• According to Lynne Rudder Baker’s Practical Realism, we know that we have beliefs, desires, and other propositional attitudes independent of any scientific investigation. Propositional attitudes are an indispensable part of our everyday conception of the world and not in need of scientific validation. This paper asks what is the nature of the attitudes such that we may know them so well from a commonsense perspective. I argue for a self-ascriptivist view, on which we have propositional attitudes…Read more
  • Debunking arguments
    Philosophy Compass 14 (12). 2019.
    Debunking arguments—also known as etiological arguments, genealogical arguments, access problems, isolation objec- tions, and reliability challenges—arise in philosophical debates about a diverse range of topics, including causation, chance, color, consciousness, epistemic reasons, free will, grounding, laws of nature, logic, mathematics, modality, morality, natural kinds, ordinary objects, religion, and time. What unifies the arguments is the transition from a premise about what does or doesn't…Read more
  • Colour
    Philosophy Compass 9 (11): 803-813. 2014.
    The view that physical objects do not, in fact, possess colour properties is certainly the dominant position amongst scientists working on colour vision. It is also a reasonably popular view amongst philosophers. However, the recent philosophical debate about the metaphysical status of colour properties seems to have taken a more realist turn. In this article, I review the main philosophical views – eliminativism, physicalism, dispositionalism and primitivism – and describe the problems they fac…Read more
  • Intermodal representationalists hold that the phenomenal characters of experiences are fully determined by their contents. In contrast, intramodal representationalists hold that the phenomenal characters of experiences are determined by their contents together with their intentional modes or manners of representation, which are nonrepresentational features corresponding roughly to the sensory modalities. This paper discusses a kind of experience that provides evidence for an intermodal represent…Read more
  • This paper asks whether phenomenal intentionality (intentionality that arises from phenomenal consciousness alone) has a relational structure of the sort envisaged in Russell’s theory of acquaintance. I put forward three arguments in favor of a relation view: one phenomenological, one linguistic, and one based on the view’s ability to account for the truth conditions of phenomenally intentional states. I then consider several objections to the relation view. The chief objection to the relation v…Read more
  • A Pure Representationalist Account of Belief and Desire
    Dissertation, University of Western Ontario. 2016.
    According to the traditional view, beliefs and desires are mental representations that play particular functional roles. A belief that P is state which represents P and plays the belief-role, while a desire that P is a state which represents that P and plays the desire-role. In this dissertation I argue that the traditional view has trouble accounting for (a) role that belief and desire play in the causal and rational explanation of behaviour and (b) our knowledge of our own conscious, occurrent…Read more
  • Phenomenal Intentionality and the Problem of Representation
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 2 (1): 131--145. 2016.
    According to the phenomenal intentionality research program, a state’s intentional content is fixed by its phenomenal character. Defenders of this view have little to say about just how this grounding is accomplished. I argue that without a robust account of representation, the research program promises too little. Unfortunately, most of the well-developed accounts of representation – asymmetric dependence, teleosemantics, and the like – ground representation in external relations such as causat…Read more
  • The Case Against Powers
    In Stathis Psillos, Benjamin Hill & Henrik Lagerlund (eds.), Causal Powers in Science: Blending Historical and Conceptual Perspectives, Oxford University Press. pp. 149-167. 2021.
    Powers ontologies are currently enjoying a resurgence. This would be dispiriting news for the moderns; in their eyes, to imbue bodies with powers is to slide back into the scholastic slime from which they helped philosophy crawl. I focus on Descartes’s ‘little souls’ argument, which points to a genuine and, I think persisting, defect in powers theories. The problem is that an Aristotelian power is intrinsic to whatever has it. Once this move is accepted, it becomes very hard to see how humble ma…Read more
  • The Role of Consciousness in Grasping and Understanding
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (2): 285-318. 2017.
    One sometimes believes a proposition without grasping it. For example, a complete achromat might believe that ripe tomatoes are red without grasping this proposition. My aim in this paper is to shed light on the difference between merely believing a proposition and grasping it. I focus on two possible theories of grasping: the inferential theory, which explains grasping in terms of inferential role, and the phenomenal theory, which explains grasping in terms of phenomenal consciousness. I argue …Read more
  • The Rational Role of Experience
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (5-6): 467-493. 2018.
    If there is content that we reason on, cognitive content, it is in the head and accessible to reasoning mechanisms. This paper discusses the phenomenal theory of cognitive content, according to which cognitive contents are the contents of phenomenal consciousness. I begin by distinguishing cognitive content from the closely associated notion of narrow content. I then argue, drawing on prior work, that the phenomenal theory can plausibly account for the cognitive contents of many relatively simpl…Read more
  • This paper aims to shed new light on certain philosophical theories of perceptual experience by examining the semantics of perceptual ascriptions such as “Jones sees an apple.” I start with the assumption, recently defended elsewhere, that perceptual ascriptions lend themselves to intensional readings. In the first part of the paper, I defend three theses regarding such readings: I) intensional readings of perceptual ascriptions ascribe phenomenal properties, II) perceptual verbs are not ambiguo…Read more
  • Non-propositional intentionality: an introduction
    In Alex Grzankowski & Michelle Montague (eds.), Non-Propositional Intentionality, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    Book synopsis: Our mental lives are entwined with the world. There are worldly things that we have beliefs about and things in the world we desire to have happen. We find some things fearsome and others likable. The puzzle of intentionality — how it is that our minds make contact with the world — is one of the oldest and most vexed issues facing philosophers. Many contemporary philosophers and cognitive scientists have been attracted to the idea that our minds represent the world. This book expl…Read more
  • Causal descriptivism
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65 (1). 1987.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  • Non-Propositional Intentionality (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2018.
    This book explores how our minds represent things in the world, asking whether these representations necessarily have the structure of propositions about the world. The hope is that this will lead towards a more complete understanding of the puzzle of intentionality -- how it is that our minds make contact with the world.
  • In this paper, I explore anomalous dualism about consciousness, a view that has not previously been explored in any detail. We can classify theories of consciousness along two dimensions: first, a theory might be physicalist or dualist; second, a theory might endorse any of the three following views regarding causal relations between phenomenal properties (properties that characterize states of our consciousness) and physical properties: nomism (the two kinds of property interact through determi…Read more
  • One central brand of representationalism claims that the specific phenomenal character of an experience is fully determined by its content. A challenge for this view is that cognitive and perceptual experiences sometimes seem to have the same representational content while differing in phenomenal character. In particular, it might seem that one can have faint imagery experiences or conscious thoughts with the same contents as vivid perceptual experiences. This paper argues that such cases never …Read more
  • The Senses
    Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy. 2018.
    Philosophers and scientists have studied sensory perception and, in particular, vision for many years. Increasingly, however, they have become interested in the nonvisual senses in greater detail and the problem of individuating the senses in a more general way. The Aristotelian view is that there are only five external senses—smell, taste, hearing, touch, and vision. This has, by many counts, been extended to include internal senses, such as balance, proprioception, and kinesthesis; pain; and p…Read more