Marquette University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2015
Santa Barbara, California, United States of America
  •  18
    “ A man orders a whole pizza pie for himself and is asked whether he would like it cut into eight or four slices. He responds, ‘Four, I’m on a diet ”’ (Noël Carroll) While not hilarious --so funny that it induces chortling punctuated with outrageous vomiting--this little gem is amusing. We recognize that something has gone wrong. On a first reading it might not compute, something doesn’t quite make sense. Then, aha! , we understand the hapless dieter has misapplied general rules of thumb, menta…Read more
  • The Playful Thought Experiments of Louis CK
    In Mark Ralkowski (ed.), Louis CK and Philosophy. pp. 225-236. 2016.
    It is trivially true that comedians make jokes and thus are not serious; they are “just playing.” But watching Louis CK, especially his performances in Chewed Up, Shameless, and Hilarious, it is evident that he has more in mind than simply getting his audience to frivolously guffaw. I will make the case that this is so given the content of some of his humor which centers on areas of socio-political-ethical tensions that can be uncomfortable when addressed in a direct, “bona-fide” communicative m…Read more
  •  2
    According to Manuel Davenport, “The best humorists--Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Bob Hope, and Mort Sahl--share [a] mixture of detachment and desire, eagerness to believe, and irreverence concerning the possibility of certainty. And when they become serious about their convictions--as Twain did about colonialism…they cease to be humorous” (p. 171). I agree with the first part, but not the second. Humor does require disengagement, but not completely such that one has no emotional interest in the subj…Read more
  • How Socratic Is Swift's Irony?
    In Janelle Pötzsch (ed.), Jonathan Swift and Philosophy. pp. 13-25. 2017.
    Was Swift correct that “reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired” (Letter to a Young Gentleman)? If so, what recourse is there to change attitudes especially among those who continue to fervently believe unjustified claims and act upon them in a way that affects other people? I will answer the first question with a qualified yes, and the second I will follow Swift’s implicit proposal to rely upon humor, satire, playful ridicule, and especially …Read more
  •  113
    Subversive Humor as Art and the Art of Subversive Humor
    The Philosophy of Humor Yearbook 1 (1). 2020.
    This article investigates the relationships between forms of humor that conjure up possible worlds and real-world social critiques. The first part of the article will argue that subversive humor, which is from or on behalf of historically and continually marginalized communities, constitutes a kind of aesthetic experience that can elicit enjoyment even in adversarial audiences. The second part will be a connecting piece, arguing that subversive humor can be constructed as brief narrative thought…Read more
  •  65
    Parrhesia, Humor, and Resistance
    Israeli Journal of Humor Research 9 (1): 22-46. 2020.
    This paper begins by taking seriously former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ response in his What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? to systematic violence and oppression. He claims that direct argumentation is not the ideal mode of resistance to oppression: “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.” I will focus on a few elements of this playful mode of resistance that conflict with the more straightforward strivings for abstract, universal, objectiv…Read more
  •  26
    Review of A Philosophy of Humour (review)
    The Philosophy of Humor Yearbook 1 (1): 309-314. 2020.
    In A Philosophy of Humour, Alan Roberts presents a brief but extremely well-resourced overview of the history of the philosophy of humor (I will omit “u” for brevity, the soul of wit), and offers a new theory of humor focusing on the role of amusement. This text does not assume any prior acquaintance with theories of humor or philosophy, and in light of this, Roberts does well to define, either in the text or a brief note, the philosophical concepts necessary to help the reader follow along. Eve…Read more
  •  1458
    The discovery of mirror neurons in both primates and humans has led to an enormous amount of research and speculation as to how conscious beings are able to interact so effortlessly among one another. Mirror neurons might provide an embodied basis for passive synthesis and the eventual process of further communalization through empathy, as envisioned by Edmund Husserl. I consider the possibility of a phenomenological and scientific investigation of laughter as a point of connection that might in…Read more
  •  676
    An Existentialist account of the role of humor against oppression
    Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 26 (4). 2013.
    I argue that the overt subjugation in the system of American slavery and its subsequent effects offer a case study for an existentialist analysis of freedom, oppression and humor. Concentrating on the writings and experiences of Frederick Douglass and the existentialists Simone De Beauvoir and Lewis Gordon, I investigate how the concepts of “spirit of seriousness”, “mystification”, and an existentialist reading of “double consciousness” for example, can elucidate the forms of explicit and concea…Read more
  •  168
    World-Traveling, Double Consciousness, and Laughter
    Israeli Journal for Humor Research 2 (6): 93-119. 2017.
    In this paper I borrow from Maria Lugones’ work on playful “world-traveling” and W.E.B. Du Bois’ notion of “double consciousness” to make the case that humor can facilitate an openness and cooperative attitude among an otherwise closed, even adversarial audience. I focus on what I call “subversive” humor, that which is employed by or on behalf of those who have been continually marginalized. When effectively used, such humor can foster the inclination and even desire to listen to others and, if …Read more
  •  141
    Moral Imaginative Resistance to Heaven: Why the Problem of Evil is So Intractable
    de Ethica: Journal of Philosophical, Theological and Applied Ethics 1 (5): 51-67. 2018.
    The majority of philosophers of religion, at least since Plantinga’s reply to Mackie’s logical problem of evil, agree that it is logically possible for an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God to exist who permits some of the evils we see in the actual world. This is conceivable essentially because of the possible world known as heaven. That is, heaven is an imaginable world in a similar way that logically possible scenarios in any fiction are imaginable. However, like some of the imagi…Read more
  •  45
    Incongruity and Seriousness
    Florida Philosophical Review 15 (1): 1-18. 2015.
    In the first part of this paper, I will briefly introduce the concept of incongruity and its relation to humor and seriousness, connecting the ideas of Arthur Schopenhauer and the contemporary work of John Morreall. I will reveal some of the relations between Schopenhauer's notion of "seriousness" and the existentialists such as Jean Paul Sartre, Simone Be Beauvoir, and Lewis Gordon. In section II, I will consider the relationship between playfulness and incongruity, noting the role that enjoyme…Read more
  •  1072
    Subversive Humor
    Dissertation, Marquette. 2015.
    Oppression is easily recognized. That is, at least, when oppression results from overt, consciously professed racism, for example, in which violence, explicit exclusion from economic opportunities, denial of adequate legal access, and open discrimination perpetuate the subjugation of a group of people. There are relatively clear legal remedies to such oppression. But this is not the case with covert oppression where the psychological harms and resulting legal and economic exclusion are every bit…Read more