•  2657
    Kant’s transcendental idealism hinges on a distinction between appearances and things in themselves. The debate about how to understand this distinction has largely ignored the way that Kant applies this distinction to the self. I argue that this is a mistake, and that Kant’s acceptance of a single, unified self in both his theoretical and practical philosophy causes serious problems for the ‘two-world’ interpretation of his idealism.
  •  2626
    Does Kant Demand Explanations for All Synthetic A Priori Claims?
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (3): 549-576. 2014.
    Kant's philosophy promises to explain various synthetic a priori claims. Yet, as several of his commentators have noted, it is hard to see how these explanations could work unless they themselves rested on unexplained synthetic a priori claims. Since Kant appears to demand explanations for all synthetic a priori claims, it would seem that his project fails on its own terms. I argue, however, that Kant holds that explanations are required only for synthetic a priori claims about (purportedly) exp…Read more
  •  2610
    Kant's Appearances and Things in Themselves as Qua‐Objects
    Philosophical Quarterly 63 (252): 520-545. 2013.
    The one-world interpretation of Kant's idealism holds that appearances and things in themselves are, in some sense, the same things. Yet this reading faces a number of problems, all arising from the different features Kant seems to assign to appearances and things in themselves. I propose a new way of understanding the appearance/thing in itself distinction via an Aristotelian notion that I call, following Kit Fine, a ‘qua-object.’ Understanding appearances and things in themselves as qua-object…Read more
  •  1914
    Kant and Spinoza
    In Yitzhak Melamed (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Spinoza, Blackwell. forthcoming.
    In this chapter, I explore the connections between Spinoza’s philosophy and Immanuel Kant's. I begin by considering whether Kant engaged with Spinoza's actual views, and conclude that he did not. Despite that, I argue that there some philosophically-striking points of near-convergence between them. In addition to both privileging substance monism over other traditional metaphysical views, both Spinoza and Kant advance arguments for (a) epistemic humility based on the passivity of our senses and …Read more
  •  997
    Spinoza on Destroying Passions with Reason
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1): 139-160. 2012.
    Spinoza claims we can control any passion by forming a more clear and distinct idea of it. The interpretive consensus is that Spinoza is either wrong or over-stating his view. I argue that Spinoza’s view is plausible and insightful. After breaking down Spinoza’s characterization of the relevant act, I consider four existing interpretations and conclude that each is unsatisfactory. I then consider a further problem for Spinoza: how his definitions of ‘action’ and ‘passion’ make room for passions …Read more
  •  803
    Schopenhauer and Non-Cognitivist Moral Realism
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (2): 293-316. 2017.
    I argue that Schopenhauer’s views on the foundations of morality challenge the widely-held belief that moral realism requires cognitivism about moral judgments. Schopenhauer’s core metaethical view consists of two claims: that moral worth is attributed to actions based in compassion, and that compassion, in contrast to egoism, arises from deep metaphysical insight into the non-distinctness of beings. These claims, I argue, are sufficient for moral realism, but are compatible with either co…Read more
  •  774
    Kant on Impenetrability, Touch, and the Causal Content of Perception
    European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4): 1411-1433. 2017.
    It is well known that Kant claims that causal judgments, including judgments about forces, must have an a priori basis. It is less well known that Kant claims that we can perceive the repulsive force of bodies through the sense of touch. Together, these claims present an interpretive puzzle, since they appear to commit Kant to both affirming and denying that we can have perceptions of force. My first aim is to show that both sides of the puzzle have deep roots in Kant's philosophy. My second aim…Read more
  •  580
    On the traditional reading, Schopenhauer claims that compassion is the recognition of deep metaphysical unity. In this paper, I defend and develop the traditional reading. I begin by addressing three recent criticisms of the reading from Sandra Shapshay: that it fails to accommodate Schopenhauer's restriction to sentient beings, that it cannot explain his moral ranking of egoism over malice, and that Schopenhauer requires some level of distinction to remain in compassion. Against Shapshay, I arg…Read more
  •  543
    According to strong metaphysical readings of Kant, Kant believes there are noumenal substances and causes. Proponents of these readings have shown that these readings can be reconciled with Kant’s claims about the limitations of human cognition. An important new challenge to such readings, however, has been proposed by Markus Kohl, focusing on Kant’s occasional statements about the divine or intuitive intellect. According to Kohl, how an intuitive intellect represents is a decisive measure for h…Read more
  •  527
    Compassionate Moral Realism
    Oxford University Press. 2018.
