University of Texas at Austin
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2008
St Andrews, FIfe, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  •  1141
    There are no phenomenal concepts
    Mind 118 (472): 935-962. 2009.
    It has long been widely agreed that some concepts can be possessed only by those who have undergone a certain type of phenomenal experience. Orthodoxy among contemporary philosophers of mind has it that these phenomenal concepts provide the key to understanding many disputes between physicalists and their opponents, and in particular offer an explanation of Mary’s predicament in the situation exploited by Frank Jackson's knowledge argument. I reject the orthodox view; I deny that there are pheno…Read more
  •  675
    Twin-earth externalism and concept possession
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (3): 457-472. 2007.
    It is widely believed that Twin-Earth-style thought experiments show that the contents of a person's thoughts fail to supervene on her intrinsic properties. Several recent philosophers have made the further claim that Twin-Earth-style thought experiments produce metaphysically necessary conditions for the possession of certain concepts. I argue that the latter view is false, and produce counterexamples to several proposed conditions. My thesis is of particular interest because it undermines some…Read more
  •  589
    One Dogma of Millianism
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1): 70-92. 2014.
    Millians about proper names typically claim that it is knowable apriori that Hesperus is Phosphorus. We argue that they should claim instead that it is knowable only aposteriori that Hesperus is Hesperus, since the Kripke-Putnam epistemic arguments against descriptivism are special cases of Quinean arguments that nothing is knowable apriori, and Millians have no resources to resist the more general Quinean arguments.
  •  451
    Monsters and the theoretical role of context
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (2): 392-416. 2019.
    Kaplan (1989) famously claimed that monsters--operators that shift the context--do not exist in English and "could not be added to it". Several recent theorists have pointed out a range of data that seem to refute Kaplan's claim, but others (most explicitly Stalnaker 2014) have offered a principled argument that monsters are impossible. This paper interprets and resolves the dispute. Contra appearances, this is no dry, technical matter: it cuts to the heart of a deep disagreement about the fun…Read more
  •  326
    Property Identities and Modal Arguments
    Philosophers' Imprint 11. 2011.
    Physicalists about the mind are committed to claims about property identities. Following Kripke's well-known discussion, modal arguments have emerged as major threats to such claims. This paper argues that modal arguments can be resisted by adopting a counterpart theoretic account of modal claims, and in particular modal claims involving properties. Thus physicalists have a powerful motive to adopt non-Kripkean accounts of the metaphysics of modality and the semantics of modal expressions
  •  213
    Two-dimensionalism and the social character of meaning
    Erkenntnis 79 (S3): 567-595. 2014.
    This paper develops and critiques the two-dimensionalist account of mental content developed by David Chalmers. I first explain Chalmers's account and show that it resists some popular criticisms. I then argue that the main interest of two-dimensionalism lies in its accounts of cognitive significance and of the connection between conceivability and possibility. These accounts hinge on the claim that some thoughts have a primary intension that is necessarily true. In this respect, they are Carnap…Read more
  •  204
    Consciousness and Conceptual Mastery
    Mind 122 (486). 2013.
    Torin Alter (2013) attempts to rescue phenomenal concepts and the knowledge argument from the critique of Ball 2009 by appealing to conceptual mastery. I show that Alter’s appeal fails, and describe general features of conceptual mastery that suggest that no such appeal could succeed
  •  175
    Critical notice of Derk Pereboom's "Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism". Discusses Pereboom's idea that conscious states might be misrepresented in introspection, and his idea that instantiations of mental properties are composed of instantiations of physical properties.
  •  155
    Metasemantic ethics
    Ratio 33 (4): 206-219. 2020.
    The idea that experts (especially scientific experts) play a privileged role in determining the meanings of our words and the contents of our concepts has become commonplace since the work of Hilary Putnam, Tyler Burge, and others in the 1970s. But if experts have the power to determine what our words mean, they can do so responsibly or irresponsibly, from good motivations or bad, justly or unjustly, with good or bad effects. This paper distinguishes three families of metasemantic views based …Read more
  •  116
    Indexicality, Transparency, and Mental Files
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (4): 353-367. 2015.
    Francois Recanati’s Mental Files presents a picture of the mind on which mental representations are indexical and transparent. I dispute this picture: there is no clear case for regarding mental representations as indexical, and there are counterexamples to transparency
  •  109
    Fixing Language: An Essay on Conceptual Engineering, by CappelenHerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. x + 212.
  •  91
    By creating certain marks on paper, or by making certain sounds-breathing past a moving tongue-or by articulation of hands and bodies, language users can give expression to their mental lives. With language we command, assert, query, emote, insult, and inspire. Language has meaning. This fact can be quite mystifying, yet a science of linguistic meaning-semantics-has emerged at the intersection of a variety of disciplines: philosophy, linguistics, computer science, and psychology. Semantics is th…Read more
  •  46
    Review: Philosophical Progress: In Defence of a Reasonable Optimism (review)
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4): 846-847. 2019.
    Volume 97, Issue 4, December 2019, Page 846-847.
  •  43
    Relativism, metasemantics, and the future
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (9-10): 1036-1086. 2020.
    ABSTRACT Contemporary relativists often see their view as contributing to a semantic/post-semantic account of linguistic data about disagreement and retraction. I offer an independently motivated metasemantic account of the same data, that also handles a number of cases and empirical results that are problematic for the relativist. The key idea is that the content of assertions and beliefs is determined in part by facts about other times, including times after the assertion is made or the belief…Read more
  •  33
    Lewisian Scorekeeping and the Future
    Croatian Journal of Philosophy 18 (3): 375-383. 2018.
    The purpose of this paper is to draw out a little noticed, but correct and important, consequence of David Lewis’s theory of how the values of contextual parameters are determined. According to Lewis, these values are often determined at least in part by accommodation; to a first approximation, the idea is that contextual parameters tend to take on the values they need to have in order for our utterances to be true. The little-noticed consequence of Lewis’s way of developing these ideas is that …Read more
  •  23
    Knowing without knowing : implicit cognition and the minds of infants and animals
    with Juan-Carlos Gomez, Verena Angela Kersken, and Amanda Madeleine Seed
    The main aim of this paper is to highlight the need to address the conceptual problem of “implicit knowledge” or “implicit cognition” —a notion especially important in the study of the nonverbal minds of animals and infants. We review some uses of the term ‘implicit’ in psychology and allied disciplines,and conclude that conceptual clarification of this notion is not only lacking, but largely avoided and reduced to a methodological problem. We propose that this elusive notion is central in the s…Read more
  •  19
    A puzzle about accommodation and truth
    Philosophical Studies 1-18. 2021.
    The purpose of this paper is to present and discuss a puzzle involving accommodation. The puzzle is based on three assumptions. The first assumption is that accommodation takes place after an utterance. The second assumption is that accommodation can make a difference to the truth-value of an utterance even if the utterance is not about the future. The third assumption is that something that takes place after an utterance cannot make a difference to the truth-value of the utterance unless the ut…Read more
  •  14
    The hard problem of consciousness is to explain why certain physical states are conscious: why do they feel the way they do, rather than some other way or no way at all? Arthur Reber claims to solve the hard problem. But he does not: even if we grant that amoebae are conscious, we can ask why such organisms feel the way they do, and Reber’s theory provides no answer. Still, Reber’s theory may be methodologically useful: we do not yet have a satisfactory theory of consciousness, but perhaps the s…Read more