•  293
    Monotheism and Human Nature
    Cambridge University Press. 2021.
    The main question of this Element is how the existence, supremacy, and uniqueness of an almighty and immaterial God bear on our own nature. It aims to uncover lessons about what we are by thinking about what God might be. A dominant theme is that Abrahamic monotheism is a surprisingly hospitable framework within which to defend and develop the view that we are wholly material beings. But the resulting materialism cannot be of any standard variety. It demands revisions and twists on the usual vie…Read more
  •  299
    Compatibilism from the inside out
    Analytic Philosophy. forthcoming.
    In this article, I focus on internal dimensions of moral responsibility. I argue that if such dimensions are real -- and it seems they are -- then moral responsibility is compatible with determinism.
  •  516
    Human beings among the beasts
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
    In this article, we develop and defend a new argument for animalism -- the thesis that we human persons are human animals. The argument takes this rough form: since our pets are animals, we are too. We’ll begin with remarks on animalism and its rivals, develop our main argument, and then defend it against a few replies.
  •  1113
    Why animalism matters
    with Allison Krile Thornton and Peter van Elswyk
    Philosophical Studies 1-14. forthcoming.
    Here is a question as intriguing as it is brief: what are we? The animalist’s answer is equal in brevity: we are animals. This stark formulation of the animalist slogan distances it from nearby claims – that we are essentially animals, for example, or that we have purely biological criteria of identity over time. Is the animalist slogan -- unburdened by modal or criterial commitments – still interesting, though? Or has it lost its bite? In this article we address such questions by presenting a p…Read more
  •  1181
    Why Composition Matters
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (8): 934-949. 2020.
    Many say that ontological disputes are defective because they are unimportant or without substance. In this paper, we defend ontological disputes from the charge, with a special focus on disputes over the existence of composite objects. Disputes over the existence of composite objects, we argue, have a number of substantive implications across a variety of topics in metaphysics, science, philosophical theology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. Since the disputes over the existence of composite ob…Read more
  •  1575
    Generic animalism
    Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    The animalist says we are animals. This thesis is commonly understood as the universal generalization that all human persons are human animals. This article proposes an alternative: the thesis is a generic that admits of exceptions. We defend the resulting view, which we call generic animalism, and show its aptitude for diagnosing the limits of eight case-based objections to animalism.
  •  2049
    How valuable could a person be?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    We investigate the value of persons. Our primary goal is to chart a path from equal and extreme value to infinite value. We advance two arguments. Each argument offers a reason to think that equal and extreme value are best accounted for if we are infinitely valuable. We then raise some difficult but fruitful questions about the possible grounds or sources of our infinite value, if we indeed have such value.
  •  51
    Contemporary Hylomorphism
    Oxford Bibliographies 3 1-12. 2018.
    Aristotle famously held that objects are comprised of matter and form. That is the central doctrine of hylomorphism (sometimes rendered “hylemorphism”—hyle, matter; morphe, form), and the view has become a live topic of inquiry today. Contemporary proponents of the doctrine include Jeffrey Brower, Kit Fine, David Hershenov, Mark Johnston, Kathrin Koslicki, Anna Marmodoro, Michael Rea, and Patrick Toner, among others. In the wake of these contemporary hylomorphic theories the doctrine has seen ap…Read more
  •  1452
    How to Build a Thought
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (2): 75-83. 2020.
    We uncover a surprising discovery about the basis of thoughts. We begin by giving some plausible axioms about thoughts and their grounds. We then deduce a theorem, which has dramatic ramifications for the basis of all thoughts. The theorem implies that thoughts cannot come deterministically from any purely “thoughtless” states. We expect this result to be too dramatic for many philosophers. Hence, we proceed to investigate the prospect of giving up the axioms. We show that each axiom’s negation …Read more
  •  1330
    Freedom in a Physical World
    Philosophical Papers 49 (1): 31-39. 2020.
    Making room for agency in a physical world is no easy task. Can it be done at all? In this article, I consider and reject an argument in the negative.
  •  1495
    A new puppet puzzle
    Philosophical Explorations 23 (3): 202-213. 2020.
    We develop a new puzzle concerning a material being's relationship to the smallest parts of the material world. In particular, we investigate how a being could be responsible for anything if its be...
  •  1729
    Magical Thinking
    Faith and Philosophy 37 (2): 181-201. 2020.
    According to theists, God is an immaterial thinking being. The main question of this article is whether theism supports the view that we are immaterial thinking beings too. I shall argue in the negative. Along the way, I will also explore some implications in the philosophy of mind following from the observation that, on theism, God’s mentality is in a certain respect magical.
  •  1731
    The Feeling Animal
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    For good or for ill, we have animal bodies. Through them, we move around, eat and drink, and do many other things besides. We owe much – perhaps our very lives – to these ever-present animals. But how exactly do we relate to our animals? Are we parts of them, or they of us? Do we and these living animals co-inhere or constitute or coincide? Or what? Animalism answers that we are identical to them. There are many objections to animalism, and a dizzying array of rival views. In this article, we …Read more
  •  2045
    Material through and through
    Philosophical Studies 177 (8): 2431-2450. 2020.
