•  1028
    The seductions of clarity
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. forthcoming.
    The feeling of clarity can be dangerously seductive. It is the feeling associated with understanding things. And we use that feeling, in the rough-and-tumble of daily life, as a signal that we have investigated a matter sufficiently. The sense of clarity functions as a thought-terminating heuristic. In that case, our use of clarity creates significant cognitive vulnerability, which hostile forces can try to exploit. If an epistemic manipulator can imbue a belief system with an exaggerated sense …Read more
  •  1501
    How Twitter gamifies communication
    In Applied Epistemology, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    Twitter makes conversation into something like a game. It scores our communication, giving us vivid and quantified feedback, via Likes, Retweets, and Follower counts. But this gamification doesn’t just increase our motivation to communicate; it changes the very nature of the activity. Games are more satisfying than ordinary life precisely because game-goals are simpler, cleaner, and easier to apply. Twitter is thrilling precisely because its goals have been artificially clarified and narrowed. W…Read more
  •  660
    Games are a distinctive form of art — and very different from many traditional arts. Games work in the medium of agency. Game designers don’t just tell stories or create environments. They tell us what our abilities will be in the game. They set our motivations, by setting the scoring system and specifying the win-conditions. Game de-signers sculpt temporary agencies for us to occupy. And when we play games, we adopt these designed agencies, submerging ourselves in them, and taking on their spec…Read more
  •  568
    Trust and sincerity in art
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Our life with art is suffused with trust. We don’t just trust one another’s aesthetic testimony; we trust one another’s aesthetic actions. Audiences trust artists to have made it worth their while; artists trust audiences to put in the effort. Without trust, audiences would have little reason to put in the effort to understand difficult and unfamiliar art. I offer a theory of aesthetic trust, which highlights the importance of trust in aesthetic sincerity. We trust in another’s aesthetic sinceri…Read more
  •  1868
    The arts of action
    Philosophers' Imprint 20 (14): 1-27. 2020.
    The theory and culture of the arts has largely focused on the arts of objects, and neglected the arts of action – the “process arts”. In the process arts, artists create artifacts to engender activity in their audience, for the sake of the audience’s aesthetic appreciation of their own activity. This includes appreciating their own deliberations, choices, reactions, and movements. The process arts include games, urban planning, improvised social dance, cooking, and social food rituals. In the tr…Read more
  •  633
  •  1357
    Trust as an unquestioning attitude
    Oxford Studies in Epistemology. forthcoming.
    Most theories of trust presume that trust is a conscious attitude that can be directed only at other agents. I sketch a different form of trust: the unquestioning attitude. What it is to trust, in this sense, is not simply to rely on something, but to rely on it unquestioningly. It is to rely on a resource while suspending deliberation over its reliability. To trust, then, is to set up open pipelines between yourself and parts of the external world — to permit external resources to have a simila…Read more
  •  3821
    Moral outrage porn
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 18 (2). 2020.
    We offer an account of the generic use of the term “porn”, as seen in recent usages such as “food porn” and “real estate porn”. We offer a definition adapted from earlier accounts of sexual pornography. On our account, a representation is used as generic porn when it is engaged with primarily for the sake of a gratifying reaction, freed from the usual costs and consequences of engaging with the represented content. We demonstrate the usefulness of the concept of generic porn by using it to isola…Read more
  •  232
    The right way to play a game
    Game Studies 19 (1). 2019.
    Is there a right or wrong way to play a game? Many think not. Some have argued that, when we insist that players obey the rules of a game, we give too much weight to the author’s intent. Others have argued that such obedience to the rules violates the true purpose of games, which is fostering free and creative play. Both of these responses, I argue, misunderstand the nature of games and their rules. The rules do not tell us how to interpret a game; they merely tell us what the game is. And the p…Read more
  •  1349
    Autonomy and Aesthetic Engagement
    Mind 129 (516): 1127-1156. 2019.
    There seems to be a deep tension between two aspects of aesthetic appreciation. On the one hand, we care about getting things right. On the other hand, we demand autonomy. We want appreciators to arrive at their aesthetic judgments through their own cognitive efforts, rather than deferring to experts. These two demands seem to be in tension; after all, if we want to get the right judgments, we should defer to the judgments of experts. The best explanation, I suggest, is that aesthetic appreciati…Read more
  •  791
    Monuments as commitments: How art speaks to groups and how groups think in art
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (4): 971-994. 2019.
    Art can be addressed, not just to individuals, but to groups. Art can even be part of how groups think to themselves – how they keep a grip on their values over time. I focus on monuments as a case study. Monuments, I claim, can function as a commitment to a group value, for the sake of long-term action guidance. Art can function here where charters and mission statements cannot, precisely because of art’s powers to capture subtlety and emotion. In particular, art can serve as the vessel for gro…Read more
  •  53432
    Games and the art of agency
    Philosophical Review 128 (4): 423-462. 2019.
