data to Theory
    John Bengson, Terence Cuneo, and Russ Shafer-Landau
    Oxford University Press. 2022.
    Philosophical Methodology offers an up-to-date assessment of different methods of doing philosophy, and develops a novel account of the structure and goals of inquiry. It allows philosophers and students of philosophy to better understand their topics, and shows how philosophy can continue to make progress in answering its central questions.
  • Higher-order metaphysics and propositional attitudes
    In Peter Fritz & Nicholas K. Jones (eds.), Higher-Order Metaphysics, Oxford University Press. 2024.
    According to relationism, for Alice to believe that some rabbits can speak is for Alice to stand in a relation to a further entity, some rabbits can speak. But what could this further entity possibly be? Higher-order metaphysics seems to offer a simple, natural answer. On this view (roughly put), expressions in different syntactic categories (for instance: names, predicates, sentences) in general denote entities in correspondingly different ontological categories. Alice's belief can thus be unde…Read more
  • Metaphysical Overdetermination
    Philosophical Quarterly 73 (1): 1-23. 2023.
    It is widely recognized by proponents of the notion that grounding can be, indeed is, overdetermined. Moreover, it seems safe to suppose that something of a consensus has emerged: grounding is overdetermined and there is nothing about it that we ought to find concerning. Not only is the overdetermination apparently not problematic, metaphysically speaking, but that grounding is overdetermined is not problematic, conceptually speaking, either. From a small sampling of alleged cases, however, no s…Read more
  • Propositionalism is the widely held view that intentional attitudes are fundamentally and predicatively propositional. In contrast, objectualism is the view that a particular class of intentional attitudes—for example, love, fear, like, and hate—bears no relation to a proposition or state of affairs nor does their content make reference to objects by predicating something of them. This paper challenges the objectualist view. While I do not deny that non-propositional attitudes are real mental st…Read more
  • The moral parody argument against panpsychism
    Philosophical Studies 179 (6): 1821-1852. 2021.
    I exploit parallel considerations in the philosophy of mind and metaethics to argue that the reasoning employed in an important argument for panpsychism overgeneralizes to support an analogous position in metaethics: panmoralism. Next, I raise a number of problems for panmoralism and thereby build a case for taking the metaethical parallel to be a reductio ad absurdum of the argument for panpsychism. Finally, I contrast panmoralism with a position recently defended by Einar Duenger Bohn and argu…Read more
  • In the philosophy of perception, representationalism is the view that all phenomenological differences among mental states are representational differences, in other words, differences in content. In this paper I defend an alternative view which I call external sortalism, inspired by traditional adverbialism, and according to which experiences are not essentially representational. The central idea is that the external world serves as a model for sorting, conceptualizing, and reasoning surrogativ…Read more
  • The “puzzle” of emotional plasticity
    Philosophical Psychology 35 (4): 546-568. 2022.
    The “puzzle” of emotional plasticity concerns making sense of two conflicting bodies of evidence: evidence that emotions often appear modular in key respects, and evidence that our emotions also often appear to transcend this modularity. In this paper, I argue a developmentalist approach to emotion, which builds on Karmiloff-Smith’s (1986, 1992, 1994, 2015) work on cognitive development, can help us dissolve this puzzle.
  • Representation and Rationality
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (1): 221-230. 2021.
    David Lewis (1974, 1994/1999) proposed to reduce the facts about mental representation to facts about sensory evidence, dispositions to act, and rationality. Recently, Robert Williams (2020) and Adam Pautz (2021) have taken up and developed Lewis’s project in sophisticated and novel ways. In this paper, we aim to present, clarify, and ultimately object to the core thesis that they all build their own views around. The different sophisticated developments and defenses notwithstanding, we think th…Read more
  • V—The Linguistic Approach to Ontology
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 121 (2): 127-152. 2021.
    What are the prospects for a linguistic approach to ontology? Given that it seems that there are true subject-predicate sentences containing empty names, traditional linguistic approaches to ontology appear to be flawed. I argue that in order to determine what there is, we need to determine which sentences ascribe properties (and relations) to objects, and that there does not appear to be any formal criterion for this. This view is then committed to giving an account of what predicates do in sen…Read more
  • The Moral Parody Argument Against Panpsychism
    Philosophical Studies 179 (1). 2022.
    I exploit parallel considerations in the philosophy of mind and metaethics to argue that the reasoning employed in an important argument for panpsychism overgeneralizes to support an analogous position in metaethics: panmoralism. Next, I raise a number of problems for panmoralism and thereby build a case for taking the metaethical parallel to be a reductio ad absurdum of the argument for panpsychism. Finally, I contrast panmoralism with a position recently defended by Einar Duenger Bohn and argu…Read more
  • Prior's puzzle generalized
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (1): 196-220. 2023.
