• Carleton University
    Department of Philosophy
    Institute of Cognitive Science
    Associate Professor
Brown University
Department of Philosophy
PhD
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Areas of Specialization
Epistemology
The Value of Lives
  •  142
    The incoherence of soft nihilism
    Think 16 (47): 127-135. 2017.
    As an evaluative view in the philosophy of life, nihilism maintains that no lives are, all things considered, worth living. Prominent defenders of the view hold that, even so, it can be all-things-considered better for us to continue living than for us to cease living, thus endorsing a 'soft' nihilism that appears more palatable than its 'hard' counterpart. In support of an intuitive assumption about what nihilism implies, I argue that soft nihilism is incoherent.
  •  129
    Unknowableness and Informational Privacy
    Journal of Philosophical Research 32 251-267. 2007.
    Despite their differences, the three most prominent accounts of informational privacy on the contemporary scene—the Control Theory, the Limited Access Theory, and the Narrow Ignorance Theory—all hold that an individual’s informational privacy is at least partly a function of a kind of inability of others to know personal facts about her. This common commitment, I argue, renders the accounts vulnerable to compelling counterexamples. I articulate a new account of informational privacy—the Broad Ig…Read more
  •  91
    Knowing Persons
    Dialogue 49 (3): 435-453. 2010.
    ABSTRACT: There is an intuitive distinction between knowing someone in a detached manner and knowing someone in a more intimate fashion — personally. The latter seems to involve the specially active participation of the person known in a way that the former does not. In this paper I present a novel, communication account of knowing someone personally that successfully explains this participation. The account also illuminates the propositional and testimonial character of the personal knowledge o…Read more
  •  86
    Fundamentality and Extradimensional Final Value
    Journal of Philosophy of Life 5 (3): 19-32. 2015.
    I argue that life’s meaning is not only a distinct, gradational final value of individual lives, but also an “extradimensional” final value: the realization of meaning in life brings final value along an additional evaluative dimension, much as the realization of depth in solids or width in plane geometric figures brings magnitude along an additional spatial dimension. I go on to consider the extent to which Metz’s (2013) fundamentality theory respects the principle that life’s meaning is an ext…Read more
  •  84
    How to Be an Epistemic Value Pluralist
    Dialogue 50 (2): 391-405. 2011.
    ABSTRACT: In this paper I defend an epistemic value pluralism according to which true belief, justified belief, and knowledge are all fundamental epistemic values. After laying out reasons to reject epistemic value monism in its central forms, I present my pluralist alternative and show how it can adequately explain the greater epistemic value of knowledge over both true belief and justified belief, despite their fundamentality. I conclude with a sketch of how this pluralism might be generalized…Read more
  •  61
    A Distributive Reductionism About the Right to Privacy
    The Monist 91 (1): 108-129. 2008.
    Ignorance theorists about privacy hold that it amounts to others’ ignorance of one’s personal information. I argue that ignorance theorists should adopt a distributive reductionist approach to the right to privacy, according to which it is reducible to elements that, despite having something significant in common, are distributed across more fundamental rights to person, liberty, and property. The distributed reductionism that I present carries two important features. First, it is better suited …Read more
  •  60
    The cognitive importance of testimony
    with Jim Davies
    Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 16 (2): 297-318. 2012.
    As a belief source, testimony has long been held by theorists of the mind to play a deeply important role in human cognition. It is unclear, however, just why testimony has been afforded such cognitive importance. We distinguish three suggestions on the matter: the number claim, which takes testimony’s cognitive importance to be a function of the number of beliefs it typically yields, relative to other belief sources; the reliability claim, which ties the importance of testimony to its relative …Read more
  •  55
    Creativity and Meaning in Life
    Ratio 31 (1): 73-87. 2018.
    To forestall scepticism about meaning in life as a distinct final value, I sketch a preliminary characterization of meaning as superlative final value in life. I then make the case that this characterization helps us better appreciate a neglected substantive account of meaning, namely, Richard Taylor's creativity account. After laying out the creativity account, I argue that it is not just very compelling, but more compelling under the superlativeness characterization than the most prominent of …Read more
  •  52
    A duty of ignorance
    Episteme 10 (2): 193-205. 2013.
