•  2065
    In this paper, I argue that standard psychological continuity theory fails to account for an important feature of what is important in survival. I offer a theory that can account for this and that avoids two other implausible consequences of standard psychological continuity theory.
  •  952
    Empty names vary in their referential features. Some of them, as Kripke argues, are necessarily empty -- those that are used to create works of fiction. Others appear to be contingently empty -- those which fail to refer at this world, but which do uniquely identify particular objects in other possible worlds. I argue against Kripke's metaphysical and semantic reasons for thinking that either some or all empty names are necessarily non-referring, because these reasons are either not the right re…Read more
  •  539
    Abstract: Many, if not most philosophers, deny that a sentence like ‘Sherlock Holmes smokes’ could be true. However, this attitude conflicts with the assignment of true to that sentence by natural language speakers. Furthermore, this process of assigning truth values to sentences like ‘Sherlock Holes smokes’ seems indistinguishable from the process that leads speakers to assign true to other sentences, those like ‘Bertrand Russell smokes’. I will explore the idea that when speakers assign the va…Read more
  •  434
    While there are many different motivations for raising questions about the Sexual Assault Awareness Movement, at least one motivation comes from feminist controversies about what counts as consensual sex. Historically, this controversy arose between those known as "anti-pornography feminists", and "sex positive feminists" whose proponents had very different understandings of what counts as sexual autonomy for women. It is important to understand that questioning the current definitions of what c…Read more
  •  390
    Standard rigid designator accounts of a name’s meaning have trouble accommodating what I will call a descriptive name’s “shifty” character -- its tendency to shift its referent over time in response to a discovery that the conventional referent of that name does not satisfy the description with which that name was introduced. I offer a variant of Kripke’s historical semantic theory of how names function, a variant that can accommodate the character of descriptive names while maintaining rigidit…Read more
  •  327
    Historically, debates about the nature of proper names have been about whether we should treat them as devices of reference or as disguised definite descriptions. More recently, however, the debate centers around treating them as devices of reference or as predicates. There are different views about the nature of name-predicates. At least one version of predicativism relies on analyzing name-predicates as involving the concept of being called by a name – calling accounts. Some have offered meta-…Read more
  •  261
    Proper Names and their Fictional Uses
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4). 2011.
    Fictional names present unique challenges for semantic theories of proper names, challenges strong enough to warrant an account of names different from the standard treatment. The theory developed in this paper is motivated by a puzzle that depends on four assumptions: our intuitive assessment of the truth values of certain sentences, the most straightforward treatment of their syntactic structure, semantic compositionality, and metaphysical scruples strong enough to rule out fictional entities,…Read more
  •  226
    My aim in this paper is to show that the existence of empty names raise problems for the Millian that go beyond the traditional problems of accounting for their meanings. Specifically, they have implications for Millian strategies for dealing with puzzles about belief. The standard move of positing a referent for a fictional name to avoid the problem of meaning, because of its distinctly Millian motivation, implies that solving puzzles about belief, when they involve empty names, do in fact hang…Read more
  •  176
    There are many examples offered as evidence that proper names are predicates. Not all of these cases speak to a name’s semantic content, but many of them do. Some of these include attributive, quantifier, and ambiguity cases. We will explore those cases here, and we will see that none of them conclusively show that names are predicates. In fact, all of these constructions can be given alternative analyses that eliminate the predicative characteristics of names they feature. These analyses do not…Read more
  •  83
    An account of Montague style semantics that rejects the idea that Montague semantics should appeal to the function-set equivalency claim, that it requires us to distinguish between semantic value and semantic content, and that allows Montague's semantics to account for the phenomenon of hyperintensionality.