    Prior’s puzzle is standardly taken to be the puzzle of why, given the assumption that that-clauses denote propositions, substitution of “the proposition that P” for “that P” within the complements of many propositional attitude verbs is invalid. I show that Prior’s puzzle is much more general than is ordinarily supposed. There are two variants on the substitutional form of the puzzle—a quantificational variant and a pronominal variant—and all three forms of the puzzle arise in a wide range of gr…Read more
  • Two Theories of Transparency
    Erkenntnis 86 (3): 553-573. 2021.
    Perceptual experience is often said to be transparent; that is, when we have a perceptual experience we seem to be aware of properties of the objects around us, and never seem to be aware of properties of the experience itself. This is a introspective fact. It is also often said that we can infer a metaphysical fact from this introspective fact, e.g. a fact about the nature of perceptual experience. A transparency theory fills in the details for these two facts, and bridges the gap between them.…Read more
  • Depicting Properties’ Properties
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (3): 312-328. 2021.
    Little has been said about whether pictures can depict properties of properties. This article argues that they do. As a result, resemblance theories of depiction must be changed to accommodate this phenomenon. In addition, diagrams and maps are standardly understood to represent properties of properties, so this article brings accounts of depiction closer to accounts of diagrams than they had been before. Finally, the article suggests that recent work on perceptual content gives us reason to bel…Read more
  • This article discusses a kind of knowledge classifiable as knowledge-wh but which seems to defy analysis in terms of the standard reductive theory of knowledge-wh ascriptions, according to which they are true if and only if one knows that p, where this proposition is an acceptable answer to the wh-question ‘embedded’ in the ascription. Specifically, it is argued that certain cases of knowing what an experience is like resist such treatment. I argue that in some of these cases, one can know that …Read more
  • Two Notions of Resemblance and the Semantics of 'What it's Like'
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. 2022.
    According to the resemblance account of 'what it's like' and similar constructions, a sentence such as 'there is something it’s like to have a toothache' means 'there is something having a toothache resembles'. This account has proved controversial in the literature; some writers endorse it, many reject it. We show that this conflict is illusory. Drawing on the semantics of intensional transitive verbs, we show that there are two versions of the resemblance account, depending on whether 're…Read more
  • The many-property problem is your problem, too
    Philosophical Studies 178 (3): 811-832. 2021.
    The many-property problem has traditionally been taken to show that the adverbial theory of perception is untenable. This paper first shows that several widely accepted views concerning the nature of perception---including both representational and non-representational views---likewise face the many-property problem. It then presents a solution to the many-property problem for these views, but goes on to show how this solution can be adapted to provide a novel, fully compositional solution to th…Read more
  • Acquaintance and Phenomenal Concepts
    In Sam Coleman (ed.), The Knowledge Argument, Cambridge University Press. pp. 87-101. 2019.
  • The Epistemic Approach to the Problem of Consciousness
    Daniel Stoljar
    In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness, Oxford University Press. 2020.
  • From Essence to Necessity via Identity
    Mind 130 (519): 887-908. 2021.
    An essentialist theory of modality claims that the source of possibility and necessity lies in essence, where essence is then not to be defined in terms of necessity. Hence such theories owe us an account of why it is that the essences of things give rise to necessities in the way required. A new approach to understanding essence in terms of the notion of generalized identity promises to answer this challenge by appeal to the necessity of identity. I explore the prospects for this approach, and …Read more
  • Fiction and Emotion: The Puzzle of Divergent Norms
    British Journal of Aesthetics 60 (4): 403-418. 2020.
    A familiar question in the literature on emotional responses to fiction, originally put forward by Colin Radford, is how such responses can be rational. How can we make sense of pitying Anna Karenina when we know there is no such person? In this paper I argue that contrary to the usual interpretation, the question of rationality has nothing to do with the Paradox of Fiction. Instead, the real problem is why there is a divergence in our normative assessments of emotions in different contexts. I a…Read more
  • The Intentional Structure of Moods
    Philosophers' Imprint 19 1-19. 2019.
    Moods are sometimes claimed to constitute an exception to the rule that mental phenomena are intentional (in the sense of representing something). In reaction, some philosophers have argued that moods are in fact intentional, but exhibit a special and unusual kind of intentionality: they represent the world as a whole, or everything indiscriminately, rather than some more specific object(s). In this paper, I present a problem for extant versions of this idea, then propose a revision that solves …Read more
  • There are at least two threads in our thought and talk about rationality, both practical and theoretical. In one sense, to be rational is to respond correctly to the reasons one has. Call this substantive rationality. In another sense, to be rational is to be coherent, or to have the right structural relations hold between one’s mental states, independently of whether those attitudes are justified. Call this structural rationality. According to the standard view, structural rationality is associ…Read more
  • Against the Middle Ground: Why Russellian Monism is Unstable
    Analytic Philosophy 60 (2): 109-129. 2019.
  • This is a short (c. 4000 words) teaching piece aimed at first year undergraduates, on the topic of moral relativism.
  • Provides a comprehensive overview of the philosophy of propositions, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Comprising 33 original chapters by an international team of scholars, the volume addresses both traditional and emerging questions concerning the nature of propositions.