•  124
    The Sense-Data Language and External World Skepticism
    In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind 4, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    We face reality presented with the data of conscious experience and nothing else. The project of early modern philosophy was to build a complete theory of the world from this starting point, with no cheating. Crucial to this starting point is the data of conscious sensory experience – sense data. Attempts to avoid this project often argue that the very idea of sense data is confused. But the sense-data way of talking, the sense-data language, can be freed from every blemish using ideas from cont…Read more
  •  125
    Restricting the T‐schema to Solve the Liar
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    If we want to retain classical logic and standard syntax in light of the liar, we are forced to restrict the T-schema. The traditional philosophical justification for this is sentential – liar sentences somehow malfunction. But the standard formal way of implementing this is conditional, our T-sentences tell us that if “p” does not malfunction, then “p” is true if and only if p. Recently Bacon and others have pointed out that conditional T-restrictions like this flirt with incoherence. If we wan…Read more
  •  73
    The Independence Solution to Grue
    Philosophical Studies 180 (4): 1305-1326. 2023.
    The paper presents a comprehensive solution to the new riddle of induction. Gruesome induction is blocked because “grue” is not independent of our sampling and observation methods. Before presenting my theory, I critically survey previous versions of what I call the “independence strategy”, tracing the strategy to three different papers from the 1970s by (respectively) Wilkerson, Moreland, and Jackson. Next I critically examine recent approaches by Okasha, Godfrey-Smith, Schramm, and Freitag. Al…Read more
  •  86
    Reference Magnetism Does Not Exist
    Erkenntnis 1-9. forthcoming.
    In the last 35 years many philosophers have appealed to reference magnetism to explain how it is that we mean what we mean. The idea is that it is a constitutive principle of metasemantics that the interpretation that assigns the more natural meanings is correct, ceteris paribus. Among other things, magnetism has been used to answer the challenges of grue and quus, Quine’s indeterminacy of translation argument, and Putnam’s model-theoretic argument against realism. Critics of magnetism have usua…Read more
  •  55
    Imagination and the A Priori
    Synthese 201 (1): 1-16. 2022.
    What is the role of imagination in a priori knowledge? Here I provide a partial answer, arguing that imagination can be used to shed light on which experiences merely enable knowledge, versus which are evidential. I reach this partial answer by considering in detail Timothy’s Williamson’s recent argument that the a priori/a posteriori distinction is insignificant. There are replies to the argument by Boghossian and Casullo that might work on their own terms, but my reply examines the assumptions…Read more
  •  74
    Inferentialism, Conventionalism, and A Posteriori Necessity
    Journal of Philosophy 119 (10): 517-541. 2022.
    In the mid twentieth century, logical positivists and many other philosophers endorsed a simple equation: something was necessary just in case it was analytic just in case it was a priori. Kripke’s examples of a posteriori necessary truths showed that the simple equation is false. But while positivist-style inferentialist approaches to logic and mathematics remain popular, there is no inferentialist account of necessity a posteriori. I give such an account. This sounds like an anti-Kripkean proj…Read more
  •  28
    The A Priori Without Magic
    Cambridge University Press. 2022.
    The distinction between the a priori and the a posteriori is an old and influential one. But both the distinction itself and the crucial notion of a priori knowledge face powerful philosophical challenges. Many philosophers worry that accepting the a priori is tantamount to accepting epistemic magic. In contrast, this Element argues that the a priori can be formulated clearly, made respectable, and used to do important epistemological work. The author's conception of the a priori and its role fa…Read more
  •  89
    Functionalism About Inference
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Inferences are familiar movements of thought, but despite important recent work on the topic, we do not yet have a fully satisfying theory of inference. Here I provide a functionalist theory of inference. I argue that the functionalist framework allows us the flexibility to meet various demands on a theory of inference that have been proposed (such as that it must explain inferential Moorean phenomena and epistemological ‘taking’). While also allowing us to compare, contrast, adapt, and combine …Read more
  •  220
    This Quintessence of Dust - Consciousness Explained, at Thirty
    Philosophical Papers 50 (1-2): 281-308. 2021.
    Daniel Dennett’s Consciousness Explained is probably the most widely read book about consciousness ever written by a philosopher. Despite this, the book has had a surprisingly small influence on how most philosophers of mind view consciousness. This might be because many philosophers badly misunderstand the book. They claim it does not even attempt to explain consciousness, but instead denies its very existence. Outside of philosophy the book has had more influence, but is saddled by the same mi…Read more
  •  286
    Quantifier Variance, Semantic Collapse, and “Genuine” Quantifiers
    Philosophical Studies 179 (3): 745-757. 2021.
    Quantifier variance holds that different languages can have unrestricted quantifier expressions that differ in meaning, where an expression is a “quantifier” just in case it plays the right inferential role. Several critics argued that J.H. Harris’s “collapse” argument refutes variance by showing that identity of inferential role is incompatible with meaning variance. This standard, syntactic collapse argument has generated several responses. More recently, Cian Dorr proved semantic collapse the…Read more
  •  151
    Defending Understanding-Assent Links
    Synthese 199 (3-4): 9219-9236. 2021.