  •  59
    According to EJ Lowe, diachronic necessity and synchronic necessity are logically independent. Diachronic possibility concerns what could happen to an object over time and therefore concerns future possibilities for that object given its past history. Synchronic possibility concerns what is possible for an object in the present or at a past present moment. These are logically independent, given certain assumptions. While it may true that because I am 38, it is impossible diachronically for me to…Read more
  •  44
    If our metaphysical concept of a person is influenced by irrelevant external factors, including political factors, being intellectually responsible requires considering multiple theories in multiple domains and coming to some kind of picture that coheres with as many intuitions about persons in as many domains as possible. Theories that do not meet this standard ought to be rejected. An example of a theory that does not respect this constraint is the Integrated Self Theory, which is influenced b…Read more
  •  44
    The Meaning Of Language, Second Edition (edited book)
    with Melissa Ebbers and Robert M. Martin
    MIT Press. forthcoming.
    A substantially revised version of Robert M. Martin's The Meaning of Language, including discussions of some of the most recent work in the philosophy of language.
  •  35
    This book is an attempt at a comprehensive treatment of proper names alternative to standard views.
  •  26
    Not just another philosophy of language book (review)
    Metascience 26 (3): 519-521. 2017.
  •  23
    This is the third chapter in which I specify the view of proper names I propose.
  • Since Hume, many ethicists have assumed that inferring normative claims from descriptive claims is fallacious. Some classic examples that illustrate this fact are those in which everyone commits some act, but we do not therefore conclude that it is the right thing to do. Everyone may jump off a bridge, asserts your mother, but that does not entail that you should. However, not all such claims illustrate this. In fact, some of them illustrate precisely the opposite claim. For example, consider th…Read more
  • At least one of the issues surrounding proper names is how to understand the act of naming itself. Thus far, there has been little in the way of analysis of this phenomenon, save for using certain buzz words like "dubbing" or "christening" or "baptizing." The views that have been developed -- the causal theory, and the property attribution theory -- fail. Unlike the latter, I hold that an act of naming must in some way be meta-linguistic. And, unlike the former, I also hold that naming is not g…Read more
  • On Frankfurt's view of free will, in its simplest form, an agent is free just in case her second-order volitions -- those second-order desires she wishes to be effective -- are in accord with her first-order volitions -- those first-order desires that one actually acts upon. That is, an agent has free will just in case she has the desires she wants to have and they are the desires she acts upon. But now consider an agent who lacks free will because her first-order volitions and second-order voli…Read more
  • A parallel argument to the doxastic voluntarist argument -- a general voluntarism argument -- can be constructed against both ethical and semantic internalism. In the ethical case, this parallel argument begins with the idea that if ethical internalism is true, that is, if we cannot help but be motivated to do the right thing internally, then it would appear that our being moved to do the right thing is involuntary in the same was as our beliefs are involuntary. If correct, this leaves the ethic…Read more
  • Some time ago, Kripke argued that meta-linguistic analyses of proper names were utterly uninformative. I suggest here that his objection relies on conflating the language used to talk about a particular language L -- the meta-language -- with direct speech reports made within a language -- the object language. Making this distinction leads to an understanding of meta-linguistic analyses of proper names that are not simply tautologous, so long as we do not understand the meta-linguistic analysis …Read more
  • Any plausible account of the act of pretending, either by presupposition or constitution, involves an assumption that the facts are other than what they are. An examination of various accounts of pretence shows this to be the feature that distinguishes it from other actions such as imagining, fantasizing, creating, or hypothesizing. This discovery has implications for standard analyses of the nature of fiction. To wit, whatever is occurring when engaged in reading a work of fiction, it is not an…Read more
  • An alternative view to standard psychological continuity theories is the idea that we construct our personal identities by constructing a coherent narrative about ourselves. While this view allows for more fluidity in what counts as psychological continuity, it nevertheless makes being a person depend upon having an integrated self, a condition not met by many who plausibly count as persons by anyone's measure. A replacement theory often put forward is the social constitution view. Persons shoul…Read more
  • Some time ago, Quine once asserted that to be is to be value of a variable. This entails that if one wishes to accept any theory as true, we must be committed to the existence of those objects over which we existentially quantify. I suggest instead that we are committed to the existence only of those things that have at least some intrinsic contingent properties. Any discourse that involves existential quantification over entities whose instrinsic properties can change will, of necessity, be giv…Read more