•  118
    Proper function and defeating experiences
    Synthese 182 (3): 433-447. 2011.
    Jonathan Kvanvig has argued that what he terms “doxastic” theories of epistemic justification fail to account for certain epistemic features having to do with evidence. I’m going to give an argument roughly along these lines, but I’m going to focus specifically on proper function theories of justification or warrant. In particular, I’ll focus on Michael Bergmann’s recent proper function account of justification, though the argument applies also to Alvin Plantinga’s proper function account of war…Read more
  •  111
    B-theory old and new: on ontological commitment
    Synthese 190 (17): 3953-3970. 2013.
    The most important argument against the B-theory of time is the paraphrase argument. The major defense against that argument is the “new” tenseless theory of time, which is built on what I will call the “indexical reply” to the paraphrase argument. The move from the “old” tenseless theory of time to the new is most centrally a change of viewpoint about the nature and determiners of ontological commitment. Ironically, though, the new tenseless theorists have generally not paid enough sustained, d…Read more
  •  60
    Mozi's moral theory: Breaking the hermeneutical stalemate
    Philosophy East and West 61 (2): 347-364. 2011.
    The most significant contemporary controversy surrounding the interpretation of the moral thought of Mozi is the debate over his ultimate criterion for right action. The problem is that there are two significant candidates found in the text of the Mozi.1 One is a kind of utilitarian principle: whatever benefits the world is right and whatever harms the world is wrong. The other is a divine will principle: whatever Heaven desires is right and whatever Heaven disapproves of is wrong. Both principl…Read more
  •  43
    Calvin famously interprets Romans 1 as ascribing human knowledge of God in nature not to inferences from created things (natural theology) but to a “senseof deity” that all people share and sinfully suppress. I want to suggest that the sense of deity interpretation actually provides the resources for explaining thepersuasive power and usefulness of natural theology. Specifi cally, I will argue that understanding certain ontological and cosmological arguments as dependenton the sense of deity pre…Read more
  •  42
    Skepticism and Circular Arguments
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (4): 253-270. 2013.
    Perhaps the most popular and historically important way of responding to skepticism is by an appeal to non-inferential justification. A problem with this sort of response is that while it may constitute a response to skepticism, it does not constitute a response to the skeptic. At some point, the anti-skeptic must simply fall silent, resigned to the fact that his or her non-inferential justification for the belief challenged by the skeptic is not communicable. I want to point out a possible solu…Read more
  •  33
    To support her divine motivation theory of the good, which seeks to ground ethics in motives and emphasize the attractiveness of morality over against the compulsion of morality, Linda Zagzebski has proposed an original account of obligations which grounds them in motives. I argue that her account renders obligations objectionably person-relative and that the most promising way to avoid my criticism is to embrace something quite close to a divine command theory of obligation. This requires her t…Read more
  •  28
    Foundational Beliefs and Persuading with Humor: Reflections Inspired by Reid and Kierkegaard
    with Adam C. Pelser
    Faith and Philosophy 31 (3): 267-285. 2014.
    The most important and common solution to the Pyrrhonian skeptic’s regress problem is foundationalism. Reason-giving must stop somewhere, argues the foundationalist, and the fact that it does stop does not threaten knowledge or justification. The foundationalist has a problem, though; while foundationalism might adequately answer skepticism, it does not allow for a satisfying reply to the skeptic. The feature that makes a belief foundationally justified is not the sort of thing that can be given…Read more
  •  23
    One of the primary tasks of the philosopher is to explain what it is for something to be the case – what it is for one event to cause another, what it is for an action to be obligatory, what it is for an object to bear a property, what it is for a proposition to be true necessarily, what it is for a person to know something. This activity of explaining what something is or what it is for something to be the case, of identifying what I call ontological explanations, is of special importance to me…Read more
  •  21
    There is a remarkable and surprising connection to be found between an argument of Søren Kierkegaard’s and one of Zhuangzi’s—what I call the ‘social misfit’ critique. I will argue that this connection highlights a hitherto unacknowledged parallel between the moral thought of their respective targets: Hegel in the case of Kierkegaard and Confucius in the case of Zhuangzi. Specifically, it reveals a significant parallel between Hegel’s movement from Moralitat to Sittlichkeit and Confucius’ positio…Read more
  •  15
    There is a long history of interpreting Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling as setting forth an irrationalist position on the relationship of faith to ethics–a position that declares faith actually opposed to the demands of ethics. One question has emerged at the forefront of the debate over this interpretation: is the ethics to which Johannes de Silentio opposes faith Kantian or Hegelian? I argue that the Kant/Hegel debate is irrelevant for determining whether Kierkegaard is an ethical irrationali…Read more
  •  10
    Calvinism and the Problem of Evil (edited book)
    Wipf & Stock. 2016.
    Contrary to what many philosophers believe, Calvinism neither makes the problem of evil worse nor is it obviously refuted by the presence of evil and suffering in our world. Or so most of the authors in this book claim. While Calvinism has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years amongst theologians and laypersons, many philosophers have yet to follow suit. The reason seems fairly clear: Calvinism, many think, cannot handle the problem of evil with the same kind of plausibility as other more popular…Read more
  •  5
    Three kinds of competitive excellence
    Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 47 (2): 200-216. 2020.
    I call the trait that makes for a good or great competitor, the trait that makes its possessor compete well, ‘competitive excellence’. We seem to be of two minds about this trait: on the one hand,...