    Several recent epistemologists have used understanding-assent links in theories of a priori knowledge and justification, but Williamson influentially argued against the existence of such links. Here I (1) clarify the nature of understanding-assent links and their role in epistemology; (2) clarify and clearly formulate Williamson’s arguments against their existence; (3) argue that Williamson has failed to successfully establish his conclusion; and (4) rebut Williamson’s claim that accepting under…Read more
  •  174
    Ontology, Set Theory, and the Paraphrase Challenge
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (6): 1231-1248. 2021.
    In many ontological debates there is a familiar challenge. Consider a debate over X s. The “small” or anti-X side tries to show that they can paraphrase the pro-X or “big” side’s claims without any loss of expressive power. Typically though, when the big side adds whatever resources the small side used in their paraphrase, the symmetry breaks down. The big side plus small’s resources is a more expressively powerful and thus more theoretically fruitful theory. In this paper, I show that there is …Read more
  •  362
    Quantifier variance is a well-known view in contemporary metaontology, but it remains very widely misunderstood by critics. Here we briefly and clearly explain the metasemantics of quantifier variance and distinguish between modest and strong forms of variance (Section I), explain some key applications (Section II), clear up some misunderstandings and address objections (Section III), and point the way toward future directions of quantifier-variance-related research (Section IV).
  •  115
    What is the source of logical and mathematical truth? This book revitalizes conventionalism as an answer to this question. Conventionalism takes logical and mathematical truth to have their source in linguistic conventions. This was an extremely popular view in the early 20th century, but it was never worked out in detail and is now almost universally rejected in mainstream philosophical circles. Shadows of Syntax is the first book-length treatment and defense of a combined conventionalist theor…Read more
  •  319
    Infinite Reasoning
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (2): 385-407. 2021.
    Our relationship to the infinite is controversial. But it is widely agreed that our powers of reasoning are finite. I disagree with this consensus; I think that we can, and perhaps do, engage in infinite reasoning. Many think it is just obvious that we can't reason infinitely. This is mistaken. Infinite reasoning does not require constructing infinitely long proofs, nor would it gift us with non-recursive mental powers. To reason infinitely we only need an ability to perform infinite inferences.…Read more
  •  312
    Ontological Commitment and Ontological Commitments
    Philosophical Studies 177 (10): 2851-2859. 2020.
    The standard account of ontological commitment is quantificational. There are many old and well-chewed-over challenges to the account, but recently Kit Fine added a new challenge. Fine claimed that the ‘‘quantificational account gets the basic logic of ontological commitment wrong’’ and offered an alternative account that used an existence predicate. While Fine’s argument does point to a real lacuna in the standard approach, I show that his own account also gets ‘‘the basic logic of ontological …Read more
  •  161
    Supertasks and Arithmetical Truth
    Philosophical Studies 177 (5): 1275-1282. 2020.
    This paper discusses the relevance of supertask computation for the determinacy of arithmetic. Recent work in the philosophy of physics has made plausible the possibility of supertask computers, capable of running through infinitely many individual computations in a finite time. A natural thought is that, if supertask computers are possible, this implies that arithmetical truth is determinate. In this paper we argue, via a careful analysis of putative arguments from supertask computations to det…Read more
  •  895
    Killing Kripkenstein's Monster
    Noûs 54 (2): 257-289. 2020.
    Here I defend dispositionalism about meaning and rule-following from Kripkenstein's infamous anti-dispositionalist arguments. The problems of finitude, error, and normativity are all addressed. The general lesson I draw is that Kripkenstein's arguments trade on an overly simplistic version of dispositionalism.
  •  394
    Quantifier Variance and the Demand for a Semantics
    with Eli Hirsch
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3): 592-605. 2019.
    In the work of both Matti Eklund and John Hawthorne there is an influential semantic argument for a maximally expansive ontology that is thought to undermine even modest forms of quantifier variance. The crucial premise of the argument holds that it is impossible for an ontologically "smaller" language to give a Tarskian semantics for an ontologically "bigger" language. After explaining the Eklund-Hawthorne argument (in section I), we show this crucial premise to be mistaken (in section II) by d…Read more
  •  429
    Sider on the Epistemology of Structure
    Philosophical Studies 173 (9): 2417-2435. 2016.
    Theodore Sider’s recent book, “Writing the Book of the World”, employs a primitive notion of metaphysical structure in order to make sense of substantive metaphysics. But Sider and others who employ metaphysical primitives face serious epistemological challenges. In the first section I develop a specific form of this challenge for Sider’s own proposed epistemology for structure; the second section develops a general reliability challenge for Sider’s theory; and the third and final section argues…Read more
  •  239
    Conventionalism, Consistency, and Consistency Sentences
    Synthese 192 (5): 1351-1371. 2015.