    Materialists about human persons think that we are material through and through—wholly material beings. Those who endorse materialism more widely think that everything is material through and through. But what is it to be wholly material? In this article, I answer that question. I identify and defend a definition or analysis of ‘wholly material’.
  •  2133
    Object
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2017.
  •  1799
    The Priority Principle
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (1): 163-174. 2015.
    I introduce and argue for a Priority Principle, according to which we exemplify certain of our mental properties in the primary or non-derivative sense. I then apply this principle to several debates in the metaphysics and philosophy of mind.
  •  2320
    Animalism
    Philosophy Compass 10 (12): 867-883. 2015.
    Among your closest associates is a certain human animal – a living, breathing, organism. You see it when you look in the mirror. When it is sick, you don't feel too well. Where it goes, you go. And, one thinks, where you go, it must follow. Indeed, you can make it move through sheer force of will. You bear, in short, an important and intimate relation to this, your animal. So too rest of us with our animals. Animalism says that this relation is nothing short of identity. According to animalists,…Read more
  •  2041
    Incompatibilism and the Past
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (2): 351-376. 2012.
    There is a new objection to the Consequence Argument for incompatibilism. I argue that the objection is more wide-ranging than originally thought. In particular: if it tells against the Consequence Argument, it tells against other arguments for incompatibilism too. I survey a few ways of dealing with this objection and show the costs of each. I then present an argument for incompatibilism that is immune to the objection and that enjoys other advantages
  •  2255
    Our animal interests
    Philosophical Studies 174 (9): 2315-2328. 2017.
    Animalism is at once a bold metaphysical theory and a pedestrian biological observation. For according to animalists, human persons are organisms; we are members of a certain biological species. In this article, I introduce some heretofore unnoticed data concerning the interlocking interests of human persons and human organisms. I then show that the data support animalism. The result is a novel and powerful argument for animalism. Bold or pedestrian, animalism is true.
  •  1726
    The elimination argument
    Philosophical Studies 168 (2): 475-482. 2014.
    Animalism is the view that we are animals: living, breathing, wholly material beings. Despite its considerable appeal, animalism has come under fire. Other philosophers have had much to say about objections to animalism that stem from reflection on personal identity over time. But one promising objection (the `Elimination Argument') has been overlooked. In this paper, I remedy this situation and examine the Elimination Argument in some detail. I contend that the Elimination Argument is both unso…Read more
  •  2171
    You Are An Animal
    Res Philosophica 93 (1): 205-218. 2016.
    According to the doctrine of animalism, we are animals in the primary and non-derivative sense. In this article, I introduce and defend a novel argument for the view.
  •  1801
    Composition and the cases
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (5): 453-470. 2016.
    Some strange cases have gripped philosophers of mind. They have been deployed against materialism about human persons, functionalism about mentality, the possibility of artificial intelligence, and more. In this paper, I cry “foul”. It’s not hard to think that there’s something wrong with the cases. But what? My proposal: their proponents ignore questions about composition. And ignoring composition is a mistake. Indeed, materialists about human persons, functionalists about mentality, and believ…Read more
  •  1950
    No bare particulars
    Philosophical Studies 158 (1): 31-41. 2012.
    There are predicates and subjects. It is thus tempting to think that there are properties on the one hand, and things that have them on the other. I have no quarrel with this thought; it is a fine place to begin a theory of properties and property-having. But in this paper, I argue that one such theory—bare particularism—is false. I pose a dilemma. Either bare particulars instantiate the properties of their host substances or they do not. If they do not, then bare particularism is both unmotivat…Read more
  •  2147
    On the concept of a spirit
    Religious Studies 53 (4): 449-457. 2017.
    Substance dualism is on the move. Though the view remains unfashionable, a growing and diverse group of philosophers endorse it on impressive empirical, religious, and purely metaphysical grounds. In this note, I develop and evaluate one conceptual argument for substance dualism. According to that argument, we may derive a conclusion about our nature from the mere fact that we have the concept of a spirit. The argument is intriguing and fruitful; but I shall contend that it is, nonetheless, unso…Read more
  •  1606
  •  1762
    You Needn't Be Simple
    Philosophical Papers 43 (2): 145-160. 2014.
    Here's an interesting question: what are we? David Barnett has claimed that reflection on consciousness suggests an answer: we are simple. Barnett argues that the mereological simplicity of conscious beings best explains the Datum: that no pair of persons can itself be conscious. In this paper, I offer two alternative explanations of the Datum. If either is correct, Barnett's argument fails. First, there aren't any such things as pairs of persons. Second, consciousness is maximal; no conscious t…Read more
  •  2115
    No Pairing Problem
    with Joshua Rasmussen and Luke Van Horn
    Philosophical Studies 154 (3): 349-360. 2011.
    Many have thought that there is a problem with causal commerce between immaterial souls and material bodies. In Physicalism or Something Near Enough, Jaegwon Kim attempts to spell out that problem. Rather than merely posing a question or raising a mystery for defenders of substance dualism to answer or address, he offers a compelling argument for the conclusion that immaterial souls cannot causally interact with material bodies. We offer a reconstruction of that argument that hinges on two premi…Read more