University of York
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2014
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  •  3
    Unimpaired abduction to alien abduction: Lessons on delusion formation
    Philosophical Psychology 33 (5): 679-704. 2020.
    An examination of alien abduction belief can inform how we ought to approach constructing explanations of monothematic delusion formation. I argue that the formation and maintenance of alien abduct...
  •  20
    The transparent failure of norms to keep up standards of belief
    Philosophical Studies 177 (5): 1213-1227. 2020.
    We argue that the most plausible characterisation of the norm of truth—it is permissible to believe that p if and only if p is true—is unable to explain Transparency in doxastic deliberation, a task for which it is claimed to be equipped. In addition, the failure of the norm to do this work undermines the most plausible account of how the norm guides belief formation at all. Those attracted to normativism about belief for its perceived explanatory credentials had better look elsewhere.
  •  27
    Biased by our imaginings
    Mind and Language 34 (5): 627-647. 2019.
    I propose a new model of implicit bias, according to which implicit biases are constituted by unconscious imaginings. I begin by endorsing a principle of parsimony when confronted with unfamiliar phenomena. I introduce implicit bias in terms congenial to what most philosophers and psychologists have said about their nature in the literature so far, before moving to a discussion of the doxastic model of implicit bias and objections to it. I then introduce unconscious imagination and argue that ap…Read more
  •  52
    Explaining doxastic transparency: aim, norm, or function?
    Synthese 195 (8): 3453-3476. 2018.
    I argue that explanations of doxastic transparency which go via an appeal to an aim or norm of belief are problematic. I offer a new explanation which appeals to a biological function of our mechanisms for belief production. I begin by characterizing the phenomenon, and then move to the teleological and normative accounts of belief, advertised by their proponents as able to give an explanation of it. I argue that, at the very least, both accounts face serious difficulties in this endeavour. Thes…Read more
  •  34
    Monothematic delusion: A case of innocence from experience
    Philosophical Psychology 31 (6): 920-947. 2018.
    ABSTRACTEmpiricists about monothematic delusion formation agree that anomalous experience is a factor in the formation of these attitudes, but disagree markedly on which further factors need to be specified. I argue that epistemic innocence may be a unifying feature of monothematic delusions, insofar as a judgment of epistemic innocence to this class of attitudes is one that opposing empiricist accounts can make. The notion of epistemic innocence allows us to tell a richer story when investigati…Read more
  •  189
    Fictional persuasion, transparency, and the aim of belief
    In E. Sullivan-Bissett (ed.), Art and Belief, Oxford University Press. pp. 153-73. 2017.
    In this chapter we argue that some beliefs present a problem for the truth-aim teleological account of belief, according to which it is constitutive of belief that it is aimed at truth. We draw on empirical literature which shows that subjects form beliefs about the real world when they read fictional narratives, even when those narratives are presented as fiction, and subjects are warned that the narratives may contain falsehoods. We consider Nishi Shah’s teleologist’s dilemma and a response to…Read more
  •  39
    The epistemic innocence of clinical memory distortions
    Mind and Language 33 (3): 263-279. 2018.
    In some neuropsychological disorders memory distortions seemingly fill gaps in people’s knowledge about their past, where people’s self-image, history, and prospects are often enhanced. False beliefs about the past compromise both people’s capacity to construct a reliable autobiography and their trustworthiness as communicators. However, such beliefs contribute to people’s sense of competence and self-confidence, increasing psychological wellbeing. Here we consider both psychological benefits an…Read more
  •  371
    David Owens objected to the truth-aim account of belief on the grounds that the putative aim of belief does not meet a necessary condition on aims, namely, that aims can be weighed against other aims. If the putative aim of belief cannot be weighed, then belief does not have an aim after all. Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen responded to this objection by appeal to other deliberative contexts in which the aim could be weighed, and we argued that this response to Owens failed for two reasons. Steglich-P…Read more
  •  51
    Biological Function and Epistemic Normativity
    Philosophical Explorations 20 (1): 94-110. 2017.
    I give a biological account of epistemic normativity. My account explains the sense in which it is true that belief is subject to a standard of correctness, and reduces epistemic norms to there being doxastic strategies which guide how best to meet that standard. Additionally, I give an explanation of the mistakes we make in our epistemic discourse, understood as either taking epistemic properties and norms to be sui generis and irreducible, and/or as failing to recognize the reductive base of e…Read more
  •  39
    The Aim of Belief, edited by Timothy Chan (review)
    Mind 124 (496): 1258-1264. 2015.
    Review of Timothy Chan's (ed.) The Aim of Belief
  •  15
    Review of New Essays on Belief: Constitution, Content and Structure by Nikolaj Nottelmann (review)
    with Lisa Bortolotti
    Dialectica 68 (1): 141-146. 2014.
  •  109
    Better no longer to be
    South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1): 55-68. 2012.
    David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a harm, and that – for all of us unfortunate enough to have come into existence – it would be better had we never come to be. We contend that if one accepts Benatar’s arguments for the asymmetry between the presence and absence of pleasure and pain, and the poor quality of life, one must also accept that suicide is preferable to continued existence, and that his view therefore implies both anti-natalism and pro-mortalism . This conclusio…Read more
  •  1
    Art and Belief (edited book)
    with Helen Bradley and Paul Noordhof
    Oxford University Press. 2017.
    Art and Belief presents new work at the intersection of philosophy of mind and philosophy of art. Topics include the cognitive contributions artworks can make, the phenomenon of fictional persuasion, and the nature of aesthetic testimony, and the relation between belief and truth in our experience of art.
  •  132
    Implicit bias, confabulation, and epistemic innocence
    Consciousness and Cognition 33 548-560. 2014.
    In this paper I explore the nature of confabulatory explanations of action guided by implicit bias. I claim that such explanations can have significant epistemic benefits in spite of their obvious epistemic costs, and that such benefits are not otherwise obtainable by the subject at the time at which the explanation is offered. I start by outlining the kinds of cases I have in mind, before characterising the phenomenon of confabulation by focusing on a few common features. Then I introduce the n…Read more
  •  86
    A defence of Owens' exclusivity objection to beliefs having aims
    Philosophical Studies 163 (2): 453-457. 2013.
    In this paper we argue that Steglich-Petersen’s response to Owens’ Exclusivity Objection does not work. Our first point is that the examples Steglich-Petersen uses to demonstrate his argument do not work because they employ an undefended conception of the truth aim not shared by his target (and officially eschewed by Steglich-Petersen himself). Secondly we will make the point that deliberating over whether to form a belief about p is not part of the belief forming process. When an agent enters i…Read more
  •  57
    Malfunction Defended
    Synthese 194 (7): 2501-2522. 2017.
    Historical accounts of biological function are thought to have, as a point in their favour, their being able to accommodate malfunction. Recently, this has been brought into doubt by Paul Sheldon Davies’s argument for the claim that both selected malfunction (that of the selected functions account) and weak etiological malfunction (that of the weak etiological account), are impossible. In this paper I suggest that in light of Davies’s objection, historical accounts of biological function need to…Read more
  •  102
    Another Failed Refutation of Scepticism
    Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 36 (2): 19-30. 2017.
    Jessica Wilson has recently offered a more sophisticated version of the self-defeat objection to Cartesian scepicism. She argues that the assertion of Cartesian scepticism results in an unstable vicious regress. The way out of the regress is to not engage with the Cartesian sceptic at all, to stop the regress before it starts, at the warranted assertion that the external world exists. We offer three reasons why this objection fails: first, the sceptic need not accept Wilson’s characterization of…Read more