    Conventionalism about mathematics claims that mathematical truths are true by linguistic convention. This is often spelled out by appealing to facts concerning rules of inference and formal systems, but this leads to a problem: since the incompleteness theorems we’ve known that syntactic notions can be expressed using arithmetical sentences. There is serious prima facie tension here: how can mathematics be a matter of convention and syntax a matter of fact given the arithmetization of syntax? Th…Read more
  •  325
    Quantifier Variance and the Collapse Argument
    Philosophical Quarterly 65 (259): 241-253. 2015.
    Recently a number of works in meta-ontology have used a variant of J.H. Harris's collapse argument in the philosophy of logic as an argument against Eli Hirsch's quantifier variance. There have been several responses to the argument in the literature, but none of them have identified the central failing of the argument, viz., the argument has two readings: one on which it is sound but doesn't refute quantifier variance and another on which it is unsound. The central lesson I draw is that argumen…Read more
  •  450
    The Possibility of Truth by Convention
    Philosophical Quarterly 65 (258): 84-93. 2015.
    An influential argument against the possibility of truth by linguistic convention holds that while conventions can determine which proposition a given sentence expresses, they (conventions) are powerless to make propositions true or false. This argument has been offered in the literature by Lewy, Yablo, Boghossian, Sider and others. But despite its influence and prima facie plausibility, the argument: (i) equivocates between different senses of “making true”; (ii) mistakenly assumes hyperintensi…Read more
  •  437
    Change of Logic, Change of Meaning
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (2): 421-442. 2018.
    Some philosophers have argued that putative logical disagreements aren't really disagreements at all since when you change your logic you thereby change the meanings of your logical constants. According to this picture classical logicians and intuitionists don't really disagree, they just mean different things by terms like “not” and “or”. Quine gave an infamous “translation argument” for this view. Here I clarify the change of logic, change of meaning (CLCM) thesis, examine and find fault with …Read more
  •  444
    Quantifier Variance and Indefinite Extensibility
    Philosophical Review 126 (1): 81-122. 2017.
    This essay clarifies quantifier variance and uses it to provide a theory of indefinite extensibility that I call the variance theory of indefinite extensibility. The indefinite extensibility response to the set-theoretic paradoxes sees each argument for paradox as a demonstration that we have come to a different and more expansive understanding of ‘all sets’. But indefinite extensibility is philosophically puzzling: extant accounts are either metasemantically suspect in requiring mysterious mech…Read more
  •  196
    Trapping the Metasemantic Metaphilosophical Deflationist?
    Metaphilosophy 47 (1): 108-121. 2016.
    Some philosophers are metaphilosophical deflationists for metasemantic reasons. These theorists take standard philosophical assertions to be defective in some manner. There are various versions of metasemantic metaphilosophical deflationism, but a trap awaits any global version of it: metasemantics itself is a part of philosophy, so in deflating philosophy these theorists have thereby deflated the foundation of their deflationism. The present article discusses this issue and the prospects for an…Read more
  •  408
    Epistemology versus Non-Causal Realism
    Synthese 194 (5). 2017.
    This paper formulates a general epistemological argument against what I call non-causal realism, generalizing domain specific arguments by Benacerraf, Field, and others. First I lay out the background to the argument, making a number of distinctions that are sometimes missed in discussions of epistemological arguments against realism. Then I define the target of the argument—non-causal realism—and argue that any non-causal realist theory, no matter the subject matter, cannot be given a reasonabl…Read more
  •  295
    Revisiting Quine on Truth by Convention
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 46 (2): 119-139. 2017.
    In “Truth by Convention” W.V. Quine gave an influential argument against logical conventionalism. Even today his argument is often taken to decisively refute logical conventionalism. Here I break Quine’s arguments into two— the super-task argument and the regress argument—and argue that while these arguments together refute implausible explicit versions of conventionalism, they cannot be successfully mounted against a more plausible implicit version of conventionalism. Unlike some of his modern …Read more
  •  256
    A Metasemantic Challenge for Mathematical Determinacy
    Synthese 197 (2): 477-495. 2020.
    This paper investigates the determinacy of mathematics. We begin by clarifying how we are understanding the notion of determinacy before turning to the questions of whether and how famous independence results bear on issues of determinacy in mathematics. From there, we pose a metasemantic challenge for those who believe that mathematical language is determinate, motivate two important constraints on attempts to meet our challenge, and then use these constraints to develop an argument against det…Read more
  •  460
    Talking with Tonkers
    Philosophers' Imprint 15. 2015.
    Unrestricted inferentialism holds both that any collection of inference rules can determine a meaning for an expression and meaning constituting rules are automatically valid. Prior's infamous tonk connective refuted unrestricted inferentialism, or so it is universally thought. This paper argues against this consensus. I start by formulating the metasemantic theses of inferentialism with more care than they have hitherto received; I then consider a tonk language — Tonklish — and argue that the u…Read more