University of California, Irvine
The Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science
PhD, 2004
Lubbock, Texas, United States of America
Areas of Interest
Philosophy of Mind
  •  560
    The Negation Problem states that expressivism has insufficient structure to account for the various ways in which a moral sentence can be negated. We argue that the Negation Problem does not arise for expressivist accounts of all normative language but arises only for the specific examples on which expressivists usually focus. In support of this claim, we argue for the following three theses: 1) a problem that is structurally identical to the Negation Problem arises in non-normative cases, and t…Read more
  •  556
    The Semantics of Racial Epithets
    Journal of Philosophy 105 (8): 416-440. 2008.
    Racial epithets are derogatory expressions, understood to convey contempt toward their targets. But what do they actually mean, if anything? While the prevailing view is that epithets are to be explained pragmatically, I argue that a careful consideration of the data strongly supports a particular semantic theory. I call this view Combinatorial Externalism. CE holds that epithets express complex properties that are determined by the discriminatory practices and stereotypes of their corresponding…Read more
  •  352
    Philosophy Compass 5 (2): 164-185. 2010.
    The norms surrounding pejorative language, such as racial slurs and swear words, are deeply prohibitive. Pejoratives are typically a means for speakers to express their derogatory attitudes. As these attitudes vary along many dimensions and magnitudes, they initially appear to be resistant to a truth-conditional, semantic analysis. The goal of the paper is to clarify the essential linguistic phenomena surrounding pejoratives, survey the logical space of explanatory theories, evaluate each with r…Read more
  •  258
    A puzzle about pejoratives
    Philosophical Studies 159 (3): 383-405. 2012.
    Pejoratives are the class of expressions that are meant to insult or disparage. They include swear words and slurs. These words allow speakers to convey emotional states beyond the truth-conditional contents that they are normally taken to encode. The puzzle arises because, although pejoratives seem to be a semantically unified class, some of their occurrences are best accounted for truth-conditionally, while others are best accounted for non-truth-conditionally. Where current, non-truth-conditi…Read more
  •  202
    Unity and the Frege–Geach problem
    Philosophical Studies 163 (1): 15-24. 2013.
    The problem of the unity of the proposition asks what binds together the constituents of a proposition into a fully formed proposition that provides truth conditions for the assertoric sentence that expresses it, rather than merely a set of objects. Hanks’ solution is to reject the traditional distinction between content and force. If his theory is successful, then there is a plausible extension of it that readily solves the Frege–Geach problem for normative propositions. Unfortunately Hanks’ th…Read more
  •  163
    Pejoratives as Fiction
    with Robert May
    In David Sosa (ed.), Bad Words, Oxford University Press. 2018.
    Fictional terms are terms that have null extensions, and in this regard pejorative terms are a species of fictional terms: although there are Jews, there are no kikes. That pejoratives are fictions is the central consequence of the Moral and Semantic Innocence (MSI) view of Hom et al. (2013). There it is shown that for pejoratives, null extensionality is the semantic realization of the moral fact that no one ought to be the target of negative moral evaluation solely in virtue of their group memb…Read more
  •  128
    Moral and Semantic Innocence
    with Robert May
    Analytic Philosophy 54 (3): 293-313. 2013.
  •  21
    The Inconsistency of the Identity Thesis
    with Robert May
    ProtoSociology 31 113-120. 2014.
    In theorizing about racial pejoratives, an initially attractive view is that pejoratives have the same reference as their “neutral counterparts”. Call this the identity thesis. According to this thesis, the terms “kike” and “Jew”, for instance, pick out the same set of people. To be a Jew just is to be a kike, and so to make claims about Jews just is to make claims about kikes. In this way, the two words are synonymous, and so make the same contribution to the truth-conditions of sentences conta…Read more
  •  12
    Embedding speech-act propositions
    Synthese 198 (11): 10959-10977. 2020.
    Hanks develops a theory of propositions as speech-act types. Because speech acts play a role in the contents themselves, the view overturns Frege’s force/content distinction, and as such, faces the challenge of explaining how propositions embed under logical operators like negation. The attempt to solve this problem has lead Hanks and his recent commentators to adopt theoretically exotic resources, none of which, we argue, is ultimately successful. The problem is that although there are three di…Read more
  • The Logical Form of Structured Propositions
    Dissertation, University of California, Irvine. 2003.
    One of the main criteria for an adequate semantic theory is that it solve the problem of substitution into intensional contexts, otherwise known as Frege's Puzzle. Given common-sense assumptions about how natural language functions, a contradiction arises in explaining attitude reports. For example, Lisa might believe that Twain is tall, but not believe that Clemens is tall. Lisa is perhaps unaware that the names "Twain" and "Clemens" corefer. But Twain's being tall is just Clemens' being tall, …Read more