    This book offers a ground-up defense of objective morality, drawing inspiration from a wide range of philosophers, including John Locke, Arthur Schopenhauer, Iris Murdoch, Nel Noddings, and David Lewis. The core claim is compassion is our capacity to perceive other creatures' pains, pleasures, and desires. Non-compassionate people are therefore perceptually lacking, regardless of how much factual knowledge they might have. Marshall argues that people who do have this form of compassion thereby f…Read more
  •  502
    Interpreters of Kant’s Refutation of Idealism face a dilemma: it seems to either beg the question against the Cartesian sceptic or else offer a disappointingly Berkeleyan conclusion. In this article I offer an interpretation of the Refutation on which it does not beg the question against the Cartesian sceptic. After defending a principle about question-begging, I identify four premises concerning our representations that there are textual reasons to think Kant might be implicitly assuming. Using…Read more
  •  467
    Hume versus the vulgar on resistance, nisus, and the impression of power
    Philosophical Studies 172 (2): 305-319. 2015.
    In the first Enquiry, Hume takes the experience of exerting force against a solid body to be a key ingredient of the vulgar idea of power, so that the vulgar take that experience to provide us with an impression of power. Hume provides two arguments against the vulgar on this point: the first concerning our other applications of the idea of power and the second concerning whether that experience yields certainty about distinct events. I argue that, even if we accept Hume’s conception of the vulg…Read more
  •  330
    Lockean Empathy
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 54 (1): 87-106. 2016.
    This paper offers an epistemic defense of empathy, drawing on John Locke's theory of ideas. Locke held that ideas of shape, unlike ideas of color, had a distinctive value: resembling qualities in their objects. I argue that the same is true of empathy, as when someone is pained by someone's pain. This means that empathy has the same epistemic value or objectivity that Locke and other early modern philosophers assigned to veridical perceptions of shape. For this to hold, pain and pleasure must be…Read more
  •  265
    Moral realism in Spinoza's Ethics
    In Yitzhak Melamed (ed.), The Cambridge Critical Guide to Spinoza's Ethics, Cambridge University Press. pp. 248-65. 2017.
    I argue that Spinoza is more of a moral realist than an anti-realist. More specifically, I argue that Spinoza is more of a realist than Kant, and that his view has deep similarities with Plato's metaethics. Along the way, I identify three approaches to the moral realism/anti-realism distinction. Classifying Spinoza as a moral realist brings out a number of important complexities that have been overlooked by many of Spinoza's readers and by many contemporary metaethicists.
  •  253
    Schopenhauer's Titus Argument
    In Patrick Hassan (ed.), Schopenhauer's Moral Philosophy, Routledge. forthcoming.
    In one of his arguments for taking compassion to be the basis of morality, Schopenhauer offers a thought experiment involving two characters: Titus and Caius. The 'Titus Argument,' as I call it, has been misunderstood by many of Schopenhauer's readers, but is, I argue, worthy of attention by contemporary ethicists and metaethicists. In this chapter, I clarify the argument's structure, methodology, and its key philosophical move, drawing comparisons with Newton's experimental methodology in optic…Read more
  •  247
    This collection of new essays focuses on metaethical views from outside the mainstream European tradition. The guiding motivation is that important discussions about the ultimate nature of morality can be found far beyond ancient Greece and modern Europe. The volume’s aim is to show how rich the possibilities are for comparative metaethics, and how much these comparisons can add to contemporary discussions of the foundations of morality. Representing five continents, the thinkers discussed range…Read more
  •  234
    The Mind and the Body as 'One and the Same Thing' in Spinoza
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (5): 897-919. 2009.
    I argue that, contrary to how he is often read, Spinoza did not believe that the mind and the body were numerically identical. This means that we must find some alternative reading for his claims that they are 'one and the same thing'
  •  218
    Kant's Metaphysics of the Self
    Philosophers' Imprint 10 1-21. 2010.