    Conjoined with the claim that there is a moral right to privacy, each of the major contemporary accounts of privacy implies a duty of ignorance for those against whom the right is held. In this paper I consider and respond to a compelling argument that challenges these accounts (or the claim about a right to privacy) in the light of this implication. A crucial premise of the argument is that we cannot ever be morally obligated to become ignorant of information we currently know. The plausibility…Read more
  •  34
    Book Reviews David Matheson, Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review/Revue canadienne de philosophie, FirstView Article
  •  29
    Testimonial Reasons
    Erkenntnis 81 (4): 757-774. 2016.
    In this paper I consider whether the reasons on which our testimonial beliefs are directly based—“testimonial reasons”—are basic reasons for belief. After laying out a Dretske-inspired psychologistic conception of reasons for belief in general and a corresponding conception of basic reasons for belief, I present a prima facie case against the basicality of testimonial reasons. I then respond to a challenge from Audi to this case. To the extent that my response is successful, the viability of an …Read more
  •  28
    Anonymity and Testimonial Warrant
    Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 8 (2): 213-231. 2004.
    Reductionism as an approach to the epistemology of testimony places certain demands on the recipient of testimony that its competitor, antireductionism, does not. After laying out the two approaches and their respective demands on the recipient of testimony, I argue that reductionism also places certain anonymity-shedding demands on the testifier that antireductionism does not. The difficulty of deciding between the approaches leads to a worry about the extent to which the current state of affai…Read more
  •  27
    The Worthwhileness of Meaningful Lives
    Philosophia 48 (1): 313-324. 2020.
    The M → W thesis that a meaningful life must be a worthwhile life follows from an appealing approach to the axiology of life. Yet one of the most prominent voices in the recent philosophy of life literature, Thaddeus Metz, has raised multiple objections to that thesis. With a view to preserving the appeal of the axiological approach from which it follows, I here defend the M → W thesis from Metz’s objections. My defense yields some interesting insights about both a meaningful life and a worthwhi…Read more
  •  26
    The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life's Biggest Questions
    Philosophical Quarterly 68 (272): 639-641. 2018.
    The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life's Biggest Questions. By Benatar David.
  •  26
    Legal Argumentation and Evidence (review)
    Dialogue 43 (3): 607-609. 2004.
  •  22
    Faith Shunning Validation
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 57 (3): 169-191. 2005.
    There is a Barthian objection to the project of natural validation theology (i.e. to the attempt to establish, on purely natural bases, whether God exists) according to which, far from being required to engage in the project, the theologian is required to abstain from engaging in it. By considering the motivation for an analogous objection to validation projects in metaphysics and epistemology, voiced by representatives of the comman sense tradition in modern Western philosophy, I argue that thi…Read more
  •  15
    Varieties of empiricism
    In Yves Bouchard (ed.), Perspectives on Coherentism, Editions Du Scribe. pp. 99--113. 2002.
  •  10
    Book Reviews David Matheson, Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review/Revue canadienne de philosophie, FirstView Article
  •  8
    An Introduction to the Study of Education (edited book)
    Routledge. 1999.
    What is education? This core textbook will help students in pursuit of this question by providing a comprehensive, gentle and reflective introduction to the initial study of education. Updated in line with the latest policies, reforms and issues within education, this third edition includes: full exploration of the historical, sociological, philosophical and psychological roots of education a focus on all levels of education – pre-school, primary, secondary, post-16 and lifelong learning the lat…Read more
  • Understanding, Validation, and the Everyday in Epistemology
    Dissertation, Brown University. 2003.
    The relationship between philosophical inquiry and our pretheoretic, everyday convictions has always been a matter of some controversy. In large part, this dissertation constitutes an attempt to clarify that relationship specifically within the subfield of philosophy we call epistemology. ;Two types of project emerge in traditional epistemology: epistemological projects of understanding, whose goal is to analyze or explicate key epistemic concepts, and epistemological projects of validation, who…Read more