    Games may seem like a waste of time, where we struggle under artificial rules for arbitrary goals. The author suggests that the rules and goals of games are not arbitrary at all. They are a way of specifying particular modes of agency. This is what make games a distinctive art form. Game designers designate goals and abilities for the player; they shape the agential skeleton which the player will inhabit during the game. Game designers work in the medium of agency. Game-playing, then, illuminate…Read more
  •  1665
    Cultural appropriation and the intimacy of groups
    Philosophical Studies 176 (4): 981-1002. 2019.
    What could ground normative restrictions concerning cultural appropriation which are not grounded by independent considerations such as property rights or harm? We propose that such restrictions can be grounded by considerations of intimacy. Consider the familiar phenomenon of interpersonal intimacy. Certain aspects of personal life and interpersonal relationships are afforded various protections in virtue of being intimate. We argue that an analogous phenomenon exists at the level of large grou…Read more
  •  2332
    Games: Agency as Art
    Oxford University Press. 2020.
    Games occupy a unique and valuable place in our lives. Game designers do not simply create worlds; they design temporary selves. Game designers set what our motivations are in the game and what our abilities will be. Thus: games are the art form of agency. By working in the artistic medium of agency, games can offer a distinctive aesthetic value. They support aesthetic experiences of deciding and doing. And the fact that we play games shows something remarkable about us. Our agency is more fluid…Read more
  •  1664
    Expertise and the fragmentation of intellectual autonomy
    Philosophical Inquiries 6 (2): 107-124. 2018.
    In The Great Endarkenment, Elijah Millgram argues that the hyper-specialization of expert domains has led to an intellectual crisis. Each field of human knowledge has its own specialized jargon, knowledge, and form of reasoning, and each is mutually incomprehensible to the next. Furthermore, says Millgram, modern scientific practical arguments are draped across many fields. Thus, there is no person in a position to assess the success of such a practical argument for themselves. This arrangement …Read more
  •  6356
    Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles
    Episteme 17 (2): 141-161. 2020.
    Recent conversation has blurred two very different social epistemic phenomena: echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Members of epistemic bubbles merely lack exposure to relevant information and arguments. Members of echo chambers, on the other hand, have been brought to systematically distrust all outside sources. In epistemic bubbles, other voices are not heard; in echo chambers, other voices are actively undermined. It is crucial to keep these phenomena distinct. First, echo chambers can expla…Read more
  •  1839
    I propose to study one problem for epistemic dependence on experts: how to locate experts on what I will call cognitive islands. Cognitive islands are those domains for knowledge in which expertise is required to evaluate other experts. They exist under two conditions: first, that there is no test for expertise available to the inexpert; and second, that the domain is not linked to another domain with such a test. Cognitive islands are the places where we have the fewest resources for evaluating…Read more
  •  474
    Autonomy, understanding, and moral disagreement
    Philosophical Topics 38 (2): 111-129. 2010.
    Should the existence of moral disagreement reduce one’s confidence in one’s moral judgments? Many have claimed that it should not. They claim that we should be morally self-sufficient: that one’s moral judgment and moral confidence ought to be determined entirely one’s own reasoning. Others’ moral beliefs ought not impact one’s own in any way. I claim that moral self-sufficiency is wrong. Moral self-sufficiency ignores the degree to which moral judgment is a fallible cognitive process like all t…Read more
  •  1455
    Philosophy of games
    Philosophy Compass 12 (8). 2017.
    What is a game? What are we doing when we play a game? What is the value of playing games? Several different philosophical subdisciplines have attempted to answer these questions using very distinctive frameworks. Some have approached games as something like a text, deploying theoretical frameworks from the study of narrative, fiction, and rhetoric to interrogate games for their representational content. Others have approached games as artworks and asked questions about the authorship of games, …Read more
  •  437
    Competition as cooperation
    Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 44 (1): 123-137. 2017.
    Games have a complex, and seemingly paradoxical structure: they are both competitive and cooperative, and the competitive element is required for the cooperative element to work out. They are mechanisms for transforming competition into cooperation. Several contemporary philosophers of sport have located the primary mechanism of conversion in the mental attitudes of the players. I argue that these views cannot capture the phenomenological complexity of game-play, nor the difficulty and moral com…Read more
  •  321
    The uses of aesthetic testimony
    British Journal of Aesthetics 57 (1): 19-36. 2017.
    The current debate over aesthetic testimony typically focuses on cases of doxastic repetition — where, when an agent, on receiving aesthetic testimony that p, acquires the belief that p without qualification. I suggest that we broaden the set of cases under consideration. I consider a number of cases of action from testimony, including reconsidering a disliked album based on testimony, and choosing an artistic educational institution from testimony. But this cannot simply be explained by supposi…Read more
  •  539
    An Ethics of Uncertainty
    Dissertation, UCLA. 2011.
    Moral reasoning is as fallible as reasoning in any other cognitive domain, but we often behave as if it were not. I argue for a form of epistemically-based moral humility, in which we downgrade our moral beliefs in the face of moral disagreement. My argument combines work in metaethics and moral intuitionism with recent developments in epistemology. I argue against any demands for deep self-sufficiency in moral reasoning. Instead, I argue that we need to take into account significant socially so…Read more