    I argue that Kant's Critique of Pure Reason offers a positive metaphysical account of the thinking self. Previous interpreters have overlooked this account, I believe, because they have held that any metaphysical view of the self would be incompatible with both Kant's insistence on the limitations of cognition and with his project in the Paralogisms. Closer examination, however, shows that neither of those aspects of the Critique precludes a metaphysical account of the self, and that other aspec…Read more
  •  205
    Skorupski, John., The Domain of Reasons (review)
    Review of Metaphysics 66 (4): 852-854. 2013.
  •  142
    Reason in the Short Treatise
    In Yitzhak Melamed (ed.), The Young Spinoza: A Metaphysician in the Making, Oxford University Press. pp. 133-143. 2015.
    Spinoza’s account of reason in the Short Treatise has been largely neglected. That account, I argue, has at least four features which distinguish it from that of the Ethics: in the Short Treatise, (1) reason is more sharply distinguished from the faculty of intuitive knowledge, (2) reason deals with things as though they were ‘outside’ us, (3) reason lacks clarity and distinctness, and (4) reason has no power over many types of passions. I argue that these differences have a unified explanation,…Read more
  •  121
    Kant's Theory of the Self (review)
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (5): 950-952. 2010.
    The self for Kant is something real, and yet is neither appearance nor thing in itself, but rather has some third status. Appearances for Kant arise in space and time where these are respectively forms of outer and inner attending (intuition). Melnick explains the "third status" by identifying the self with intellectual action that does not arise in the progression of attending (and so is not appearance), but accompanies and unifies inner attending. As so accompanying, it progresses with that at…Read more
  •  94
    Schopenhauer's Five-Dimensional Normative Ethics
    with Kayla Mehl
    In David Bather Woods & Timothy Stoll (eds.), The Schopenhauerian Mind, Routledge. forthcoming.
    Most Anglophone commentators ignore Schopenhauer's normative ethics, and those who do consider it often dismiss it as simplistic. In this chapter, we argue that Schopenhauer in fact offers a rich normative ethics. Taking a cue from Scanlon, we offer a reading of Schopenhauer on which actions are subject to five distinct dimensions of ethical assessment. The resulting view is nuanced and, in many respects. We conclude, however, by arguing that none of the evaluative dimensions equip Schopenhauer …Read more
  •  81
    Kant on Modality
    In Anil Gomes & Andrew Stephenson (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Kant, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    This chapter analyzes several key themes in Kant’s views about modality. We begin with the pre-critical Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God, in which Kant distinguishes between formal and material elements of possibility, claims that all possibility requires an actual ground, and argues for the existence of a single necessary being. We then briefly consider how Kant’s views change in his mature period, especially concerning the role of form and thought in…Read more
  •  51
    Mendelssohn, Kant, and the Mereotopology of Immortality
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4. 2017.
    In the first Critique, Kant claims to refute Moses Mendelssohn’s argument for the immortality of the soul. But some commentators, following Bennett (1974), have identified an apparent problem in the exchange: Mendelssohn appears to have overlooked the possibility that the “leap” between existence and non-existence might be a boundary or limit point in a continuous series, and Kant appears not to have exploited the lacuna, but to have instead offered an irrelevant criticism. Here, we argue that e…Read more
  •  50
    Kant on Reflection and Virtue, by Melissa Merritt (review)
    Mind 128 (511): 1002-1011. 2019.
    Kant on Reflection and Virtue, by MerrittMelissa. Cambridge: Cambridge Press, 2018. Pp. xvi + 219.
  •  47
    Review: Forster, Michael, Kant and Skepticism
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (2). 2009.
    Kant's theoretical philosophy is often read as a response to skeptical challenges raised by his predecessors. Yet Kant himself explicitly discusses skepticism in relatively few places in his published work, so Michael Forster's focused examination of Kant's relation to skepticism is a useful addition to the literature. Forster sets out to distinguish different types of skepticism to which Kant might be responding, determine what responses Kant offers, and evaluate the strength of those responses…Read more
  •  35
    Review: Kitcher, Kant's Thinker (review)
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (6). 2011.
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy, Volume 19, Issue 6, Page 1226-1229, December 2011